If you’ve just received an invitation for a rehearsal dinner, you might be wondering about your wardrobe choices. Determining what to wear to a rehearsal dinner can seem complicated, especially if the invitation doesn’t explicitly mention a dress code.
The goal here is to avoid looking overdressed or underdressed. To help you untangle your rehearsal dinner dress code conundrum, we’ve sketched a quick guide for you that lays out the best considerations to make when picking an outfit for the event.
Types of Rehearsal Dinner Dress Codes
The types of dress codes for rehearsal dinners include:
- Very formal (or black tie). Rehearsal dinners are rarely black-tie affairs. However, if the soon-to-be married couple does take this road, it is critical to pay attention to what you wear. If the dress code screams “black tie,” women should wear floor-length gowns and men should wear tuxedos.
- Formal (not black tie). If the rehearsal dinner is a formal event, it’s best for women to either wear a long gown or a cocktail dress. Men, on the other hand, can wear dark suits and ties.
- Semi-formal. If your rehearsal dinner invitation mentions semi-formal attire, go for cocktail dresses or dressy skirts and blouses. You can even choose to look stunning in a pantsuit. Men, on the other hand, can wear suit pants, ties, and jackets.
- Casual. Rehearsal dinners don’t typically have casual dress codes. But if they do, women can simply choose skirts and blouses, rock a nice pair of pants, or put on a breezy sundress. Men can wear polos and button-downs.
Considerations for Picking Your Outfit
You can see a rehearsal dinner as a party before the actual party. Once you receive an invitation for the event, it is critical to determine the dress code of the event. If you’re not sure how to determine the dress code (or you’re not provided with one), here are a few things you can do:
- Let the invitation guide you. The first place to look for a dress code for a rehearsal dinner is the invitation letter you receive. In most cases, couples include a dress code or a theme for a guest’s convenience. If you don’t find any, you can still determine the dress code by understanding how formal the wording is.
- Consider the time of the event. If the dinner starts at night (7 p.m. or after), you might have to wear a more formal outfit. If the dinner unfolds during the early evening (at 5 p.m., for instance), you can choose a less formal outfit.
- Let the dress code of the wedding guide you. What type of dress code does the official wedding invitation reveal? Generally speaking, the attire for the rehearsal is usually less formal than that of the actual wedding. Use that as a guiding point to determine the attire you’re going to wear for the rehearsal.
- Take the type of venue into account. How fancy is the venue that’s going to host the rehearsal dinner? If the event unfolds in a fancy country club, be sure to put on your best evening dress. If the event unfolds in the couple’s backyard, wear semi-formal or casual attire.
- Ask the venue. If none of the above approaches guide you in determining the dress code, it’s time to contact the venue directly. Ask them which type of dress codes the rehearsal dinners they host usually have.
- Ask around. If the venue doesn’t seem to answer your question, it might be time to reach out to the couple’s family or someone from the wedding party.
What Not to Wear?
Before you start splurging on your new outfit, it’s important to consider what not to wear to a rehearsal.
- Don’t wear white. Usually, it is the to-be-weds who wear white during their pre and post-wedding events. While the couple won’t mind if you do wear white for the rehearsal, it’s always best to choose hues that aren’t white. On the same note, there are a few other colors – such as soft neutrals and pale pinks – that must be avoided.
- Don’t wear wedding colors. Wedding colors are reserved only for the couple’s big day. When choosing a dress for rehearsal dinner, try to avoid picking a color from the palette that the to-be-weds have chosen.
- Don’t wear jeans. A rehearsal dinner is usually not a casual affair. In fact, it is one of the most important events leading up to the wedding. Try to avoid jeans unless the invite specifies casual.
- Don’t wear certain dress styles. A rehearsal dinner demands attire that is usually less formal than the actual wedding. Try to avoid over-the-top ball gowns or attires that may risk upstaging the bride for both the rehearsal and the wedding. Unless the rehearsal unfolds during the daytime, it’s best to skip sundresses.
Your Safest Bet
When you’re not explicitly told what to wear to a rehearsal dinner, it can be difficult to choose the right attire. For ladies who want to avoid the headache of fitting the dress code to a T, the safest bet lies in opting for a business casual look. This attire is neither over-the-top nor casual and can fit almost all special events. Remember, the focus of the party is not on you. So, simply wear a gorgeous pantsuit or an elegant A-line skirt and you’re ready to go!
Over to You
From soaking in every detail of the event to simply playing it safe – there are several roads you can take to pick an ideal outfit for a rehearsal dinner you’ve been invited to. When you’re putting together an entire look for the rehearsal, remember to take into account the rest of what you’ll be wearing beyond just your dress.
A great way to get your accessories game on fleek would be to find one part of your outfit to be the focal point. From there, pick jewelry that will best compliment the dress. Remember, your shoes and accessories must balance out your overall outfit, not make it look out of place. If you choose a dress with intricate detailing, it’s best to pair it with neutral-colored shoes. If your dress is a simple one, elevate it with a pair of fancy heels.