You've gotten the invitation for your friends' wedding, happily circled the date on your calendar and started shopping for their gift, when all of a sudden it hits you – what are you supposed to wear??? The etiquette for proper wedding guest attire can vary greatly depending on the style of the wedding. You'll have to become a little bit of a detective, but fear not. There are clues everywhere.
Start off with the invitation. Is it in flowing engraved black script on a heavy cream paper with formal language? Odds are the wedding will be similarly formal. Does it cheekily ask you to come see them get hitched? Wedding guests should look for a nice casual outfit. And of course, it may tell you directly on the invitation - black tie, casual attire etc.
Wedding Guest Style for Her
- Informal Daytime: Short dress or suit (business attire OK for morning weddings)
- Informal Evening: Cocktail dress
- Semi-Formal Daytime: Short dress or suit
- Semi-formal Evening: Cocktail dress
- Formal Daytime: Short dress or suit. Hats and gloves optional.
- Formal Evening or Black-Tie: Long or dressy short cocktail (beading, glam accessories, wrap)
- Ultra-formal or White Tie: Long gown, extra glitz (furs, diamonds, etc.)
Do's and Don'ts for Her
- Don't wear white because it competes with the bride. There are plenty of other colors available.
- Don't wear black or sequins during the daytime.
- Don't worry about wearing the same colors as the bridesmaids or mothers. You can't possibly coordinate with everyone in the wedding party.
- Do wear something feminine and appropriate, out of respect for your hosts. Clubwear, overtly sexy clothing (strapless, see-through, etc) doesn't belong at a wedding. If you have to ask if it's appropriate, it probably isn't.
- Don't wear opera-length gloves (to top of arm) with anything but sleeveless or strapless gowns.
- Do take off gloves to eat or drink.
- Do use good judgment if the invitation doesn't specify the formality of the event. A pastel suit or soft floral dress for daytime or a little black dress for evening (after 6 p.m.) will take you almost anywhere.
When deciding what to wear at someone’s wedding, you must first know what type of wedding they are having. Wear what is best for the occasion and what best fits your individuality, whether it is a casual, semi-formal, or formal wedding.
Lets start with a casual wedding. The relaxed atmosphere calls for a relaxed freeform attire. Do not get fussy. Think about what you like to wear to a an evening out at a nice restaurant. Still dress fabulous, but just not too over-the-top.
For a semi-formal wedding you get a little fussy and more defined. Fabrics are key to knowing the difference between a casual dress and a semi-formal dress. You want to go with shinier and elegant fabrics. Think of a cocktail dress when dressing for this style wedding.
Unlike a semi-formal wedding, a formal wedding is more glamorous and really fussy. You want to make sure you are looking your most refined and remarkable self. So still put personality in the dress, but accessorize it more with “glitz” and “glam”. This is red carpet time! Whatever you choose always be stylish and “Glam It Up”!
Wedding Style for Him
- Informal Daytime: Dress shirt and pants, preferably a sports jacket.
- Informal Evening: Suit
- Semi-Formal Daytime: Suit
- Semi-Formal Evening: Dark suit
- Formal Daytime: Dark suit and tie
- Formal Evening: Tuxedo (if invitation states "black tie") or dark suits if women wear short dresses.
- Ultra-formal Evening or White Tie: White tie, vest and shirt.
Do's and Don'ts for Him
- Don't try to get cute with a tuxedo. A black tux with white shirt and black bow tie is the best way to go. If "Creative Black Tie" or "Texas Formal" or some sort of other vague formal description is used, then going with a tux and black shirt, no tie, might be acceptable. Also, trendier cities like Los Angeles and New York might be more accepting of breaking with tradition.
- Do wear a dark suit, with a tie if the wedding is after 6 PM, and doesn't say "Black Tie."
- Don't wear a tuxedo during the day time, regardless of the formality of the event.
- Do use good judgment if the invitation doesn't specify the formality of the event. A dark suit and conservative tie will take you just about anywhere.