A wedding rehearsal dinner begins the celebration process, as well as thanks everyone involved. Livening up the rehearsal dinner with a fun theme will help everyone relax before the big day. Whether the honeymoon destination is a tropical paradise, there is Polynesian heritage in the family or you just love Hawaii, consider having the rehearsal dinner luau-style.
Origins of the Luau
Hawaiians have been celebrating major events for hundreds of years with a feast called ‘aha’aina, translated to gathering (‘aha) for a meal (‘aina). Hawaiians also believe in sharing their good fortune, and therefore, family and friends are always invited to the feast.
The word luau is Hawaiian for the edible leaves of the taro plant, used to wrap food cooked in an underground oven called an imu. It wasn’t until 1856 that ‘aha’aina came to be known as a luau.
Planning a Luau Menu
There are many dishes traditionally prepared for luaus, which provides many options for choosing a menu. For starters, you could serve “pupus” or appetizer platters with Polynesian chicken bites, coconut shrimp, barbeque spare ribs and poke, which combines chopped raw ahi tuna with yellow and green onions, soy sauce and Hawaiian salt.
For the main course, shredded pork is a staple at Hawaiian luaus; you can easily roast a pork loin in the oven. Fish, such as Mahi Mahi marinated in teriyaki sauce, is a good choice, as is Huli-Huli Chicken — a Hawaiian version of barbeque sauce using brown sugar, soy and ginger. Side dishes could include sweet potatoes with shredded coconut and chicken long rice.
Remember to extend the luau theme to the drinks, which can be prepared with or without alcohol. Choosing a signature tropical drink such as a Piña Colada is a fun way to incorporate one or two of your wedding colors. For instance, if your bouquet will have various hues of pink flowers, choose a drink that mimics this color scheme, such as a Mai Tai or a Strawberry Daiquiri.
Fresh fruit abounds in Hawaii, so try to include coconuts, mangos and pineapples at your rehearsal dinner luau. You could put a tropical twist on dinner rolls by serving banana or mango bread. Also, a fresh fruit platter will add color to the table and can double as a centerpiece. For dessert, offer guests a traditional luau dessert like haupia, Hawaiian coconut pudding, along with a pineapple upside down cake.
Creating a Memorable Rehearsal Dinner
Sending invitations with vibrant hibiscus blossoms surrounding a tropical place setting will set the tone for the luau theme. You can also use this paper to label the food since luaus are usually served buffet-style.
After the menu is planned, put some thought into table decorations. You might use banana leaves for placemats and colorful tablecloths to mimic the bright colors of the hibiscus flowers on your invitations. You could even give the food tables grass skirts.
A Hawaiian woman often tucks a single hibiscus flower behind her ear, indicating availability for marriage. Perhaps the bride could wear a hibiscus flower behind her left ear, reminding her guests that she is spoken for.
However you choose to apply the luau theme, your rehearsal dinner is sure to be remembered as the ‘aha’aina of the year.