Rehearsal Dinner at Barbuzzo with Documentary Photos

November 10, 2023

A rehearsal dinner is a great way to settle into your wedding weekend. You can connect with loved ones and breathe in a more low-key moment before getting pulled in different directions on your wedding day. These documentary-style photos of Jessica and Will’s rehearsal dinner at Barbuzzo shows that this event is worthy of being part of your wedding story.

A bride and groom laugh during a rehearsal dinner speech at Barbuzzo.

Barbuzzo: A Rehearsal Dinner Venue in Center City

Barbuzzo is a Mediterranean restaurant in Center City Philadelphia. It was a great venue to kick off Jessica and Will’s wedding weekend. This restaurant specializes in wood-fired pizza and pasta dishes. Jessica and Will treated their guests to meatballs, but it’s easy to imagine wedding guests passing artisanal pizzas around the table. Since Barbuzzo is also a bar, you can treat your guests to some incredible cocktails to accompany their meals. 

A Philadelphia wedding photographer photographs a restaurant through the window.
Tables are set with personalized menus and white flowers for a rehearsal dinner in a Philadelphia restaurant.
A trolley of wedding guests arrives at a Philadelphia restaurant.

A good rehearsal dinner should feel welcoming and encourage people to circulate and connect. So many people are seeing each other for the first time in ages. Others are meeting for the first time. Barbuzzo was a great space for Jessica and Will’s community to connect. Warm wood details make the intimate space inviting. 

A cook sets food on a grill in the Barbuzzo kitchen.
A man holds out a phone to show a picture to two women.
Wedding guests order cocktails at the bar at Barbuzzo.
Wedding guests gather around a bar in a dimly lit Philadelphia restaurant.

One of the perks of having a rehearsal dinner (or even a wedding) at a restaurant is that the decor is set for you. Barbuzzo’s aesthetic is organic and minimalist. Jessica and Will embraced that with simple tablescapes. They incorporated white florals and greenery in small arrangements to bring a little wedding energy to the space. 

A wedding guest holds a cocktail and a phone while she talks with others at a rehearsal dinner.
A sign on a restaurant table reads "Bride."
Wedding guests crowd around a table for a group photo.

Would you like to see other Philadelphia restaurants that could be perfect for your rehearsal dinner? Check out these posts:

These restaurants vary in terms of cuisine and decor, but they all have an intimate, inviting feeling. You’re sure to find a venue that feels just right for your relaxed evening.

A bride and groom pose with rehearsal dinner guests for a group photo in a Philadelphia restaurant.
At a rehearsal dinner, guests sit down and wait to be served.
A cook stirs food on a pan in the open kitchen at Barbuzzo.
A chef puts meatballs on plates for a rehearsal dinner in Philadelphia.

Jessica and Will’s Rehearsal Dinner

As soon as Jessica and Will’s guests arrived, they grabbed drinks and began to enjoy each other’s company. Guests settled into intimate conversations around the warm wood tables and mingled at the bar. Everyone took their time catching up with old friends and getting to know new ones. Without the pressure of a wedding timeline, people could soak up the casual, spontaneous moments.

A wedding guest waves a napkin above her head.
Friends hold up shirts a bride and groom gave them as gifts.
A bride hugs her bridesmaids at a rehearsal dinner.

Jessica and Will used their rehearsal dinner as an opportunity to do some speeches and give gifts as well. If you don’t love the idea of all eyes on you during toasts on your wedding day, having them at your rehearsal dinner can be a good compromise. You still get the emotional experience of hearing from your loved ones but in a much more intimate setting. Jessica and Will enjoyed listening to family members’ speeches and giving gifts with plenty of time to linger and connect.

A woman gives a speech at a rehearsal dinner.
Wedding guests laugh while a woman gives a toast.
A bartender at Barbuzzo pours cocktails.
Wedding guests raise their glasses to toast a bride and groom.

Documentary Wedding Photography

A rehearsal dinner can be a good time to get more casual group photos and portraits, but it really lends itself to documentary style photography. In cases like this, I strive to step back and take in the whole story unfolding around me. Jessica and Will’s interactions are part of that but so are their guests. 

A bride and groom give their mothers gifts.
The mother of the groom holds up blue and white pajamas while the bride hugs her mother.
Wedding guests sitting at a table laugh and clap.
A woman laughs and claps as she stands beside a table.

Using a documentary approach, I got to blend into the background a little more. People quickly forgot there was a camera around. Jessica and Will can look back on this gallery and see interactions that wouldn’t necessarily happen at a bigger reception with the pressures of formal portraits and a timeline.

A group of family members gathers around a table in a Philadelphia restaurant.
A bride stands beside a groom giving a speech at their rehearsal dinner in Philadelphia.
A bride and groom hug a family member.

Since this was a laid-back evening, people were laughing all through dinner and speeches. People were just so excited to celebrate Jessica and Will. Everyone ate up every moment of the speeches. You can see how happy Will and Jessica are in their smiles. That’s something that you can’t stage. Documentary photography was the perfect way to preserve those moments.

A woman places her hands on a groom's cheeks.
A man hugs a groom as a bride walks past.
A man pats a groom on the back at the end of a rehearsal dinner.

If you’re on the fence about photography coverage for your rehearsal dinner, remember that this is part of your wedding, too. Maybe it’s the most intimate part where your closest family and friends will also be present. That’s worth documenting so you can relive it years from now.

A man hugs a bride as he says goodbye.
Older family members lean in to hear what a bride is saying at a rehearsal dinner.
A bride and groom hold hands in a Philadelphia restaurant during their rehearsal dinner.

Are you looking for a photographer to document your wedding celebrations? I’m a Philadelphia wedding photographer specializing in documentary and candid photos on film. Get in touch with me here!