“What do I wear today?”
Everyone is plagued by this question every day… but when it’s time to dress up for a wedding, it seems like the question is ten times more daunting than usual. So many more follow-up questions arise quickly: Where is the ceremony? Where is the reception? What time of day are we arriving? Is anything outside and what is the temperature? Does the invitation say anything?
These are of course important questions that will hopefully lead to the perfect wedding day outfit. But here are a few additional tips that might make creating your “wedding guest wardrobe” much more simpler.
Dress Code Guidelines
Some wedding invitations will cut straight to the chase and tell you what type of attire they are looking for.
White Tie: This is a rarity these days as it is the most formal of all! This requires gentlemen to wear a tuxedo with tails and a bowtie, while the ladies can go for all-out glamour in a formal, full-length ball gown with dramatic hair and makeup. It is almost like prom again for grown-ups!
Black Tie: Men still have to don those penguin suits (black tuxedos) while women can choose between a chic cocktail dress or a long evening gown.
Formal or Black Tie Optional: Men get more leeway here by deciding between a tux or a formal dark suit, while women are again deciding between cocktail dresses and long evening gowns.
Semi-Formal, Dressy Casual or Cocktail: Men can take it down a notch to a classy suit and tie (fabric and color can vary depending on the time of day), while women can bust out that cocktail dress or a fabulous and dressy skirt-top combo.
Casual: The easiest one of all folks! Men can wear dress pants with a button down (bring a sport jacket in case of a chill). Ladies can go with a sundress.
Perfect attire for Semiformal or Cocktail!
Beach Weddings: Formal beach weddings require a summer suit for the gentlemen (think linen and light) while a more formal cocktail sundress is appropriate for ladies (but you can wear sandals). More casual beach weddings will adhere to casual standards.
Theme Weddings: Yes, these do exist and are quite fun. Get into it.
Emo, Goth, or “Quirky Cocktail”: These variations also exist and can be difficult to define. Never be afraid to ask the bride or grooms for a better explanation.
Purple and casual fit the bill for an outdoor carnival wedding.
Always, always, always wear something comfortable. Men have it so much easier these days! Sports companies like Nike and Adidas are combining forces with amazing shoemakers like Cole Haan and Rockport to make gorgeous wingtip loafers feel like your favorite pair of running shoes. Women, on the other hand, will have to continue to search for the holy grail of women’s shoes: the pair that is beautiful, comfortable, and make your legs go on for days! Some shoes are coming close, but thankfully wedges are now a popular and widely accepted go-to shoe for semiformal and cocktail weddings. We only request that if you are attending a beach wedding, to not wear flip-flops unless provided (or approved) by the wedding couple.
It is always a good idea to check the weather forecast before a wedding, even if the entire shindig is taking place indoors. We’ve seen unexpected thunderstorms nearly ruin chiffon dresses, gorgeous stilettos marred by golf course mud, and a few great wet-dress-shirt-contests for men without jackets.
Colors can actually be a difficult thing to judge for a wedding. It’s best to stick with neutral shades (you don’t want to be the neon standout in group photos!) like black, navy, or soft pastels. The wedding invitation might give you clues on the actual wedding colors so you don’t end up looking like a member of the bridal party.
But we at CLD can unilaterally and universally agree on the #1 RULE of dressing for a wedding (especially women): please, please, please do not wear white. This includes bright white, cream, off-white, ecru, or white with a different color print on it. You also do not get to cover it up with a different color cardigan or blazer on top. While we certainly believe that weddings never have to follow rules or traditions, this is one rule we are not going to budge on!
Happy shopping and here’s to looking fabulous at the next wedding you attend!
Wedding planners have it easy— we just have to blend in to the crowd!