What to wear to a wedding…

by jennine on April 7, 2008

At any given point, someone you know will married. It’s inevitable. Sometimes they are your family, sometimes friends, and then there are the weddings you go to that you’ve yet to befriend the bride or groom.

Since wedding season is coming up in the next few months, I thought I may not be the only one out there wondering what to wear to wedding occasions.

Most of all, no matter what… this is the bride’s day. She’s probably been stressing over it for a year and been looking forward to this day since childhood. This is not the day for anyone to be making any bold fashion statements, so it’s probably easier to talk about what not to wear:

  1. Don’t wear white. It competes with the bride. This is her day.
  2. Don’t wear club gear. This my sound obvious, but really, I see it at every wedding. Some clubbing dresses may be cute, but mostly they are too sexy and inappropriate for a wedding occasion where most likely the bride and grooms family are going to be there.
  3. Don’t wear jeans. Your jeans may be more expensive than the bride’s maids dresses, but that doesn’t mean you can wear them. Even if you are in California…

How to decide what you can wear:

Generally you can tell from the invite how formal it will be. Did the invitation come in five envelopes on cotton rag embossed paper? What time is the ceremony? Is there a website? What is the bride like? The groom? Are they more traditional or unconventional? Often times you will be able to tell from the invitation how formal it is.

Cocktail dresses:
Tea length cocktail dresses are probably the most versatile of wedding attire if you are attending a ‘standard’ wedding. That is one with a bride in a white dress, groom in a tux, a wedding party, in a church, and a huge party afterwards. I have never worn a gown, but those are generally reserved for formal evening, black tie gala weddings. Honestly, none of my friends have that much money.

Day dresses: I like these mostly because my wardrobe is based on day dresses. I find that they can be dressed up with jewelry and layered, like I have here to the left. They are also good for looking feminine and elegant. I’m wearing a Diane Von Furstenburg silk wrap dress over a Calvin Klein cotton jersey dress with my new lace bolero. Layering necklaces helped dress it up a bit, and the shoes add a bit of drama.

Trousers: Even though I don’t wear trousers very often, doesn’t mean you can’t wear them to a wedding. As long as they aren’t jeans or corduroys. And not too tight. Wearing trousers with a nice silk blouse and pretty shoes (think strappy jeweled heels) is completely acceptable to an informal wedding.

Just as long as you don’t look like you are going to a funeral it’s ok to wear black.

Black: They used to say “don’t wear white shoes after Labor Day, or Black to a wedding” I personally think that rule no longer applies. Just as long as you don’t look like you are going to a funeral it’s ok to wear black. And bad luck? Well, the last wedding I wore black to, the bride got pregnant as soon as they decided to have babies, and now they have a beautiful family in a nice home.

Last but not least:

At the wedding you are probably going to do two things, eat and dance. What ever you wear, you should keep in mind your stomach is going to be a little bigger when you leave, and you are going to dance. The the perfect wedding is one where everyone that is supposed to shows up, and everyone has a good time. So just relax, have fun, be yourself, after all… that’s why you were invited, isn’t it?

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July Stars April 7, 2008 at 2:49 am

I love the picture and the quaint architecture in the background. And you’ve covered the “What to wear to a wedding” thing pretty accurately!!!

Sabrina April 7, 2008 at 6:36 am

I’ve still yet to attend a wedding since my family here in Canada is tiny and I’m not at the age when friends start tying the knot yet. But anyways, just in case, it’s good to keep in mind. I never thought trousers were appropriate before.

alex January 20, 2011 at 7:29 am

Yeh trousers are fine, my fiance is going to wear a dress at our wedding, but I’ll almost certainly wear trousers! :p

But all all seriousness, great article, we are planning our wedding at the moment and lots of people have been asking us about outfits and stuff.
alex´s last [type] ..ladies underwear

WendyB April 7, 2008 at 8:10 am

Great outfit.

Jeanne April 7, 2008 at 8:29 am

You look lovely!

I likely have at least a year until the next wedding I attend, but I’ll definitely be keeping your advice in mind! I wore a black dress to the last wedding I went to, and I’ll probably wear black again…

Sophie April 7, 2008 at 9:10 am

Oh I love this outfit. Its a refreshing take on wedding-wear because it can be hard to get that balance of feeling good in what you are wearing and not upstaging the bride and I think you have pulled it off really well! I have added you to my blog roll!

Alice April 7, 2008 at 10:12 am

great advice! i agree that black is OK for evening receptions but i think it is a little to grim for the daytime. also, whether the wedding is fall/spring makes a difference

jennine April 7, 2008 at 11:25 am

oh thanks for your great comments…

@sabrina- i didn’t really think trousers were appropriate before. and i guess it depends on your personality. the last wedding i went to the mother of the bride wore trousers, and it seemed fine. it really depends on how you dress it up.

@alice- it makes a huge difference between night and day, i agree.

Tina Topaz April 7, 2008 at 12:45 pm

I agree with the advice about wearing black. I’ve worn all black to weddings and I believe I was able to pull it off because I wore lots of sliver jewelry to kick the whole outfit up a notch.

Kathi April 7, 2008 at 1:31 pm

That bolereo really was a total find! I thought it didn’t look that good in the last post on the hanger, but on you it works so very well, especially with the dress and the killer boots..
I linked you on my blog, I hope you’re ok with it.

Poochie April 7, 2008 at 2:06 pm

I’m going to a wedding in North Carolina at the end of May. I’m thinking it will be warm and it’s in a pretty casual setting so I’m thinking about wearing this dress and one of the shoes pictured - http://shoedaydreams.blogspot.com/2008/04/decisons-decisions.html

At least it’s not a bridesmaid dress this time!


jennine April 7, 2008 at 2:13 pm

kathy and sophie! thanks for linking to me, i’ll link to you as well.

poochie… you’ve picked some great shoes…

ambika April 7, 2008 at 3:18 pm

So far I have only one wedding this spring and will probably wear one of the dresses I’ve worn to other weddings. It really is best to not go bold, which I think is the best advice of all.

MKO April 7, 2008 at 6:14 pm

Great post, Jennine. I just wanted to add - do not wear a dress that’s bigger in volume than the bride’s wedding dress. Yeah I totally made that mistake when I went to a huge southern wedding - the words “huge” and “southern” for some reason gave me the impression that it was going to be like a ball gown type of affair, so picture me wearing a prom dress to this posh event. Will never live that one down…

meli April 7, 2008 at 9:46 pm

this is a sweet post.
I havent been to a wedding in a long time and doesnt look like there’s one happening soon, well I sure hope so, they are too much fun.

Im loving the outdoor exposure, looks lovely!! :)

Andrea April 8, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Couldn’t agree more! your last point especially. My friends are getting married (one per year) and I am stucking up on dresses I can wear later on for a dinner party in a more informal situation and playing with hair, shoes and accessories mostly. You said it perfectly!

mj April 8, 2008 at 8:36 pm

What I don’t understand is people who buy a new dress for every wedding they attend, so fancy that they can only wear it to weddings. I like wearing a day dress just a little more formally than I normally would, too.

meli April 9, 2008 at 12:13 am

hei i found this post of one of my frequent blog spots (from Spain) floral prints are it this summer!

enjoy :)
Reads: sevilla wedding season april08

Elena April 9, 2008 at 11:48 am

Having been to something like 15 weddings in the past 1.5 years I have to say your advice is spot on!

Lynn April 9, 2008 at 11:51 pm

This is an informative post, to go by what not to wear is a lot easier than what to wear. Thanks.

Jim Hill April 17, 2008 at 5:06 pm

You look even dirtier in Germany.
Nice gingerbread house!

Arrive Fashionably Lux September 12, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Great post — The Coveted ‘Etiquette Guide for Posh Weddings’. It would by a bestseller! Muah!

Nella October 23, 2008 at 11:48 am

Great post, Jennine.

Emily May 9, 2009 at 5:15 pm

We are a small event florist in Napa Valley. We only do about 30 weddings a year, but it’s amazing that you see all of the “dont’s’ you mention at virtually every wedding. I think a lot more people need to read your blog.

lynn June 4, 2009 at 5:23 am

i think you should wear a lovely dress with an empire waist. it suites you

Rose June 24, 2009 at 5:03 pm

I love the last but not least tip… too bad the last wedding I went to I didn’t heed it. 8^( I could hardly move after dinner!

stacey magee August 2, 2009 at 10:16 am

I still think you should defo not wear black it is usualy soft flowing clothes you would wear not go dressed like a hippie going to a funeral

Donna Lee Schillinger March 19, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Feel free to delete this comment, but I thought you might want to know you have a typo in the post title. Should be Marry, not Married. or “will get married.”
Best to you!

Hadja Fatou Traore December 9, 2010 at 4:26 am

I am dark skinned, i prefer wearing a silk top and trouser to attend my friend’s wedding next week. but because of my skin i dont know the colour of silk top to wear. Iwant to know the type of trouser and colour also to put on.

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