What to wear to a wedding?
Deciding what to wear to a wedding isn’t always an easy task. If you find yourself asking, “What do I wear to a wedding as a guest?” you’re not alone. In fact, it’s one of the most common questions guests have. While the invitation will often include a suggested wedding dress code.
One of the best ways to decide what to wear is to do some research on the venue.
“As a guest, I would first think of the wedding location as the background that sets the tone,” says Mae. “A quick Google search of the venue can give you a feel of the wedding style, and the venue will have photos of past weddings that can inspire you.”
And, luckily for you, we’re here to help. In this comprehensive wedding guest fashion guide, you’ll find expert-approved tips on choosing exactly what to wear to a wedding (and what not to wear) regardless of the dress code or season. Below, read up on their tried-and-true wedding fashion tips that’ll help you pick an outfit you feel your best in.
PRO Tips from fashion experts:-
What is acceptable to wear to a wedding?
When in doubt, a midi or maxi dress is a fail-safe option for a wedding. Pay close attention to the invitation card as this will help indicate how formal the ceremony and reception will be. Some invites may even specify a dress code but if they don’t, look up the venue online. A fancy hotel in the city might require something more formal than a barn in the countryside.
What not to wear to a wedding?
Steer clear of anything too bold and attention-seeking or a dress that is too short, too tight and uncomfortable. On the other end of the scale, you will also want to avoid anything too casual such as lounge-wear, pajamaz and denim.
“Try your best to stick to the dress code stated,” says Lucy Challenger, etiquette expert and founder Polo & Tweed. “Never upstage the bride, so no full-length white dresses. Avoid causal hats, sunglasses and shorts. And steer away from anything this is too revealing.”
Which colors should you avoid at a wedding?
The obvious answer is plain white or Red(Eastern Culture). Choosing to wear white or Red to a wedding can be seen stealing attention away from the bride and groom. Similarly, black is often avoided at weddings due to its association with mourning and funerals. However, modern wedding dress codes can be more relaxed which means you can probably get away with wearing a white dress with a pattern or brighten up a black dress with punchy accessories. As long as you avoid a floor length white gown, it will mainly come down to how to style it.
“White or black is more acceptable these days but if doing so, then introduce a splash of colour. Never wear these two as block colours. Sometimes the wedding invite will follow an overall theme and if this is a colour then best avoid it, as it could match that worn by the wedding party.” says Lucy.
What is casual attire for a wedding?
Denim is seen as casual attire for a wedding so it’s best to avoid jeans of any kind. When it comes to footwear, trainers and flip flops are also too casual for a wedding.
If you’re after something comfortable – go for a block heel, wedge or a smart flat shoe.
1. Follow the dress code, concept style/theme:-
Remember, the happy couple will have specified a dress code for a reason. This could be because it’s appropriate for the venue their wedding is being held at, or because it matches their chosen aesthetic or look. Straying from the dress code has the potential to at best lead to embarrassment and murmurs among the other guests, and at worse cause offense.
“Not only do you not want to be the one person in a casual summer dress while everyone else is in ball gowns, but if your invitation specifically asks you to dress in a certain manner, it’s disrespectful to disregard the request.”
2. Custom or Traditional:-
In some cases, you may be asked to wear attire that aligns with a certain culture’s customs. For example, a couple having a traditional Indian wedding might ask women to wear saris. In these instances, do your research, ask for help when needed, and always dress respectfully.
Go Inside This Fashionable Wedding
In today’s day and age, anything’s possible. We’ve seen couples send color palettes in their wedding invitations, which their guests were asked to dress according to.
We’ve seen others make Pinterest boards of outfit ideas to inspire their attendees.
“Our wedding dress code was upscale-casual, and we asked our guests to be inspired by the Tuscan landscape for their attire,”
shares Corry, who’s pictured above at her wedding in Italy. Most of her celebrants showed up in neutral hues, like these.
Other examples include calls for “festive” attire (clothing that fits into a certain theme) or “beach chic” attire (clothing that’s formal enough for a wedding, but suitable for a sandy setting). When faced with imaginative instructions, embrace them, and ask for clarification when needed.
3. Don’t dress as a Bride/bridesmaids:-
One of our top pieces of advice is to ask the couple what color their bridesmaids will be wearing ahead of the big day.
“Sometimes the wedding invite will follow an overall theme and if this is a color then best to avoid it, as it could match the clothing worn by the wedding party,”
Brands such as Ghost, Whistles and Monsoon all have dedicated bridesmaid ranges, which, while could be worn by a guest, are better to bypass for risk of ending up matching. For the same reason, choose midi dresses over floor-lengths, as most couples favor a full length style for their bridesmaids. If you’ve fallen in love with a dress that’s long, no problem. Enlist the help of a seamstress or dry cleaner to adjust the hemline for you.
4. Dress for the season:-
“Dressing for the season is key,”
says style expert and Fashion Editor, Joely Chilcott.
“Weddings inevitably involve a lot of hanging around so wearing a skimpy frock to a winter wedding is going to leave you freezing cold and unable to enjoy the day. Invest in a well-fitting blazer – it’s the perfect layering piece that will give you extra warmth for temperamental weather without overwhelming your outfit.”
Summer Season Wedding:
For summer weddings, we’d recommend a short sleeve dress in a lightweight or float fabric. Anything too form-fitting will feel restrictive. Cotton, linen and silk mixes are among the most breathable fabrics, but do have a frustrating tendency to crease.
Winter Season Wedding:
Velvet is a stylish choice for a winter wedding as the plush fabric will instantly luxe-up your look. Velvet tailored blazer/Dress will help you stay warm whilst still keeping your wedding outfit looking polished.
5. Do respect your surroundings:-
Most places of worship have specific rules around what is, and isn’t acceptable to wear.
“In church, shoulders should be covered as bare arms are still frowned upon,” explains Lucy. “In Catholic churches women are expected to bring a shawl to cover their shoulders and arms. Cover your head/hair in a synagogue as well, and the same for an Arabic wedding.”
If the person getting married is part of a culture, or practices a religion that you are unfamiliar with, take the time to chat to them beforehand about any traditions or expectations. This will help to avoid any missteps on the big day
6. Don’t show too much skin/body:-
“A high neckline is obviously the most appropriate, but mid-neckline is fine,” says Lucy. “Just avoid anything too low cut or with a plunge. Dresses or skirts should not be ultra short, and covering the shoulders would be best. However this can be done with a cropped jacket.”
You could always wear a jacket during the ceremony and meal, and take it off for the evening party.
7. Don’t wear all black/Red/White:-
Wearing black is more acceptable these days,”
says Lucy Challenger.
“But if doing so, my advice is to introduce a splash of colour.”
This could be in the form of a patterned dress, bright accessories or even by wearing a black top with a vibrant skirt or trousers.
It’s a lot easier to get away with wearing black when it’s a winter wedding and this one ticks all the boxes. Floral prints ooze romance and the colorful blooms on this frock help to break up the dark color. Bring it out more and finish with a pair of red or pink heels.
8. Don’t wear denim/jeans:-
When we asked etiquette expert Lucy Challenger,
if you could wear denim to a wedding her resounding response was
Weddings are special occasions, and therefore it’s good manners to wear something more noteworthy than your trusted best jeans and t-shirt combination. Denim is never really acceptable in any incarnation, but light colored, distressed or ripped jeans are considered the worst offenders. The only real exception to the rule would be a smart denim jacket worn over your shoulders at a casual wedding.
For winter, we’d recommend swapping your jeans for a pair of tailored trousers in a colorful hue.
High-summer weddings, opt for rich, jewel-tones like green, pink and blue. Spring or in-between season celebrations call for pretty pastels.
9. Alter Pieces/dress/suit You Already Own:
Alterations can play a large role in what to wear to a wedding as a guest. If you have a busy wedding season, it might not be financially feasible to invest in new outfits for every event. So, in addition to accessorizing thoughtfully, experts recommend altering pieces you already own to change up their look.
“The number one key to looking and feeling your best is to make sure that you’re nailing the fit of your garments,”
“If the fit’s not right, that can affect your confidence.”
“You never want to wear an outfit you have to tug up or down. You can breathe new life into the clothes you already have by raising or lowering the hem of a skirt or creating a new silhouette.”
10. Do consider your footwear:-
Weddings offer the perfect excuse to get dressed up, and we’d recommend you take it with both hands. Unless you have specific problems or concerns,
“no trainers, flip-flops or heavy boots.”
Not only are they too casual for such a special occasion, but the latter two are notoriously noisy, especially in echoing halls and churches.
A classic court shoe, the kind favored by Kate Middleton, is our top pick. Buying a pair in a neutral hue like nude, tan or silver is a smart investment. They’ll coordinate with any color of clothing you choose, and can be re-worn for other weddings and occasions to max out your cost-per-wear. If you struggle to walk in high heels, look to block heels or wedges instead for extra stability. There are plenty of pretty flats on the high-street too. Choose a pair with a pointed toe for effortless elegance and to create the illusion of longer legs.
11. Accessorize Your Outfit
Clothes are just one element of a great wedding guest outfit. In addition to picking a nice dress or suit, accessories have the power to completely enhance your look.
“Jewelry completes an outfit,”
Meaghan Rose, Founder and CEO of jewelry subscription company Rocksbox.
“You can have a beautiful dress, but finding the perfect earrings or a necklace to compliment the neckline of your outfit really pulls everything together.”
The same is true of men’s wedding guest attire too. Accents like a colorful pocket square, a printed tie or a sleek belt will upgrade any tux or suit.
“My favorite accessory is a suspender,”
Explains Andrew Roberts, CEO of luxury accessory brand Del Toro.
“Alternatively, a classic wristwatch or a vintage piece will always be a good conversation starter. Or, a signet ring worn on the pinky finger is subtle, but will drive up the style quotient of anyone wearing it.”
If you’re choosing what to wear to a wedding on a budget, intentional accessories can enhance an outfit you already have in your closet.
“Accessories can take an old outfit and make it look brand new,”
Durham explains. Adds Roberts:
“The key is adding your own tasteful twist to the outfit and wearing it with bold confidence.”