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Wedding Guest? What Do YOU Wear?

Updated on October 6, 2015
This is NOT the way to dress to attend a wedding!
This is NOT the way to dress to attend a wedding!

What Should Wedding Guests Wear to Weddings?

If you're invited to a wedding, then you must dress appropriately. Don't forget that a wedding ceremony is the sacred joining of a man and a woman for life, no matter where that ceremony may be held. 

It deserves your respect!

The key to dressing appropriately for a wedding is the wedding's formality (either formal, semi-formal and/or informal) and the time the wedding will take place. 

Most beach weddings are "casual chic" when it comes to appropriate attire.
Most beach weddings are "casual chic" when it comes to appropriate attire.

Wedding Guests: What To Wear?

Let me give you a few examples: 

* You're invited to a 10 a.m. wedding at your church with reception immediately following at a private club. Obviously, this wedding is semi-formal. It's all a matter of deduction: formal weddings (requiring formal dress) are not held during the day. (Tuxes are appropriate for evening, only.) And this wedding is not informal. After all, it's not being held in a park. 

For this wedding, men would wear business suits and women dressy suits or dresses (no gowns, no beading, no glitz; that's for weddings after five.)

* Let's say you're invited to a wedding on the beach at 4 p.m., with a party following. The invitation says, as a corner-copy, "casual chic". That means that men wear very nice casual attire--not jeans! The same for the ladies, while at the same time, everyone wears flats. The wedding is held on the beach, after all!

* You're invited to a wedding that begins at 7 p.m. with the reception following at a catering property. The invitation says, as a corner-copy, "Black tie invited" or "Black tie preferred" or Black tie optional".

That corner copy tells you that this wedding is semi-formal. "Black tie invited", etc. tells the invitation recipient that it is not necessary to wear a tux or dinner jacket (if you're a gentleman), although you may if you choose. And it tells the ladies to dress up... not gowns, but fancy cocktail dresses or suits with beads and glitz.  

Formal wedding are "Black tie". NO exceptions!
Formal wedding are "Black tie". NO exceptions!

Wedding Guests and the Formal Wedding

Should you receive a wedding invitation that states, as a corner copy, "Black tie" it means one thing and there are NO exceptions. Tuxedos and/or dinner jackets* for the men. Fancy attire for the ladies, including gowns, although fancy cocktail dresses or suits with beading and glitz--or très élégant--simple, chic, designer garb will do. This is one fancy affair!

Moral of the Wedding Guest Attire Story: Always be appropriately dressed when attending a wedding and reception. The ceremony is the sacred joining of a man and woman for life; while the party afterward is the culmination of months of hard work and dedication by the families to make their wedding something they can be proud of. It's your obligation to make them proud, also.

* White or ivory dinner jackets are appropriate for formal weddings in tropical climates or in summer.

P.S. Visit Deborah McCoy, AAWP:


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    • Deborah McCoy profile image

      Deborah McCoy 6 years ago from Florida

      You're welcome. Thank you for your insight!

    • KirstenJensen profile image

      KirstenJensen 6 years ago from San Diego

      I agree.

      I have been to very nice weddings to do makeup and some of the guests where some pretty horrible outfits.

      I have seen it all.

      From jeans to women in white dresses ( big no no , the bride is only suppose to be in the white dress at least thats how I feel about it . I could be wrong.

      Even dresses that should be worn with a strapless bra and they have there bra straps showing.

      Its just tacky.

      Thanks so much for posting this :)