A number of wedding advisory web sites say that if you want your wedding guests to dress a certain way, indicate the dress code on your wedding invitation. If you don’t specify the dress code, then be sure the design and tone of your invitation indicates the level of formality you are shooting for. That can be hard to decipher. I always appreciate it when a couple includes a suggested dress code on their wedding invitation. Words like “Black Tie”, “Semi-Formal”, or “Cocktail” are very helpful to guests. But what if there’s no suggested dress code on the invitation? Here are some suggestions to help you figure out what to wear to a winter wedding:
Investigate the venue – Where will the wedding ceremony and reception be held? If everything is indoors, then you won’t have to worry about getting cold. Just consider covering up with a classic overcoat or pretty shawl for arrival and departure. If the location is at a historical site or museum, the dress would be more formal than if the reception is being held in the church’s fellowship hall. If any portion of the event is being held outdoors or in a heated tent, consider a warmer cover and ditch the strappy sandals.
Time of day – Evening weddings tend to be more formal than those set earlier in the day. If the invitation says ‘black-tie’ for an evening wedding, then it is customary to wear a floor-length gown.
Is there a theme – If the invitation doesn’t include a dress code or indicate a theme, then the design of the invitation can say a lot about a wedding. Embossing and calligraphy tend to signify a more formal wedding while digital printing and a more relaxed font can indicate a more informal wedding.
It is also acceptable to wear a cocktail dress to a black-tie affair, but keep the color dark. For afternoon weddings, a simple cocktail dress, a nice dress, or a skirt and sweater are perfectly acceptable options. If the invitation says ‘semi-formal’ for an afternoon wedding, you can still wear a cocktail dress but choose lighter colors. There are day time weddings in the winter, but they are much more common in the summer. If you receive an invitation for a day time winter wedding, a simple dress will work nicely.
Whenever I am in doubt for a winter wedding, I always go with an old standby -- a simple black dress with a pearl necklace and strappy sandals. And I always take comfort in knowing that folks will be focused on the bride and not remember what I am wearing.