Table settings

Posted on 06 May 2010 at 3:20pm
By RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer | lopez@dallasvoice.com

P r i d e  W e d d i n g s   2010
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Don’t forget the rehearsal dinner when planning for the big day

HAVE A SEAT | Monica Greene, owner of Monica’s Aca y Alla, appreciates the diversity of Dallas when she opens her banquet rooms to LGBT couples for rehearsal dinners and receptions. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)

Some same-sex couples might consider their unions more acts of defiance than tradition. But those who like to follow custom might let some parts of the ritual fall through the cracks.

But one you won’t want to overlook is the rehearsal dinner.

Monica’s Aca y Alla has become a favorite spot for LGBT couples on the eve of their big day. Owner Monica Greene’s daughter and restaurant partner Erica Greene finds delight in being a part of any couple’s wedding.

"We’ve done a few rehearsal dinners and couple receptions for people in the community," she says. "We really love to be a part of any union."

Greene acts as the coordinator, working with couples to provide a memorable evening. To her, there’s very little difference between planning a straight dinner or a gay one. The basics remain the same: create a satisfying menu, decide on the number of guests, stay within budget.

But the most important part is creating what the marrying couple envisioned.
"We find out what they want to make their night special," she says. "Everybody has different ideas what the evening should be and we work closely to allow them to do that."

Rehearsal dinners are also where traditional planning collides with modern marriage. The groom’s family usually pays for dinner, but when there are two grooms — or none — how do these traditions translate?

"The biggest thing about most all gay couples I do is they have tighter budgets than hetero," says Rusty Cuniff. "Most have to pay these bills themselves. Very few parents of same-sex couples spring for the bill."

Cuniff’s company Completely Catered has done its fair share of rehearsal feasts, both gay and non-gay. Perhaps as an alternative to restaurant costs, Cuniff has catered dinners in homes or uses services from some of his contemporaries like his go-to florist and her garden spot.

Cuniff sees this event as the time to bring down the pre-wedding jitters. But at the same time, make it festive.

"Usually, it’s a bit more casual and people are usually wanting something like a party," he says. "It’s a wonderful way to unwind but also go over last minute details, just in a more relaxed atmosphere. That’s what we try to do."

But although they are a bit more casual, Greene has noticed the one thing that seems to get forgotten across the board.

"Speeches are forgotten," she says. Traditionally, they are done at the rehearsal dinners but some may feel unprepared or they weren’t aware they were supposed to give one. I don’t like using words like traditional in these cases, but the dinner is where the speeches usually happen."

Monica Greene sums up the trend of same-sex couples going this route and her restaurant’s role in it.

"I think it’s fantastic," she says. "Dallas is such a diverse city and I love that we can have a part in the community this way."

And even though Cuniff fears the dinner is going by the wayside, he advises to not stress too much over it. After all, it’s not the actual wedding.

"Keep it simple and just have fun. Don’t be so tied up that you can’t enjoy your wedding," he says.

And couples shouldn’t worry — he’ll pack up some food to go for the brides and grooms.

For more information, visit Monicas.com and CompletelyCatered.com.

This article appeared in the Pride Weddings 2010 special section in the Dallas Voice print edition May 7, 2010.

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