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Chalk art by Kara Hoblin greets guests at First and South in Greenport. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

These days, pre-wedding rehearsal dinners and post-wedding brunches are becoming increasingly important elements of the wedding weekend experience, as couples want to spend more time with guests who come from out of town, which is often everyone. So be careful not to put all your energy — or all your budget — into the wedding itself.

“Rehearsal dinners have become the ‘practice wedding,’ ” says Sarah Phillips Loth, owner of First and South (110 South Street, Greenport, 631-333-2200). “They’re not just for the bridal party anymore.” And even when they are, she added, couples often invite everyone else to join in for cocktails once dinner is finished. “Brides and grooms don’t want guests all meeting each other for the first time at the wedding. Better to warm up in an intimate setting first.” 

Since so many weddings take place in the “country” at rural vineyards, farms, fields or beaches, some couples like to introduce their guests to the bustling “town” side of the North Fork as well. Greenport Village continues to expand, with both rustic and chic restaurants featuring farm-to-table food from top-notch chefs. And while some couples might balance out a venue wedding with a beachside lobster bake rehearsal dinner, a post-wedding brunch can still incorporate a Greenport restaurant experience. 

Here’s a look at some restaurants in and around Greenport that have designated spaces to host wedding-related events. 

One of Greenport’s newest restaurants is Anker (47 Front St, Greenport, 631-477-1300), where a second-floor covered deck offers sweeping views of Peconic Bay and Shelter Island. The yellow striped awning adds a warm, happy touch to any festivity and the space accommodates 60 guests. For up to 100 people, you can book the entire two-story restaurant, which has a contemporary nautical theme that will make you feel like a yachtie. A hand-painted ocean mural by North Fork artist Emma Ballou enhances the maritime mood. 

At Anker (German for “anchor”) seafood is the star of the menu. Watch the boats go by while enjoying culinary delights from the sea, from fluke crudo with fennel and sugar snap peas to lobster with grilled mango. Desserts focus on local offerings, like a raspberry lemon cake with farm-fresh basil ice cream. 

The upstairs space at Anker offers sweeping views of Greenport Harbor. (Credit: David Benthal)

In a culinary trifecta, Anker is part of Green Hill Hospitality, which also owns Green Hill Kitchen (48 Front Street, Greenport, 631-477-4900) across the street and Industry Standard (45 Front Street, Greenport, 631-477-9000) next door. Each has the benefit of access to Green Hill Events, the group’s catering and events arm, to create personalized menus for hosts. 

Already a nighttime hot spot in the village, Green Hill Kitchen is primed for private events, with both indoor and covered outdoor seating for 75 guests. The entire two-story restaurant is also available for booking and can accommodate 150 guests. 

Want to set the stage for your event with live music? The Upstairs at Green Hill venue is known for its thriving live music scene.

This homey restaurant provides amazing local food in a warm atmosphere and can host intimate rehearsal dinners for 20. You can also take over the entire venue, which can accommodate nearly 100 guests.

When planning the menu for a rehearsal dinner, First and South does a deep dive into the couple’s venue and wedding menu, then makes sure to offer something different. 

“We normally find out where the wedding is being held so we don’t double dip,” Phillips Loth said. “We won’t do a filet if they’re doing that at the wedding.”

First and South also goes to considerable lengths to personalize the event, from printing the couple’s wedding hashtag on customized menus to having chalk artist Kara Hoblin create portraits of the happy couple on the restaurant wall. 

The Merchant’s wife opened at The Menhaden last year. (Credit: Madison Fender)

A chic new addition to the Greenport boutique hotel scene, The Menhaden’s restaurant, lounge and rooftop deck offer various options for wedding-related events. The Menhaden (207 Front Street, Greenport, 631-333-2777) can cater to medium-sized groups for private outdoor and indoor rehearsal dinners. The sleek décor and black-and-white color scheme make it a stylish standout and the roof deck, the highest point in the village, overlooks Greenport Harbor, Shelter Island and North Ferry.

The roof accommodates up to 80 people, and the lounge offers a cozy spot to view the sunset. Two fire pits add drama in both summer and cooler weather (s’mores anyone?) and there’s a bar and grill for drinking and dining. The indoor restaurant, The Merchant’s Wife, can accommodate up to 50 people and features a 20-foot bar and French doors looking out to Front Street. Its 1,000-square-foot lounge features moody décor, low-slung seating and extra-high ceilings. 

Food is sourced from the most local ingredients and crowd favorites include lamb sliders, seared scallops, kale, artichoke and beet salad, roasted chicken and the tuna and watermelon salad. There’s an extensive wine list but try the Gin Mist specialty cocktail, served with a fresh sprig of local lavender.  

If you want to wow rehearsal dinner guests with the best Long Island Sound sunsets on the North Fork, The Halyard (58775 Route 48, Greenport, 631-477-0666) is your spot. (Daytime views during a post-wedding brunch are pretty spectacular, too.) All food for events is curated by executive chef Stephan Bogardus, embodying the property’s nautical geography and history with fresh produce, seafood and wine from the North Fork and Atlantic seaboard. Inside, the maritime theme is felt throughout, from classic captain’s chairs and family-style wooden tables to an exposed ceiling truss that welcomes an abundance of natural light. All indoor rooms have ample views of the water. 

There are no views quite like The Halyard. (Credit: Read McKendree)

A seated rehearsal dinner on the sprawling outdoor deck accommodates 40 guests, while a rehearsal dinner in the rustic/nautical Library seats 45. In the evenings, guests can also experience classic Old World charm in the piano bar lounge to continue the party after dinner. As an added bonus, those who book a qualifying event such as a rehearsal dinner, post-wedding brunch or wedding itself receive discounted room rates at the renovated adjacent Sound View hotel. 

A Lure is very alluring, and not just because of its cute fishing lure pun. Located on Peconic Bay, facing the boats of Southold’s Port of Egypt marina, A Lure (62300 Main Road, 631-876-5300) is a bright and airy harbor restaurant owned by famed restaurateur Tom Schaudel. The spot is beloved by boaters, and for rehearsal dinners or wedding brunches, couples and guests who have Port of Egypt boat slips — or get lucky with the transient ones — have been known to boat over to the festivities. 

A Lure can accommodate up to 70 for a seated rehearsal dinner, or more for a buffet or cocktails. Here, it’s all about the water, and giant bay windows offer views of the marina. In season, guests can dine outside on the deck; in inclement weather A Lure’s clear-walled tent can be set up for unobstructed water views. 

Naturally, local seafood is a specialty of the house (think yellowfin tuna poke with ginger/soy/avocado/chilies/sesame wonton chips or macadamia-coconut crusted flounder with sweet potato purée and key lime beurre blanc) and vegetables are fresh off the local farms. 

The restaurant offers two buffet and two sit-down options but can also work with the couples or families for more personalized options, such as a lobster bash. 

“We do find, however, that most people just want to order from the menu packages,” said manager Liz Werkmeister. “After they’ve planned their whole wedding, they just don’t want to make any more decisions.” 

A Lure has great indoor and outdoor space for events. (Credit: David Benthal)

Owned by chef Noah Schwartz, Noah’s (136 Front Street, Greenport, 631-477-6720) is one of the most acclaimed and innovative restaurants in Greenport Village — its tagline is actually “in-noah-va-tion” — so it’s not surprising that the dining room is usually packed. 

Noah’s does a lively catering business for weddings and events, but if you want your guests to experience dinner or brunch in town, book Noah’s. The private back room can accommodate 25 to 50 guests; adding in the bar area brings capacity up to 80. For a larger group, up to 250 guests, you can reserve the entire space. 

The restaurant is cool and airy, with floating white globe lights, seafoam painted walls and fish prints made from actual inked-up fish pressed onto silk. 

Food and drink are local, local, local — from an extensive wine list to Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. beer-battered fish and chips to fresh-off-the-farm vegetables. Entrées include the local catch of the day, seafood stew, and fish and chips. Other favorites include barbecued duck polenta or Tasmanian red crab tacos (crispy taco shells stuffed with crab salad), which has been on the menu since Noah’s opened more than a decade ago.

For outdoor rehearsal dinners and after parties, many are turning to mobile food trucks. But the Rolling in Dough Pizza Truck (631-603-7378) is more than a party on wheels that can roll into various outdoor venues or even backyard parties. It has the added benefit of being the most photogenic food truck around: a fully restored, cherry red 1943 K-6 International Harvester. And the pizza is supreme; just pop into Greenport’s 1943 Pizza Bar for proof.

Pizza toppings are sourced from local farms, and the handcrafted Valoriani pizza oven, imported from Italy, reaches up to 1,000 degrees so pies cook in three minutes. There’s also a built-in sound system, commercial refrigerator, two sinks, a generator, a retractable awning and an espresso machine featuring Aldo’s hand-roasted coffee beans. Salad and dessert are also served. Rolling in Dough works from set menus with seasonal, artisanal toppings, and can customize a couple’s favorite pie, notes owner Matt Michel, who recommends the truck as an add-on station or for cocktail hour if people insist on using it at their wedding. 

“We have done some weddings where the pizza truck is the main event for food, but I try to discourage that,” he said. “I think people have unrealistic expectations of what it takes to feed 100 people at the same time.”