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Respectfully Yours: Location, location for rehearsal dinner attire

Dear Jacquelyn,

This past weekend I attended a wedding rehearsal dinner and the guest attire was a mix of casual and semi-formal attire. Some guests had on jeans and others were dressed up. I thought it was common knowledge that a rehearsal dinner requires semi-formal dress attire. Is this supposed to be a casual event?

Dear Reader,

Determining what to wear to a wedding rehearsal dinner can be more complicated than you might think.

You don’t want to be either overdressed or under-dressed. Ultimately, there are a number of things that can clue you in and help you make the best choice.

Rehearsal dinners can be as casual as having a picnic or as formal as a sit-down dinner. This event is different for everyone. Some are formal and cocktail attire is appropriate while others are more casual.

As with every other social event to which one is invited, the choice of dress is based on the cues from the invitation and the chosen venue.

The first place to begin is to take into consideration where the rehearsal dinner will be held. If it’s an upscale venue, dress more formal.

When the rehearsal dinner is in a more casual setting, opt for business casual attire. While casual attire to some people may mean jeans, in most cases that is not appropriate attire for a wedding rehearsal dinner.

Take a look at the invitation. It may offer more clues or even specify the dress code. If there is no dress coded indicated you might be able to tell by the style of the invitation itself. If it is a simple card, the dinner is probably causal. If it is on fancy paper, it means formal attire.

The wedding theme and time of the dinner will also help you determine what should be worn. A traditional wedding held in the evening is going to require more formal dress. Lunch or beach weddings are usually more relaxed and allow more casual attire.

Whenever in doubt, the common-sense thing to do is dress nicely.

Respectfully Yours,


Have a question? Email: jacquelyn@ptd.net. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation.

All Rights Reserved &Copy; 2021 Jacquelyn Youst