When it comes to rehearsal dinner attire, it’s not quite as formal as what you’ll wear for the wedding. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress up a little bit and put some thought into your outfit. After all, this event is a smaller gathering and an opportunity to spend quality time with the happy couple before they tie the knot.
A rehearsal dinner is a casual affair.
A rehearsal dinner is a casual affair. This is not the time to break out your most formal outfit or wear a long gown and diamonds. Instead, opt for something a little more relaxed, like a short dress in a fun color with high heels.
The same goes for your attire: you shouldn’t wear jeans or sneakers, but instead choose something that’s smart-casual—the perfect middle ground between overly dressed and casual. A floral romper paired with metallic wedges would be ideal! Or if you prefer dresses, consider wearing one with an asymmetrical hemline for a flirty touch.
If the rehearsal dinner is held in a garden or backyard, the dress code can be relaxed.
If your rehearsal dinner is outside, the dress code can relax a little. The event won’t be quite as formal and you don’t want to look overdressed. However, it’s still probably not a good idea to wear something that you’d wear to go swimming or tanning on the beach. It should also be nice enough that you wouldn’t wear it while gardening or playing with the dog in your yard (unless you’re planning on getting married in your backyard). You should also avoid anything too revealing—think “inappropriate” attire for church versus “hunky” attire for church.
Note that the venue also sets the tone.
You might want to consider the venue when choosing an outfit. It should be discussed as part of the invitation, or if not there, by a phone call from the bride or groom. The venue will set a tone that you can use to inform your wardrobe selection. For example, if you are attending a rehearsal dinner in a garden filled with flowers and trees, bright colours and floral prints would blend well with the natural surroundings; however, if the venue is an indoor location such as a theatre or museum it would be appropriate to wear something more formal so that you do not clash with the greenery but still complement the ambience of such a space. In addition to helping you choose what colour to wear at your event, knowing where it’s being held can also help guide you in your choice of style and accessories. For example, casual venues like coffee shops may pair best with jeans and t-shirts while outdoor venues may work better with summery dresses or shorts.
Consider your role at the party.
If you’re invited to a rehearsal dinner, it’s important to know your role at the party. There are different rules for everyone from the engaged couple on down to guests (even plus-ones). So what should you wear?
- If you’re the bride or groom, wear something that looks good and feels comfortable. You’ll be able to focus on mingling and making conversation instead of sweat stains or itching from an ill-fitting dress.
- If you’re a mother of the bride or other relative of the engaged couple, think of rehearsal dinner attire as similar to a nice evening out with your spouse. Think cocktail dresses and sophisticated heels.
- If you’re a bridesmaid, look to the style guide created by the bride as well as your own wardrobe for inspiration. Your dress doesn’t have to match exactly, but it should still feel like part of the wedding family.
- If you’re just attending as a guest, then feel free to ask other guests what they plan on wearing: they might give clues about the overall tone of event.
Look for formal dresses that have a casual vibe.
- You should look for formal dresses that have a casual vibe.
- A sheath dress will work for any style of rehearsal dinner, whether casual or formal.
- An A-line dress with a classic silhouette is a good choice for a rehearsal dinner.
- Avoid an overly embellished or colorful dress if you’re going to the rehearsal dinner.
- If you want to wear a dress to a rehearsal dinner, opt for a simple one.
For a dressy wedding, stick with classic styles for your rehearsal dinner outfits.
If the wedding will be a formal event, then it’s probably safe to assume that the rehearsal dinner will be as well. If you’re attending a rehearsal dinner with a dress code, it’s best to stick with classic styles — think dark suits and solid-colored dresses — as they won’t distract from the bride and groom’s big fashion moment. It’s also important to consider where the rehearsal dinner will take place: An outdoor barbecue in July calls for shorts and dresses of breathable fabrics, whereas an indoor church hall in February suggests heavier materials.
Finally, it’s essential to consider your role in the wedding when choosing what to wear to a rehearsal dinner. Are you the maid of honor? Keep it low-key but polished. A bridesmaid? Try not to upstage anyone else by wearing something too similar or dramatic. The father of the bride? You’ve got this under control! A guest at a friend or family member’s wedding? You shouldn’t need any advice from us—rehearsal dinners are typically pretty informal affairs. Just be sure not to wear white (and now is not the time for that hilarious novelty tie).
The color of your outfit should also be suitable for the season and venue.
The color of your outfit should also be suitable for the season and venue. The time of year, time of day and location will all impact what shade you choose. Darker colors like navy, black and burgundy are more appropriate in the winter, while brighter shades such as pastel pink, baby blue or sunny yellow are perfect for a summer event. No matter what hue you select, try to avoid wearing anything too loud or distracting. A rehearsal dinner is a long evening full of mingling with family members and friends that you may not see often, so it’s important to be comfortable throughout the celebration.
You don’t need to wear anything too formal to a rehearsal dinner, but you still want to dress up nicely.
A rehearsal dinner is a pre-wedding party to celebrate the upcoming nuptials. While it’s typically a fun, low-formality affair, there are some rules of etiquette you should follow when you’re choosing what to wear. Here’s how to make sure your style is appropriate.
If You’re the Bride:
You have probably already ordered your wedding dress and have an idea of the accessories that will complete your look for the big day. The rehearsal dinner dress should be at least as fancy as your wedding day outfit if not more so because it’s a less formal event than the wedding itself. For example, if you plan on wearing strapless heels for the wedding, consider wearing wedges with embellishments for the rehearsal dinner instead; save those classic pumps for Saturday night.
If You’re the Groom:
Your job is easy—wear a suit and tie! Try coordinating with your partner by either matching or complimenting her outfit in some way through pattern or color choice—or both! If she wears a floral sundress, try pairing it with a floral print tie; if she chooses navy blue wedges instead of red ones, go with those navy blue socks instead of black ones (you can even get away with going sockless).
The bottom line: You’re in the clear if you keep it sophisticated, summery and a bit festive. Dresses and skirts are almost always a better choice than pants or shorts for rehearsal dinners. The same goes for dresses that are wedding-guest appropriate—for example, not too revealing or low cut.
As with any formal event, make your outfit appropriate for the venue and season. If you’ve got a fancier rehearsal dinner to attend at an upscale restaurant, your outfit should skew slightly more formal than if you’re gathering at an outdoor park or someone’s backyard. And depending on the climate where you live, take into consideration whether you need a light jacket or wrap to cover up when it gets chilly at night (and remember how cute jackets look over bare shoulders).
Just one final note: Unless otherwise specified by the bride and groom, steer clear of anything white! Although wearing white to a rehearsal dinner isn’t quite as unthinkable as wearing it to the wedding itself, it’s still considered poor etiquette when attending any event preceding the big day.