What To Wear to Your Rehearsal Dinner as a Bride to Prelude Your 'I Do'

Here's the tea on what the bride should wear to rehearsal dinner before the big day.
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by
Lauren Whalley
lauren whalley headshot
Lauren Whalley
Fashion Editor, Beauty & Inclusivity
  • Lauren writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a specialty in fashion, beauty and size inclusivity.
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Lauren worked in wedding editorial for Brides, Style Me Pretty and Enaura Bridal.
  • Lauren studied public relations and advertising at the University of Central Florida.
Updated May 16, 2024

Besides the big day, another special event on the horizon deserves its moment in the style spotlight - your rehearsal dinner. Picking out what to wear to the rehearsal dinner as the bride can be a question that looms large amidst the logistical planning that goes into this pre-wedding event. Unlike your wedding day ensemble, which might lean more traditional, this is your chance to play with your style and even give a little sneak peek of the breathtaking bride-to-be vibe you're going for. After all, this event is the formal kick-off to your wedding festivities. So whether your style is classic or trendy and bold, your rehearsal dinner attire should reflect your style and rehearsal dinner location. Whether it's an outfit at a beachfront feast or an evening at a chic downtown eatery, here's what to consider when selecting your outfit.

In this article:

What to Wear to Your Rehearsal Dinner As the Bride

Couple walking at outdoor rehearsal dinner
Photo: Tamara Gruner Photography

Unlike the bridal shower, where Sunday brunch-meets-garden party is often the mood, or the bachelorette party, full of glitter and glam, the rehearsal dinner attire for the bride can easily be described as chic and sophisticated. The key is to find something that feels special yet distinctly different from your wedding dress, giving just a glimpse into your style range. Here, you can preview your wedding day glow in a more relaxed setting, perhaps in a chic jumpsuit, a sleek silk mini or that off-the-shoulder number calling your name. The key is picking something that feels special and maybe even unexpected. It's your rehearsal dinner, and you can style yourself how you want to.

Does the Bride Have to Wear White to the Rehearsal Dinner?

Bride wearing sparkly floral dress and sunglasses
Photo: Weddings by Nato

No, the bride does not have to wear white to the rehearsal dinner. While the rehearsal dinner attire for the bride usually includes white, there are no hard and fast rules to say you must wear the hue. This pre-wedding event is an excellent opportunity to express yourself through the color and style that speaks to you. Want to dazzle in a shimmering gold mini dress? Go for it. Leaning toward a bridal pantsuit? Perfect.

Your rehearsal dinner is also a great opportunity to go bold with your fashion choices and wear a trend you love. While you might want to keep your wedding look classic, use your rehearsal dinner to show off an eye-catching hair accessory or a pair of printed heels to make a statement. Or, if you're wearing a bold wedding dress, consider sporting a different silhouette like a silk sheath gown or a fitted midi dress.

How to Choose Rehearsal Dinner Attire for a Bride

bride wearing a white jumpsuit and groom wearing blue suit
Photo: Isaiah + Taylor Photography

Your bridal outfit for rehearsal dinner is a prime opportunity to shine in a setting that's a bit more intimate but no less special than the main event. And it's not just about making a fashion statement; it's about setting the tone for the celebration and giving your guests a sneak peek at the wedding weekend festivities that are to come. Let's walk through some key tips to ensure your rehearsal dinner attire and look are as memorable as the big day itself.

Match the Mood of Your Venue

Your rehearsal dinner venue plays a significant role in determining appropriate attire. A chic city restaurant might call for a sleek cocktail dress or an edgy jumpsuit, while an outdoor garden party lends well to a romantic maxi dress or a sophisticated mini dress. Take cues from the environment and ambiance. Is it a formal dining room or a relaxed beachside gathering? Your outfit should feel coherent with the space. Similarly, if your dinner has a specific theme, align your look to add to the overall experience for you and your guests.

Lean into the Season

Don't let the weather rain on your fashion parade. Instead, use it to your advantage! A light, breezy dress might be perfect for a summer evening, possibly with a playful floral print or in a bright, cheerful color. For fall or winter, rich fabrics like velvet or silk, in deeper hues or classic metallics, can offer warmth and elegance. Consider adding a scarf, wrap, or tailored jacket for cooler climates, ensuring these pieces complement your look rather than overshadow it.

Dress vs Jumpsuit

Dresses and jumpsuits are both great options for a bride's rehearsal dinner attire, but which one you choose hinges on a blend of personal style, comfort and the overall tone of the evening. Dresses often evoke a classic, timeless bridal look, ranging from flowing maxi styles to chic cocktail versions, allowing you to align closely with traditional bridal aesthetics or the formality of your event. On the other hand, jumpsuits offer a modern twist, combining elegance with ease of movement. They are an excellent choice for brides seeking both style and functionality, especially ideal for more dynamic rehearsal dinner settings or for those who want to make a statement.

Comfort Still Matters

Although it's a special occasion, your rehearsal dinner is also a time when comfort should not be overlooked. You'll be mingling, perhaps giving a heartfelt speech and enjoying a lovely meal. Choose attire that allows you to engage fully in the evening without worrying about wardrobe malfunctions or discomfort. So, pick something that lets you be the life of the party and make the evening all the more enjoyable for you.

Echo Your Wedding Aesthetic

While the rehearsal dinner is separate from the big day, nodding to your wedding's aesthetic can create a cohesive feel for your pre-wedding events. This doesn't mean wearing a miniature version of your wedding dress but choosing an outfit that aligns with the color scheme, level of formality, or overall theme. If your wedding is a black-tie affair, a more formal rehearsal dinner attire might be appropriate; for a beach wedding, something lighter and more casual could be ideal.

Where to Buy a Bridal Outfit for the Rehearsal Dinner

Selecting your rehearsal dinner dress is a chance to express your individual style as a bride, but where should you look for that perfect fit? Below, I've curated a list of reputable retailers, each offering a unique array of options to ensure you dazzle as the bride. From the classically elegant to the modern and chic, let's navigate through the best places to find your rehearsal dinner dress.

  • Lulus: Lulus offers a wide range of affordable, stylish options for the rehearsal dinner. Whether you're envisioning a romantic and flowy dress or a sleek, sophisticated jumpsuit, Lulus' extensive online selection caters to a variety of aesthetic preferences. Their bridal collection features an array of whites and off-whites adorned with lace, chiffon or even subtle sparkles, making finding a rehearsal dinner dress that feels special and aligned with your wedding vibes easy. Their streamlined online shopping experience makes finding your perfect rehearsal dinner outfit easy and enjoyable.
  • Anthropologie: Brides gravitating towards bohemian and uniquely feminine styles will find Anthropologie an ideal place to shop. Catering to the bride with a penchant for detail, Anthropologie offers fits from designers like V. Chapman and Sachin & Babi with designs ranging from glamorous sequined dresses to ethereal tulle designs. The benefit of browsing Anthropologie for your rehearsal dinner dress lies in their beautifully crafted pieces, perfect for the bride looking to make a memorable statement the night before her big day.
  • Abercrombie & Fitch: Recently revamped, Abercrombie & Fitch now offers effortlessly chic and minimalist options, perfect for a casual or understated rehearsal dinner look. Known now for their minimalist and classic designs with a modern twist, their dresses often feature comfortable fits, soft fabrics, and a more laid-back vibe. From stylish midi dresses to flattering wrap dresses, Abercrombie & Fitch provides ideal choices for a more relaxed rehearsal dinner setting.
  • ELOQUII: Specializing in plus-size fashion, ELOQUII brings a range of stylish options for curvy brides. Their dedication to inclusivity and style ensures that every bride finds her perfect rehearsal dinner dress, with sizes ranging from 14 to 28. ELOQUII's bridal collection features everything from sleek and modern pieces to romantic and feminine designs, ensuring a flattering fit for every figure. Their dresses promise a stunning fit and feature the latest trends, ensuring you look and feel fabulous.
  • Nordstrom: For brides seeking a blend of classic and contemporary, Nordstrom's extensive bridal and evening wear collection is unmatched thanks to its wide range of high-quality labels. Their extensive collection of designer dresses means that Nordstrom has you covered whether you're searching for something couture or a dress from a well-loved brand. Not to mention, their online consultants and styling tips also offer a helpful guide to selecting the right dress for your rehearsal dinner, making the shopping experience seamless and enjoyable.
  • Revolve: Known for its trendy and chic selections, Revolve is a go-to for modern brides seeking something sophisticated yet fresh. Revolve's array of mini dresses, sophisticated jumpsuits, and standout sets offer something uniquely memorable for the pre-wedding celebration. Expect to find a variety of dresses with modern cuts and celebratory details. Plus, their customer-friendly shipping and return policies make online shopping a breeze.
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