Cutting a rug on the dance floor at Lakefront Brewery

Milwaukee’s Best Offbeat Rehearsal Dinner Options

These lively takes on the traditional rehearsal dinner help get the party started.

Time to Spare

A good way to, er, get the ball rolling between in-laws-to-be is bring them to an alley – a bowling alley. What’s great about the options available at AMF West Lanes is you can book for a group as small as eight people. With a party package for 15 or more, choose a menu style such as a spread of fajitas or BBQ with all the fixings, or create your own buffet, with salads, starters, entrées and dessert. Now all you need to do to complete the night is bowl some strikes! (7505 W. Oklahoma Ave.)

Polynesian Paradise

Humming a few bars of a certain B-52s song just comes naturally with any mention of tiki-focused The Love Shack. Get your leis on at the shack’s private, second-floor Rhum Bar. Keep it casual with a selection of passed hors d’oeuvres and menu items served buffet-style, including “steam bunz,” salmon poke, Spam musubi, Hawaiian meatballs and tuna tartare. Make it extra festive with your own menu of drinks – mai tais, piña coladas, One-Eyed Willys, zombie punch and others. With the big day just hours ahead, the accent might best be on a limited drinks menu. You don’t want anyone stumbling down the aisle. (106 W. Seeboth St.)

Fish Fry High

Want a casual, communal vibe … and live polka? You can’t get more unpretentious than a Friday night at boisterous Lakefront Brewery Beer Hall. There’s also the fish fry (perch, beer-battered cod) and a 45-minute private brewery tour. Open to groups of 20 to 60 people, the tours must be booked ahead. Reservations are available but only 4-5:30 p.m. After, it’s first come, first served, so expect to wait in line. But with the promise of potato pancakes and a Chicken Dance, cooling your heels for a bit offers time to soak up the vibe. Lakefront can also host rehearsal dinners Monday-Thursday nights. Costs vary. (1872 N. Commerce St.)

Arcade Heaven

Seems like a simple cure for the wedding jitters: a “Million-Dollar Midway” of games, plus classics like Pac-Man. Dave & Buster’s can work with parties as small as 10 and offers many customizable options. For the meal, you can choose several buffet styles (“signature” buffets are themed, such as Tuscan Table, Tailgate and Rio Grande). Other options include an open bar, cash (or drink tickets) and setting your guests up with a loaded card that gives them unlimited video game play. Yep, it sounds like more fun than the wedding. (2201 N. Mayfair Rd.)

Customize It

Let you and your partner’s favorite pastimes inspire the party – and break the ice for guests. Some ideas:

♥ Pick a park you love and arrange for the food to come there. BBQ, fried chicken, grilled burgers, whatever suits! 

♥ If there’s a hobby the bride and groom share, such as sailing, hiking or ice skating (check out the Pettit Center), look into a little post- or pre-dinner activity to help the group bond.

♥ Rabid sports fans? Depending on the time of year, get the group together for a Brewers, Bucks or Admirals game. Even if guests are rooting for opposing teams, this kind of outing is still a fun way to get them mingling! 

‘The Night Before the Nuptials’ appears in Milwaukee Weddings 2018.

Find it on newsstands beginning January 1, or buy a copy at

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.