5 Things No One Tells You About Your Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner will sneak up on you (in a good way!).
maggie seaver the knot wedding planning expert
Maggie Seaver
maggie seaver the knot wedding planning expert
Maggie Seaver
Wedding Planning Expert
  • Maggie Seaver is an Associate Digital Editor at RealSimple.com.
  • Maggie writes about life, career, health, and more.
  • Maggie was an editor at The Knot from 2015 to 2019.
Updated Jan 24, 2019

The rehearsal dinner (or rehearsal brunch, if you're a pancakes and mimosas couple) usually falls after your ceremony rehearsal on the day (or two) before your wedding. This prewedding event can be as intimate or lavish as you'd like, but most couples stick to a few traditional elements, or variations on them (think: wedding party and soonlywed toasts). But beyond the rehearsal dinner planning basics you need to know, here are few little secrets only those who've been through it know.

1. You actually need to plan it.

Yes, you read that right. The rehearsal dinner doesn't need to be as large or long of an event as your wedding reception, but you (or someone close to you) still needs to find a venue, make a guest list, choose a menu, get the word out, find an outfit and so on. It's an easy event to put on the back burner while planning your ceremony and reception, but you'll be happy not to have left it 'til the last minute.

2. It might be even more emotional than your wedding.

Sounds impossible, we know, but rehearsal dinner speeches—both the quality and the sheer quantity—will make you feel so loved, so touched and so flipping happy. Your cheeks will hurt from laughing and your mascara will absolutely start running. If you want, the rehearsal dinner is a chance for your wedding party (minus the honor attendants), parents, you two and any other loved ones to say a few words. And since it's often more relaxed and family oriented, your guard will be down—so, yeah, things can get super emotional.

3. You'll love the photos.

In light of all aforementioned emotions, the pictures from your rehearsal dinner will be unexpectedly special. If you're up for a little splurge, hire your wedding photographer for a couple of hours at your rehearsal dinner location—one, to get professional shots, and two, to make sure your guests don't have to worry about taking them.

4. Certain people need to be on the guest list.

There are a few people you need to invite, but after that, the size of your rehearsal dinner guest list is up to you. Beyond your immediate family and wedding party, remember to invite your officiant and their partner, as well as your wedding party's significant others (if applicable). They might not even accept, but it's a nice gesture to extend the ask.

5. You'll be ready to party after.

After the rehearsal dinner you'll be feeling the love (and possibly feeling the wine), which means you'll be far from ready to call it a night. Take this opportunity to plan a casual get-together with other wedding guests who've already arrived. Keep it simple by saying you and your families will be hanging out at such-and-such bar after the rehearsal dinner—please stop by for a hug and a drink. (If you know you'll be a big group, don't forget to call ahead and reserve the space). But keep in mind: You still want to get your beauty rest and be fresh for the next (very important!) day.

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