If you have an upcoming wedding to attend, you’ll need to choose the right outfit for the occasion. While your ensemble is not as important as the bride and groom’s attire, it’s still important to pick an outfit that honors their big day, makes you comfortable and looks good in any photographs you may be included in with the wedding party.
Putting together the perfect wedding guest outfit requires a basic understanding of wedding guest attire guidelines and piecing together the right elements like a tailored suit and stylish luxury watch.
Understanding Wedding Guest Attire Basics
When you receive a wedding invitation, it will likely give you an idea of the required dress code. The bride and groom may decide on the type of dress they’d like to see at their wedding, but sometimes the venue requires a specific dress code. Either way, it’s essential to understand what different dress codes mean so you can put together an outfit that meets the guidelines.
Black tie weddings are relatively common and require a high level of dress. The term black tie is synonymous with “fancy,” so if you see this on your invitation, be ready to wear a formal tuxedo and bowtie or gown along with dress shoes, heels and classy accessories.
Typically, white tie weddings are reserved for the very wealthy and famous. This dress code requires ball gowns, jewels and gloves for women, and tuxedos, leather shoes and waistcoats for men. White tie is the fanciest type of wedding attire but is rare for most people.
Cocktail attire is the most common wedding dress code because it’s versatile and approachable for wedding guests. This dress code reflects a transition from day to evening wear and follows a semi-formal approach. For a cocktail wedding and reception, you can opt for a shorter yet polished garden party dress with flats or platforms. If you wear masculine attire, choose a jacket and tie with dress pants, loafers or dress shoes.
Casual weddings are becoming more common, with many couples forgoing the restrictions of formal dress codes in favor of freedom and fun. As a guest at a casual wedding, you should aim for a slightly more elevated look over business casual or everyday wear. Women can wear sundresses and sandals and men can opt for a light, collared shirt, non-denim pants and non-sneaker shoes.
Pick Out Your Dress or Suit
When choosing the main elements of your outfit, look at your wedding invitation for color and theme inspiration. Coordinating your dress or suit to match the wedding’s color scheme can be a great way to honor the couple on their big day and ensure that the wedding pictures are well-styled.
However, you should always check with someone in the wedding party to ensure you aren’t wearing the same colors as the bridesmaids and groomsmen to avoid confusion. And for female guests, abide by the Golden rule: never wear white.
Another way to choose your dress or suit is to consider the day’s location or weather forecast. A heavy wool suit would look out of place on the beach, and a sequined cocktail dress is likely not considered appropriate attire for a church wedding ceremony.
Opt for dresses and suits made from lightweight but luxurious fabrics like silk, linen or cotton for spring or summer weddings in outdoor locations. If you are attending a cold weather wedding, a Merino or cashmere wool suit or a velvet dress and woolen or faux fur coat ensures that you look perfectly styled while still keeping yourself warm.
Consider Your Footwear Carefully
High heels and dress shoes are essential for any wedding guest’s outfit. However, after hours of standing on your feet before and during the wedding ceremony, your feet will likely feel too sore and tired to dance.
When choosing your shoes to match your wedding outfit, you need to consider practicality as much as style. If you are wearing high heels, consider adding gel pads to the balls and arches inside the shoe to cushion your feet, or take a pair of ballet flats with you for the dance floor.
For male guests, choose dress shoes with a slightly wider toe that won’t compress your toes, and always wear moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet dry all night long. Alternatively, for a warm weather wedding, try penny loafers, boat shoes or moccasins.
Add the Right Accessories
Your wedding guest outfit isn’t complete without accessories to provide the finishing touches. However, when it comes to accessorizing for an event, less is more. Opt for one or two high-quality items rather than bejeweling every part of your body with bling.
Luxury watches from high-end brands like Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre or IWC watches are excellent options to add a level of sophistication to your ensemble. Choose dress watch styles with smaller cases rather than oversized sports watches for the occasion.
For men, a pair of cufflinks is a must if you are wearing a French or double-cuffed dress shirt. However, if you are wearing a classic button-down shirt, you don’t need cufflinks to hold your sleeves together so wear a delicate gold neck chain or cuff bracelet instead.
To accessorize your wedding guest dress, consider your neckline, sleeve style and hairstyle. A pair of glittering chandelier earrings or a statement necklace can transform your outfit if you are wearing an updo or a strapless, sweetheart dress. Avoid bracelets or bangles, and add a long matinee or opera-length necklace with a chic pendant for a long-sleeved dress.
Aim for Style, Comfort and Honoring the Special Day
The outfit you wear to a friend or family member’s wedding is important. Choosing an ensemble that fits in with the dress code ensures you add to the beautiful aesthetic of the day and honor the bride and groom as they join together. You also want to aim for style and comfort so you can enjoy the big day and celebrate with the wedding party and other guests.