What to Wear to a Wedding


While countless books, magazines and web pages are devoted to the discussion of appropriate wedding attire for a bride, groom and members of the wedding party, the question of what their guests should wear to the wedding is rarely touched upon. Once you’ve gotten the invitation, saved the date and found the perfect wedding gift, it’s time to think about what you will wear as a wedding guest.

The most important guide to how to dress for the occasion will be found in the wedding invitation itself. Not only will it tell you who, where and when, but as a whole the invitation can yield important clues as to how formal the event will be. If the invitation is printed in beautiful, flowing script on creamy cardstock with professional hand-lettering, chances are it’s time to break out the formal gown and tuxedo. If the invitation is cute and contemporary with casual wording, then you can safely assume the wedding will have a laidback atmosphere that permits casual attire.

Other factors to consider include the time of year, the time of day and the location. Whether the wedding takes place in the spring/summer or fall/winter will have a dramatic impact on your wedding attire. Similarly, the time of day in which the wedding is scheduled will determine its formality. If the wedding takes place before 6:00PM, it will likely be less formal than a wedding held after 6:00PM. Finally, a wedding venue such as a church or synagogue will require more formality than a wedding in an outdoor garden or at a home.

If you still are clueless about what attire would be appropriate for your event, here are some tips on what to wear to various types of weddings.

A summer wedding.
For a casual summer wedding, you will want to look fresh and cheerful. A woman could wear a bright-colored sundress in a lightweight fabric, while her escort might wear a button-down shirt with khaki slacks.

A daytime wedding. If the wedding is at a church, light-colored suits and similar business attire should suffice. Pretty summer dresses or jacket and skirt separates would be appropriate for less casual venues. Avoid wearing all black or sequins during the day.

An evening wedding. If the invitation indicates “black tie” either directly or indirectly, then proper attire is a must. Men should wear a tuxedo or at least a dark-colored suit. For ladies, an evening gown or cocktail dress is appropriate. Dress elegantly but do not upstage the bride by wearing dresses that are overly flashy or revealing.

A morning wedding. The dress code for a morning wedding is the same as that of a daytime wedding.

A casual wedding. Nearly anything goes in this situation. Nice casual shirts, jeans and sundresses are all acceptable options.

An afternoon wedding.
Since an afternoon wedding likely means an evening reception, attire that is dressier than that of a daytime wedding will be a smart choice. Men should choose a dark suit, while ladies might choose a short cocktail dress or dressy suit.

A rehearsal dinner. Depending on the location, choose attire that you would wear to a nice restaurant.

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