The Best Dressed Wedding Guest
Why do we use the color red to highlight text, for stop signs, and for emergency or hazard lights? Easy answer: to get attention. Since the bride should be the center of attention, wearing bright red to a wedding is the #1 wedding guest attire no-no. But, what are some other do (s) and don’t (s) for wedding guests when it comes to what to wear to a wedding? Well, to avoid being viewed as a wedding hazard, please read on.
- Dress conservatively, avoiding outfits that would raise an eyebrow or two. If you have to ask if it is appropriate, it probably isn’t.
- Dress for the formality of the event. Use the information given to you to judge the formality level of the event: formality of the invitation, venue, time of day, and what you know of the couple. If in doubt ask.
- Pay special attention to the quality of your clothing. Does it appear newish? Is it clean? How about your shoes?
- Wear black if the mood grabs you. It’s no longer a wedding no-no.
- Take extra care with makeup, hair, and accessories, especially for formal events.
- Do take off gloves to eat or drink.
- A hat can be worn the entire time if not too large. Large hats obscure others’ sight.
- Please shave.
- Learn the difference between a suit and a sport coat with slacks. Close, but not the same.
- Wear a dark suit and tie for evening weddings if invitation doesn’t specify “formal attire”.
- Wear a tuxedo only after 5 PM.
- Wear jeans, shorts, or beach wear unless instructed to do so.
- Wear all white, red or any other bright color.
- Wear sequins during the day.
- Show too much skin. This isn’t Hooters! (again with the attention)
- Wear nylons with open toed shoes.
- Wear opera-length gloves with gowns with sleeves.
- Be careful experimenting with the tuxedo. The classic black tux, white shirt, and black bow tie is a perfect choice. If the invitation uses an odd word when requesting formal attire (ex: creative formal), it might be best, and less embarrassing, to go with a tux paired with a trendy black shirt with no tie. Consider the venue, region, and couple when making these choices.
- Wear a tux during the daytime.
Wedding Guest Attire
- Informal Daytime: Street length dress, separates, or business attire for daytime weddings
- Informal Evening: Attire appropriate for a nice restaurant
- Semi-Formal Daytime: Street length dress/nice separates or suit
- Semi-formal Evening: Cocktail dress (little black dress or its equivalent)
- Formal Daytime: Daytime appropriate cocktail dress or suit. Hats and gloves are optional.
- Formal Evening or Black-Tie: Long or dressy short cocktail (beading and sequins with dressier accessories)
- Ultra-formal or White Tie: Long gown and top notch, very high quality accessories (jewelry, gloves, expensive looking wraps)
- Informal Daytime: Dress shirt and pants, preferably add a sports jacket
- Informal Evening: Suit or sport jacket paired with slacks if very informal
- Semi-Formal Daytime: Suit
- Semi-Formal Evening: Dark suit and tie
- Formal Daytime: Dark suit and tie
- Formal Evening: if invitation states “black tie or formal” wear a tuxedo; wear a dark suit if not
- Ultra-formal Evening or White Tie: Black tailcoat, striped trousers, white plain stiff-front shirt with detachable (preferably) wing collar, white bow tie and white waistcoat
Cheat Sheet: When in doubt about what to wear to a wedding, most always, the little black dress or its equivalent is perfect for women, while a dark suit is perfect for men. For more informal events, attire worn to a very nice restaurant (for evening) or to church (for daytime) would work well.
By Rebecca Black of Etiquette Now