Advice & Help

Proper Attire for Wedding Guests

Written by Jillian Beckford

When thinking about what to wear to a wedding, several issues should be considered. Will the event occur during the day or in the evening? This will determine how casual or formal your dress should be. Improper attire for a wedding includes denim clothing, which is too casual, and the color white, which is traditionally reserved for the bride.

The Clues Are on the Invitation
A question that may come to mind when choosing what wedding attire to wear is exactly that: What should you wear to a wedding?  The answer to your question lies on the wedding invitation itself.  If the wedding invitation you have in your hand is embossed and engraved and talks in a very formal language, it only goes to show that the wedding is a formal event.  However, if the invitation is casually presented and written, it means that the wedding is a more casual and intimate affair.

Another clue that will help you decide what wedding attire to deck yourself in when you show up at a wedding is the venue of the wedding.  Church weddings with reception at a fancy restaurant always call for dressier wedding attire.  If it is a wedding at a beach or a destination wedding, it is perfectly acceptable to wear something more laid back.

Daytime or Evening?
Perhaps a more important clue that you should pay attention to in deciding what wedding attire to wear is the time of the wedding.  It spells a huge difference if the wedding is going to be held during the daytime or at night.

For daytime weddings, you do not need to show up in formal wedding attire.  It still depends on the degree of the formality of the wedding, but you can get away with wearing a suit in light colors or a stylish pastel dress.  You can also choose a skirt-and-blouse outfit as long as it looks sleek and smart.  Always go for light-colored clothes for daytime weddings and stay away from wearing black.

As for evening weddings, formal wedding attire is usually the required dress code, but that still depends on whether the wedding is black-tie optional or strictly black tie.  If the event is just black-tie optional, you can wear a dark suit or a cocktail dress.

With strictly black tie weddings, the appropriate wedding attire is a formal ball gown.  This is your chance to show off your style by wearing a floor-length evening dress, fancy evening wraps or shawls and formal jewelry.  Your makeup should be a little more heavy and dramatic than how you usually wear it.  Make sure, however that the wedding attire that you will get is something that fits well and feels comfortable for you.  You can only pull off a formal look if you are comfortable in it.  Besides, formal evening weddings call for a lot of dancing.

Inappropriate Wedding Attire
When it comes to choosing the proper wedding attire, there are literally thousands of dresses and suits that you can choose from when you shop.  But no matter how pretty a dress or suit is, you should not buy it if:

  • It is white.  White is a color that only the bride should wear at a wedding.  Do not wear white to a wedding, whether it is daytime or evening.
  • Denims are a huge no-no, even in casual weddings.
  • Wear something modest and subdued.  The bride is the star of the wedding and it is in very bad form if you show up in wedding attire that is flashier than the bride’s wedding gown.  Also, if your dress is sleeveless or strapless, you should cover your shoulders with a jacket or a wrap.

Always look your best in the proper wedding attire when you come to a wedding.

About the author

Jillian Beckford