Nautical Theme Rehearsal Dinner at Gar Woods Grill

The night before the Big Day is something to be celebrated. And an evening along the lake with a Gar Woods’ signature cocktail, The Wet Woody, in hand is the ultimate way to party in Lake Tahoe. The bride and her new Mother-in-Law decided on a nautical theme with bright colors to differentiate from the wedding day that would have a more elegant look. Elise Events was behind the scenes helping the couple craft every nautical detail. The one and only Mike Larson was there to capture every moment and the bride tells the story of her day below.


With our wedding taking place at the gorgeous Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, a mountainside resort, we knew we had to incorporate the lake into our rehearsal dinner. After researching and looking at a few possible venues, we came across Gar Woods Grill & Pier. With its floor to ceiling windows sprawling the entire length of the restaurant, our guests could enjoy a full 180 degree view of the lake all evening from the 2nd floor entertainment space. It was exactly what we were looking for.


Designing a nautical themed event was so much fun because the possibilities available are endless! After searching for ideas on Pinterest, I stumbled upon the most clever escort card design, which we enjoyed recreating. We took floatable key fobs, which we personalized with our wedding date, and then attached the cards to them. Our guests enjoyed searching for their escort cards and fobs, which were clipped to an authentic fishing net.


Not only were our vendors incredible, but the staff and service at Gar Woods was exceptional as well. During the planning process, Amy Grisby’s patience and responsiveness was invaluable. She truly helped us create the event of a lifetime. The waiting staff at Gar Woods was beyond amazing. They allowed for our guests to make special food-related requests (i.e. accommodating our veggie lovers by offering two different vegetarian entree selections) and truly provided exceptional customer service.


We wanted the night to look and feel completely different than the wedding. Our wedding would be elegant with soft, romantic colors, so we wanted our rehearsal dinner to be sophisticated, yet relaxed and fun. My Mother-In-Law decided on a nautical theme, and together, we chose a navy and yellow color palette, as well as, various design elements. Our wedding coordinator, Danielle, from Elise Events, found a fabulous navy tablecloth with a white rope pattern for the dinner tables and a navy and white stripe tablecloth for the cocktail tables. We then accentuated the look with bright yellow napkins.

Our talented calligrapher, Vita, from Pop Calligraphy, used watercolor to create our place cards and table numbers, which we then displayed on the tables with Monkey’s Fists (a nautical knot).Our florist, Natasha Kolenko, completely outdid herself. We followed her suggestion to add orange as an accent color to the yellow and green arrangements we already had requested, and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the outcome. Our stunning floral arrangements were rich in color and texture, and they really popped against the tablecloths.


Choosing Gar Woods as our rehearsal dinner venue made for a few unique bonus options. The first was having a Wet Woody station – Gar Woods’ signature rum & fruit cocktail. Our guests could sip the different variations of the Wet Woody while overlooking the view of the lake off the balcony. The second was our grand entrance on the classic mahogany wooden boat. My husband has always had a fond appreciation for these gorgeous boats and when he saw the dock, he couldn’t think of a better way for us to join our rehearsal dinner party.


There aren’t enough words to describe the excitement my husband and I felt when we rode in to our rehearsal dinner on a classic woody with 70 of our closest friends and family members waving and cheering. The evening was a huge success across the board. We ate delicious food, enjoyed the impeccable service, and listened to the memorable toasts made by our family and friends. Apart from our wedding, it was the best evening of my husband’s and my life. Our rehearsal dinner was a magical evening filled with love and is one that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.


Lake Tahoe Wedding Vendors: Photo: Mike Larson Photography | Video: Dax Victorino Films | Event Planning + Design: Elise Events | Venue: Gar Woods Grill | Floral: Natasha Kolenko | Paper Goods: Vita Popov Studios | Rentals: La Tavola Linens and Celebrations! Party Rentals | Transportation Boat | Grand Tahoe Charters