What to Wear to a Wedding

Going to a wedding?

Spring and summer are the busiest times of year for weddings.  If you’ll be witnessing some nuptials this year, do a little prep work before you pack your bags.  The weather, location, and formality of the event will determine what you should wear.

Weather

From balmy and breezy to hot and humid, different places have different types of weather.  Choose lightweight fabrics in cotton and linen to keep cool, and skip the silk in the hottest temps.  It may be light, but it will hold in the heat and show your perspiration.

If the event will go from afternoon into evening, be sure to include a sweater or a wrap.  In many places, it gets cool when the sun goes down, so be prepared with extra layers.

Finally, there’s no getting around spring and summer showers.  Always include an umbrella and raincoat in your plans.  If the day calls for rain, skip the satin or light-colored fabric shoes and opt for a dark or neutral leather pair instead.

If you have no idea what the weather will be like, call the bride or her mother to inquire about the local temps.  Or, visit weather.com and type in your destination city.  It will give you a forecast and other local conditions to help you plan appropriately.

Location

If you’ll be traveling out of town for a wedding, pay very close attention:

People dress differently in different places.

This is important.

What you think is appropriate for a wedding where you’re from may be seen as completely inappropriate where you’re going.  All it takes is standing out like a sore thumb once to realize you don’t want to do it again.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Rural or small town weddings tend to be more informal than city weddings.  Evening is more formal than daytime, and a country club, estate, or historical venue is more formal than a beach, community park, or hall.
  • In the United States, people from the east dress more formally than people from the west.  Folks from the northern states dress more conservatively than people from the south.  People from the south tend to stick to long held traditions longer than people from other places.
  • Europeans tend to dress more traditionally and in better quality fabrics than people from the United States.  The French and Italians are more fashion-conscious than their European neighbors, particularly in Paris and Milan.  The English tend to be very formal in their ceremonial attire, and very strict in their observance of traditions.
  • In South America, people from the upper classes take great care with their appearance; if you wish to be identified as one of them, you will do the same.  Pack stylish clothes in quality materials. While South Americans tend to be lax on schedules and time frames, they take great care when observing traditions.
  • In the Far East, they tend to dress less formally than in other parts of the world, mostly because of their unbearably humid weather.  Lightweight, breathable clothing in traditional styles is a must.  Good hosiery and nice pedicures are also important, as you’ll often be asked to leave your shoes at the door.  Be on time for appointments, as it’s considered rude to keep people waiting.
  • In the Mid East, dress traditionally and conservatively and keep your arms and legs modestly covered.  Prepared to be ignored by members of the opposite sex, and don’t be alarmed by the invasion of personal space.  Middle Easterners are “close talkers” as compared to other cultures.  They’re also steeped in tradition and tend to view western ways as inferior.

As you can see, they are lots of ways to do things, so it’s best to be prepared.  If you need to know more about the local customs, call the bride or groom (whichever you know better) or their parents and ask for guidelines on dress and customs.  If you’ll be traveling out of the country and need some help “navigating the waters,” here are some helpful sites to visit online:

Formality

What do terms like formal, semi-formal, and day time formal mean?  Here’s the breakdown:

Informal Dress Informal

Daytime:  Dress or suit.  Business attire is okay for morning weddings.

Evening:  Dress

 

 

 

Semi Formal Dress Semi-Formal

Daytime:  Dress or suit.

Evening:  Cocktail attire.

 

 

 

Formal Formal

Daytime:  Dress or suit.  Hats and gloves are optional.

Evening:  Black Tie apparel:  long or short evening gown.

 

 

 

Ultra Formal Ultra Formal

Evening:  White Tie required.  Opt for a long evening gown and
elegant accessories

 

 

 

All these dresses from Chadwicks.com

If in doubt, ask the bride, the groom, or their parents.  Or call the place where the reception is being held and ask what’s appropriate.  A little information goes a long, long way.

Finally, here are some general “Do’s and Don’ts” to help you dress appropriately:

  • Don’t wear all white.  Traditionally, this color is reserved for the bride and bridal party.
  • Don’t wear black or sequins during the day.
  • Do remember that you will most likely be at a place of worship and should dress with appropriate respect.  Keep the exposed flesh to a minimum.  If you’re attending a traditional Jewish ceremony, bring along a shawl or sweater to put over bare shoulders.
  • Don’t compete with the bride for attention.  Keep your apparel appropriate and in good taste.
  • Do use good judgment if the invitation doesn’t specify a dress code.  A pastel suit or soft floral dress for daytime or a little black dress for evening should take you to any wedding in style.

Do try to get the most mileage that you can from your clothes.  If you have more than one wedding to attend this season and you need to buy something new, see if you can make it work for as many events as possible by adding a wrap, changing accessories, or shortening or lengthening the hem.

Need some specific guidelines for what to wear to a wedding that’s held at a hotel? A cathedral?  The beach?  Then download a copy of OCCASION MAGIC to see how easy dressing appropriately for any occasion can be. Occasion Magic

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