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Wedding Guest Attire

What to Wear to a Wedding

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Girlfriend fixing boyfriends tie
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Have you been invited to a wedding, but aren't quite sure what to wear? The "rules" are different for different times of day, as well as different formalities (informal, formal, etc.)

In general, you'll want to wear a dress (doesn't need to be full-length unless it's a very formal wedding) and just about any color goes except for white.

Here's more advice for what to wear to a wedding:

Wedding Guest Style for Her

  • Informal Daytime: Short dress or suit (business attire OK for morning weddings)
  • Informal Evening: Cocktail dress (which is any dressier dress -- for example, a little black dress -- that's not full-length.)
  • Semi-Formal Daytime: Short dress or suit
  • Semi-formal Evening: Cocktail dress
  • Formal Daytime: Short dress or suit. Hats and gloves optional (although it's rare to see hats and gloves at most weddings.)
  • 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.)

Dos and Don'ts for Her

  • Don't wear white because it competes with the bride. There are plenty of other colors available. This rule may seem outdated, but it's actually just good etiquette to not compete with the bride on her special day.
  • Don't wear black or sequins during the daytime. Anything too sparkly will make you look overdressed.
  • 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.
  • Even at a casual wedding, use good judgment when it comes to getting dressed. Casual can mean a pretty sundress (like for a coastal or beach wedding) but rarely means something as sloppy as jeans or shorts.

Dresses to Wear to a Wedding

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.
Related Video
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