Guests Changing Outfits Between Ceremony And Reception?

guest wedding attire

guest attire at weddings

Is is appropriate for guests to change outfits between the ceremony & reception?


We’ve been invited to a Catholic Church wedding at 2pm followed by a reception at 6pm. The invitation says “black tie suggested.” Aside from the inconvenience of this protracted delay between the two events, I have no interest in sitting around in a formal for 3 hours waiting for the reception. Is it appropriate to change outfits? If so, what should we wear to the ceremony and reception?

Jodi R R Smith, The Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting
Author, The Etiquette Book, A Complete Guide To Modern Manners

Ah, the wedding wardrobe changes… Hence the major advantages to having a reception which immediately follows the ceremony. Alas, especially with church ceremonies, this is not always possible. Yes, it is perfectly acceptable for you to attend the ceremony dressed appropriately (and respectfully!) for church, then relax in the afternoon, and change into your formal attire for the evening’s celebration. While many guests will opt for the single outfit, you certainly do have the option to change.

For church, women may wear suits, daytime dresses or fancy pants with matching tops. Men may wear suits, slacks with button down shirts & tie, pressed khakis with a blazer. The evening’s event is easy for the men as the invitation suggests black tie. If the man does not own and does not wish to rent a tuxedo, then a formal suit and tie will do. For the women, you may want to speak with the hosts to see if women will be wearing ballgowns or tea-length formal dresses.

guest wedding attire

Jay Remer, The Etiquette Guy, International Protocol and Corporate & Social Etiquette

I agree with Jodi. To my way of thinking this is an example of a poorly thought out wedding. Not everyone will necessarily expect that a costume change is expected and will show up in black tie at the church. This is not appropriate for a 2 pm wedding. A long gap between the ceremony and the reception is unavoidable sometimes, but then the black tie request seems unfair in my book. I’m not one for putting undo responsibilities on one’s guests. In this case, I personally would do exactly as Jodi suggests; change if possible, if not be comfortable in a suit, etc. The main thing is have fun and look your best.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

I feel so unneeded đŸ™‚ Great advice, as always. And, I do agree that it really is unfair to guests when host schedule these events hours apart.

Mannersmith’s attire examples are perfect.

guest wedding attire

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