Rehearsal dinner dresses: Style inspiration in the run up to the big day

Discover the best rehearsal dinner dresses to suit all body types and budgets to get you ready for the big day

The best wedding rehearsal dinner dresses
(Image credit: Free People, Reformation, ASOS)

While rehearsal dinner dresses aren't as important as your wedding dress, you'll still want your frock to make an impact. The rehearsal dinner has become increasingly popular in the last couple of years, which means as a bride you get to choose a whole new wonderful outfit for your pre-wedding day celebration.

Usually held the night before the big day, the rehearsal dinner is a chance to come together with family and close friends to celebrate before you say I do. While you’ve probably put a lot of thought into what you’ll wear down the aisle, you may not have considered rehearsal dinner dresses to the same extent. The daunting task of choosing yet another fancy dress is further complicated by the fact there are no strict dress codes for the occasion. 

Usually less formal than the wedding dinner itself, the best rehearsal dinner dresses will depend on the location of the celebration. Many brides still choose to wear white, although patterns are also fine, as are pant suits or jumpsuits. The basic rule of thumb is to choose something you'll feel great in, without upstaging your main event. Dress stylishly (as all eye will be on you) but be comfortable so you can enjoy the event to the max. 

“The rehearsal dinner is all about relaxing with your closest friends and family and sharing some intimate time together before the ‘lights, camera, action!’ of the big day itself so you definitely want to feel relaxed, comfortable and like ‘you’ rather than trussed up in something which favors form over function, causing you to fidget all evening,” says TV & Celebrity Fashion expert Miranda Holden (opens in new tab).

“This is your night, and you have the right to wear anything you want! If you love it and feel fantastic, then go ahead and wear it!”

BEST REHEARSAL DINNER DRESSES AS CHOSEN BY A FASHION EDITOR

Get wedding-ready with this selection of our top wedding rehearsal dinner dresses.

White rehearsal dinner dress from Reformation

(Image credit: Reformation)

1. REFORMATION VECCHIO DRESS

Best for a destination wedding

Specifications

RRP: $388 / £390
Sizes: 0-12
Material: 100% linen
Care:: Wash cold + line dry

Reasons to buy

+
100% linen
+
Stylish details
+
Easy to wear

Reasons to avoid

-
Small size range

A destination wedding rehearsal dinner calls for light and airy fabrics like linen and cotton. This style of dress can also be a little less formal to fit in with the vacation-vibe of the wedding and Reformation knows a thing or two about making figure-flattering dresses. 

This pretty dress is elevated from a simple maxi to a thing of beauty thanks to the romantic ruffled straps and bow back. The smocked back bodice means it has some stretch, giving added comfort to the wearer too - making it a stylish but practical choice. 

Drawing inspiration from the wedding dress trends 2022, we're seeing a return of the full length gown post-lockdown weddings and this sweet but simple style is a great precursor to your big day. 

When it comes to footwear, add a pretty wedge or a woven mule for a relaxed look. What’s more, this is a super versatile dress will answer what to pack for a beach vacation for years to come.


River Island embellished dress for rehearsal dinner

(Image credit: River Island)

2. RIVER ISLAND TASSELLED MIDI DRESS

Best embellished rehearsal dinner dress

Specifications

RRP: $370 / £200
Sizes: 6-18
Material: 100% Polyester with sequin embellishments
Care: Hand wash only

Reasons to buy

+
Makes a statement
+
Can wear a bra with it
+
Covers up arms

Reasons to avoid

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The embellishment means it might not be comfortable for sitting down for long periods

Sometimes, only sequins will do! You’ll definitely be making a statement in this stylish, batwing sleeved, embellished number from British clothing brand, River Island. The fringing at the bottom gives it a fabulous vintage feeling, while the sleeves offer upper arm coverage and are perfect for dancing in.

A shorter, embellished style helps to separate this design from a classic bridal dress and offers a more fun and youthful spin on proceedings. This dress is easily wearable again - and might also make a great dress if you're still wondering what to wear to a bridal shower (as the bride).

Just add your best designer heels and you’ll be ready to go.


Livd white rehearsal dinner dress

(Image credit: Livd)

3. LIVD NAOMI CAPE DRESS

Best plus size rehearsal dinner dress

Specifications

RRP: $69 / £58
Sizes: 14-24
Material: 5% Polyester, 5% Spandex
Care: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low

Reasons to buy

+
Soft and stretchy fabric
+
Great price points
+
Show-stopping style

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs the right underwear / shapewear

Designed and made in Los Angeles, Livd is one of best plus size clothing brands for occasion dresses. And you’ll certainly feel ready to party in this gorgeous cape-style dress. If you're worried about the contoured fit, don't fear the bodycon style, it’s nothing that the best shapewear can’t help with as it will skim and streamline your frame for a flattering finish. While the dress has a dramatic cape for the perfect rehearsal dinner party entrance, the beauty of this dress is that really, it's a blank canvas that you can add your own spin on with fabulous accessories.

Miranda suggests your rehearsal dinner is the best time to break out those special pieces of jewelry you may have. 

“This is the time to break out the heirloom jewelry and the sentimental gifts from your groom to be, to give extra emotional meaning to your look,” she states.

As this is a close fitting design, you might want to break out your high heels for this one, or finish the bridal theme off with a pair of the best wedding shoes for brides


Love and Lemons boho rehearsal dinner dress

(Image credit: Free People)

4. FOR LOVE AND LEMONS MAXI DRESS

Best for a boho bride

Specifications

RRP: $298 / £268
Sizes: XS-XL
Material: 76% Nylon, 14% Polyester, 10% Spandex
Care: Dry Clean

Reasons to buy

+
Pretty details
+
High quality
+
Comes in other pretty colours

Reasons to avoid

-
Might be too revealing

Looking to investigate what is boho and carry that relaxed feel through your event? Boho brides will love this sheer dress with a crochet waistband. While the beige bodysuit underneath may feel a bit risqué for some, this beautifully finished dress definitely makes a statement. The longer length means you can swap teetering heels for more comfortable flats, such as pretty embellished sandals - ideal if you're having a destination beach wedding.

The plunging neckline gives the dress a sexy edge, but if you have larger boobs, you’ll need to find a bra with a suitable plunging front to secure your bust line in place and flatter the neckline of the dress. If you’re between sizes, it’s recommended to order this rehearsal dinner dress in the larger size as it does run small. 


ASOS white mini rehearsal dinner dress

(Image credit: ASOS)

5. ASOS FLORAL LACE MINI DRESS

Best mini rehearsal dinner dress

Specifications

RRP: $122 / £86
Sizes: 4-18
Material: Lining: 100% Polyester, Shell: 100% Polyester
Care: Hand wash only

Reasons to buy

+
Pretty floral lace
+
Can be worn for other occasions
+
Lightweight fabric

Reasons to avoid

-
Runs a bit small

Whether a casual BBQ or a sit-down dinner, this pretty floral lace dress is great for various types of rehearsal dinner. Our favorite thing about this dress is that it’s flattering for all body types. The V-neck works for broad shoulders, while the crochet detail helps create a waist - even if you don’t have one. Keep it casual with your best sandals or dress it up with a flesh tone court - a failsafe option according to Miranda.

“If you’re in a dither about matching up your whole outfit, take a leaf out of Kate Middleton’s style book and plump for flesh tone court shoes. These are leg-lengthening thanks to blending in with your skin tone and will go with any color combination,” she suggests. 


Sachin & Babi Emmie Jumpsuit

(Image credit: BHLDN)

6. SACHIN & BABI EMMIE JUMPSUIT

Best rehearsal dinner jumpsuit

Specifications

RRP : $325.00 / £270.29
Sizes: 0-26
Material: Polyester; polyester lining
Care: Dry clean only

Reasons to buy

+
Great size range
+
Open back
+
Stylish alternative to a dress

Reasons to avoid

-
Not bra-friendly

Solange Knowles loves jumpsuits so much that she wore three different designs on her big day! The most flattering jumpsuits make a great alternative to the best dresses, especially if you feel more comfortable in trousers. The chic square back on this jumpsuit gives it a modern edge, however, it does mean you can’t wear a traditional bra. Alternatively, you can choose a stick-on bra or ask a tailor to sew in a backless bra for extra support if needs be. If you've been wondering how to style wide leg pants, then starting with a wide leg jumpsuit is an easy way to navigate the look. The flutter sleeves and wide pant leg give this jumpsuit a feminine, elegant silhouette. Team with a platform shoe - one of the big shoe trends 2022 - to add to the vintage vibe.


H&M white floaty rehearsal dinner dress

(Image credit: H&M)

7. H&M FLOUNCE-TRIMMED DRESS

Best budget rehearsal dinner dress

Specifications

RRP : $29.99 / £19.99
Sizes: XS-XXL
Material: 100% cotton
Care: Machine wash at 40°

Reasons to buy

+
Bargain price
+
Romantic ruffles
+
Cool cotton

Reasons to avoid

-
A bit see-through

If you’ve spent all your money on your wedding dress, you can still look stylish at your rehearsal dinner without splashing thousands of dollars. This cute, flounce-trimmed dress is a steal and gets a 4.5 out of 5-star review on the H&M website. 

It’s perfect for sunnier climes as the cotton will keep you nice and cool. While it has some support in the bust area - along with adjustable spaghetti straps - those with a larger bust will need the best strapless bra to feel fully comfortable. Airy and light, it’s a great choice for a less formal dinner, such as a beach party, relaxed restaurant or BBQ.


Floret Studios Floral Tea Dress

(Image credit: Nordstrom)

8. FLORET STUDIOS FLORAL TIERED DRESS

Best budget rehearsal dinner dress

Specifications

RRP : $108 / £93.48
Sizes: XS-L
Material: 100% Polyester
Care: Dry clean only

Reasons to buy

+
Flattering for all body types
+
Romantic ruffles
+
Easy to wear again

Reasons to avoid

-
Not dressy enough

A tea dress is one of the best midi dresses and a real wardrobe essential - not only can they be dressed up or down, but they're also universally flattering. For a more relaxed feel, a floral print dress is a great choice as one of the best rehearsal dinner dresses - pretty and feminine it offers a more vintage feel to proceedings. The nipped-in waist, short sleeves and V-neck will help to create an hourglass silhouette, for a curvaceous finish. 

Enhance the romantic mood of this dress with retro accessories, such as a directional rattan clutch or statement floral earrings. To take this frock from casual rehearsal dinner to a more glam occasion, try adding stiletto sandals and a bright white blazer to brighten the look. 


Jenny Yoo white rehearsal dress

(Image credit: Jenny Yoo)

9. JENNY YOO BIAS CUT SLIP DRESS

Best for the minimalist bride

Specifications

RRP : $198 / £89.85
Sizes : 0-18
Material: Satin
Care: Dry clean only

Reasons to buy

+
Available in lots of different colours
+
Super versatile
+
Expensive looking

Reasons to avoid

-
Fabric may require shapewear

Your rehearsal dinner dress doesn’t have to be ruffled and full-on romance - especially if that’s not your normal style, advises Miranda.

She says: “Don’t be tempted to try out a radical new color trend or a different silhouette for you, this is the time to pool all the styling knowledge you have gathered over the years and wear something you know you will look great in, and still be happy to see in the pictures when you look back in years to come.”

This gorgeous bias-cut slip dress is perfect if you like the minimal look. The bias cut, blouson waist and cowl neck, coupled with tie straps are chic style details that elevate this slip dress into something special you’ll be able to wear again and again (check out our guide on how to style a slip dress for more ways to wear). While the satin fabric is substantial, you still may need to wear shapewear to avoid visible panty lines.


ROTATE Birger Christensen puff sleeve dress

(Image credit: ROTATE Birger Christensen)

10. ROTATE BIRGER CHRISTENSEN SATIN MIDI DRESS

Best designer rehearsal dinner dress

Specifications

RRP : $450 / £340
Sizes: 2-12
Material: 60% recycled polyester, 40% polyester; lining: 100% polyester
Care: Dry clean only

Reasons to buy

+
Eco-friendly
+
Vintage inspired
+
Exaggerated puff sleeves

Reasons to avoid

-
High price point

Could a rehearsal dinner dress be any cuter? The puff sleeves, cut-out back and bow means this is one dress that looks good at any angle! It also comes with green credentials too, as it’s partly made with recycled polyester, so it's a good option for eco-brides who are trying to create a more sustainable wedding. 

With a classic style, this dress has a vintage feel, yet it’s one style that's timeless, which means you can get good value per wear after your rehearsal dinner. Team with a on-trend Mary Jane shoe to add to the retro style and investigate how to wear a headband to finish the look. We'd recommend a simple jeweled headband to bring some sparkle to your outfit.


Zara bright pink PLEATED SLIP DRESS

(Image credit: Zara)

11. ZARA BRIGHT PINK PLEATED DRESS

Best for a pop of colour

Specifications

RRP: $69.90 / £49.99
Sizes: XS-XL
Material: 100% polyester, at least 30% recycled polyester
Care: Machine wash at max. 30ºC/8

Reasons to buy

+
Can be worn more than once
+
Looks more expensive than it is
+
Show-stopping colour

Reasons to avoid

-
Can’t be worn with a bra

While many brides choose white for the best rehearsal dinner dresses, there’s nothing that says you can’t go bright for your pre-wedding day event! 

Not for the shy-retiring bride, if you've loved learning about what is Barbiecore? Then inject the fashion color trend of 2022 with this dress. One of the best pink dresses will make you stand out from the (wedding) crowd and render your look utterly trend-worthy too.

The styling, with the deep V and nipped in waist, is reminiscent of ‘70s Halston dresses, while the pleated skirt allows for lots of movement while you dance the night away. What’s more, this is a great dress if you’re stuck for what to wear to a wedding after your own big day - add a blazer and a fascinator and you’re good to go!


VESPER PETITE OFF THE SHOULDER MINI DRESS

(Image credit: ASOS)

12. VESPER PETITE OFF THE SHOULDER MINI DRESS

Best petite rehearsal dinner dress

Specifications

RRP: $96 / £58
Sizes: 4-14
Material: 85% Viscose,12% Nylon, 3% Spandex
Care: Hand wash only

Reasons to buy

+
Designed for petite figures
+
Can be worn again
+
Timeless style

Reasons to avoid

-
Not many sizes

Formal dressing if you're 5ft 3in or under can be tricky. While you can wear longer-length dresses, a shorter dress might be preferable if you feel maxi and midi length styles swamp your petite frame. The best petite dresses have been cut with a shorter stature in mind and should have been adapted for your proportions, meaning that hem lengths shouldn't need too be altered much, if at all. While you should wear what you feel comfortable in - and if that's voluminous drama then own it - you might want to select a dress with simpler lines, if you're concerned about overwhelming your figure. 

This petite dress is a mini-Mermaid style, ideal if you want to enhance curves or create a more hourglass silhouette. The ruffled hem gives it a romantic edge without adding too much detail, while the ecru colour is universally flattering. 


REFORMATION WESTERLY DRESS

(Image credit: Reformation)

13. REFORMATION WESTERLY DRESS

Best for a formal rehearsal dinner

Specifications

RRP: $348 / £350
Sizes: 0-12
Material: 100% Viscose
Care: Dry clean only

Reasons to buy

+
Flattering fit
+
Pretty ribbon detailing
+
Available in pretty colours

Reasons to avoid

-
Might feel a little too bridal

A formal rehearsal dinner requires either a cocktail dress or long gown. It’s also a chance to go all out with a show-stopping frock (before upping the ante for your big day). 

This stunning dress is a perfect nod to bridal, and a great choice if you've opted for a big wedding dress for the actual nuptials. Simple, streamlined, the square neckline is flattering on all bust sizes, while the smocked back to the bodice adds stretch making it super comfortable to wear all night long.

Tapping into the Regencycore trend, you can pretend to be starring in your own episode of Bridgerton in this beautiful number. Take the lead from the simplicity and elegance of the dress and opt for a pair of barely-there sandals and simple diamond or pearl earrings as finishing touches.  

With over 22 years’ experience in journalism, Jayne has written about a variety of subjects. She spent the start of her career within the world of film, interviewing Hollywood stars, attending premieres and lusting after red carpet outfits, and then moved into fashion, launching websites for big magazines such as Look, Woman’s Own and Wedding and working with top fashion brands such as Westfield, LK Bennett and Hunter. 


Career highlights include dressing up as Kylie (in gold hot pants!) for a national newspaper and working on big fashion events alongside Giles Deacon, Henry Holland and Naomi Campbell.