We may earn a small commission from product links. Blog posts at Nimble Made are written to provide value and advice for our readers—any product(s) we recommend are items readers use and love.
If you're going to a rehearsal dinner you’re in the wedding party or you're getting married—congratulations! It’s a wonderful event in your life all about love, and let’s not forget: it’s about food and conversation too. That’s what the rehearsal dinner is about anyway, where you and your loved ones have a nice meal together and prepare for the rest of the wedding to come. Whether that meal is something formal or something more relaxed is up to you, but it’s important to dress for the event. All you need to do is look here to get started to learn how what to wear to a rehearsal dinner.
What is a rehearsal dinner for?
As the name suggests, the rehearsal dinner is also known as the wedding rehearsal dinner so make sure you wear something snazzy. It happens the night before the wedding with friends and family, and generally involves some kind of food even if it’s not a legitimate dinner. You might have a rehearsal dinner that’s well-planned with the wedding party members, or you might have something for people who traveled a while to make it to your wedding. You don't need to go all out as if it was the actual big day- you can wear something to feel comfortable while dressing up a little bit.
Either way, the rehearsal dinner is meant to be a celebration of your upcoming marriage. You might not head over to your favorite local restaurant to have one anymore since these dinners are usually made into a huge part of the wedding, but it’s all about being with people you love.
After the wedding rehearsal to make sure that everyone knows what they’re doing, you’ll head on over to your rehearsal dinner, although you might have a few alternatives to the traditional Friday night dinner. Many people do wedding day breakfasts as well, or parties well before the wedding if it’s a destination wedding. Whatever you do, the rehearsal dinner is for spending some time with your family and friends before you and your future spouse are running around on your wedding day.
Since this dinner is about spending time with your family, it’s usually the night before the wedding. This ensures that people are present and not needing to take time off work for the celebration.
For the most part, though, the rehearsal dinner is just a celebration. You don’t need to dress like the wedding, and you can use this opportunity to enjoy time with each other.
Of course, since both of your families are having dinner, this is a great opportunity for your families to get to know each other and to mesh well. You’ll have a lot more quality time with your loved one too and can relieve some of that pre-wedding tension in a more relaxed environment.
What happens during this event?
Know that the rehearsal dinner is usually attended by the wedding party, your immediate family, and anyone who took part in the rehearsal of the wedding. This usually includes the officiant. You can invite anyone that you want though. Many rehearsal dinners often include friends and extended family too, although the more people you have, the more you might want to have a smaller dinner with your wedding party and a larger party for everyone else.
Your rehearsal dinner can be anything you want, from something more formal to a barbeque in your backyard. Whatever you do though, food is an integral part of any rehearsal dinner. Consider getting some catering and planning a menu, whether you’re looking for something more formal or not. During this event, everyone will eat and enjoy themselves in a relaxed environment before the stress of the wedding.
You may also want to distribute gifts during the rehearsal dinner if you don’t plan on doing it on your wedding day. This allows you to have a more personal experience opening them if you’d like to open altogether.
Don’t forget about the toasts either. Toasts are a key part of the rehearsal dinner, usually done by the hosts of the event, but anyone can do a toast. Your families might want to toast you or toast each other.
You and your future spouse may want to make a toast yourself, but either way, this can be a great opportunity to potentially lessen toasts during the actual wedding day. For those people that want to do a little roast too, the rehearsal dinner is the perfect opportunity.
It’s the perfect opportunity to have something delicious for dessert too. You can get a nice cake, which is a great way to bring people together. Set the stage for your families to get to know one another and to enjoy time together without feeling the need to be completely formal during the wedding.
Since you want people to know each other, you can even plan a few games for everyone to play in. They don’t need to be anything too involved either, and you don’t have to require your guests to stay for them if they’d like to get a good night’s sleep.
In terms of etiquette for the rehearsal dinner, it’s really up to you and your partner. You choose whether you want more a more formal or a more relaxed atmosphere with how you handle the invite list, the venue, the food, and the dress code. No matter what though, keep everyone on point, meaning: don’t get out of control. This dinner is about rehearsing for the wedding, so no one should be wasted or trashing the place.
Before everyone leaves, you can choose to hand out little gifts to your groomsmen or bridesmaids if you’d like so that you don’t need to carry all that around on your wedding day.
Try to be discreet so that people don’t feel left out if they don’t get one, but have fun with it. You can even hand out little party favors for everyone that fits with the theme of the rehearsal dinner itself.
Have fun with the rehearsal dinner though, and enjoy spending time with the people who love you and who are excited to see your wedding the next day.
What to Wear to a Rehearsal Dinner?
You know what you’re wearing on your big day—that’s been planned. But what in the world should you wear to your rehearsal dinner? The thought might not have even crossed your mind considering how many other things you need to plan and think about, so if you’re looking for ideas, look no further.
Prepping for the Party
One of the best things you can do for your rehearsal dinner is to do a little bit of preparation for it. Nothing major, but take a look at your closet. If you’re wearing an outfit that you already own, just try it on quickly and make sure that it fits nicely, that you still like it, and that you don’t need anything else.
If you’re buying something new, you can’t shop around for it the day before. Take a little time to find something you like.
Take a look at the venue to try and decide what you’d like to wear. The venue is a good indicator of if you’re wearing one of your dressier outfits depending on their dress code, or if you don’t quite need to try so hard to find the perfect option.
Either way, you’ll want to talk with your partner and with your parents and future in-laws about what you’re all wearing so that you coordinate well for the event.
You might plan a more formal rehearsal dinner, and if you do, that will affect what you wear. For instance, if you go to a venue that is a little more upscale, you won’t be able to dress casually - yes, nice ties should be worn! Bonus points if you wear tie clips.
The groom will need to slip on a suit or tux for this event, but make sure that you don’t wear your best suit. Your best suit should be saved for your wedding, after all. Try pairing your suit with a regular shirt, or adding in a little pop of style with some loafers or a colored dress shirt.
Make sure to match your tie with your suit. For example, here are good options for a navy suit. To look sharp, match your dress socks with your suit color and use a collar stay to increase the shelf life of your collared shirts.
For a more formal event, the bride has a lot of opportunities to mix it up. Instead of wearing that beautiful white gown, you have the opportunity to dress in a cute women’s tuxedo, or another dress in a different color. It’s your rehearsal dinner, so you’ll have all eyes on you.
If you’re planning something rather casual instead, you don’t need to go all out with your attire. You might be in a bowling alley or at a barbeque in your backyard, so think about dressing based on the theme, or just giving yourselves a chance to relax before you’re all dolled up for the big day tomorrow.
For the groom, dress casually, but try to stand out a little bit. You’re the man of the hour, so even something as simple as a collared shirt will do. As long as you save the tee shirt for another weekend.
Brides have a lot of options when it comes to a more casual dress. There are so many cute dresses that you can choose from, or you can pick a good pair of pants to out-bowl the rest of your wedding party.
As a Groomsmen/Bridesmaid
You should try to talk with the groom and bride about what you’re wearing for the rehearsal dinner. If they don’t tell you, you can assume it’s a business-casual event, but it’s always best to just ask about the dress code before you dress up too much or too little by accident.
As long as you don’t dress in the same colors that you’ll be in for the wedding, you should mostly be fine.
This goes for all the other wedding guests invited to the rehearsal dinner as well. Don’t dress nicer than the groom or the bride, and don’t wear anything that you’ll wear to the wedding the following day.
It’s A Party Dinner for a Good Time
Just know that no matter how you dress, whether formal or informal, it’s up to you. You don’t need to dress any specific way, and don’t need to purchase a whole bunch of new clothing to make this happen. It’s about relaxing and enjoying the time with your loved ones, not about anxiously trying to choose the best look.
Whatever you do though, don’t go overboard. The rehearsal dinner is the day before the wedding, so you’ll want to be well-rested and looking awake and ready for those photographs.
That being said, don’t forget to enjoy the party either. Everything’s been taken care of, and now it’s about relaxing with your family and friends. Take the time to say thanks to everyone and spend some time together, regardless of what you’re wearing. Regardless, you can't go wrong with a button up for guys and jeans.
Dressing for the wedding is easy, but figuring out what to wear for the rehearsal dinner is a little bit more difficult. This is a fun day though, and should be filled with time spent with family and friends—so enjoy it! Relax and enjoy your rehearsal dinner before the big day tomorrow, and dress to impress with some of these tips here.
1. What should a woman wear to a rehearsal dinner?
For formal rehearsal dinners (not black tie), men should wear dark suits and ties, while women should wear cocktail dresses or long gowns. To semi-formal rehearsal dinners, men and women should wear jackets, suit pants (or slacks), and ties, while ladies should wear cocktail dresses, pantsuits, or elegant skirts and blouses.
2. Do you dress up for a wedding rehearsal?
Unless otherwise specified, expect that a wedding rehearsal is at the very least a business casual occasion. The least formal outfit you should wear is dress pants or khakis and a collared shirt (polo or button down).
3. Is it OK to wear black to a wedding rehearsal dinner?
It is perfectly acceptable to wear black to a rehearsal dinner. Due to the semi-formal nature of the event, black is unquestionably appropriate. If in doubt, ask the bride about the dress code. This is entirely up to you whether or not you get your hair and makeup done for the rehearsal!
4. What groom wears to rehearsal dinner?
Grooms-to-be have a number of options for formal attire for the rehearsal dinner. A dark suit or tuxedo (navy, midnight, or black) is a good place to start. Think about selecting a look that isn't as "show-stopping" as your wedding look.
5. What should you not wear to a rehearsal dinner?
You are welcome to wear boots to a barn rehearsal or jeans to a BBQ, unless otherwise specified. Not your attire, but the couple, their family, and friends are the focus of the day. It is prohibited to include anything bright, distracting, brief, or exposing, regardless of the topic.