Thursday, October 11, 2007

What to wear to a wedding: A short checklist

I've been getting a lot of queries recently about wedding wear, and while I FULLY INTEND to answer each of them separately, I want to start with some generic Rules For Weddings.

Once upon a time, the wedding invitation gave you all the information you needed about the proper attire for the ceremony. Time of day was a big determinant: an evening wedding (anything after say five o'clock) was a black tie event, with tuxedos for the gentlemen and long gowns for the ladies. Morning weddings, on the other hand, required only your Sunday best clothes; they were typically small events for the immediate family and a few select friends.

Today, of course, the only ones wearing a tux to any wedding are the groomsmen (and that's not even a given) and the time of day has little if anything to do with what constitutes proper attire. So how do you know what to wear?

Err on the side of more dressed up, rather than less. For ANY situation -- wedding, job interview, parent/teacher conference -- it's always better to be overdressed than underdressed. I'm not advocating a sequined gown for a ten am garden wedding, but don't assume that "beach ceremony" means you can wear shorts. And god help you if I even THINK you are wearing flip flops to a wedding. Put on some real shoes. Please.

An evening wedding is dressier than a morning wedding. If the ceremony starts after 5:00 pm, feel free to break out your Little Black Dress (or LBD alternative) and some fabulous evening shoes. You can dress your dress down by going with bare legs instead of hose, or simple jewelry or hair, but remember that you're dressing for an evening function, and don't be afraid to go all out.

Daytime weddings may be more casual, but they are still events. That cute skirt you wear to Gymboree? Not wedding attire. Trade your everyday tee or tank for a beautiful blouse or sweater, put on a skirt that might need dry cleaning, or better yet! wear a dress! Flat shoes are fine, but leave the practical running around shoes at home. It's okay to dress up in the middle of the day. In fact, it's encouraged!

If the wedding is in a place of worship, dress accordingly. Your attendance at a wedding is a symbol of your love and support for the couple; respecting their place of worship by dressing up (and, in some cases, covering up) is equally important. Not sure what to wear to someone else's church home? What would YOU wear to church? Not a church goer? In general, steer clear of jeans and shorts and cleavage. Which you won't be wearing ANYWAY because this is a WEDDING for heaven's sake.

Not a church wedding? Dress for the location. Again, I am NOT saying shorts for a beach ceremony, but I WILL say flat shoes for outdoors, as opposed to pretty shoes for a hotel or museum or other contained locale. If the wedding is outside, think about putting on some sunscreen and taking a light shawl (because you never know).

The bottom line for wedding attire is this: Unless the bride and groom are getting married at the top of Mt. Everest, DRESS UP. It's a wedding for god's sake, and while I will not go so far as to say that the divorce rate in this country is directly related to the horrible things people wear to weddings these days, I think it's high time we valued the ceremony by putting on some real clothes to celebrate.

Tomorrow: actual suggestions about what you might want to put on.
add to sk*rt

14 Comments:

Anonymous K said...

hear hear! I agree on the beach ceremonies, but I do have to relate one exception that worked well:

Cape Cod, August, on the beach at the family house late afternoon before the lobster boil. The gentleman in question had on a dark charcoal gray suit in a tropical wool, white shirt unbuttoned at the collar, no tie, impeccable watch, ring, and belt, and leather sandals. And somehow it all worked. He is also close friends with the groom, so maybe he got the okay ahead of time.

What did NOT work was the guy from Newport dressed in a navy blue double breasted blazer with gold buttons, red chinos, stripped shirt, and Topsiders. Even though he is in the sailing business and from Newport, RI I couldn't give him a pass. But the guy in flip-flops? sure!

go figure.

October 11, 2007 6:46 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

While I will agree that the look K describes is hott (seriously, you all, who wouldn't want to be that guy's date?) it is so rare that someone can pull that off. Instead, what I see far too much of are rubber flip flops worn with a dress, or Tevas with dress pants.

To that I say a universal NO.

The best dressed people are the ones who can successfully break the rules, but it takes a certain panache to do that. If you can make it work, then more power to you, but do it cautiously.

And PLEASE no rubber flip flops.

October 11, 2007 7:09 PM  
Anonymous erin rae said...

Great post-

Having been to approximately 8.2 million weddings in the past 5 years (ok - probably closer to 25?), I completely agree with almost everything. I am a fan of guys in linen pants and nice leather flip flops, but on the whole, Susan's ban on flip flops is probably smart :-)

I'd also like to reiterate the cleavage comment. Some people seem to associate dressed up = boobs on display. Trust me, if the most exciting part of the evening is waiting to see if one of your ta-tas escapes on the dance floor, you won't be remembered kindly ;-)

October 12, 2007 6:10 AM  
Blogger RuthWells said...

And whatever you do, don't wear your most expensive suede slingback pumps to an outdoor wedding, as this will guarentee that the guests will be asked to *stand* in 4-inch-high grass the morning after a heavy rainfall for the ceremony.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

October 12, 2007 7:18 AM  
Blogger merry said...

Susan- Can you please address the subject of what to wear when you are part of the ceremony but not a member of the wedding party? My hubby and I are musicians and most of the time we attend weddings, we are playing and/or singing. What to wear then?

October 12, 2007 7:28 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

A nice rule of thumb for most houses of worship is to keep your shoulders and thighs covered. Skirts no shorter than just above the knee. If you want a strapped or strapless dress for the reception, fine but wear a cardigan, jacket, or shawl for the ceremony. And if it's a fairly conservative or orthodox place of worship then check with the bride.

October 12, 2007 9:23 AM  
Blogger blackbird said...

Good advice - and I agree with Jenn.
I see way too many bare shoulders in houses of worship and it's not respectful (IMO).

October 12, 2007 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Valerie said...

ARGH! This just reminded me that I have nothing for fall to wear to a friend's wedding next month... and I'm on a very tight budget right now!

October 12, 2007 3:47 PM  
Blogger Karyn said...

Okay, so Susan, how do you feel about rubber flip flops?

Seriously. I have been yelled at by a Bridezilla for "looking beautiful" at HER event. Hi. While I appreciate the ... compliment? ... it was just my go-to-wedding outfit. She was insane but dang if I was going to dress like a hick at her wedding. (And SHE wore long sleeved, heavily laced and sequinned satin to a wedding literally held ON THE BEACH when the reception was hotdogs on squishy white bread buns. I could go on but I won't.)

Ok so what about the flip flops then? I wish you'd let us know.

October 12, 2007 6:21 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Merry, I think it depends on what you're doing. If you are off to the side providing before and after music and the processional, then I think concert dress would be best. Dressy white or black shirt and black pants or a long skirt. And a black suit for your husband, but not a tux. That's the easy one. If you are on the program, eg after the homily but before communion, then I think you can dress a bit more casually and be slightly dressier than the average wedding guest. And I think you and your husband should be coordinated. Not matchy-matchy, but look as though you belong together.

Maybe you could call a few wedding planners in your area and see what they recommend.

October 13, 2007 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Wendy said...

If the wedding is outside, think about putting on some sunscreen and taking a light shawl (because you never know).


You don't know how right you are. We were married in New Orleans at a plantation by the river in October, a normally mild month. While nature decided to take my husband up on his statement of him never getting married again unless hell froze over. It was close to tropical storm winds and very chilly. Needless to say, the only people in the bridal party appropriately dress were the groom and the groomsmen.

Is bitter cold weather a lucky sign for a marriage?

October 15, 2007 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Women leather jackets said...

nice post love it

Womens Leather Blazer

February 16, 2012 4:03 AM  
Blogger Mujaffar Ali said...

You just try Cocktail Dresses for wedding.There are also varieties of Styles dresses available at Smccloset.

February 13, 2013 1:07 AM  
Blogger SDavid said...

It is a very good practice to planning to wear the dress for each location. Before that, the engaged people may have to select the best and a favorite dress for the event. In order to search the best dress vendors, the engaged may use the free wedding planner iPhone app to identify the best vendors.

June 24, 2013 10:29 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home