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costume wedding rehearsal

Wedding Rehearsal As…Costume Party?

By Amalah

Dear Amalah,

So, one of my oldest childhood friends is getting married soon. We are in our early 30’s and she has waited (for her) a loooong time to find the right person. I think her fiance is great and a perfect match for her and I couldn’t be happier. I’m also excited about the wedding as other old friends will be there as well as her family (many of whom I haven’t seen in years and they are great!). So you say, “What’s the problem?”

Advice Smackdown ArchivesLet me tell you the problem… The Rehearsal Dinner invitation came in the mail this week (stuffed inside the wedding invite but that’s another story) and it is a costume party! Specifically, the invitation says we should come dressed as a cowboy or Indian…WTF?!?! This wedding is NOT at Halloween (not that I would like it any more but at least it would make some sense). We are grown-ups and this is a grown-up function at a foofoo mountain spa, I don’t get it.

I’ll also add that my husband has been out of town and therefore hasn’t seen the invite yet. He will die. I can say with 100% certainty that he would rather not go that dress up, it is just not his thing. Add that to the fact that we own nothing (not even cowboy boots) that would work as costumes, so dressing up would involve purchasing of clothes and/or supplies to create costumes… One other thing, I just found out that I’m about 6 weeks pregnant with our 2nd child (turns out if you don’t take your pills, that can happen…). I’ll be about 12 weeks along at the wedding but hadn’t planned on telling anyone at the wedding as to not take away from her special day. The issue there is who knows what will actually fit at that point, much less a cowboy or Indian costume?

So, my question to you: Would we be complete party poopers if we did not dress up? I can totally rock some jeans and a cute top. My husband can do jeans and a button down. I don’t want to be a dud but I know my husband won’t dress up and I don’t really want to hunt down a costume for me. If you think we will be party poopers, can you give suggestions of something that might work without a lot of fuss?

Even if this question doesn’t make the smackdown, thanks so much for allowing me to vent! I can’t really say much to our real life friends as I’m not sure who agrees with me. I definitely don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings!

(not) John Wayne!

Okay, so this was not even one of your points of contention, and I realize my overly-sensitive PC liberal roots are showing, but…cowboys and INDIANS? WHAT? I mean…WHAT? Like feathered headresses and war paint and tomahawks and I know I’m probably imaging a worst-case scenario of a bunch of white people dressing up in essentially, offensively stereotypical redface kinds of costumes (FAKE SCALPS! WOO WOO WOO. SMOKUM PEACE PIPE. HA HA HA IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE IT’S RACIST), but…WHAT? This strikes me as a colossally bad idea, from a possibility-to-offend someone who MAYBE has actual Native American heritage perspective, or if a guest decides to bring a plus-one who does. Or if you invite someone like me, who just plain-old has their sensitivity meter cranked up to 11 about things like this.

I know, I know! I’m SURE the intention is all in good innocent fun and retro and all of that. Maybe everybody will show up as Sacagawea or John Wayne and nobody will show up dressed like a long-ago-vaulted Disney cartoon that the company doesn’t like to talk about, but YIKES. What a potential landmine of a theme.

But let’s shove the specifics aside and just deal with the idea of turning a fancy grown-up function into a costume party. Not incredibly common, but as theme weddings become more and more popular (think Ren-Faire, sci-fi, Disney, etc.), I wouldn’t say this is entirely out of the ordinary. The bride and groom probably genuinely think this will make things more fun, but obviously you and your husband (AND ME) demonstrate that sometimes the compulsory costume thing is not particularly viewed that way by guests. Future brides, take note.

Personally, I LIKE dressing up, when the situation is appropriate and I’m given some creative freedom. Like Halloween! Go as anything you can think of! (I’m going as Jessica from True Blood, with fangs and a Merlotte’s uniform! Jason wants to be Russell with the crystal urn of Talbot Goo or perhaps a nice newscaster spine! I can’t wait!) Or maybe your friends threw a Lost Finale Party and asked everyone to go as a character. People have the choice to get Really Into It…while folks like your husband could wear black pants and a black shirt and say they’re the Smoke Monster.

That said, when hitting people with an Unexpected Costume Party and dictating a theme that likely requires costume purchases, I’d say it’s a very good gesture to provide some options for your guests at the event. Hit the party store for some cheap straw hats and sheriff badges and pistols and make some construction paper (gaaaaahhh) feather headdresses or something. I have no idea if your hosts will do this, however, but just know that even if your husband insists on NOT dressing up, he may have his arm twisted into putting on SOMETHING when he arrives.

So…if you decide to attend, you probably are better off just hitting the party, costume or toy store yourself and buying a couple cheap stupid props, so you at least LOOK like you tried. (And then you can choose things that can be quickly abandoned at your table.) Jeans (which are easily modified for pregnancy gain/bloat — go with a Belly Band or just a rubber band), button-down shirts (leave yours untucked), a plastic sheriff’s badge, toy gun, etc. Target is a good place for Western-style plaids and cheap sort-of cowboy-ish hats. Go ironic with your shoes to avoid the cowboy boot purchase — have him wear Chucks and you wear heels or something. (Yes, you can wear heels while pregnant!) (And also kick them off if they bother you.)

I feel like, if you don’t dress up, you might not be the only ones…but you might be, and you definitely might hurt the bride and groom’s feelings, or at least disappoint them when they see that you clearly didn’t like their COMPLETELY AWESOME REHEARSAL DINNER IDEA. (Even if it…really isn’t that awesome, from at LEAST a couple different perspectives.) So unless you are actually prepared to make excuses as to why you can’t arrive/attend events until the day of the wedding ceremony, you should swallow your opinions about the appropriateness of the whole event and respond by…being appropriate to the event and making a small effort to roll with it. Something about two etiquette wrongs not making a right, I suppose.

Published August 18, 2010. Last updated August 7, 2017.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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