I've Planned Weddings for 12 Years—Here's What to Wear to a Rehearsal Dinner

In case you haven't noticed, the wedding boom is nowhere near its end. If you're anything like me, you still have many events on the calendar to finish the year and even more outfits to plan. When people think about what they're going to wear to a wedding, most of the time, they focus on the day of the big event. But often overlooked is the night before, the day when the rehearsal dinner takes place. This event should require just as much focus because it's your first impression on some attendees to kick off a weekend of festivities.

Since many of us have a good number of events coming up, it's important to buy items that will have longevity in our closets. It's important to look for pieces you can wear over and over again. Since I haven't been to many rehearsal dinners in my life quite yet, I decided to tap the shoulder of a wedding expert, Bruce Russell. He's been planning weddings for over 12 years, so he definitely has quite a few rehearsal dinners under his belt and is here to share his expertise.

I would love to hear your story of how you got into events.

I worked in luxury hotels for over 15 years, and part of my role in sales was hosting client trips to our various hotels across the world to experience all that we had to offer. Internally, I was planning receptions, dinners, and once-in-a-lifetime excursions.  I just loved that! One day, a client commented that she wished she had met me three years prior, as I would've been the perfect person to plan her wedding. From that moment, the seed was planted, and the rest is history. I began my company in the UK and have worked on events all over the world. I eventually expanded to open an office in San Francisco to manage better our clients' parties and weddings for all destinations.

What's your favorite event you've ever planned?

I planned a truly magical three-day wedding in California last summer.  It was originally scheduled for 2020 in Europe. However, due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, the couple opted for something closer to home. The second day was the Punjabi wedding, which took place on a private estate in Woodside, CA.  As soon as I saw the Roman pool, I had a vision of guests lounging under pastel tents as floral canoes sailed by. What made it extra special was the friendship forged with the couple and their families after more than three years of planning and changes to their wedding plans. It will always be a special one for me, and the result was not only personally fulfilling but also breathtaking.

Do you have any initial thoughts when I say "rehearsal-dinner outfit"?

When I hear rehearsal-dinner outfit, I think of something chic, stylish, and perfectly accessorized. It does depend on the location and style of the event, but no matter what, nothing too bold or attention seeking. Never overshadow the wedding-day look the night before.

1. Clean Lines

"I love a well-cut dress—think Roland Mouret or Emilia Wickstead. Simple lines and solid colors. Minimal accessories and statement heels. It looks effortless and perfect for a rehearsal-dinner ensemble."

Shop the look:

As you can tell by the photo above, this dress is simply iconic.

The little details add up to create a beautiful ensemble.

This is the kind of dress I'd want to be seen in in 2022.

If you prefer a mini, this one is for you.

2. Tailored Jumpsuit

"A tailored jumpsuit is always a win—a completely different look to what you would likely wear to the wedding day itself. And it works for an outdoor dinner or something more formal."

3. A Nice Suit

"A nice suit is great for a rehearsal-dinner look. You can play with a fashion-forward blouse or shirt colors and patterns to suit your personality and add a little boldness for photos."

Shop the look:

If it's too hot for a full suit, you can't go wrong with a skirt option.

A suit you'll wear over and over again.

4. Flared Trousers + Beautiful Blouse

What to wear to a rehearsal dinner

Photo:

@lefevrediary

"Keep it simple with flared trousers/pants and a beautiful blouse. The look is comfortable yet elegant if a dress isn't what you're seeking. You can even wear flats and save your feet for the day of dancing to follow!"

Shop the look:

I've had my eye on this blouse for a while now.

Another blouse that's been at the top of my wish list.

5. Classic Cocktail Dress

What to wear to a rehearsal dinner

Photo:

@emnitta

"A classic cocktail dress is always a great option for your night before. The rehearsal dinner is an occasion for you to wear something slightly shorter than you might wear to the wedding itself. I like a more neutral look rather than bold prints. Save the florals for the farewell brunch."

Shop the look:
Related Stories