Budget Rehearsal Dinner Alternative – The Sip n’ Snack!

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Today we have a guest post from Disney Bride Jaime, who planned a lovely wedding on a tight budget at a restaurant in Downtown Disney, Anaheim.  We were chatting about her wedding one day and she told me about hosting a “Sip n’ Snack.”  I thought … what in the world is that??? So Jaime is here to introduce the money-saving rehearsal/welcome dinner alternative of the Sip n’ Snack.  Enjoy!

Budget Rehearsal Dinner Alternative - The Sip n' Snack!
{Jaime and her husband (in the middle) and some guests sharing an Uh Oa! at Trader Sam’s tiki bar at the Disneyland Hotel}

Planning a destination wedding in about 3 months is largely unheard of this day and age.  And on a well-under-$6,000 budget?!  Well, one way we were able to keep it in budget, keep everyone happy, and take the pressure off was to offer several Sip n’ Snack events, rather than full blown meals.

When presenting this unconventional idea to our guests, we were very open and honest with them. A blurb on my blog read – “We would LOVE to treat each and every one of you to a bill-free vacation, but our budget doesn’t agree. Our sponsored event is the wedding and reception meal only.”

That’s why we opted to make our events outside of the wedding Sip N’ Snack” events!

Much like our guests, you might be asking yourself: “What is a Sip N’ Snack?” And “Can this work for me?”

Let’s tackle the first question.

Usually taking place in a casual setting, a Sip N’ Snack is a come-as-you-are, BYOC (bring your own cash) event. Guests can come and have a drink and appetizers, or mingle over a glass of water or iced tea. Hungry? Have a meal! There are no rules! And that’s what makes a Sip N’ Snack so awesome. Most weddings are stuffed to the gills full of etiquette but this is a great place for guests to meet each other, spend some one-on-one time with the bride and groom, and just relax in a venue that lets them come and go at their own pace. It’s completely optional (though the bride and groom should stay during the entire window to maximize mingle time), in an easy, laid back, get-to-know-you way.

“Can this work for me?”
Actually, the best part of this is it works for everyone – but especially those having a Disney wedding near a park. It allows guests to take a break from touring at their pace and share their adventures with the bride and groom. It’s also great for those who aren’t entering the parks! If you opt to hold your Sip n’ Snack in a location such as Downtown Disney or at one of the lounges at the resort hotels, it will include them without making they feel pressured to purchase park admission to attend an in-park event. Park admission is pretty pricey. Even if you are holding sponsored meals for a select few, this can give others (who aren’t attending or invited to those events) a chance to feel included.

Other questions you might have:

“Can this replace a rehearsal dinner without being ‘tacky’?”

Yes, this replaced our rehearsal dinner.  And not a single person complained.

Let’s look at the tradition behind rehearsal dinners – Rehearsal dinners are traditionally attended by everyone from out of town. Well, we were a destination wedding, and if you’re having a Disney wedding, odds are you are too, and everyone is from out of town.

We planned our wedding rehearsal to end right around lunch time (Noon). I called Tortilla Jo’s (a Downtown Disney eatery directly across from our venue) a week or two ahead of time to let them know I had about 20 people that would like to come over and mingle on their patio around 1:00pm. I let them know everyone would be paying for themselves, and mingling was the goal, so I didn’t intend on clogging up the kitchen, but I wanted to make sure they could adequately staff the patio during that time (so they wouldn’t be ‘surprised’ by our mob).

Well, 25 people showed up and Tortilla Jo’s accommodated us all just fine.  In fact, we were surprised at the end of the Sip n’ Snack when someone in our group covered OUR drinks and a la carte lunch!

{Tortilla Jo’s patio – Photo from MouseInfo.com}

“What are some other Sip n’ Snack ideas?”

Two days before the wedding, we held a Sip n’ Snack at Trader Sam’s (the tiki style bar on Disneyland Hotel property). We let guests know to be there between 4:30pm and 7:00pm for drinks and chats! It was a great way to have fun and get some one-on-one time with our guests.

“What are some other Sip n’ Snack Venues?”

Honestly, you can pick ANYWHERE. Want to stay in the parks? Opt to Sip n’ Snack near a Churro cart (who doesn’t love a Disneyland Churro?!), or pick out a Cozy Cone at Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure and let your guests know when to meet! Or Sip n’ Snack in Downtown Disney (I personally recommend the bar area at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen or Tortilla Jo’s Patio, but the Rainforest Cafe or the ESPN Zone could be great locations as well.)

“Break it down for me. What are the pros and the cons?”

Pros for hosts – Better budget control with no surprises, service fees, or imposed gratuities.
Pros for guests – No pressure. You can make it one of them? Great! Come for an hour? Sure! Come for three hours, better yet! Stop by for Hugs n’ Hi’s on your way to something else? Why not? For us, it was particularly helpful to have “optional” events, since my dad was undergoing chemo therapy. I didn’t want him to feel pressured to come and put on a good face for days on end. I wanted him to take it at his own pace and enjoy it.
Cons for hosts – Not everyone will come to every meet, so pick places you actually enjoy hanging out.
Cons for guests – If you order something, you’ll have to pay for it.

“But what will my guests think?”

Most may be surprised by the idea, but this also gives you a chance to control who you “treat” and who you don’t. For example, you may want to buy a drink for each person in your wedding party, but not every out of town guest. So you can purchase those on the spot.

But don’t be surprised if your guests want to treat YOU  instead!  You are the couple of the moment, after all! It gives some people a unique chance to spend time with you and to give back for inviting them to your wedding celebration.

Happy Sip n’ Snacking!

You can read more about Jaime’s adventures on her blog J’s Journey Book.

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What do you think of Jaime’s Sip n’ Snack idea?  It sure worked out well for her!  Would it work for you?

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