What Do I Wear to a Wedding?

Outfit of the Day - What to Wear When You are a Wedding Guest  Deciding what to wear to a wedding can be confusing. Sometimes the bride and groom are a very casual couple, so you assume that the wedding will be laid back. Then you arrive at the chapel and realize the groomsmen are in tuxes! 

Also, how a couple describes clothing in an invitation can be bewildering. I once had a client call to ask me what to wear to a "California Casual" wedding. (Still scratching my head on that one. I said, "Lilly Pulitzer." It all turned out well!)

Time is the key to this puzzle. What time is the wedding? Typically, more casual dresses are okay for a daytime wedding, while dressier outfits are expected in the evening. The idea is to dress as if you were going to a nice dinner or the theater. For example, if the wedding is at 2:00pm a floral dress will fit the bill. 6:00pm and later requires more formal attire. If the couple expects a VERY formal wedding the custom is to say, "black tie" in the invite. In that case start looking for an evening gown (or something that can stand up next to a tuxedo).

A dear friend got married this past weekend and I was thrilled to get an invitation. It was such a joy to witness her nuptials! She got married at 6:00pm, but the wedding was not black tie. I set out to find a dress that was formal enough for a nighttime occasion, but still felt like me. I found this dress:

What do I wear to a Wedding?I love, love this dress. The length of it and the black top ground it in formal wear. The ombre coloring and the pleating say, "this is going to be fun!" It is the perfect combo of special occasion and hippie chick - which is completely in my wheel house. (Got it at Macy's!)

What Do I Wear to a Wedding? I added these unusual drop earrings for a little drama. I wanted to complement the dress but not take away from it.

This particular dress isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, but that's okay! The big thing is that I am not over or under dressed, am respectful of the bride, and still feel like myself. This dress hit all of those marks for me!

Other things to keep in mind when you are thinking about what to wear to a wedding:

  • Is it going to be inside or outside? Is it going to be a combination of the two? If you are going to be cold plan on taking a jacket or a wrap and make it a part of your outfit. If it's going to be hot think about the type of fabric you want to wear. If it's summer try 100% cotton because at least it will breathe! Anything in polyester or a polyester blend will trap heat and make you hotter.
  • DO NOT WEAR WHITE. It is tradition in our culture that only the bride wears white. These days it isn't uncommon for the bride to wear another color (have you seen pink wedding dresses? What a dream!). But, wearing something other than white is at the discretion of the bride. Still, do not wear white. Even if you know the bride is going to be wearing another color. Don't wear "eggshell" or "cream" or anything close to white. Don't wear a jacket or wrap that is white. You have any other color under the sun to wear, so take advantage! (I'm on a bit of a tear because someone wore white to Saturday's wedding and it just made me mad on behalf of the bride. Any other color, girl! Any other color!)
  • Think about your shoes and the events of the day. Heels might cause you pain by hour 2 of the event. Just do what is best for you, your feet, and your sanity!

Need some more tips about what to wear to a wedding? The Knot has a great tip sheet here.

How about you? Any tips for what to wear to a wedding? Do tell!