In thinking about what is appropriate wedding attire for a guest, there are scores of rules and myths that come to mind. Things like not wearing white because it competes with the bride are well known guidelines that more people have ingrained in their minds even if they themselves have never had the chance to attend a wedding. There are, however, many less known tips that wedding guests would be wise to consider before attending the joyous event.

For Men

Even though it may seem that women have the lion’s share of attire options when it comes to formal occasions, there are still a fair amount of things for men to consider as well. For informal weddings, a dress shirt and pants are perfectly acceptable; for more formal events, a suit for even a tuxedo – if the invitation specifies a “black tie affair” – would be great options. The alternative lies with outdoor weddings, which are becoming increasingly popular. In this case, the weather and setting need to be taken into consideration, as a suit may be too formal for, say, a wedding on the family farm. The following is a short list of simple tips for men to consider:

  • Daytime weddings are never the place for a tuxedo, even if the invitation states that the event is highly formal
  • Blue Jeans are only appropriate if the invitation expressly says so – otherwise they are strictly off limits. The same goes for cargo pants and shorts.
  • Avoid open toe shoes or sandals such as Birkenstocks
  • Baseball caps should be left at home; the same is true of ties or socks with wild prints and Graphic tees or jackets

With so many things to think about, it is perhaps easiest to simply remember to opt for sleek, well-fitting clothing that you would be comfortable wearing around a colleague or superior; this includes clothing that is ironed, free of defining graphics or prints, and dressy enough to reflect a sense of class or elegance.

For Women

By far, one of the most difficult things women face when it comes to dressing for a wedding or another important event is knowing what to wear. With so many options available and an equal number of stigmas surrounding what is and is not appropriate wedding guest attire, it is no wonder that often women opt for a generic cocktail dress in hopes that it will suffice. Dressing for a wedding does not have to be all stress or drudgery, however – there are many tips that can help you remember what is on par for the joyous event, no matter the locale or time of day:

  • For an informal or even semi-formal wedding, a nice cocktail dress or suit will do just fine. For more formal affairs, opt for a short dress or even a floor length dress, depending on the time of day and the venue.
  • For a Black or White Tie event, a long gown is definitely appropriate, as are glamorous accessories.
  • Whenever possible, stay away from white – however, if white is your color of choice – be sure to offset it with a bold dash of color or a noticeable accessory so that guests unfamiliar with the bride will not run the risk of mistaking you for her.
  • Steer clear of overtly showy clothing, such as overly low-cut tops or short skirts and stick to occasion wear.

Ultimately, it is a day for the bride and groom and their families – if you take care not to draw undue attention to yourself with ostentatious clothing, you should be in the clear. This also applies to hats, handbags, and jewelry – the only thing glowing, shining, or otherwise capturing the eyes of the attendees should be the bride.

For Kids and Young Adults

Children have perhaps the most lenient of all wedding dress codes – this is due in large part to the view that kids will be kids, as well as the commonly held idea that kids are pretty much cute in anything. When dressing kids for weddings, though, it is important to note that play clothes are generally considered far too casual – even if the outfit in question is a matching jump suit or pair of jeans. Whenever possible the child should be dressed according to the dress code set forth for the adult guests. If the invitation reads semi-formal, common sense would indicate that little girls should arrive in dresses, and little boys in dress pants or polo shirts. Babies are typically the one exception here, since they generally are either held or kept in a carrier, in which case they are really never fully seen by the attendees.

Young adults would be wise to maintain a similar approach to wedding apparel. This means taking care that clothes not only fit the wedding venue and time, but that they are also freshly pressed and free of stains or tears. A wedding is not the place for the latest trend in distressed denim, nor is it the proper event for spaghetti strap tank tops or baseball caps. In the end, a nice pair of slacks with a button down dress shirt – or a knee length shirt with a tasteful top – would be the perfect outfit for almost any wedding regardless of place or time.

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