- It can be difficult to know exactly what to wear to a rehearsal dinner, particularly if you’re not a part of the wedding party.
- Though you might be able to take some cues from the location of the wedding, the location of the dinner, or the formality of the invitation, you still might find yourself going back and forth about the most appropriate outfit for the occasion.
- We consulted wedding experts to find out what you should really wear to a rehearsal dinner, so you don’t have to stress over it anymore on your own.
Determining what to wear to a wedding rehearsal dinner can be more complicated than you might think, regardless of your role at the wedding.
Because you’re not a bride or groom, you probably feel as though you shouldn’t be either overdressed or underdressed, so you might find yourself hemming and hawing over the best choice.
“Sometimes rehearsal dinners are formal affairs. Sometimes they’re casual hangouts. My standard recommendation is to dress in a way that fits the atmosphere of the event,” Janessa White, co-founder of Simply Eloped, told INSIDER.
Perhaps a dress is most appropriate, or a casual pair of pants or a skirt, maybe you should wear heels or opt for something akin to boat shoes, sandals, or even sneakers, depending on the details of the event. Ultimately, there are a number of things that can clue you in and help you make the best choice you can, leaving you feeling confident going into the rehearsal and dinner itself.
In some cases, you might receive a printed invitation to the dinner. If so, taking your cues from the invite itself can be a good place to start.
“If the rehearsal dinner is on the earlier side of the evening (5 p.m., for example) that generally would imply a less formal attire than a dinner at night (7 p.m., for example),” Maya Devassy Tarach, owner of Preoccupied Bride, told INSIDER.
Besides taking note of the time of the dinner, you can also infer a dress code from where the dinner (or other rehearsal event) is being held.
“Some have a theme geared toward the bride and grooms’ hobbies, like a barn dance if it is someone who is into equestrian sports or the country club if it is golfers. You tailor your choices to fit the mood and theme of the dinner, as you wouldn’t wear jeans if it’s at a country club or a cocktail dress to a barn,” Diane Lloyde Roth, owner of L’Armoire, told INSIDER.
If you don’t have a rehearsal dinner invitation to use as a reference point, either because you received a verbal invite to the dinner or are attending as someone’s date, it can be much harder to know what’s appropriate and what might be missing the mark.
“Whenever you’re invited to a rehearsal dinner verbally, chances are it’s either an afterthought or the rehearsal is super informal. With that said, we always say you can never overdress for any event,” Brian Kelly and Sean Koski, owners of luxury event planning company Ticket2Events, told INSIDER. “For men we suggest wearing a suit but removing the jacket and tie if after sizing up the crowd you feel uncomfortable and for women we suggest wearing an LBD that hits just below the knees. Although our suggestions are boring, it’s better to be safe and comfortable amongst the grouping than underdressed and glued to the bar.”
If you crave a bit more guidance and don’t feel comfortable selecting an outfit without knowing more details, reaching out to the couple, their family, or whoever invited you can be a good move.
“If you get a verbal invite, my suggestion is to call back and ask what the dress code is for the dinner,” Lloyde Roth said. “Don’t try to guess if there is a dress code. You can also call the location where the dinner is being held and ask if they have a dress code. As a last resort, you can either call or email the person that invited you to inquire. It is better to be safe than sorry.”
Regardless of where the rehearsal dinner is going to be held or the timing of the event, you’ll want to wear something less formal than you’ll wear to the actual wedding.
“Consider also that it will be more casual than the official invitation for the wedding, meaning that your outfit for the rehearsal dinner will be slightly more casual than the wedding outfit,” Sheree Bergthold, owner of TRE Boutique, told INSIDER. “If it’s dictated to be cocktail attire, men should consider wearing either a suit or sportcoat while women can consider wearing a dress or black pant with a bright top, mirroring what their partner is wearing.”
You can also take a hint from the dress code for the wedding itself for what you should you wear to the other events of the weekend, most notably the rehearsal dinner. Again, because your attire for the rehearsal will likely be less formal than that of the actual wedding, you can use that as a general jumping off point.
And for wedding rehearsal dinners with an established dress code, knowing how to interpret the dress code is key.
“For very formal rehearsal dinners (black tie), men should wear tuxedos, and women should wear cocktail dresses or long gowns,” Devassy Tarach said. “For formal rehearsal dinners (not black tie), men should wear dark suits and ties, and women should wear cocktail dresses or long gowns. For semi-formal rehearsal dinners, men should wear jackets, suit pants (or slacks) and ties, and women should wear cocktail dresses or pantsuits or dressy skirts and blouses. For casual rehearsal dinners, men should wear polos or button downs with dress pants (or slacks), and women should wear sundresses or blouses with skirts or pants.”
When you’re pulling together an entire look for the rehearsal dinner, you also have to keep in mind the rest of what you need to wear beyond just your clothing.
“For accessories, try to figure out one piece of your outfit to be a focal point,” Bergthold said. “Don’t be afraid to layer jewelry, whether that be stacked bracelets or a choker with a chain necklace.”
Though it can be tough to know exactly what to wear to a wedding rehearsal dinner if you’re not explicitly told what the general dress code or theme might be, opting for a business casual look that you feel good in is often a good idea. And don’t forget, it’s a party for someone else and the focus really isn’t about you, so just do your very best to dress appropriately and don’t worry too much about fitting the dress code to a T.
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