5 Reasons to Add Rehearsal Dinner Photography to Your Wedding Weekend

Capture the festivities from the very start.
Samantha Iacia - The Knot wedding style expert
Samantha Iacia
  • Samantha writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a speciality in wedding decor, trends, and fashion
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Samantha was a features and weddings contributor for The Baltimore Sun
  • She is based in Washington, D.C. and holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism
Updated May 08, 2024

One expense you may not have factored into your budget is choosing a wedding photography package that also includes rehearsal dinner photography. While booking a pro for this important prewedding event definitely isn't mandatory (and, yes, it does cost more), the last thing you want to feel is regret for not having professional photos or videos of your final evening before the I dos. Think of your rehearsal dinner as an extension of the wedding weekend that you worked so hard to plan—an event that's just as special in its own way. Don't have a photographer yet? Start making a list of your faves by browsing pro photographers on The Knot Vendor Marketplace using filters for starting price, location, style and more. If you're considering adding wedding rehearsal dinner coverage to your photography contract, here's our case for splurging on those precious extra hours.

Rehearsal dinner photography FAQS: Do You Need Rehearsal Dinner Photography? | Who to Hire | Rehearsal Dinner Photography Cost | How to Find a Photographer | When to Hire a Photographer | Benefits of Rehearsal Dinner Photography

Should You Have a Photographer at Your Rehearsal Dinner?

Couples who don't want to forget a single moment of their wedding weekend should opt for rehearsal dinner photography. This service isn't a must-have, but it's definitely a nice-to-have if you're able to allocate a little more money toward your overall wedding photography budget. With professional rehearsal dinner photography coverage, you won't have to worry about taking your own photos or hoping that your guests capture a few good snapshots on their phones. And there's a good chance you'll end up with photos that you love just as much as your actual wedding day portraits. Hiring a rehearsal dinner photographer is also a good idea if you're incorporating special ceremonies, creative decorations or cultural traditions into the event and want to remember the moment.

Should the Rehearsal Dinner Photographer Be the Same as Your Wedding Photographer?

In most cases, your rehearsal dinner photographer should be the same as your wedding photographer. Leading up to your wedding day, your photographer will spend time getting to know you and your partner so that you both feel comfortable in front of the camera. And we'll guess that you probably hired your wedding photographer in the first place because you like their personality and their work, so why not continue working with someone you've already established a relationship with? You might have to make an exception by hiring a different rehearsal dinner photographer if your wedding photographer is unavailable or doesn't offer rehearsal dinner coverage.

How Much Is Rehearsal Dinner Photography?

The exact rehearsal dinner photography cost will depend on your event date, location and your photographer's baseline pricing. There are a lot of factors that go into how much photographers charge for rehearsal dinner photography, so if it's something you're interested in, first consider the average cost of a rehearsal dinner and your overall budget. The average wedding photographer cost was $2,900 in 2023, but rehearsal dinners are much shorter events, so the rehearsal dinner photography pricing could be less. If you're hiring your wedding photographer for the rehearsal dinner, they may be willing to bundle the cost into your existing contract for a small discount.

How to Find a Rehearsal Dinner Photographer

Finding a rehearsal dinner photographer is similar to finding your wedding photographer—with a few additional steps. While most photographers will be happy to work your rehearsal dinner, it's important to note that not all of them offer rehearsal dinner photography, so be sure to ask about their services upfront. When you're browsing photographers on The Knot Vendor Marketplace, you can easily see who offers wedding rehearsal photography by using the Rehearsals & Parties filter, in addition to sorting vendors by your wedding location.

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When to Hire a Rehearsal Dinner Photographer

You should hire a rehearsal dinner photographer as soon as you have the basic event details finalized, or at least a few months in advance (ideally four to five months). For even more peace of mind, get a jump-start on rehearsal dinner photography when you're doing wedding photographer outreach. This will give you the best chance of securing your favorite vendor instead of being limited to whoever is available at the last minute.

Why You Should Hire a Rehearsal Dinner Photographer

Need even more convincing? We asked professional wedding photographers to share their best rehearsal dinner photography tips and favorite reasons why you should hire a photographer for the occasion.

You'll capture once-in-a-lifetime feelings.

As special as your wedding day will be, there's something undeniably magical about the excitement in the room the night before the main event. This meal is often a more relaxed but exciting occasion—your wedding ceremony photos will be filled with emotion, while your reception photos will convey fun and euphoria (you're finally married!). At your rehearsal dinner, your photographer can capture those prewedding jitters (they're totally normal, by the way) and indescribable feelings of anticipation that you'll only experience right before getting married.

"I consider the rehearsal another part of the wedding weekend, and these photos feel just as significant as the wedding day photos," says Davy Whitener, owner of Davy Whitener Photography in Atlanta, Georgia. "The clients will get some great emotional photographs from all the toasts, plus more candids with their closest family and friends."

Your photographer will have a chance to see you in action (and vice versa).

While you may have kept up an email thread with your wedding photographer during your engagement, chances are you've only been in front of their camera once or twice before the big day. Your rehearsal dinner is a perfect opportunity for your photographer(s) to get to know you even more as a couple, which can help all of you feel ready for the actual wedding.

"The rehearsal dinner is a huge part of the wedding weekend," says Liz Fogarty, owner of Liz Fogarty Photography in Washington, D.C. "It's a great opportunity for us photographers to work with our clients if they skipped the engagement session. Our style of photography focuses on candid photographs and real moments, instead of the posed stuff, and having us there the night before gets you more comfortable in front of the camera the next day. We do not like walking into your wedding day as strangers, and working together before the big day really helps you forget that we are even there and really just enjoy your wedding day."

And if you're nervous about posing or photography direction, you can think of your rehearsal dinner as practice for being in front of the camera, explains Tara Fay, owner of Tara Fay Events in Dublin, Ireland. "While most couples think they are used to being photographed together, a wedding is a whole other level of attention," she says. "So the rehearsal dinner is like their trial (fun trial, that is!) for posing on the wedding day."

You'll have more time for couples portraits and photos with family.

The rehearsal dinner guest list is pared down to your absolute nearest and dearest—primarily your wedding party, immediate family members (parents, grandparents, siblings) and closest friends. Hiring your photographer to capture the rehearsal dinner is a chance for them to see which guests are most important to you ahead of time.

"The best part about capturing the rehearsal dinner is actually getting to know the family before the wedding day and learning who the VIPs are," says Fogarty. "That way, we recognize the parents, grandparents and wedding party the next day, which allows us to focus on your favorite people."

Wrangling all of your relatives and other VIPs for portraits is easier said than done on your wedding day, so the rehearsal dinner is a great way to make sure you get at least one photo as a group. This can be especially helpful if there are guests with special circumstances, like elderly grandparents who might want to leave the wedding reception early or out-of-town loved ones you only see on rare occasions. On top of that, wedding rehearsal photos are a fun chance to capture a few final portraits with your partner before you're a married couple.

"As the photographer, we love having the trial run to see how you interact with your guests and wedding attendants," Whitener says. "It all goes quickly, so in the end, everyone loves having these photos and seeing all their guests from your wedding weekend. I also take a few portraits (or what I call a mini session) with the clients to give them another look and style separate from the wedding day. We typically go outdoors to shoot these at the beginning of the rehearsal to catch the last bit of daylight and the overall environment for your rehearsal's location."

You'll document the memorable speeches and other moments.

You'll have toasts and memorable moments at the wedding, no doubt, but the rehearsal dinner is equally filled with emotions and memories. If you tend to be introverted, you may feel less overwhelmed by the smaller rehearsal dinner crowd, resulting in even more genuine, candid moments for your photographer to capture.

"Some couples are choosing to have all the speeches actually just at the rehearsal dinner," says Fogarty. "It's great because we all know some speeches run over, and that way, it leaves more time for the dance floor on your wedding day!"

Couples often use their rehearsal dinner to give a special thank you to anyone who helped with wedding planning, along with surprising their wedding party and parents with gifts. And if you have close friends who aren't giving a speech at the reception, the rehearsal dinner is a chance for them to share a few congratulatory words. Either way, there's plenty of moments you won't want to forget.

"I think it sets the tone for the whole weekend and tells part of the story of the wedding: relaxed images of the couple with their friends, which a photographer does not always have the opportunity to capture on a wedding day, as there are so many other things happening," says Fay. She points out that hiring a wedding videographer is another way to preserve those special memories. "Sometimes, the speeches at the rehearsal dinner are so wonderful you want to remember them afterwards. It's a time when everyone is relaxed and slightly giddy, so it's such a joy to see and capture."

Your photographer will capture photos of all the rehearsal dinner details.

Even though the rehearsal dinner isn't the main event, there's still a decent amount of planning that goes into it, from choosing decor and inviting guests, to creating a menu and deciding what to wear. All of that hard work deserves to be properly documented—and your photographer is up for the job. "I really appreciate how the elevated style of the rehearsal dinner complements and coordinates with the overall style of the wedding weekend," Whitener says. "Couples are wearing higher fashion, making it fun to shoot them in statement designer attire."

But details aside, it's the last party before you're married, and you might even find that you love your rehearsal dinner photos as much as your wedding photos. They'll always remind you of the nervous butterflies, love and excitement you felt on the eve of your wedding.

"You will not regret having your photographer at your rehearsal dinner," Fogarty says. "It really helps us to get the vibe and energy of your family and friends so we can be ready for the wedding day. You know you have picked the perfect outfit and designed the most beautiful party, so why not capture it?"

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