Wedding Fashion Rules For Guests

My nautical bridesmaids

Going to someone else’s wedding, but not sure how to dress? Here’s a brief guide on wedding fashion rules; specifically what you should and shouldn’t wear when attending a wedding as a guest.

Check Whether There’s A Theme

In some cases, the bride and groom will select a theme, which dictates how the guests should dress. This is always worth looking into first – you don’t want to come dressed to a medieval wedding in a cocktail dress.

Any theme will usually be outlined on the wedding invite. If you’re unsure, you can always ask the bride or groom directly.

Consider The Formality

The formality of a wedding can usually be indicated by the type of venue. If the couple are getting married in a stately home, it’s likely to be a formal event. If it’s a beach wedding, it may be a more smart casual event.

Formal Events

At formal events, long dresses and suits are generally expected. You generally won’t have to dress black tie unless specified (in this case, men will need to wear a tuxedo, whilst women should wear a cocktail dress or formal dress). A jumpsuit could be a formal option for some women wanting to look trendier – this is definitely more city wedding attire than country wedding.

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Smart Casual Events

At a smart casual event, sundresses and skirts are a good option for women, whilst chinos and a shirt are a safe option for men. Jeans should be avoided, although when worn with a blazer it can be pulled off. Women can usually get away with trousers, so long as the top is fairly smart.

Consider Your Role

It’s important to also consider your role within the wedding and what relation you may be to the bride or groom. If you’re a closer relationship, you may want to put a little bit more effort in as to stand out.

Part Of The Wedding Party?

If you’re a bridesmaid or the best man, you’ll usually have your outfit chosen for you by the bride and groom (although your input is still important). Other important guests may have to figure it out for themselves.

This mother of the bride style guide could be useful for any women attending their daughter’s wedding. Meanwhile, this father of the bride style guide could be useful for any men looking to give their daughter away.

Colour schemes are sometimes used to determine who is on the bride’s side and who is on the groom’s side. This could be something to consider – it will usually be outlined in the invite.

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Don’t Wear White – The Most Important Of The Wedding Fashion Rules?

This wedding fashion rule is an old rule, but it still applies today. White is the colour of the bride and should be avoided at all costs. Even if the bride isn’t wearing white, you should still avoid it, as it could be seen as an attempt to upstage the bride. Off-whites can also be dangerous. You may however be able to get away with a two tone dress containing an ivory or beige with another colour.  

But Do Consider Black

Black is sometimes seen as too funeral and there are certain cultures (for example, Buddhist weddings, Irish weddings and Hindu weddings) where it is still a big no-no of the wedding fashion rules to dress in black. However, in most cases nowadays, black can work at a wedding. Obviously, this has always been the case with suits, however with dresses it can work well too, especially when it comes to an evening wedding. Black cocktail dresses and black jumpsuits can look particularly chic.  

Be Careful Of Religious Symbols

Religious symbols may not be appropriate at certain weddings. It’s best to always ask about wearing these first, especially if you’re attending a ceremony at a place of worship.

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In certain cases, you may even be required to wear certain religious attire. At some Jewish weddings for example, it is formal practice for all men to wear a kippah.

Stay Modest

It should go without saying, but a wedding isn’t the time for dressing sexy or overly showy. Try not to have too much flesh on display – low-cropped collars and short hemlines are best avoided.

Bring Appropriate Shoes

Footwear is an important part of the outfit to consider. It’s important to get the formality right as well as making sure your shoes are practical.

For many women, weddings are a chance to try on their latest heels. By the end of event however, you may want a backup pair of shoes – a spare pair of flats could be worth taking in your bag. Stilettos aren’t recommended for outdoor weddings, unless you’re feeling brave.

As for men, a smart pair of shoes such as brogues or loafers is always recommended. Trainers should be avoided  – even at a smart casual wedding, they’re likely to come across a little too casual.

Bring The Right Bag

This one applies mainly to women. A large handbag isn’t necessary at a wedding and you’ll find it an inconvenience carrying it around. Try to stick to a smaller bag. This could be a cross-body bag or a clutch bag – something that’s easy to take around with you and enough to fit only the bare essentials in such as your card, phone and keys. Mini-bags are currently in vogue and could be a good choice.

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