When to Wear What?

Your Guide to Wedding Attire for Guests

What to wear to is always a number one worry for wedding guests. In spite of the fact that absolutely everyone will be looking at the happy couple, you'll want to look your best and follow the etiquette for weddings taking place either morning, noon or night. Here's a guideline for being a well-dressed guest in every wedding instance.

The Morning Wedding

For Her: Weddings taking place in the morning hours tend to be a little more casual. Shorter dresses and suits in lighter colors are perfectly acceptable, and heels or flats are fine. For ultra-casual morning weddings, business attire is wedding-suitable, too.

For Him: Slacks, a nice dress shirt, and tie will see a man through most casual morning and afternoon wedding situations. A jacket and tie, or a suit in a light color is great for informal or formal morning weddings.

The Afternoon Wedding

For Her: Afternoon weddings are slightly more formal, and business attire is less acceptable. Consider a floral dress, skirt, or light colored suit. Wear heels to add some elegance. For a formal affair, hats and gloves are a stylish choice. Don't wear black or sequins for a daytime wedding.

For Him: For more formal afternoon weddings, a light or dark suit is acceptable. For casual attire, a jacket, dress shirt and tie is suitable.

The Evening Wedding

For Her: Evening weddings are generally a signal to glam it up a little. Long dresses and shorter cocktail dresses, heels, and glamorous suits are great. Black is acceptable for evening weddings, and sequins are fine for formal attire, but don't wear anything see-through or too sexy.

For Him: A dark suit and tie, and anything short of a tuxedo are a great bet for formal wedding attire.

If the bride and groom expect you to follow specific guidelines, they will indicate them on the wedding invitation - whether or not you understand exactly what they want is another story. If your wedding invitation says "Cocktail attire," it is just another way of saying formal evening wear. Dress as if you were attending an elegant cocktail party or fancy dinner.

"Black tie optional" means dressing very formally, just short of "black tie" attire. Women can still wear shorter cocktail type dresses to a "black tie optional" wedding. "Black tie," on the other hand, means men in tuxedos and women in floor-length gowns.

If you are still worrying about your wedding attire, follow these simple tips and arrive worry free and looking fabulous.

  • Don't wear white. Wearing white competes with the bride's dress.
  • For wedding attire hints, pay attention to the tone or specific instruction on the wedding invitation. A very formal-looking invitation says "fancy", so dress accordingly.
  • If the invitation specifically says formal - do not take it lightly.
  • Keep in mind the location of the wedding, too. A beach or park wedding is going to be fairly casual, but you can bet that an evening reception in a fancy mansion is going to be elegant.
  • If an invitation says casual, leave the suits and heels behind.
  • Don't wear a tuxedo in the daytime.
  • If all else fails and you're still wondering what to wear, it's reasonable to ask someone close to the bride for a heads-up on attire.
Advertiser Links for Formal Wear [what's this?]