The exact history of when wedding rehearsals came to be is hard to pin down, but they are largely considered an important part of weddings today. Primarily an American tradition, wedding rehearsals and the rehearsal dinner are essentially a run-through of the ceremony, ending with a smaller, more intimate celebration in the form of a dinner and toast.
When considering what to wear to a wedding rehearsal, think about how formal the event will be. A casual rehearsal won’t require the full suit and tie, but you want to show up in your best attire to fit the mood.
Read on to find out how to decide on what to wear to your next wedding rehearsal.
If you receive your invite to the rehearsal and feel panicked about what to wear, use your context clues to determine the vibe.
The invitation itself might give you a good idea of what to expect. Consider whether there is a theme to the event, in which case you would dress to reflect it. Time of day is also an indicator that could tell you if it is a more casual or formal affair.
Some invitations will outright say the event is meant to be formal or casual. If not, consider where the rehearsal is being held. A small living room gathering will usually not call for the same attire as a fancy restaurant might.
Tradition also plays a part in what to wear to a wedding rehearsal. White is traditionally off-limits to all but the bride for all wedding-related events. As the lines of tradition have begun to blur in modern weddings, the opinion on whether it is okay to wear white to rehearsal is still a little divisive. Play it safe and avoid it if you feel it might upset the bride-to-be.
For casual wedding rehearsals, you will have a lot of freedom to wear what you want.
Button downs or collared shirts paired with slacks are popular choices for menswear. Depending on how casual the rehearsal may be, jeans may be an acceptable choice as well.
Women have a lot of flexibility to wear a variety of options for a casual rehearsal. Sundresses, mid-length gowns, and blouses are common options, and fun colors are encouraged.
When there is flexibility in what to wear, consider comfort as well. Your highest heels or shiniest dress shoes may not be necessary for a backyard barbecue-style rehearsal.
If the event is definitively formal, there is less creative freedom to the process. If the invitation says “black tie,” it will mean a jacket and tie, usually a tuxedo, and long evening dresses.
Anything formal but less than black tie will likely require some form of a jacket and a cocktail dress or gown. Colors should stay in neutrals or darker tones.
Even for a wedding rehearsal that may lean more towards a semi-formal atmosphere, this should be the standard default for guests.
The most important rule of thumb when determining what to wear to a wedding rehearsal, of course, is to not outshine the bride or groom.