rehearsal dinner dress

Rehearsal Dinner Dress Code: How to Dress for the Rehearsal

Rehearsal dinners are what happen after the bride, groom, officiant and wedding party practice how the next day’s ceremony is going to go. The dinner takes place a restaurant, banquet hall or the home of the groom’s parents, as they are the traditional hosts.

If attending a rehearsal dinner and are unsure how to dress, check out the following tips!

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rehearsal dinner dress

Wedding Dress Code Refresher

Find out from members of the wedding party what the official dress code is for the entire shebang. Another excellent resource is your invitation, which usually features information about attire.

Types of dress style you might see on your invite include.

Black Tie

This is usually reserved for the actual wedding, however it may extend to the dinner. Men should wear a tux, women a cocktail dress or a long evening gown with the appropriate accessories.

Formal/Black Tie Optional

This indicates attire is slightly less formal than black tie, meaning a dark suit and tie could work for men. For women, evening gowns, dark suits or cocktail dresses will suffice.

Beach Formal

Attending a beach wedding? Wear elegant clothing that fits the weather. Men can opt for suits made of light fabric such as linen, while women can wear tea or knee-length sundresses.

Semi-Formal/Dress Casual

A rehearsal dinner with these instructions usually means dark suits (evening) or light suits (day) for men, and cocktail dresses or a dressy skirt and top for women.


This doesn’t mean jeans and t-shirts! What it does mean is dress pants and shirts for men, and skirts/dressy blouses for women, or simply a dress.

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Dress Code Clues: What to Wear if Dress Code Isn’t Specified

If the dress code isn’t specified and you don’t feel comfortable asking other members of the wedding party just use your common sense. There are easy “code clues” you can follow to figure out what would be appropriate to wear to the rehearsal dinner.


Keep the time of the dinner in mind, as this will also help you determine what you should wear. Evening events are generally more formal, while lunches or brunches allow more casual attire.


One of the most important factors when deciding what to wear, fine restaurants often have a dress code, while casual establishments do not. Outdoor functions are also more casual. Use your discretion to determine what’s best.

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Wedding Theme

The theme of the wedding is often an indicator of rehearsal dinner attire. A traditional wedding is going to require more formal dress, while a beach or similar-themed wedding is usually more relaxed.

Dinner Menu

Look at the rehearsal dinner menu if possible to find hints on what to wear. For example, a five-course meal often requires formal attire, while a clambake,…well, you get the idea!


Since many informal rehearsal dinners take place in an outdoor setting, bring a sweater or jacket that matches the dress or suit.

rehearsal dinner dress

Dress Code Guidelines to Follow

Continue those clues with classic, good guidelines to follow when planning an outfit for such an event. This isn’t the type of day to be super flashy and eclectic, instead stick with timeless designs and ones that suit your body.

  • Fabric: Fine knits, chiffon and silk work for formal and semi-formal dinner events. Avoid cotton and polyester. Fabric that is elegant, tasteful and not too sheer is best. Women can wear dresses made of most things except denim and polyester, while men should go for tuxes or suits made of wool. Lighter fabric is appropriate for warm weather events.
  • Cut & Shape: Tasteful, classic cuts that don’t reveal too much are best if the dinner is semi-formal or formal, as upstaging the bride or otherwise drawing attention to yourself isn’t the best idea. Women shouldn’t wear super-short dresses, while men should stick to suits cut in classic tux style.
  • Color: The colors you choose should be appropriate to the season, such as jewel tones and darker hues for fall or winter weddings. Pastels and bright colors work for spring and summer.
  • Shoes: High heels and dress flats that match their dresses are best for women, while men should go for leather dress shoes in dark brown or black. Ensure shoes are shined as needed, and avoid sandals and casual pumps.
  • Don’t Upstage: Don’t wear something to the rehearsal dinner that’s fancier than actual wedding day attire! Save the best pieces for the special day instead.

Business Casual: When in doubt, go for business casual. If the event doesn’t specify black-tie, go for gray, black, navy or red pantsuits or dresses (women). Suit pants, a jacket and tie work for men.

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