Have you been invited to a wedding, but have no idea what to wear? For some of us, that’s always the case. And if you think you’re safe from getting an invitation right now, because it’s winter, you’re wrong. Many couples choose to tie the knot in the winter. So, if you need guidance when it comes to wedding attire, we have all the basic rules you should follow.
If you just received a wedding invite that says “white tie”, but this means nothing to you, then you need to know how to interpret the dress code. The basic etiquette includes rules concerning the times of day, as well as the different formalities.
Informal – if the invite says “informal” or “casual” and the event is taking place during the day, pretty much every short dress would do. Also a summer sundress or skirt/pants with a nice, dressy blouse will be appropriate. Opt for lighter colours and fabrics and consider business attire as perfectly OK (you won’t look overdressed). However, jeans, shorts, tank tops and flip-flops are totally inappropriate, even for casual weddings. And if it’s an evening event, go for darker colours and you can add some sparkle.
Semi-formal or dressy casual – Short dresses and suits are also appropriate here, but you need to more careful about the hairstyle, make-up and fashion accessories. Any kind of cocktail dress will be great or a suit and tie for the men. Basically, before you decide what to wear on a wedding, you should know that you have to be dressed somewhere between formal and casual.
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Formal or black tie optional – This should be slightly less formal than black-tie, so you won’t have to show up in a tuxedo. However, the formal dress code means a formal suit and a tie in a darker colour, whereas the ladies should wear a long dress or a formal cocktail-length dress. More dressy suits are also appropriate. Hats and gloves are optional, but if you have a hat or gloves, you will probably be the only one. The dress code allows for more beading, some really glamorous accessories, but be careful with the colours – go for darker, more neutral tones such as gray, brown or black.
Black tie – This means that the wedding is formal and most likely to be during the evening. So, men are required to wear a tuxedo, a black bow tie, cummerbund, and patent leather shoes. She should choose an elegant evening gown (or a chic cocktail dress) in a dark, neutral colour.
White tie – This is the ultra-formal dress code, so you should wear a long ball gown, diamonds and more dramatic jewelry, and elegant shoes. The make-up is also more glamorous than ever. Men are required to be in a tuxedo, a long black jacket with tails, a white pique vest, and a bow tie. The style is complete with black, formal shoes, and even white gloves/hats. If you have something in your wardrobe, that seems just too formal for any occasion, then it’s probably OK for “white tie”.
If you are feeling quite uncomfortable with the description of the “white tie” dress code, you can relax – it’s highly unlikely to receive an invite to such kind of event. This is a dress code usually seen at the Oscars or formal dinners of diplomats and politicians. But there may be other words defining the styling of the wedding on the invitation such as “beach formal”. Can a beach wedding be formal at all?
Yes, actually most beach weddings are – after all you can’t show up in shorts and flip-flops or in a bathing suit. This occasion will require a formal summer sundress at tea or knee-length, while the men should opt for a summer suit with a linen shirt. Forget about ties! Linen pants and khakis are also acceptable.
These are the basic dress codes that apply to any kind of events, not just weddings. But there are even more things you should consider when attending a weddings. For instance, if the event is themed, stick to the theme – Spanish wedding, country club wedding, and so on. The couple may want you to join them not with a fully themed attire (it’s not Halloween after all, so costumes are out of the question), but with some element that will show that you belong to the wedding party.
Also, know exactly where you are going, if it’s a destination wedding. Is it an exotic sunny beach, a country villa, or a romantic European destination? You should think of ways to pack your dress, so that you don’t ruin it. Of course, the season should also be considered. It’s not the best idea to run around in a short cocktail dress if it’s a cold, windy winter. Think of adding a matching coat that will both keep you warm and look great.
Are you a regular guest or member of the family? Usually, the family members and the bridesmaids are better dressed for two reasons – one is of course, their important role in the event, and the second reason is that they will be present in many more photographs. So, yes, they should look perfect. If you are just a friend of the bride and the groom or just a regular guest, you can afford to be less noticeable. And there are also some Dos and
Don’ts of choosing the wedding attire:
Don’t wear a white dress. This is the most basic, traditional rule and there’s a good reason for it./ You shouldn’t compete with the bride; it’s her big day after all. There are plenty of other colours, so don’t ever wear white.
Don’t wear head-to-toe black. Being in white is unforgivable, but showing up in all-black is simply a sign of bad taste. The colour may be formal, but it’s associated with another type of occasion – funerals.
Don’t wear too much jewelry, sequins and black during daytime weddings. Anything to sparkly will be a mistake.
Don’t ever wear clothes that are too sexy, revealing, see-through, and even clubwear. Ultra-short dresses are also a huge mistake.
Don’t ever wear jeans, tank tops, hooded sweatshirts (or hooded anything by the way), short-sleeve dress shirts, and anything that reveals your belly button. Forget about wild prints, bold colour combinations, extravagant make-up, super tight dresses, and so on. These are valid even the invite says “casual”.
Opera-length gloves should be worn only with either sleeveless or strapless formal gowns. They are extremely formal, so think twice before wearing them. Keep them when shaking hands and dancing, but make sure to take them off when sitting down to dinner.
Many wedding invitations won’t specify the formality of the event. There is a simple rule in this case – if it’s a daytime wedding, choose a soft floral/summer dress or a pastel suit (for men). If it’s an evening wedding (after 6.00 p.m.), a black suit with a tie and a little black dress will be appropriate. If you are still not sure what to wear, you can always ask the couple – they will be happy to explain what type of clothing will be required at their most important day.