Not sure what to wear to a rehearsal dinner when it’s not your wedding?
Though you might be able to get some hints from the formality of the invitation or the location of the dinner, putting together the most appropriate outfit can be a bit tricky.
That’s why we consulted experts to give us their insights on what you should wear to a rehearsal dinner.
Let’s find out:
Table of Contents
- Consider the location of the dinner and the formality of the invitation
- Keep it chic while staying appropriate
- If you’re a bride or groom
- If you’re a guest
- It is best to err on the conservative side
- When in doubt, overdress
- It’s important to follow the dress code mentioned on the invitation
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a rehearsal dinner?
- What is the dress code for a rehearsal dinner?
- Can I wear jeans to a rehearsal dinner?
- What color should I wear to a rehearsal dinner?
- Can I wear a sundress to a rehearsal dinner?
- Do I have to wear heels to a rehearsal dinner?
- Can I wear a cocktail dress to a rehearsal dinner?
- Can I wear a jumpsuit to a rehearsal dinner?
- What accessories should I wear to a rehearsal dinner?
- What should men wear to a rehearsal dinner?
Founder & Director, Beyond Etiquette
Consider the location of the dinner and the formality of the invitation
A few things that can help you decide what to wear to a rehearsal dinner would be the location of the wedding, the location of the dinner, the formality of the invitation, and if there is a dress code listed on the invitation.
If you still feel unsure about what to wear to the rehearsal dinner, you can always reach out to the bride, groom, or the person who invited you to the event. Keep in mind that what you wear to the actual wedding should always be more formal than what you wear to the rehearsal dinner.
Dress codes at rehearsal dinners can fall into the following categories: formal (black-tie), semi-formal, business casual, and casual.
Men: Black tuxedo with pressed white dress shirt finished off with cufflinks, a black bowtie, and a cummerbund.
Women: Floor-length dresses or gowns.
Men: Dark grey or navy suit with a white dress shirt paired with an elegant tie and finished off with leather dress shoes and dark dress socks.
Women: Elegant cocktail dress, long elegant skirt with a top, or elegant pants with nice top.
Men: Sport coat or blazer with a dress shirt or open collar shirt and slacks or khakis. A tie is optional and you can finish off with dress shoes or loafers.
Women: Cocktail dress, or knee or floor-length skirt with an elegant top.
Men: Dress shirt, casual button-down shirt, or polo with khakis or slacks and finished off with loafers or dress shoes.
Women: Cocktail dress, sundress, or knee or floor-length skirt with an elegant top.
Fashion Designer & Image Stylist
Keep it chic while staying appropriate
Attending a wedding is a great opportunity to amp-up your style, so take the time to carefully craft your outfits. Here are some guidelines that will help you keep it chic while staying appropriate:
Since the wedding day look should be more restrained and understated, the rehearsal dinner is when you can go for a more stylish, trend-forward look.
Wear a chic jumpsuit if you’re going for a sophisticated, sleek look or keep it classic with a cocktail dress. A full-length maxi hemline can translate as either bohemian or formalwear, so choose the style and print based on what you’re trying to communicate. Rehearsal dinners are more relaxed, so feel free to go with a bold print, color or cut.
Above all, make sure the fit and proportion of your outfit suit your size and shape.
Rehearsal dinners can be on the casual side, but aim for a sports jacket and tie at the very least. Depending upon the tone of the night, attire can range from suit to flannel, so take cues from the groom on appropriate attire.
Remember the photos are meant to last forever, so you’ll want to present as your most polished and smart!
If you’re a bride or groom
Chances are that your rehearsal dinner is only a few days prior to your wedding day. To give your guests a glimpse of what your big day will look like, choose an outfit that compliments your wedding’s overall theme and color palette.
For instance, if your ceremony is taking place on the beach, dressing in delicate fabrics, like tulle or chiffon, will flow perfectly. Or, if your reception’s decor mimics an English garden theme, wearing a floral print dress or a floral-patterned tie will show off a cohesive look for all of your wedding day details. Similarly, wearing a hue that complements your wedding’s location can be the perfect touch.
Incorporating blues that are reminiscent of the ocean or greens that highlight hilltops will add just the right amount of coordination to your outfit.
The great thing is that couples are no longer tied to wearing a simple white dress or a nice jacket to their rehearsal dinners, so now is the time to really go all-in on something that’s slightly more fun and playful! But, if you prefer to stick with a more traditional style, play up a certain aspect of your outfit — like a colorful heel or a fun pocket square — to add in a bit of modern flair.
If you’re a guest
If you’ve been invited to the rehearsal dinner, that typically means that you play a special role in the wedding. Whether that means you’re a family member or a bridesmaid, the best way to plan your outfit is by first chatting with the couple.
After finding out the appropriate dress code, you can then filter out what’s in your closet. Try to remember that whatever you wear shouldn’t upstage the couple themselves, so if the bride tells you she’s wearing a sundress, don’t show up in a ballgown!
A good rule of thumb is to find an outfit that acts as a perfect neutral — not too dressed up, not too dressed down — and to accessorize for the occasion.
If the dinner is somewhere that’s a bit fancier, add on a sequined belt with a polished heel. If the dinner’s dress code is more casual, pair your look down with some fun earrings, cute flats, or a denim jacket. And, if you’re unsure of whether or not your outfit looks the part, throw a few accessories in your bag just in case, that way you can scope out the styles in the room before ultimately choosing what outfit details work best for the rehearsal dinner’s overall vibe.
President of Boardroom Socks
It is best to err on the conservative side
If the rehearsal dinner is a black-tie event or if it has a specific theme (i.e. “luau” or “Western“), you should be advised of this ahead of time. In that case, dress accordingly.
If you haven’t be advised of what to expect ahead of time, it is best to err on the conservative side; no one remembers the over-dress guest but everyone remembers the under-dressed guest. Showing up in too-casual of attire is embarrassing and reflects poorly on yourself as well as the individuals who invited you.
For gentlemen, we recommend wearing trousers, a button-down, and a sport coat.
An even better option would be a suit and tie; if upon arrival you determine that the tie is too formal, it can easily be removed. For footwear, we recommend a well-polished pair of brogues or other lace-up dress shoes; slip-on style shoes are too casual and should be avoided. Ensure your belt and shoes are the same color.
Given that we are manufacturers of men’s hosiery, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss dress socks in at least a little bit of detail. Socks can be a great way to subtly, and appropriately, express personality at a rehearsal dinner.
Our recommendation here is to again err on the conservative side, particularly if the event is formal. A bright, solid-colored sock such as purple or red can be used to tastefully add a splash of color to a dark suit.
Founder & CEO, RENT MY WEDDING
When in doubt, overdress
I’ve helped thousands of couples across the U.S. plan weddings. Here are my 3 top tips for what to wear to a rehearsal dinner.
- Check the venue’s dress code
- Ask the couple
- When in doubt, overdress
Not sure what to wear to a rehearsal dinner? Follow these 3 simple rules to ensure you dress appropriately for a rehearsal dinner!
First, check the venue’s dress code. If the venue has a specific dress code, plan your wardrobe accordingly. If it’s a casual restaurant, like a pizza place, it’s a safe bet to dress casually. If you’re still not sure, ask the couple. What if it’s too late to ask the couple? A good rule of thumb is that when in doubt, overdress!
No one is going to fault you for looking nice at an important event. But you certainly don’t want to be the only one wearing jeans in a crowd of cocktail gowns!
Director of Special Events, Hollywood POP Gallery
It’s important to follow the dress code mentioned on the invitation
Figuring out what to wear to a wedding-related occasion is always a bit tricky. As a guest, you want to adhere to the etiquette and not outshine the bride, bridal party or family members. On the flip side, though, you do not want to be underdressed either.
Therefore, it is important to follow the dress code mentioned on the invitation. On rare occasions, the couple has not specified a dress code which means a little detective work will take you a long way.
If the rehearsal is taking place at a restaurant, do a quick search of the place so you get an understanding of the ambiance and style. If it is a fine dining restaurant or otherwise an elegant looking place, you know the setting will likely be upscale and dressier. Dressing in cocktail attire is always a safe bet on those occasions.
However, if the dinner is hosted at the couple’s favorite BBQ joint or distillery, chances are that everyone will be more casually dressed. Some couples choose to host the dinner at an event venue, which typically means they had a bigger budget and rehearsal dinner will be a preview of what the actual wedding will be. Unless otherwise advised, dress in cocktail attire.
But no matter what the dress code, leave white for the bride to wear.
If still unsure, you can call the wedding planner or maid of honor for more insight. The weeks leading up to the wedding is a stressful time for the couple, so always try the wedding planner, maid of honor or best man first before contacting the bride and groom.
Fashion and Travel Blogger, What the Fab
Look to the rehearsal dinner’s venue to determine how dressy or casual you should be. If it’s at a fancy supper club, a floor-length dress might be in order, vs if the dinner is being held at an outdoor venue or someone’s backyard, a more casual dress would be appropriate.
Just keep in mind that while of course, you want to look your best, you don’t want to be too flashy or look like you’re trying to outshine the bride. And of course, don’t wear white!
Sometimes a white dress with a print or pattern would be acceptable, but just to be on the safe side I would avoid it altogether. And since it’s bound to be a family affair, definitely avoid showing too much cleavage or leg and opt for something slightly more modest.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a rehearsal dinner?
A rehearsal dinner is a pre-wedding event that takes place the evening before the wedding day. The purpose of this gathering is to bring together the wedding party and immediate family members for a relaxed and intimate meal. It’s an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other better and to go over any last-minute details for the big day.
The rehearsal dinner is typically hosted by the parents of the bride or groom, but it can also be organized by the couple themselves or a close friend or relative. The event usually starts with a cocktail hour followed by a sit-down dinner, often including speeches, toasts, and other special moments.
This is a great opportunity for the couple to thank their loved ones for their support and to share any personal sentiments or special memories. It’s also a time for the wedding party to bond and get excited for the big day ahead.
What is the dress code for a rehearsal dinner?
The dress code for a rehearsal dinner can vary greatly depending on the couple’s preferences and the style of the event. It typically ranges from semi-formal to formal attire. It’s best to check with the couple or the event host for specific dress requirements.
Can I wear jeans to a rehearsal dinner?
Whether or not you can wear jeans to a rehearsal dinner depends on the event’s dress code. If the rehearsal dinner is a more formal or semi-formal event, then wearing jeans may not be appropriate. However, jeans can be an acceptable option if the event is a more casual or relaxed gathering.
It’s always best to check with the couple hosting the event or look for dress code guidance on the invitation or other means. If you’re still unsure, it’s better to err on the side of dressing more formally, rather than wearing jeans that may be too casual for the occasion.
What color should I wear to a rehearsal dinner?
When it comes to color, it really depends on your personal style and the time of year. For a spring or summer event, consider pastels, floral prints, or light shades of blue, pink, or yellow. For a fall or winter event, darker shades such as burgundy, navy, or emerald green can be a great choice.
However, it’s best to avoid wearing white, as that’s typically reserved for the bride. It’s also a good idea to check with the couple or the host for any specific dress code requests.
Can I wear a sundress to a rehearsal dinner?
Yes, you can definitely wear a sundress to a rehearsal dinner. It’s a great option for a more casual or outdoor event or a venue with a relaxed dress code.
Just make sure to choose a sundress that is appropriate for the occasion and the venue. Opt for a more dressy sundress if the rehearsal dinner is taking place at a fancy restaurant, for example.
Do I have to wear heels to a rehearsal dinner?
No, you don’t have to wear heels to a rehearsal dinner. The dress code for a rehearsal dinner can vary depending on the venue and the couple’s preferences, but generally, it’s a more casual and relaxed setting than the wedding itself.
So, you can wear comfortable shoes in which you can move around, like flats or low heels. Ultimately, what’s important is that you feel confident and comfortable in your attire.
Can I wear a cocktail dress to a rehearsal dinner?
Yes, a cocktail dress can be an appropriate choice for a rehearsal dinner, depending on the dress code and the formality of the event. A cocktail dress can be a sophisticated and stylish option that strikes the right balance between dressy and relaxed.
Can I wear a jumpsuit to a rehearsal dinner?
Yes, you certainly can wear a jumpsuit to a rehearsal dinner. Just make sure to choose one that is dressy and appropriate for the occasion.
Consider the venue and dress code, and opt for a jumpsuit that is chic and elegant. Pair it with elegant accessories and shoes to complete the look.
What accessories should I wear to a rehearsal dinner?
For a rehearsal dinner, you can keep the accessories simple but stylish. A nice pair of earrings or a statement necklace can elevate your outfit. A clutch or small purse for essentials is also practical.
Remember, the goal is to look polished and put together without upstaging the bride and groom.
What should men wear to a rehearsal dinner?
For a rehearsal dinner, men can wear a dressy casual outfit, such as a collared shirt and dress pants or chinos, paired with dress shoes. A sport coat or blazer can also be added for a more elevated look.
If the dress code is formal, a suit and tie are appropriate.
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