We will be having our wedding just outside of Santa Barbara in July 2010 and thus, are looking for a restaurant to host a wedding rehearsal dinner. BUT we do not have much money (we are paying for the wedding ourselves and really cannot afford what kind of amounts to two weddings, looking at some of the lovely restaurants like Stella Mares). Also, we would like to invite the out-of-towners, which I understand is respectful and traditional. But again we run into problems: I am afraid that folks traveling all of the way to beautiful, magical Santa Barbara will be disappointed at the end of the night (food/location-wise) and feeling like they should have just gone out on their own. So any creative suggestions (a pre-rehearsal lunch, drinks with appetizers, etc.) are totally welcome. Any ideas that are fun, odd, charming, casual, outdoors, etc. are totally welcome. Also, I'm thinking 30-40 people so, for example, a park bbq would probably be too difficult to handle along with the wedding. Finally, to make matters even more difficult, we are not in Santa Barbara so any specifics (e.g., restaurant names) would be great!
Many many thanks in advance for your help!!!!