5 Common Dress Codes for Rehearsal Dinners

by Ryan Hart | Updated on December 4, 2023 | Post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Dress codes for rehearsal dinners can be tricky to navigate, especially if you’re not sure what the expectations are. As a guest, you want to dress appropriately for the occasion while still feeling comfortable and confident. 

If you’re a bride or groom, you may have specific dress code requirements for your guests to ensure everyone looks cohesive in photos.

When it comes to dress codes for rehearsal dinners, it’s important to consider the time of day, location, and overall vibe of the event. 

A formal rehearsal dinner may call for cocktail dresses and suits, while a more casual event may allow for dress pants and a blouse or a sundress. It’s always better to err on the side of being slightly overdressed than underdressed.

Ultimately, the dress code for your rehearsal dinner should reflect your personal style and preferences as a couple. Whether you want a black-tie affair or a laid-back BBQ, make sure your guests are aware of the dress code well in advance so they can plan accordingly. 

What Should You Wear to a Rehearsal Dinner?

Attending a rehearsal dinner can be exciting, but it can also be confusing when it comes to choosing the right outfit. Dress codes for rehearsal dinners can vary depending on the formality of the event and the preferences of the hosts. 

Understanding the dress code for the rehearsal dinner is crucial to avoid outfit mishaps and show respect for the hosts and the occasion.

Cocktail attire

Cocktail attire is a common dress code choice for rehearsal dinners as it allows flexibility but maintains an elegant feel. 

For the bride, a cocktail dress, skirt, or dress pants paired with a nice top or blouse would be appropriate. The groom should wear dress pants, a button-down or polo shirt, and dress shoes. 

The wedding party can follow a similar look, with dresses or skirts for women and slacks and dress shirts for men. 

For guests, think dressier versions of business casual - ladies in dresses, skirts, or dress pants with nice tops, gentlemen in slacks and polo or button-down shirts. Comfortable dress shoes are recommended for all. 

The rehearsal dinner is meant to be a relaxed celebration before the big day, so cocktail attire allows everyone to dress up just a bit without being too formal. 

Casual

A casual dress code for a rehearsal dinner means a more relaxed vibe. For the bride and groom, think nice jeans or khakis paired with a button-down shirt or blouse. 

The wedding party can dress similarly in casual pants and polos or dresses. 

For guests, jeans and a nice top or sundress work well. Sneakers or flats are acceptable footwear options. 

Since it’s an informal celebration before the big day, casual attire allows everyone to be comfortable. The focus will be enjoying each other’s company over dinner rather than what anyone is wearing. 

Business casual

A business casual dress code for a rehearsal dinner calls for polished yet comfortable attire. 

For the bride, dress pants or a skirt paired with a blouse or a nice sweater would be suitable. The groom can wear slacks and a button-down or polo. 

Members of the wedding party should follow a similar look of dressier pants and tops or dresses. 

Guests can wear dress pants, khakis, or skirts with button-down shirts, polos, or sweaters. Dress shoes or loafers are recommended over sneakers. 

Since it’s the night before the wedding, business casual allows everyone to relax while still looking put together as they celebrate the couple. 

Semi-formal

A semi-formal dress code for a rehearsal dinner calls for nicer evening attire without being overly dressy. 

For the bride, a cocktail or party dress would be suitable. The groom can wear dress slacks, a button-down shirt, and dress shoes. 

The wedding party should also dress up a bit in skirts or dresses for women and slacks and dress shirts for men. 

Guests can wear dressier pants or skirts paired with nice tops or dresses and dress shoes. 

Formal

A formal or black tie dress code for a rehearsal dinner calls for more formal attire. 

For the bride, an evening gown would be fitting. The groom should wear a dark suit, dress shirt and tie. 

The wedding party can wear dark suits for men and evening dresses or cocktail attires for women. 

Guests should also wear their finest, with dark suits for men paired with dress shirts, ties, and dress shoes. 

As everyone dresses to impress to celebrate the bride and groom on this important evening, the rehearsal will be run through.

Choosing the Right Outfit for the Venue

When attending a rehearsal dinner, it’s important to dress appropriately for the venue. Whether you’re headed to a formal banquet hall or a casual backyard BBQ, dressing for the occasion shows respect for the hosts and helps you feel comfortable throughout the evening. Here are some tips on how to choose the right outfit for your rehearsal dinner venue.

Dressing for a Formal Venue

If the rehearsal dinner is being held at a formal venue, such as a country club or hotel, it’s best to dress in formal attire. For men, this means a dark suit and tie. Women should opt for a formal cocktail dress or a long gown. Avoid anything too revealing or flashy, as it can be seen as inappropriate for the occasion.

Dressing for a Semi-Formal Venue

A semi-formal venue, such as a restaurant or cocktail bar, calls for a dressier outfit than casual wear but not as formal as a black tie. Men can wear a suit or dress pants with a blazer and tie. Women can wear a cocktail dress or a dressy skirt and blouse. Avoid anything too casual, such as jeans or sneakers.

Dressing for a Casual Venue

If the rehearsal dinner is being held in a casual location, such as a garden or backyard, you can dress more casually. Men can wear khakis or dress pants with a dress shirt or polo shirt. Women can wear a sundress or a skirt and blouse. Avoid anything too revealing or beachy, such as shorts or flip-flops.

Remember to also consider the theme of the rehearsal dinner when choosing your outfit. For example, if the dinner is being held at a beachfront restaurant, you may want to wear something more beachy and colorful. If the dinner is being held at a rustic barn, you should wear something more country chic.

Outfit Ideas for Different Seasons

When it comes to dressing for a rehearsal dinner, the season can play a big role in determining what to wear. Here are some outfit ideas for different seasons to help you look your best.

Summer Rehearsal Dinner Outfits

Summer is the perfect time to bring out bright colors and fun prints. Opt for lightweight fabrics like cotton and linen to stay cool in the heat. Here are some outfit ideas to consider:

  • A flowy maxi dress in a bold print
  • A bright-colored sundress with strappy sandals
  • A jumpsuit with a fun pattern and statement earrings
  • A skirt and blouse combo with colorful accessories
  • A romper with wedges and a statement clutch

Remember to keep it light and breezy, and don’t be afraid to add some fun accessories to complete your 

Look.

Winter Rehearsal Dinner Outfits

Winter can be trickier when it comes to dressing for a rehearsal dinner. You want to stay warm while still looking stylish. Here are some outfit ideas to consider:

  • A long-sleeved dress in a rich jewel-tone
  • A jumpsuit with a blazer and ankle boots
  • A midi skirt with a sweater and knee-high boots
  • A velvet dress with statement jewelry and heels
  • A pantsuit with a fun clutch and bold lipstick

Be bold and play with textures and layering to create a cozy yet chic look.

No matter what season it is, make sure to follow any dress code guidelines and choose an outfit that makes you feel confident and comfortable.

Dressing for Your Role

When it comes to dressing for a rehearsal dinner, it’s important to consider your role in the wedding. Here are some outfit guidelines for each role:

Bride’s Outfit Guide

As the bride, you want to wear something that makes you feel confident and beautiful but also appropriate for the occasion. A white dress is always a classic choice, but you can also opt for a colored or patterned dress if you prefer. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Consider the venue and dress code. If the dinner is at a fancy restaurant, you may want to wear a more formal dress, while a casual backyard BBQ may call for a more relaxed outfit.
  • Think about the weather. If it’s hot and humid, you may want to choose a lightweight, breathable fabric.
  • Don’t forget about your accessories. A statement necklace or earrings can add a touch of glamor to your outfit.

Groom’s Outfit Guide

As the groom, you want to look sharp and put-together but also comfortable enough to enjoy the evening. Here are some tips:

  • Consider the dress code. If the dinner is formal, you may want to wear a suit or tuxedo, while a more casual dinner may call for a dress shirt and slacks.
  • Think about the weather. If it’s hot and humid, you may want to choose a lightweight fabric, like linen.
  • Don’t forget about your shoes. Make sure they’re comfortable enough to wear all night.

Wedding Party’s Outfit Guide

As a wedding party member, you want to look cohesive with the rest of the group but also express your personal style. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Check with the bride and groom for any specific dress code requirements.
  • Consider coordinating with the rest of the wedding party. For example, the bridesmaids may all wear dresses in a similar color family.
  • Don’t be afraid to express your personal style. If you prefer a certain type of dress or suit, talk to the bride and groom about incorporating it into the overall look.

Guest’s Outfit Guide

As a guest, you want to show up looking your best but also be respectful of the couple and the occasion. Here are some tips:

  • Check the dress code on the invitation. If it’s not specified, consider the venue and time of day.
  • Avoid wearing white, as this is traditionally reserved for the bride.
  • Consider the weather. If it’s an outdoor dinner, you may want to wear comfortable shoes and bring a jacket or shawl in case it gets chilly.

The most important thing is to feel comfortable and confident in your outfit. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the typical dress code for a rehearsal dinner?

The dress code for a rehearsal dinner can vary depending on the location and theme of the event. However, it is usually less formal than the wedding itself. If the wedding is a black-tie affair, the rehearsal dinner may be semi-formal or cocktail attire. If the wedding is more casual, the rehearsal dinner may be business casual or even casual.

How formal should a rehearsal dinner be?

The formality of a rehearsal dinner should match the level of formality of the wedding. If the wedding is black-tie, the rehearsal dinner should be semi-formal or cocktail attire. If the wedding is more casual, the rehearsal dinner can be business casual or even casual.

What should men wear to a rehearsal dinner?

Men can wear a suit or blazer with dress pants or dress slacks with a dress shirt and tie. They can also choose to wear dress shoes or loafers. The outfit should be appropriate for the level of formality of the event.

What to wear to a rehearsal dinner at a brewery?

If the rehearsal dinner is at a brewery, the dress code can be more casual. Men can wear dark jeans or khakis with a button-down shirt or polo. Women can wear a sundress or a blouse with a skirt or pants.

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About the Author:
Ryan Hart

Ryan Hart is a certified relationship coach and writer. His mission is to help make connections between people better, stronger, more meaningful, and longer lasting using technology.

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