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Walking Eagle Photography

Your rehearsal dinner is one of the last pre-wedding parties you will plan. Known as "the party before the party," the rehearsal dinner is a great way to officially kick start your wedding — you'll get to hang out with your wedding party, see some of your guests for the first time, eat good food, hear a bunch of toasts (like a maid of honor speech or best man speech), and celebrate your impending nuptials. 

To ensure everything runs smoothly at your rehearsal dinner, avoid these major no-nos.

1. Delay Booking Your Rehearsal Dinner Venue

If you're opting to have your rehearsal dinner at a bar or restaurant, you need to make reservations right away. We recommend finalizing a rehearsal dinner venue at least four to six months prior to solidify a time and place well in advance.

2. Over-or Under-Invite

After choosing a venue, you’ll want to start creating a rehearsal dinner guest list. However, choose your guest list carefully. A rehearsal dinner can include as few guests as just close family and wedding party members or as many as all of your out-of-towners. Whatever you decide, try to make a rule and stick to it.

3. Forgetting to Actually Rehearse

If you are planning a run-through of your ceremony before the dinner, then you definitely need to make sure your venue, officiant and anyone else who is a part of your wedding ceremony are available at that time. Also, keep in mind the time frame of when your dinner starts with how long your rehearsal will last.

4. Overshadow Your Wedding

Remember to keep the feel of your rehearsal dinner light and casual. You’ve already planned the extravagant party for your wedding, so opt for something more low key like a backyard BBQ dinner or even a clambake instead!

5. Exclude the Rehearsal Dinner Hosts

Whoever is hosting your rehearsal dinner should also be involved in making decisions and helping plan the dinner. Traditionally, the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner, but that certainly does not have to be the case. Remember though, that whoever is paying for the dinner has a say in the details—from venue to menu, guest list and more.

6. Be Afraid of Toasts

You probably don't want to over-schedule your wedding reception with lots of toasts and speeches, so your rehearsal dinner is a great opportunity for guests to share words of love to the almost-newlyweds. If you know you want certain wedding party members to toast to you at your rehearsal, then make sure to ask them a few months in advance. And at the end of the night, you and your S.O. can also say a few words thanking the hosts and all of your guests for joining you. Ask your venue to set up a microphone or other appropriate audio-visual equipment before the actual toasts begin.

7. Wait to Give Out Gifts

The rehearsal dinner is a good time to give out wedding party gifts. Also, if you bought thank-you gifts for your parents and in-laws, then feel free to present them at dinner as well. This will let you avoid having to carry all the gifts to and from your wedding venue. Lastly, if you've purchased a gift for your wedding party members to wear to the wedding (a necklace or tie, for example), be sure to let them know.

8. Go Off-Schedule

You don’t want to keep your guests up too late the night before your big day (and you need your rest, too!). Even though it is such an exciting time, it’s always a good idea to have a reasonably early cut-off time. You’ll end up waking up refreshed instead of exhausted from celebrating too much at the rehearsal dinner. We suggest closing shop around ten p.m. or so in order to feel rejuvenated for your wedding day!