When family and friends arrive from near and far to celebrate the bride and groom, it’s customary to welcome them into town with a rehearsal dinner. Having had the opportunity to photograph some beautiful rehearsal dinners, it's one of my favorite aspects of a wedding to capture. The rehearsal dinner is often the first time that many of the friends and families of the bride and groom are meeting. The evening is often filled with anticipation, touching speeches, and typically has a more intimate feel than the wedding itself. While some couples decide to have their rehearsal dinner at the same location as their weddings, more and more couples are opting for a more unique experience. As such, I’ve highlighted a few of my favorite Burlington area locations that would be happy to host your rehearsal dinner.
- Hotel Vermont – Hotel Vermont is an independent boutique hotel with a modern, rustic-chic vibe. Think Vermont meets NYC. Unlike larger resorts or hotels, Hotel Vermont has a more intimate feel. Lined with comfortable seating and cushions around a gorgeous stone fireplace, the lobby is welcoming and warm. Your guests will get a real taste of Vermont at this location. The Van Ness Room is particularly nice for a rehearsal dinner with its floor to ceiling windows and access to the terrace with views of Lake Champlain. The bonus is that your guests can stay here as well.
- Shelburne Vineyards – This award-winning Vermont vineyard and winery is an excellent choice for a rehearsal dinner. While your guests mingle in the tasting room, dinner could be catered either in the loft or outside on the patio. If you are looking for an al fresco experience with the security of an indoor option, Shelburne Vineyards would be a great choice.
- The Growler Garage – Vermont has more breweries per capita than any other state! Your guests may want to travel the length of the state to try these great craft beers. Alternatively, you could host your rehearsal dinner at Growler Garage, where they play host to 24 local Vermont beers on tap. With a phenomenal location on the corner of Main and Battery Street downtown, your guests will have the opportunity to experience Burlington. Growler Garage allows rentals of the entire facility, keeping your rehearsal dinner experience very private.
- Vermont National Country Club - If you are looking for an upscale indoor setting with unparalleled views, look no further than Vermont National Country Club. By far the best outdoor seating in all of Burlington, VNCC will wow your out of town guests. The two-leveled outdoor terrace is completely covered in the event of rain. Overlooking the golf course and the Adirondack mountains, plan your rehearsal dinner around sunset and you won’t be disappointed.
- August First- A bakery may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think about a rehearsal dinner. However, prepare for that opinion to be quickly changed. August First hosts evening events, giving your party full reign of the restaurant. The indoor industrial feel is upscale but casual. August First serves fantastic flatbread pizzas, original salads, local wines and beers, and dessert.
- Bevo – Bevo could technically be on this list twice. First and foremost, Bevo is a unique catering company that focuses on local and farm-fresh food. Should you decide to hold your rehearsal dinner at a private residence or at a location that does not offer food, Bevo catering would be a great choice. Bevo also has its own dynamic venue space located right off the interstate. With a full cocktail and bar service available, Bevo can surely meet all of your rehearsal dinner needs.
- Leunig’s Bistro – If you have been to Burlington, you’ve likely been to Leunig’s. As one of the oldest, continuously running restaurants in downtown Burlington, it’s truly a Vermont mainstay. Located on historic Church Street, Leunig’s rents it’s second-floor lounge for private parties. With a full bar and outstanding cuisine, your rehearsal dinner will be the perfect kick-off for a fabulous weekend.
- Guild Tavern – As a restaurant owned by the highly regarded Farmhouse Group, the Guild Tavern is an excellent choice for a rehearsal dinner. With a focus on farm-to-table fare, the Guild is one of the best restaurants in the Burlington area. Whether you are looking for a more informal cocktail party or a sit-down dinner, The Guild provides an entirely private room for your rehearsal dinner.
- Inn at Shelburne Farms – Words do not adequately capture the beauty of the Inn at Shelburne Farms. Suffice it to say that they are completely booked for the next two years for any weddings at the Coach Barn, located onsite. However, they do host rehearsal dinners and cocktails parties at this historic location overlooking Lake Champlain. The Inn at Shelburne Farms would be a fantastic location for your rehearsal dinner.
- Waterworks Food & Drink– Overlooking the Winooski River in the historic Champlain Mill, Waterworks Food and Drink offers several spaces for your rehearsal dinner. Easily one of the coolest buildings in the Burlington area, your guests will love the funky vibe of this industrial building.
The rehearsal dinner sets the tone for the rest of your weekend. You really can’t go wrong with any of the choices listed above!