Appropriate Wedding Guest Attire

What Wedding Outfits the Guest Should be Wearing

Deciding what to wear to a wedding can sometimes require a little Sherlock Holmes detective work. We've all received a wedding invitation only to be perplexed about what to wear. Let's face it - even though it would make attending their wedding easier, not many marrying couples outline the dress code on their invitation unless there is a specific theme (e.g.: western or masquerade).

In order to comply with proper wedding etiquette wedding guests should dress according to the style of the wedding. Look for the following clues when determining what to wear to weddings:

Wedding Location - The location chosen for the wedding ceremony and reception will also be a tell tale sign of what guest attire is expected.

The Wedding Invitation - The style of the wedding invitation itself should hold a few clues as to what is expected as far as wedding guest attire. If the wedding invitation arrives on expensive paper with calligraphy script and formal language chances are the wedding will be a similarly formal affair. If the wedding invitation is casually sent by email or pictures caricatures of the bride chasing the groom in a wedding dress it's safe to assume the dress code will be casual. Of course, some wedding invitations might state 'black tie' or 'casual pot luck' if you are lucky.

If the wedding is an outdoor affair (depending on the season):

  • Female guests should likely avoid skirts and dresses that can easily blow upwards and opt for a tailored suit or skirt instead.
  • Avoid high heeled shoes that will sink into sand, mud or grass.
  • Male wedding guests should avoid dark suits with jackets if the wedding takes place under the midday sun. Opt for a light suit with a jacket that can be easily removed. Both male and female guests should bring an extra jacket to evening weddings.
  • Come prepared with an umbrella if rain is expected.
  • Bring sunglasses at outdoor afternoon weddings.
  • For winter weddings taking place outdoors guests should wear warm boots, coats, gloves and wraps over their dress clothes and bring shoes to change into once the reception moves inside.
  • A backyard wedding and pot luck reception indicates casual summer guest attire.

If the wedding is an indoor affair:

  • Traditional daytime church ceremonies and afternoon sit-down receptions denote very formal wedding attire - 3-piece suits for men and formal gowns for women.
  • An evening cocktail wedding and reception suggests black tie or tuxedo wear for gentlemen and very formal ball gowns for the ladies.
  • A trendy loft or art gallery wedding suggests trendy, yet formal, black tie cocktail attire.
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