Rehearsal Dinner Dresses

It’s the day before your wedding and everyone is gathering in preparation to witness your love-filled vows! It’s also time to rehearse what’s to come and then feast at the rehearsal dinner. Choosing the perfect rehearsal dinner dress depends on the type of dinner. And in your rehearsal dinner invitations, be sure to mention or suggest a dress code for guests too. As the bride, there are a few things to consider in choosing a rehearsal dinner dress, in addition to the type of dinner and location. After you’ve made a color decision, think about choosing your rehearsal dinner dress to complement or contrast with your wedding dress in terms of silhouette and style. The most important thing is that rehearsal dinner dress, like every outfit you wear for an engagement event, makes you feel beautiful and special.


A black tie event once meant floor-length evening gowns only, but style rules have changed. Black tie really just means keeping things dressy these days. So while a long, sweeping gown is in order, a luxe rehearsal dinner dress in cocktail length is also appropriate for a black tie affair. Glamorous accessories also help to add sophisticated sparkle for a classy ensemble.

Glamorous Soiree

For the glamorous evening, a chic sparkly dress is an absolute must! Metallics like copper, gold, and silver are a style choice with glitz that announces you’re the lady of the hour. Think sequins and beads and shimmer! When it comes to accessories, simplicity reigns. Pumps in a neutral shade and little stud earrings, as well as a subtle beauty look, pair best with a statement making rehearsal dinner dress.


Semi-formal rehearsal dinner dresses are the way to go for an evening at a fine restaurant, winery barrel room, or upscale venue. Semi-formal attire for the bride to be means cocktail dresses, tea length dresses, or a structured shift. Bold prints, lace, or luxe textures are a great way to stand out if you aren’t wearing white. Plus, cute heels and a statement necklace can dress up most frocks!


A tropical celebration inspires visions of laid-back coastal elegance, a breathtaking flowy dress, and a cool sea breeze floating by. Not to mention piña coladas accompanying the toasts! Beach chic style can go casual or formal depending on the venue and vibe of your rehearsal dinner. Sundresses or relaxed maxi dresses are appropriate for a more casual rehearsal dinner dress, while a sophisticated maxi dress with statement jewelry is perfect for a more formal beach evening. Either way, flowy is a must!

Casual Backyard BBQ

Fire up the grill and bring on the burgers! A casual rehearsal dinner is a fun way to relax before the big day. Slip into a casual frock, and look for something with quirky or vintage details so it still feels special. To help a simple rehearsal dinner dress still feel special, focus on the details, like a braided belt to define your waist, dainty necklaces, and canvas wedges

1. Choosing a venue:

Whether you’re thinking fancy or casual for your rehearsal dinner, choose a spot that means something to you and your fiancé. Perhaps it’s a favorite date night restaurant, a winery you have visited, your parent’s backyard, or a hotel you once stayed at. In terms of logistics, choosing a location close to your wedding venue is easiest for everyone who was part of the rehearsal and out of town guests. Traditionally it was up to the groom’s mother to plan the dinner and choose the venue, though many couples are now involved.

2. Guest List:

Traditionally the parents, siblings, wedding party (plus significant others), and out of town guests were all invited to the rehearsal dinner. It’s no longer mandatory according to wedding etiquette to invite all out of town guests though, but it’s nice to provide suggestions of restaurants and bars on your wedding website since they might not be familiar with the area.

3. Gift-giving etiquette:

Unlike other engagement events where guests bring the couple gifts, the only gifts that should be given at the rehearsal dinner are for the wedding party! It is the bride’s responsibility to give gifts to her bridesmaids to thank them for their support throughout the wedding planning process, while the groom does the same for his groomsmen.

4. Informal toasts:

The wedding calls for preplanned toasts, but rehearsal dinner toasts are often more spontaneous. Because the groom’s parents traditionally host the rehearsal dinner, it is appropriate for the father of the groom to make a toast. Rehearsal dinner toasts, since they are less planned, are often fun in a different way than the formal speeches to come, and more guests have a chance to share their well wishes, memories, and words of advice with you! The bride and groom are allowed to make their own toasts as well to show appreciation for all of their guests.

5. Relax and let your hair down:

Tomorrow is the day to look picture perfect for the photographer’s camera, with all the eyes of your friends and family on you. Tonight you should take one last deep breath and relax before the festivities tomorrow. Your pre-wedding bash is a chance to have an intimate evening with friends and family before the big day, so let your hair down!

Photography credit: Stephanie Williams (This Modern Romance)