Invited to a wedding and not sure what to wear? We’ve got you covered with a few fashion dos and don’ts when it comes to shopping for your friend or family member’s day.
The most important thing to remember is you want to look cool and stylish, but you don’t want to distract from the bride or draw attention for the wrong reasons. That’s why we recommend you use the wording on the invitation or the time of year to determine your wedding attire. But first, let us tell you the ground rules for dressing for a wedding. Rule number one: Don’t ever, ever wear white to a wedding. You should also avoid wearing white to prewedding festivities, like the engagement party, shower or rehearsal dinner. The only exception to this rule is if there’s an all-white dress code for one of the celebrations. Rule number two: Always be respectful to religious affiliations. If you know the wedding is going to be held in a Catholic church, it might not be a bad idea to cover bare arms with a sweater and avoid showing too much leg or cleavage. Rule number three: You can wear black to a wedding—it’s not off-limits. It used to be taboo to wear black to weddings, but now a little black dress is totally appropriate for an evening affair. Rule number four: It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. If an invite says “black tie optional,” err on the side of caution and wear a long dress or dark suit or tux. Like your mom always said, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Springtime affairs are beautiful with all of the fresh blooms and green grass, but dressing for a spring wedding can be a challenge. Be wary of outdoor weddings when spring rain showers can cause wet grass and mud that your heels will undoubtedly sink into. We suggest shopping for outfits you know can survive an indoor or outdoor wedding, and plan ahead. Think of any problems that could arise. For instance, avoid long dresses that could drag in potential mud, always keep a pair of closed-toed flats on hands for unexpected outdoor cocktail hours and bring an umbrella for impromptu rain showers. And don’t forget that along with the rising temperatures comes a rising humidity that can wreak havoc on your perfectly coiffed tresses. Keeping a mini bottle of hair spray and bobby pins in your bag will not only make you the most popular girl in the bathroom line but will keep your hair looking on point. For men, spring is the perfect time to subtly experiment with color—not too hot for dark hues and not too cold for pastels and neons. Layer brightly colored shirts under lightweight suit jackets and accessories with slim ties or bold patterned socks. There are so many subtle ways for men to add color to their looks, so there’s no excuse for a straight black-and-white ensemble.
No matter what the dress code on the invitation, there are a few things you should never wear to a wedding. We’ve already covered the obvious ground rules (no white, duh!), but there are some other pieces in your closet you should probably stay away from unless specified in your invite.
Sneakers: Keep your tennis shoes on the court and wear a pretty pair of flats if comfort is your first priority. Sneakers send a very casual message, and even if your wedding invite says “casual dress” it doesn’t mean you can look like you just came from the gym.
Shorts: If your invitation states that rompers and cute shorts are acceptable, make sure you give your length a check. If your fingertips extend past the hemline on your shorts, they are too short for a wedding. And keep in mind: Cutoffs are always a no-no.
Short-sleeve shirts: Big caveat for this one: If you’re planning on wearing a short-sleeve button-down, make sure the wedding is super-casual and you’re dressing it up with a bow tie or a suit jacket with a pocket square.
Flip-flops: Rubber footwear is never okay for a special event like a wedding ceremony. That being said, no one would blame you if after a few hours of dancing in heels, you want to swap them out for something more comfortable.
Distressed clothing: Clothing with holes, rips, tears or bleach stains is off-limits for a wedding. Even if it’s a designer gown with an intentional tear down the side, it’s not an appropriate sartorial choice for a wedding guest.