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What to Wear to a Wedding

Wedding Guest Attire for Every Type of Wedding


Wedding guests toasting newlyweds
Juan Silva/The Image Bank/Getty Images
You've gotten the invitation for your friends' wedding, and started shopping for their wedding gift, when suddenly it hits you – what do you wear to a wedding?

The etiquette for proper wedding guest attire can vary greatly depending on the style of the wedding. You'll have to become a little bit of a detective, but fear not. There are clues everywhere.

Start off with the invitation. Is it in flowing engraved black script on a heavy cream paper with formal language? Odds are the wedding will be similarly formal. Does it cheekily ask you to come see them get hitched? Wedding guests should look for a nice casual outfit. And of course, it may tell you directly on the invitation - black tie, casual attire etc.

Think about where the wedding is set – if it's outdoors avoid anything that will get caught in the wind – you won't want a battle of wills between the wind and your modesty! Avoid high heeled shoes that will sink in the sand or in the grass. If it's in a hot location avoid the suit and go for a breezy dress to help you keep your cool. Indoors at the country club or fancy restaurant? Make your outfit slightly more tailored and dressy.

Daytime Wedding

For Her
  • A fun floral dress
  • Skirt and a sweater set with slingback shoes.
  • Light colored suit – try to stay away from black, navy or anything that looks like you're going to the office.
  • Beautiful hat that coordinates with your outfit.

For Him
  • In the summertime, a light-colored suit, especially linen or seersucker.
  • Winter weddings call for warmer clothing, including wool suits, a navy blazer with charcoal pants, and perhaps a sweater and tie underneath a blazer.
  • A dress shirt, tie and dress pants is acceptable, but dress it up with a blazer if you can.
  • If the invitation says formal, wear a dark suit. Tuxedoes are not appropriate before 6 pm. You can wear a traditional morning suit (as seen in this photo of David Beckham attending the Royal Wedding)

Evening Wedding

For Her
  • Dress as you would if you were going out to the theater or to dinner.
  • Cocktail dress – nothing too sexy but something fun to dance in. Black is fine.
  • Dressy suit or a cocktail suit
  • Wear darker colors and look for something sophisticated
  • Avoid beads or sequins unless the invitation specifically says black tie
For Him
  • A dark suit is always appropriate
  • If the invitation says casual or semi-formal, you can wear a blazer and slacks with a nice tie.

Black-tie Optional

For Her
  • A cocktail dress, perhaps to the floor

For Him
  • If you have a tuxedo, or just like wearing one, by all means do so.
  • Otherwise, wear a dark suit. Dress as formally as you can.

Black Tie

For Her
  • A formal dress, usually to the floor
  • Bring out those beaded purses, fancy wraps and formal jewelry that's been waiting for an occasion such as this.
  • Black tie weddings almost always involve dancing, so don't wear anything too constricting.
For Him
  • A tuxedo is the only appropriate thing to wear. If it says creative black tie, he should still wear a tuxedo, perhaps with a black shirt or collarless white shirt.

  • White. (This rule has relaxed some, and you can get away with wearing a printed dress with a white background and some cream colored clothing. Just be careful not to upstage the bride. Still, it's better to be safe than sorry so choose a different color.)
  • Black to a daytime wedding
  • Jeans, no matter how casual the wedding
  • Anything too sexy or revealing
  • Anything torn, with holes, stained, too big or too small for you!
  • Anything sleeveless or strapless to a religious wedding. Bring a wrap or jacket to cover your shoulders.
Related Video
How to Find Your Wedding Style

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