The phrase “I have nothing to wear” is common enough, but wedding season makes people shout it from the rooftops. If you’re in your twenties, you may have at least one ceremony per weekend this summer. Some will be casual, others will be semi-formal, and dress codes are always a possibility. What are the rules of wedding guest attire? How can we make it through without maxing out every credit card? Here are my top do’s and don’ts when considering what to wear.
The 15 Do’s and Don’ts of Wedding Guest Attire:
1. DO consider dress code.
Is this celebration black tie, semi-formal, casual, or even a costume party? What the bride wants should always be considered before making any fashion decision. Check out dress codes decoded>>
2. DO consider location.
The attire you wear to a beach will (obviously) be much different than the outfit you rock at a ritzy hotel. Consult the dress code provided, but use common sense when it’s time to decide between flip flops and heels.
3. DON’T forget about color.
Make sure you know the couple’s color palette. The invitation should give you some insight, but it doesn’t hurt to ask a member of the wedding party. You don’t want to be mistaken for a bridesmaid or groomsman, right?
4. DO check with the weatherman.
Know the forecast before you leave the house. Be prepared for rain, snow, or whatever else Mother Nature decides to throw at you. Ladies, the most important thing to consider is wind! Do not wear a shorty, flowy gown that you’ll have to hold down all evening. The last thing you want is a Marilyn Monroe moment in front of 200 people.
5. DO wear layers.
Layers are something I live by. AC can be a life saver, but it can also be a woman’s worst nightmare. Bring a cute, cropped jacket or cardigan no matter what. An outdoor party can quickly turn chilly as it reaches evening hours. Tights and leggings are layers to think about, too. No one will judge you if you slip them off after dancing for a few hours. Just make sure the outfit you wear is still long enough for bare legs!
6. DO consider time of day.
This may seem obvious, but so many ladies forget that summer evenings can still be a bit nippy! Layers are my go-to, but if the event is an evening affair, consider a maxi dress or long-sleeved cocktail look.
7. DON’T wear white.
This isn’t the first time you’ve heard this, but I can’t leave it out. White is an obvious faux pas, but be careful with champagne, cream, and even light shades of gold and tan. Brides are going for colored wedding dresses these days, so an awkward match can happen when you least expect it. Read my blog “Don’t Match the Bride: How to Deal with Colored Wedding Dresses”
for more tips on this new etiquette addition.
8. DON’T wear black.
Before you get upset, I need you to know that I disagree with this rule in the book of guest etiquette. Obviously someone with a lack of love for the LBD added it years ago without thinking of its flattering and fashionable traits. I think wearing black is perfectly acceptable—when the venue calls for it. Try to keep an LBD in the closet for a backyard, beach, or brunch party. In the end, think twice before wearing black, but never rule it out.
9. DON’T wear jeans.
This rule should be obvious, but some guests still think it’s acceptable at certain venues. I’m going to make it very clear for everyone: Jeans are never allowed—no excuses. Unless specifically told by the bride and groom that they’re having jean and t-shirt nuptials, trade in your Levi’s for a pair of khakis or slacks.
10. DON’T “forget” to wear undergarments.
Remember that concept of “wind” I discussed above? The dreaded Marilyn Monroe moment? Ladies, please remember to wear underwear and a bra. Also, neither should ever make an appearance during the festivities. This goes for guys too—pull up your pants.
11. DON’T go bold.
Sequins, animal prints, and other over-the-top designs are not O.K. The focus should always be on the bride, not your outfit.
12. DO cover yourself up.
Summer calls for showing a little skin, but don’t go over the top. Marriage ceremonies are family affairs, so keep it classy and stay covered.
13. DO wear comfortable shoes.
If you’re like me and love to dance like a fool, comfortable shoes are a must-have. Flats
are always good options. Feel free to wear heels
, but think about packing flats or sandals for later.
14. DO ask friends what they’re wearing.
If you’re stuck, there’s nothing better than getting advice from a fellow attendee. That way you have each other to lean on if you make a fashion faux pas.
15. DO shop bridesmaid dresses from the Wedding Shoppe.
If you want wedding guest attire that will always get the go-ahead, shop bridesmaid gowns
! Plenty of styles would look chic as cocktail attire. Kennedy Blue
, Noir by Lazaro
, Jim Hjelm
, and Alfred Sung
are a few designers to consider for this trick.
Do you agree or disagree with any of the 15 rules above? Have more to add? Let me know in a comment below!