January 10, 2011

Dîner de Répétition

When 2E's and I walked into The Smith restaurant on 3rd Avenue (just a short walk from Astor Place in Manhattan) one evening last April, we knew without hesitation that this was our rehearsal dinner venue. The restaurant was packed--an immediate indication that the food is good. The downstairs event space, which can accommodate 50-75, was simultaneously classy and casual. By the time we got to the corridor with the photobooth and unisex bathroom stalls, we were putting down a deposit.

(Strike that. Our gracious hosts, the illustrious MOG and FOG, were putting down a deposit.)

After several conversations with my mother, we finally came to the consensus that we should have tables assigned to each guest or group of guests to avoid awkward pairings and a musical chairs of sorts. So we needed an escort card display. We brainstormed a variety of designs (I still love my idea of an old Outlook Hotel-style key cabinet and plan to use it elsewhere) until we stumbled upon our favorite -- and the most feasible. Affordable and fitting for the location, I ordered a true English pub dartboard on Amazon.com and 20-something darts. Guests' names were written on small slips of paper that were then fastened to the neck of the darts. And six random numbers along the perimeter of the dartboard served as our table numbers. It was my very minor contribution to the decor for the evening.

"find your dart to find your table" - sign courtesy of the MOH

Getting to the dinner was the biggest chore of the evening. The rehearsal was an hour longer than we'd anticipated, and the rain wasn't making transportation around the city any easier. I was sitting on the couch in our hotel suite, counting out the cash that we'd be distributing to our vendors and photographers and waiters the following evening, and 2E's chirps, Um, aren't you going with me to this thing?  

Hours had escaped me. I had fifteen minutes to shower and get dressed and find a decent enough hiding place for thousands of dollars of cold hard cash in a hotel suite with a busted safe. So I half-showered while kickass bridesmaid Laura did 2E's make-up and hair for the event ... and while kickass Maid of Honor Teresa saved the evening with a sprint to Rite-Aid for a pair of nude panty-hose-in-a-hurry, I upgraded my dress shirt to better complement 2E's rockin' evening dress.

We received two instructions regarding the rehearsal dinner: (1) arrive slightly tardy and (2) butt out. So we did. And when we arrived and realized, piece by piece, detail by detail, all of the work that had been done in preparation for the evening, we were flabbergasted. We walked around the room in a haze, unable to take it all in. The OGs had ordered personalized buttons and hats and lookalike figurines. And the MOG (with the aid of the bride's mother, of course) had locked herself in a room for the past three months and cut and edited an hour-long slide-show with the most adorable slash disturbing photos and videos from our childhoods. Highlights included a teenage 2E's overacting in grade school choir and a toddler 2E's addressing her future self. I had no highlights--or at least none that I'm willing to reveal here. 

The other scene stealer of the evening, which inevitably became the recurring theme of the night, was an impressive collection of photoshop-ed movie posters, with our faces superimposed over those belonging to Sally & Harry and Zack & Miri, to Charlie & Maverick and Bella & Edward. A dozen or so posters adorned a table in the corner while dozens more in small white frames provided the centerpiece for each dinner table. And all of this had been done in secrecy by my sister-in-law, Jessica. I'll be sharing some of our favorite posters shortly (there are so many!), and Jessica will be giving a seminar on stealing images from Facebook and discreet photoshop-ing in Conference Room B. 

She's so Bella. I'm SO not Edward.

We had amazing food, an in-room bar just for us and the best 52 dinner companions a couple could ask for. We asked 2E's brother Patrick to host the evening -- a seemingly logical and ultimately spot-on decision. And we passed our camera off to 2E's cousin Michael, who did an amazing job snapping photos of our guests and our decor throughout the evening.

For more info on The Smith, check out their website. For special events, email Lisa and tell her The Groom Says said to.

Photos by Brian Leahy & Michael Wilson for Joanna Wilson Photography


  1. Seems like a fun and amazing time! And I love your escort card display and IDEA for one...

  2. You may kindly steal it, Ms. Hurst, as long as you tell everyone in attendance that I granted you such privilege. :)