So, you’re invited to a wedding, yay!! Someone you know and care for has found the one and you’ve been invited to celebrate with them. One of your first thoughts is probably “Ah! Everyone I know is going to be there, I have to look awesome!”. While that’s true, as a southern woman, I have also learned that there are a few other things you should keep in mind when preparing to attend a wedding. Here are some guidelines to go by when picking out wedding attire (as taught by my mother and Emily Post) to make yourself the perfect guest on someone’s special day.
Dressing appropriately is the most important thing a lady does on any occasion. You know the expression “there’s a time and a place”? Well, I couldn’t agree with that more when planning your outfit for anything. Being ladylike doesn’t always mean dressing in knee-length dresses and pearls, it’s all about wearing the appropriate thing for the occasion. For example, there’s a time and a place for crop tops and shorts, and that’s a musical festival or football tailgate and not for a bridal shower or church. The same thing goes for a wedding!
I’ve broken down dressing appropriately into 3 categories: A. dressing appropriately for the occasion, B. dressing appropriately for the season, and C. dressing appropriately for the formality.
Let’s start with A. dressing appropriately for the occasion. This is probably one of the most important rules in my opinion because not doing it right can reflect the worst on you as a lady. When picking out what to wear for a wedding, you should always remember that this is someone else’s day. It is a day that this couple and their loved ones have planned for months most likely, and in most cases, is a very important and meaningful ceremony that may take place in a house of worship or will be conducted by a religious figure. Therefore, knowing this, it is very important to pick an outfit that has no chance of either taking attention away from the bride or offending her or any of her family members. You never want to be the girl in the tiny, tight dress that reveals too much who the bride’s mother wishes she never would have invited. Try to think to yourself when you’re shopping for a dress “would Kate Middleton wear this to a wedding?”. Obviously, you want to be stylish, though, so it’s not like you need to wear anything matronly or unflattering, either. A good way to check yourself when you’re not sure if a dress is okay is to think about all the things you’ll be doing at the wedding. Is your hemline long enough so that you can bend over and sign the guest book without showing everyone your cheeks? Is your neckline high enough so that you can dance the night away without worrying one of your girls will fall out? If so, you’re probably good. This also will really help you feel more comfortable the whole night, anyway.
Okay, now let’s go to B. dressing appropriately for the season. This one is probably the most simple, but in the south, it’s very important to make sure you’re wearing the right fabrics for the season at a wedding. Nothing sticks out more than a pastel linen dress at a December wedding. Here are a few fabrics that fall exclusively in a certain season:
Spring/Summer fabrics (after Memorial Day): Linen, cotton, seersucker, rayon, jersey, chambray.
Fall/Winter fabrics (after Labor Day): Wool, velvet, tweed, velour, corduroy, faux fur.
Some fabrics can be worn throughout the year, such as silk or lace, if paired with the right shoes and accessories. The dress I’m wearing in this photo would be good pretty much year-round depending on the formality of the wedding.
And finally, we have C. dressing appropriately for the formality. While most weddings are simply casual or semiformal, which is easy, nothing is worse than showing up to a formal wedding in the wrong attire. If you’re going to a formal wedding, chances are the bride and groom thought a lot about whether or not to make it formal, and if they decided yes, then it’s going to be at a very elegant location. Not only will you want to look the part because everyone else will, but it’s also respectful to the couple. Wearing a day dress to a formal wedding either says “I didn’t know” or “I don’t care” and you never want that. So, to avoid that, here are the typical dress code guidelines for every wedding:
White Tie: Floor length formal gown, (optional to add long gloves)
Black Tie: Floor length formal gown, fancy cocktail dress
Black Tie Optional: Floor length dress, cocktail dress, dressed up separates
Semiformal: Short cocktail or afternoon dress, LBD, dressed up separates
Dressy Casual: Dress, skirt and dressy top, dressy pants and simple top, nice jeans and dressy top
Casual: Sundress, long or short skirt (not too short), nice jeans and a top
And there you go! If you follow these guidelines, you will be the epitome of an elegant wedding guest. If you’re interested in tips for men so you can help out your date (boys can be totally clueless) then leave me a comment below! I might be able to convince Mike to do a shoot with me…
Thanks for reading!
Sources: The Emily Post Institute Emilypost.com