Guide: Proper Attire for a Wedding
It can be a rather daunting task figuring out what to wear to a wedding. What’s the proper etiquette depending on the type of event? You’ll learn all about it and more below including:
- Simple, proper wedding attire etiquette tips
- What the kids should wear
- What to wear to an informal wedding vs. a more formal affair
- Any exceptions to the rules
The Question: What’s the proper attire for a wedding?
“I was invited to a 5pm wedding ceremony held at a chapel. The reception is being held at a very nice hotel.
I have read that your attire should go by the invitations style. I have a few choices but am a little indecisive. My friend is a laid back person who loves color, but I fear that her wedding will be slightly formal.
My first option is to wear a cute red-violet halter style dress with a few sequins and my second option is a pair of tan tweed flair trousers that have a hint of dark brown and pink with a cute pink silk tank and a dark pink tailored tweed jacket. I like them both but am leaning towards the trouser set. What do you think would be appropriate? I need help.”
It sounds like this event is formal. The selections you have sound nice but I wouldn’t recommend you wear either option. My suggestion is that to be safe you should wear something more in line with a 5:00 p.m. and after formal affair. I’m not comfortable recommending the flair tweed pants with a tank and jacket or red/violet halter dress fit that bill.
Try looking for a nice black, blue, violet or mocha/brown dress with sequins. A wrap or light jacket to accent the dress is a nice touch. Or, you could get a suit in any of the aforementioned colors and dress it up with a sequined colored tank or shell. Add a pair of matching sparking sling back shoes with a complementing metallic clutch purse (for any of the options) and you are definitely ready for a 5:00 p.m./formal affair.
You don’t have to spend a lot. I’ve helped find attire like this in places such as Marshall’s and TJMaxx with great success. My favorite secret place for sequined or sparkling tanks and metallic purses is Target.
Other Expert Answers
“It can be a fairly dark-colored dress, but it is considered rude to wear black to a wedding (superstition is that black is associated with death, as if you were mourning the wedding). It seems like a very classy event, so an after-5/cocktail type dress is likely best. Also, not white (superstition is trying to outshine the bride, and white is very day-time-ish).”
“Times have changed and I think black is generally okay at weddings these days. However, you may want to base your decision on your knowledge of the couple; if they’re very traditional or formal (or superstitious!), you might want to choose another color. I’ve worn black to an evening wedding reception. I found that a good idea was to “lighten” the outfit by wearing a colourful shawl and jewelry.
Evening weddings (5pm and later) are generally formal attire, however the invite should say formal or black tie attire. A black dress is fine, but if its formal I would say it should be on the longer side, (as opposed to a short or tea length dress) if it is formal tux and bow tie for hubby if its not noted in the invite, either ask you friend who’s getting married or someone else who is going.”
A General Guide to Wedding Attire
Figuring out what to wear to a wedding is one of the most fun – and most trying – parts of being a wedding guest. Sure you can take your cues from the invitation, but what does “black tie optional” or “festive attire” really mean? And what should you wear to a formal daytime summer wedding, or a destination wedding?
The etiquette for proper wedding guest attire can vary greatly depending on the style of the wedding. You’ll have to become a little bit of a detective, but fear not. There are clues everywhere.
Start off with the invitation. Is it in flowing engraved black script on a heavy cream paper with formal language? Odds are the wedding will be similarly formal. Does it cheekily ask you to come see them get hitched? Wedding guests should look for a nice casual outfit. And of course, it may tell you directly on the invitation – black tie, casual attire etc.
Think about where the wedding is located – if it’s outdoors avoid anything that will get caught in the wind – you won’t want a battle of wills between the wind and your modesty!
Avoid high heeled shoes that will sink in the sand or in the grass. If it’s in a hot location avoid the suit and go for a breezy dress to help you keep your cool. Indoors at the country club or fancy restaurant? Make your outfit slightly more tailored and dressy.
Examples of What to Wear to a Formal (ie- 5pm) Wedding
Examples of What to Wear to an Informal Wedding