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What to Look for in a Rehearsal Dinner Dress

Wedding rehearsal venue

Photo: White on Black Studio 

The rehearsal dinner is one of our favorite wedding traditions!

The intimate gathering of close family and friends the night before the big day often turns out to be the best pre-wedding event.

And for a moment as special as this, you’ll want to look and feel your best.

Not sure what type of dress to wear to your rehearsal dinner? 

Not sure what color to choose or how formal to go?

We have the answers.

Here’s what to look for in a rehearsal dinner dress:

Should the Bride Wear White to the Rehearsal Dinner?

Wedding rehearsal venuePhoto: Joanna Fotopoulou

When it’s time to choose a rehearsal dinner dress, almost every bride has the same question:

Should I wear white? 

The little white dress is always a winner, and many brides choose to wear white to all of their pre-wedding events, including the engagement party, bridal shower, and bachelorette party. If you’re embracing your bride-to-be moment and want to wear white as often as you can, then go for it!

What you wear to your rehearsal dinner is totally up to you and you alone. White is the traditional color choice, but there are no rules about what color you need to wear.

If you feel more comfortable in black, wear black. If you feel your best in bright pink, channel your inner Elle Woods and rock a hot pink halter dress!

The best part about shopping for party dresses is that there are tons of dress options to choose from. No matter what color, style, or fabric you prefer, you’re sure to find a dress you love.

Choose a Dress That Fits the Formality of Your Rehearsal Dinner Venue

The color of your rehearsal dinner dress is up to you, but the level of formality of the dress isn’t negotiable. When it comes to making a fashion choice, there is one rule that we always stick to:

No matter where you’re going, you want a look that fits the formality of the event and the venue.

Are you having your rehearsal dinner in a casual restaurant by the water? Instead of shopping for formal dresses, opt for an easy, flowy beach dress that fits the tone and venue. 

Have you planned your rehearsal dinner at an upscale hotel restaurant or a swanky rooftop bar in New York City? Wear a beaded cocktail dress. Make a statement and shine in sequins. Or, keep it classic and chic in a short sleeve crepe sheath dress. 

Throwing a relaxed backyard bash? Pick a dress that’s casual and comfortable.

Unless your rehearsal dinner is a black-tie celebration, you don’t have to wear a formal gown. Most couples choose to save that level of formality for the actual wedding day.

Related: 7 Expert Tips for Hosting a Successful Wedding Rehearsal

Pick a Dress That Goes With Your Theme

Photo: Abby Jiu

Everyone loves a theme party! If you’re planning a rehearsal dinner around a certain theme, choose a dress that fits that theme in terms of color, style, and spirit.

For a luau theme on an island, choose something loose and airy — a maxi dress in a floral print or tropical pattern is perfect!

If your plan is to have a casual country BBQ by the lake, keep it playful with a mini dress or a knee-length dress with ruffles, bows, or whimsical embellishments. 

Throwing a taco and tequila party on the beach? Opt for a dress that’s easy, and breezy and your look will fit perfectly with the theme, no matter what color or print you choose.

When planning a rehearsal dinner with a specific theme, be sure to let your bridesmaids, groomsmen, father and mother of the bride and groom, and other guests know at least a few weeks in advance. That way, everyone will have plenty of time to find the perfect look for your rehearsal dinner!

Select a Dress That Fits the Season (and Weather)

Wedding rehearsal venuePhoto: White on Black Studio

When you shop for a rehearsal dinner dress, take the season and weather into account. The trick is to find that Goldilocks sweet spot so that you’ll be perfectly comfortable (not too hot and not too cold).

Dressing for the weather definitely comes into play when it’s time to choose a fabric, sleeve length, and neckline.

For a summer wedding rehearsal dinner, consider a strapless sheath dress or a flowing maxi dress with a cutout back and a halter neckline.

For a spring or fall dinner, you might want to wear a sleeveless lace dress or a chiffon wrap dress with a V-neck and short sleeves.

For a winter event, you might choose a long sleeve cowl-neck design or a high-neck silhouette in velvet ... so chic!

If you’re planning to have your rehearsal dinner outdoors, it’s a good idea to have options. It never hurts to have a backup outfit ready to go, just in case the weather isn’t what you expect it to be.

Shopping for bridesmaids dresses? Take a look at our collection:

Bridesmaid Dresses | Maternity Dresses Junior Bridesmaid Dresses | Flower Girl Dresses

Choose a Dress That You Love!

Wedding rehearsal venuePhoto: Scott Clark Photo

Your rehearsal dinner dress should make you feel comfortable, confident, and beautiful. Throw out any rules you think you need to follow and find a dress that makes you feel your absolute best.

For some brides, that’s a white midi dress. For other brides, it’s a one-of-a-kind couture piece.

Some brides choose not to wear a dress at all and opt for a chic jumpsuit, a comfortable romper, or a sleek pant-and-blouse combo instead.

Whether you’re in the mood for a boho moment or looking to be ultra-glamorous the night before the big day, what you wear to your rehearsal dinner is completely your call. It’s all about embracing your personal sense of style. This is one of your big wedding moments, so enjoy it in the way that feels most natural for you.

And while there aren’t many rehearsal dinner dress rules, there is one thing to keep in mind:

Choose a rehearsal dinner dress that has a different vibe and a different feel than your wedding dress. That way, you’ll be sure to have that WOW moment when you walk down the aisle.

Conclusion

Like wedding dress and bridesmaid dress shopping, finding a rehearsal dinner dress should be fun! So gather a bestie or two and head to your favorite store. Or, put on your favorite comfy joggers and start scrolling for inspiration online.

Just don’t wait until the last minute.

Your rehearsal dinner dress might need to be altered or hemmed to get the perfect fit, so be sure to buy your dress a few weeks ahead of time, just in case …

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