8 Rehearsal Dinner Mistakes, Straight From the Pros

Because your rehearsal dinner should be memorable for all the right reasons.
Sarah Title - Bridal Fashion & Shopping Expert.
Sarah Title
Sarah Title - Bridal Fashion & Shopping Expert.
Sarah Title
Bridal Fashion & Shopping Expert
  • Sarah writes a variety of content for The Knot and WeddingWire, including bridal fashion advice and product recommendations.
  • Sarah’s work has also been featured in Brides, Nicki Swift, Betches and Style Me Pretty.
  • Sarah lives in Alexandria, VA with her (new) husband and golden retriever named Brady.
Updated Jan 18, 2024

Your rehearsal dinner is an important part of your wedding. Not only does the actual rehearsal help you understand the flow of the ceremony, but the dinner that follows helps to set the overall tone for the event. However, there are a few common rehearsal dinner mistakes that could derail your plans for a picture-perfect event. So, we tapped a few wedding planning pros to reveal what not to do when it comes to rehearsal dinner planning and etiquette.

1. Not Hiring a Planning Pro

While your focus may be on planning your wedding, the rehearsal dinner is also a special event you don't want to forget about. It might seem like an event you can plan on your own, but with so much of your attention on the wedding, hiring a professional is a worthy investment. They can help you with details that may be overlooked and help you stick to a budget. You can find hundreds of pros on The Knot Vendor Marketplace by searching for wedding planners in your area.

Wedding Planner's Tips: "There are many aspects that a professional can and will help with, both throughout the planning and on the day itself, allowing the couple to be present in the moment and make educated, knowledgeable decisions," advises Naomi Z. Sitahal, owner and lead planner of Naomi Zora Events, a wedding planner serving South Florida, New York and international destinations. "A professional planner will ensure that all details—small and big—are accounted for, and not overlooked. Many times they often are able to save you money by anticipating mistakes that you would've made on your own."

2. Not Determining a Budget

When it comes to wedding planning, determining your budget is one of the most important initial steps — and the same goes for your rehearsal dinner. Make sure you establish who will be hosting the rehearsal dinner and what the budget is before it becomes a stressful situation.

Wedding Planner's Tips: "Determining who is handling the bill is critical so that you can determine what level of rehearsal dinner will be the best fit. If the couple's expectations and their paying party's budget don't meet, that will be an issue," explains Michelle B. Charlot, founder and lead planner of Poshed and Peachy, a wedding planner in Louisiana. "The budget affects all aspects of planning, so waiting too late will only slow down the process and possibly prevent you from booking your desired venue and vendors."

3. Not Creating a Separate Rehearsal Dinner Guest List

There are many factors that go into determining a rehearsal dinner guest list. Traditionally, wedding party members and immediate family members are invited. Some people might choose to invite extended family members or other people playing important roles in the wedding, such as ushers, your officiant, etc. It all depends on your budget, capacity and the type of rehearsal dinner you're looking to have.

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Wedding Planner's Tips: "Many couples think that rehearsal dinners are only intended to host the wedding party members (and oftentimes fail to remember their plus ones) and forget to include important extended family members," says Sitahal. "Similar to a wedding day, adding rehearsal dinner guests to the guest list can significantly increase the guest list (sometimes doubling it), which causes a ripple effect with blowing the budget."

4. Not Planning Well in Advance

It's easy to let the details of your wedding day take up the majority of your time, but planning a rehearsal dinner is just as important. It's important to nail down a rehearsal dinner venue well in advance so you're not scrambling at the last minute. Hiring a wedding planning pro to help you out will take some of the stress out of organizing a rehearsal dinner and a wedding.

Wedding Planner's Tips: "Because so many couples are focused on planning their wedding day, they often neglect the planning of their rehearsal dinner and leave it until the last minute. This is a horrible idea for many reasons," explains Sitahal. "Not only do you need to ensure venue availability (which can be an issue in seasonal cities because venues are often booked out far in advance), but you also need to alert your guests — especially non local guests — so that they can make proper accommodations. Be sure to begin planning early!"

5. Overlooking Essential Details

This goes hand in hand with not planning in advance. If you leave everything to the last minute, essential details are naturally going to be forgotten about. Things like table settings, seating chart, securing vendors, tapping speakers for a toast, etc. are important pieces of the rehearsal dinner puzzle.

Wedding Planner's Tips: "Common essentials that are forgotten about are the place settings for tables and the flow of the event," explains Charlot. "Sourcing the appropriate staff to accommodate is equally important. For example, if the dinner will be held at a gallery or event center, typically the couple is responsible for sourcing catering, bar and beverage, etc. If a toast is planned for the evening, it's important to hire staff to accommodate passed drinks. There are many other essentials like music, a mic for speeches or place cards for intimate settings that are sometimes forgotten about."

6. Not Considering Guests' Dietary Restrictions and Needs

When you're putting together your rehearsal dinner menu, you'll want to consider the dietary needs of your guests. Are they vegan or gluten-free? Or do they have a specific dairy allergy? You'll want to make sure you ask your guests when they RSVP if they have any dietary considerations so you know in advance.

Wedding Planner's Tips: "When planning the wedding, your caterer asked about dietary restrictions. Something prompted you to be more aware of those guests and their dietary needs. The rehearsal dinner is no different," says Jacqueline Vizcaino, owner of Tinted Events Design and Planning in Atlanta, Georgia. "When planning the rehearsal dinner, add a column on your guest tracking sheet to include the rehearsal dinner. This will simplify retrieving the information when meeting with the venue hosting the rehearsal dinner.

7. Not Hiring a Photographer or Videographer

You didn't think twice about hiring someone to capture your wedding day, so why should your rehearsal dinner be any different? It's also a very special occasion that you'll want to look back on for years to come. If you're in need of a photographer or videographer, head to The Knot Vendor Marketplace to find one in your area.

Wedding Planner's Tips: "Entertainment and photo/video are important vendors that are often completely forgotten when it comes to planning a rehearsal dinner," notes Sitahal. "Many memories are being created since friends and family are all gathered, and it's a great idea to have both photo & video there to capture some of those core moments."

8. Overdoing It

Remember: Your rehearsal dinner is just that—a rehearsal. Your wedding is the main event, and you don't want to throw a party so huge the night before that you and your most special guests are tired or worn out the following day. You also don't want to make the rehearsal dinner such a large event that it completely outshines your actual wedding.

Wedding Planner's Tips: "Celebrating too long the night before the wedding can make for a tiresome next day for the group involved,"explains Charlot. "The rehearsal dinner or welcome

party, whatever it is, should have a reasonable start and end time, lasting for no more than two to three hours. To make getting around easier for guests and to help on time, I recommend hosting the dinner, etc. near the block hotel or where most of the guests are staying."

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