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What to Wear to a Wedding

Finding the perfect outfit to wear to a wedding can be a real challenge—’casual, semi-formal, black-tie-optional, black tie’—what does it all mean?

  • Casual – Depending on the time of the year, it could mean a simple dress or slacks and a blouse for cooler weather and a fun sundress for a summertime wedding. Avoid being too casual. It is better to be the one overdressed than the one underdressed. Avoid wearing jeans, shorts, flip flops, and anything too revealing. Modesty is the best policy.
  • Semi-formal – If it is a daytime wedding in the summer, a fun and colorful summer dress is completely appropriate. For cooler weather daytime weddings, a nice dress or suit works well. If the event is in the evening, a simple cocktail dress is a nice choice. The season will dictate your color choices.
  • Black-tie-optional – This definitely calls for a cocktail dress. If you choose a short dress, you could go for a more elaborate style. If you go floor length, keep it simple.
  • Black tie – Choose a long, formal dress. Your spouse or date will be in a tuxedo, so choose something that will flatter it.

But what if you receive an invitation that doesn’t include a suggested dress? Obviously, the best option is to call someone in the wedding party to find out. If that isn’t an option, you can figure it out – it just may take a bit of work.

  • What’s the venue? The location can tell you a lot. A historical site or museum will call for more formal attire than a church’s fellowship hall. If it is being held outside, choose your shoes carefully and take a wrap or shawl in case it cools off as the evening continues on.
  • What time of the day is the event? Evening weddings are usually more formal than those that are set earlier in the day. For instance, an evening wedding being held in a ballroom calls for a cocktail dress where you could get by with a nice dress for an afternoon affair at the same location.
  • Is there a theme? Sometimes the way an invitation is made indicates a theme, and sometimes you get lucky and they spell it out for you. But if there is no dress code or theme indicated on the invitation, the actual invitation provides some clues too. Embossing and calligraphy typically signify a more formal wedding while digital printing and a more relaxed font can indicate a more casual wedding.

Of course there are always some exceptions and a few do’s and don’ts that we haven’t yet addressed. Here they are:

  • Never wear white, cream, or ivory.
  • Try to avoid wearing the same color as the wedding party.
  • Choose your shoes carefully. Make sure they can withstand plenty of standing and dancing.
  • It’s ok to wear black. When in doubt, the perfect little black dress can be the solution to many fashion-related dilemmas.

Of course, season dictates fashion choices. For additional details, our blog has broken the information down in to suggestions for spring, summer, fall, and winter.

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