Before you're asked to celebrate a couple on their big day, you may be invited to a rehearsal dinner. This event is a smaller-scale celebration between the couple, the bridal parties, and close family and friends, usually taking place the evening before the wedding. And while this event may not be as formal as the actual wedding, it’s a memorable night and provides an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other more. Naturally, you can expect a lot of pictures to be taken, so of course, you’ll want to be sure you’re properly dressed for the occasion!
If you’re unsure of what to wear, there are a few aspects to consider when deciding on a look. To start, you’ll want to factor in the location, the time of day, and the season. Once you have those details ironed out, you may have a clearer idea of the type of outfit you should sport. Also, if there's no explicit dress code listed on the invite, it’s safe to default to semi-formal or cocktail attire. As the saying goes, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.
At the same time, you may want to avoid anything outrageously embellished or sequined, and anything overly sexy. The rehearsal dinner is an intimate occasion, and the couple should be the center of attention. That’s not to say you can’t have some fun with your look, though! Just use your best judgment, and wear what you feel most confident and comfortable in.
So ahead, read on for the best wedding guest dresses to wear to a rehearsal dinner, available to shop now.
ASTR The Label Satin Strong Shoulder Mini Dress
Size: XS-XL | Materials: Polyester | Length: Mini
This mini dress can work for a semi-formal dress code, even with a shorter hemline. The padded shoulders are a fashion-forward touch, and the under-$100 price tag is hard to pass up.
Price at time of publish: $78
For a Summer Evening
Reformation Besse Dress
Size: 0-12 | Materials: Viscose | Length: Midi
We love this midi-length dress from Reformation for an outdoor summer rehearsal dinner. The lightweight, viscose material will keep you cool no matter the humidity or temperature.
Price at time of publish: $248
Best Lace Detailing
Reformation Provence Dress
Size: XS-XL | Materials: Silk | Length: Midi
Lace is a romantic material that adds to any dress. Here, it’s used to create the tasteful cutouts on this midi, which comes in an array of colors.
Price at time of publish: $278
For a Destination Wedding
Cinq a Sept Wildflower Elise Dress
Size: 00-14 | Materials: Silk | Length: Ankle-length
This fun, floral dress is perfect for a rehearsal dinner set in a tropical location. It’s the ideal balance between semi-formal and beachy.
Price at time of publish: $695
ASTR The Label Telma Ribbed Knit Maxi Dress
Size: XS-XL | Materials: Viscose | Length: Ankle-length
Knit is a comfortable-focused fabric that can also look luxe, and this maxi dress confirms it. This look features a scoop neckline and is partially lined.
Price at time of publish: From $55
Something Navy Lurex Striped Reversible Dress
Size: XXS-XXL | Materials: Viscose, acrylic, wool, polyamide, polyester | Length: Floor-length
This 70’s-esque dress from Something Navy can be worn two different ways: As a V-neck with a keyhole cut-out and as a high neckline. It’s ideal for those looking for a go-to dress for wedding season.
Price at time of publish: $325
Best Bright Hue
Amanda Uprichard Morrison Dress
Size: XS-L | Materials: Polyester | Length: Midi
Add a pop of color to the evening with this bubblegum pink midi dress from Amanda Uprichard. Keep your accessories simple and style with nude heels and gold jewelry.
Price at time of publish: $229
Reformation Carrie Two-Piece Set
Size: 0-12 | Materials: Silk | Length: Midi
Two-piece sets are an excellent option for the rehearsal dinner, especially this one from Reformation. The relaxed-fitted skirt features a cinched waist with pockets, while the top is a cropped style.
Price at time of publish: $348
ba&sh Ninon Midi Dress
Size: XS-L | Materials: Viscose | Length: Midi
Sometimes less is more, as proven with this sleek cherry-colored midi dress. For a sweet touch, the open-back ties into a silky bow.
Price at time of publish: $440
Saloni Jamie Dress
Size: UK4-16 | Materials: Viscose | Length: Midi
Show off your style in this playful midi dress from Saloni. The bodice features the brand's iconic bow detailing, while the silhouette stays more on the conservative side.
Price at time of publish: $840
Best Budget Option
Little Mistress Midi Dress
Size: 14-24 | Materials: Polyester | Length: Midi
Expect shocked faces when you reveal that this number from ASOS is under-$80. The sophisticated silhouette and the stunning teal hue make this dress a showstopper that won’t break the bank.
Price at time of publish: $101
Best Slip Dress
Free People Night Owl Slip Dress
Size: XS-XL | Materials: Viscose | Length: Midi
You can never go wrong with a classic slip dress. This satin-effect number from Free People comes in a beautiful cider hue that’s perfect for a crisp fall evening.
Price at time of publish: $98
Best High-Low Option
Petal + Pup Mariana High Low Dress
Size: XS-XL | Materials: Polyester | Length: High-low
High-low dresses are a go-to for semi-formal occasions, as it’s a great balance between dressy casual and formal. This particular navy shade is versatile and will stun at any rehearsal dinner, no matter the season.
Price at time of publish: $76
House of Harlow 1960 x Revolve Edessa Maxi Dress
Size: XXS-XL | Materials: Viscose | Length: Maxi
House of Harlow x Revolve's Edessa dress encompasses semi-formal, boho-chic to a "T". Style your look with loose waves and gold hoops.
AllSaints Alexia Floral Print Ruched Midi Dress
Size: 0-10 | Materials: Viscose, silk | Length: Midi
Fall for this floral midi dress from AllSaints. The ruched bodice and asymmetrical hemline will turn heads without taking any attention off the couple.
Price at time of publish: $245
Guapa One-Shoulder Mini Dress
Size: 00-26 | Materials: Polyester | Length: Mini
We can’t take our eyes off this one-shoulder mini dress, which features an asymmetrical hemline and a metallic finish. It’s an incredibly chic look, plus the pullover style makes it easy to wear.
Price at time of publish: $260
Bec and Bridge Dilkon Maxi Dress
Size: 6-16 | Materials: Polyester, elastane | Length: Maxi
Cut-out dresses aren’t going anywhere soon, and this eye-catching number, from Bec and Bridge, features asymmetrical detailing and ruching. It’s so on-trend that even Gigi Hadid was recently seen sporting the look.
Price at time of publish: $300
For a Spring Evening
Show Me Your Mumu Reese Ruffle Dress
Size: XXS-XXL | Materials: Polyester | Length: Ankle-length
The pastel colors in this spring dress make for an elegant, early evening ensemble. Style with strappy heels and a blush-colored clutch to complete the look.
Price at time of publish: $198
Mestiza Floral Mini Dress
Size: XXS-XXL | Materials: Polyester | Length: Midi
This mini dress makes a statement without being overly flashy. The delicate 3D flower embellishments add a unique touch to this trendy shift dress.
Price at time of publish: $475
Best Wrap Dress
Adorne Lyla Ruffle Hem Maxi Dress
Size: 10-24 | Materials: Viscose | Length: Maxi
The wrap dress is a classic silhouette that will never go out of style, as it is universally flattering on almost any body type. This maxi option from Adorne features a pink floral pattern that blends nicely with the black for an evening look.
Price at time of publish: $75
Best Tiered Dress
Ganni Smocked Tiered Georgette Dress
Size: 0-12 | Materials: Recycled polyester | Length: Midi
For a more casual rehearsal dinner, we suggest opting for this tiered midi dress from Ganni. It’s made entirely from recycled polyester, so it’s definitely a purchase you can feel good about making.
Price at time of publish: $345
& Other Stories Fitted Puff Sleeve Midi Dress
Size: 0-12 | Materials: Linen, rayon, lyocell | Length: Midi
What can we say, we love a puff sleeve and especially love this option from & Other Stories! This fitted midi features a subtle puff with a square neckline and a wrap-style skirt.
Ulla Johnson Alma Asymmetric Silk Twill Dress
Size: 000-16 | Materials: Silk | Length: Ankle-length
This effortlessly chic dress from Ulla Johnson is one you’ll want to reach for again and again. It’s an investment piece that is well worth the price tag.
Price at time of publish: $745
Norma Kamali Diana Gown
Size: XS-XL | Materials: Polyester, spandex | Length: Midi
We are eyeing this Norma Kamali dress for a formal rehearsal dinner. Style with a pair of chandelier earrings and a statement clutch for an unforgettable look.
Price at time of publish: $215
What to Look for in a Wedding Guest Rehearsal Dinner Dress
As we mentioned earlier, taking into account the location, timing, and season can help determine the best look if no explicit dress code is stated. For example, if the rehearsal dinner is being held at a bar or small restaurant, you may want to opt for a pard-back look, while more formal events will lean more towards cocktail attire. Also, since this is a “dinner,” it will likely be held in the evening, which will definitely impact the style of dress you choose to wear. For a “golden hour” dinner, semi-formal sundresses are a great option, but if the dinner starts later in the evening, you’ll want to skip out on the bright florals. Lastly, budgeting for another outfit can get expensive, so when shopping for a rehearsal dress, it may be cost-effective to find a look you can wear again.
Do you have to wear a dress to a rehearsal dinner?
No, many other options are appropriate to wear to a rehearsal dinner outside of a dress. For example, you can also try a two-piece set, a semi-formal jumpsuit, or even silky trouser pants and a chic blouse.
What do you wear if the rehearsal dinner has a theme?
In some cases, the couple of honor will choose to have a theme for their rehearsal dinner—such as disco or western—as a fun way to kick off the weekend. If the invitation specifies a theme, try to find a dress you can wear post-event, so that you don't end up looking too costumey.
Is there anything I should avoid wearing at the rehearsal dinner?
Even though it’s not the actual wedding day, guests should avoid wearing white to the rehearsal dinner. Jeans should also be skipped unless otherwise stated. Other than that, the rehearsal dinner can be used as a fun way to show off your personal style.
About the Author
Contributing writer Melony Forcier is a recent graduate starting her career path in beauty and fashion journalism. Before graduating, she interned with both Boston Magazine and Foundation PR. Additionally, she served as a fashion editor for Boston University's lifestyle magazine, The Buzz.