Traditionally speaking, your rehearsal dinner is the first official party to kick off wedding weekend celebrations. Oftentimes, that means your rehearsal dinner outfit is the last formal piece you’ll wear before saying “I do.” Whether your weekend is a city-based, formal black-tie affair or has a more laid-back overtone that comes with a mountain, beach, or garden setting, your evening-before-the-ceremony outfit should naturally fall into the aesthetic and logistical decisions you’ve already made.
When picking the perfect ensemble, try to merge your personal style with the backdrop of the wedding. “We look at supporting events, including the rehearsal dinner, as a fashion story that needs to build for the main event,” bridal stylist Julie Sabatino tells TZR. If your weekend is trend-focused, leaning into the white party trend — or an event where the guests wear all-white looks so the hosts can stand out in bold color — could work well.
“There is less and less pressure now for the bride to be in all white all weekend long,” says Anny Choi, head stylist at Over The Moon, a platform dedicated to bridal content. When she designs a rehearsal dinner or welcome-party look, she has one question to start: What does your wedding dress look like? “I try to stay away from silhouettes that feel too similar,” she says. “A lot of what I do as a bridal stylist is make sure each look feels unique and different from one another while still complementary.”
Like Choi, Lily Kaizer, owner of vintage bridal boutique Happy Isles, says brides are increasingly interested in vibrant details that contrast with the more traditional look they’ll wear on their wedding day. “Either colorful embellishment, bold print, or something in a shade of blue, pink, yellow, or green have been popular [with brides],” she shares. The biggest benefits: A colorful piece always pops, especially in a natural environment like a garden, beach, or backyard. And, it can be environmentally conscious choice, as it affords brides the option to re-wear the dress or two-piece set as a future wedding guest, she points out.
In terms of silhouette, Kaizer says she sees a trend towards midi or full-length pieces. Ultimately though, the experts recommend considering which cuts and silhouettes look best on you and choosing a range for the weekend. For example, if your wedding dress is a strapless ballgown, “maybe you want to try something a bit more minimal and simple for the rehearsal and vice versa,” Choi advises. Ahead, find seven rehearsal dinner outfit ideas to inform your next look.
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A Solid & Silky Dress
Offset the impact of a traditional, detail-heavy wedding dress with a simple, silky dress. With this base, you can play into rich color, per the experts suggestion, or form an alternative, minimalist wedding look in white or ivory.
A Playful, Printed Dress
“We’re getting a lot more mixing than what’s been standard in weddings,” Sabatino says. Yes, most of her clients are big on all-white looks for the entire weekend; though, some are excited to switch things up and play into supporting elements through elegant textile patterns. Likewise, Choi picks apart the setting for more insight. “Is it a themed party? What is the overall feel that we are trying to achieve and what is the dress code for the other guests?” she poses. For garden themes and other luscious backdrops, she suggests looking for white-based floral dresses that feel special enough to stand out.
Tasteful Feather Details
While an enormous pressure can come with wedding dress shopping (going very trendy is fun but doesn’t always age well), rehearsal dinner looks can serve as an opportunity to release those inhibitions with small doses of amusing details, like plumes. “What makes the rehearsal look so fun is that you can lean a little heavy on trends, what’s new and what you are drawn to at the moment,” says Choi. “I love that feeling of finding something that not only fits perfectly but reflects your personality.”
A Glamorous, Golden Dress
When it comes to crafting formal looks, metallic elements are helpful for virtually everyone. If your style tends to be understated but you still want to shine at your rehearsal dinner, a soft gold dress offers a wow-factor that doesn’t appear as extravagant as a bold pattern or a bright color. Though, if you’re more of a maximalist, there’s room to amp up the glitz with light-reflecting sequins or intricate beadwork. Whatever your choice, Chinese tradition says the hue is sure to bring you good luck, prosperity, and happiness.
If you have a big appetite for accessories, consider building your look around a statement piece, like a pair of shoes. “If you are a shoe lover, this is a great place for you to invest in a new pair of statement designer [footwear] and then pair that with a simpler, ‘cheaper’ dress,” Choi says.
Rehearsal dinners are a great opportunity to incorporate symbolic pieces, like family jewels and other momentous baubles (like, say, birthstones), when it proves difficult to wear them with your wedding dress. If you have a meaningful piece you’d like to wear, think about silhouettes that would work harmoniously with it.
A Non-Traditional Silhouette
In the case that an ultra-femme bridal look isn’t quite ‘you,’ lean into unorthodoxy. If you generally prefer pants to skirts or dresses, look at jumpsuits and pantsuits. Or if you’re a sucker for a cropped skirt set, embrace it! And if it’s important to you to eschew overly trendy pieces, go vintage. Ultimately, it’s your party, and you can wear what you want.