Fashion For Real Women

What To Wear As A Wedding Guest

Have an invitation to a wedding? Wondering what you should wear?

Before you hit the mall or surf the web to find something to wear, take a little time to determine what's appropriate. Different types of weddings call for different types of attire, and if you're going to spend the money on something new, you want to be sure you've got the dress code right.

So where do you start?

With the invitation.

Wedding Guest
Semi-Formal Attire

One of the neat things about invitations is that they tell you so much more than just who, what, where, and when. If you take the time to "read between the lines," the invitation will provide you with valuable clues about the person who sent it and what you'll find once you get there.
Here's what to look for:

1. The Date

If you'll be traveling, never assume that the weather will be the same where you're going as it is where you are, even if you're just traveling 100 miles. Go over to and type in the city or zip code where the wedding will take place. It will bring up a ten-day forecast, and allow you to see the averages for every day of the year there. Study the history to see what's appropriate weather-wise.

2. The Time

Next, note what time the wedding starts. If it's before 6 pm, then it will be LESS formal than if it's after 6 pm.

3. The Place

A wedding in a big city (or one of its suburbs) will always be more formal than a wedding in a small town. In the United States, a wedding in the east will be more formal than a wedding in the west, and if you put the entire country on a grid, you'd discover that the level of formality is the highest in the northeast, lowest in the southwest (with the exception of San Francisco, which follows northeast guidelines).

A wedding in a church or synagogue is always more formal than a wedding in a garden or at a home. Similarly, a reception at a museum or cultural center will always be more formal than one at a lodge or town hall.

4. The Invite

Finally, look at the invitation itself. Is it a heavy cardstock? Is it a classic color? Does it have formal wording or a fancy script? If so, expect the function to be more formal than one where the invitation is an unusual color, uses casual language or has a contemporary font. Since most people send out invitations that keep to the theme and tone of their wedding, this detail reveals a lot.

If you're unable to glean the appropriate attire from the clues on the invitation, consider this: A social suit or dress for daytime or a little black dress for evening will take you to just about any wedding in style.

Just remember these simple rules:

  • Don't wear white. If you're not the bride, don't compete with her color scheme.
  • Don't wear black or sequins during the day.

Remember that you will most likely be at a place of worship and should dress with appropriate respect. Excessively exposed breasts, legs, behinds, and midriffs are considered bad form.

Determining proper wedding guest attire shouldn't be a mystery. Just take your cues from the invitation and you can't go wrong.


Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of "Occasion Magic," an ebook that shows women how to dress appropriately for every occasion, regardless of where they live. Visit her online at  .
 Occasion Magic teaches you all about wedding attire

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