attire for a 6:00 wedding when getting mixed signals?


I will be attending a mid June wedding taking place at a church at 6:00 in the evening with a reception at a “tea room” immediatly following (where I assume at least a light dinner will be served). The wedding is for a friend of my boyfriend’s and he is in the wedding party.

I am very confused about what to wear for several reasons. First, I know that evening weddings are typically more formal but this wedding is taking place in a church in a rural area (south GA) and I just don’t know how formal a reception at a “tea room” could be. I don’t want to offend anyone by wearing a cocktail dress if everyone else is dressed more conservativley. On the other hand, the invitation was very formal (in wording and style) and my boyfriend’s tux seems to be pretty fancy judging from the price (although I haven’t seen it) so its possible I’m just being overly cautious.

I suppose the safest idea would be to try to pull together an outfit that strikes a balance between conservative church and evening wear….but I’m honestly not quite sure what that would look like! WOuld adding a sweater or cover-up to a cocktail-type dress be close enough?

Any advice would be appreciated!!

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Attire,

I think you are on the right track. Conservative and fairly formal would be correct. I would have thought very formal if not for the ‘tea room’ reception. A long dress, not too formal, an evening suit, or your cocktail dress with a jacket would all be good choices.

Best wishes,

Lori of

My suggestion is to wear the cocktail dress that you planned to wear, and just add a shawl to cover your shoulders. This way, you aren’t taking away from the beauty of your dress and you are covering up a bit to be more conservative. This way you can easily remove the shawl at the reception if the cocktail dress is appropriate attire. And if the reception is on the conservative side, you can keep the shawl on and still look fabulous.

Have fun at the wedding!