Tell your wedding story through visuals and words.

Wedding Attire Etiquette for Guests

Wedding Attire Etiquette for Guests
Wedding attire etiquette for guests rules specify the clothes that guests should don on the D-day. This is based on the invitation specification, the location, or simply the time of the day. Read on to know more about the attire etiquette for wedding guests.
Parul Solanki
Choosing the perfect wedding outfit can be a real hassle, especially when there is no mention of it in the wedding invitation. Haven't we all faced the situation where we have gotten the invitation for a wedding, happily circled the date on the calendar, and even started shopping for their gift, when all of a sudden it hits us, that we have absolutely nothing to wear for the D-day? Moreover, there is the dilemma of choosing an attire that should not outshine those of the newlyweds and wedding party, and should not make you look under-dressed as well. Here is your guide on the perfect wedding attire etiquette for guests.
Rules for Guests
The wedding attire is usually specified in the invitation itself. For example: for a "formal" or "black-tie" event, the guests should dress up in tuxedos, suits, or dresses. The words "casual pot luck" on the invitation means a more laid-back event where you can don dress shirts, slacks, or even sundresses. Sometimes the style of the wedding invitation itself should hold the clues for the expected guest attire. So, if the wedding invitation that arrives on expensive paper with engraved calligraphic script and formal language, chances are that the wedding will be a formal affair. However, if the wedding invitation contains pictures or caricatures of the bride chasing the groom in a wedding dress, it's safe to assume the dress code will be casual. However, if the wedding invitation just does not tell you anything about the event, then wedding etiquette rules state that you choose the wedding attire based on the time of the day or the location.
Time of the Day
Morning Wedding
Depending on the season, your morning wedding attire should be a lighter color and a bit more casual than the one that you would wear for an evening wedding. For men, the ideal choice would be to wear a light colored suit or nice sports coat and slacks and a tie. In winters, men can go for woolen suits, a navy blazer with charcoal pants, and a sweater and tie underneath a blazer. Women can dress up in a colorful floral dress, a skirt and sweater with slingback shoes, or a light colored suit.
Afternoon Wedding
You can dress up the same way as you would for a morning wedding.
Evening Wedding
For the weddings held in the evening, men should wear dark suits and women should opt for beautiful cocktail dresses, skirts, or elegant cocktail suits. The key is to select darker, more sophisticated colors and fabrics than you would choose for a morning or afternoon wedding. You can also opt for elaborate accessories like jewelry and women can choose to carry a beautiful clutch rather than a big heavy bag.
Outdoor Wedding
For an outdoor affair, avoid skirts and dresses that can easily blow upwards, instead opt for a tailored suit or skirt. Avoid high heels which would sink into the mud or grass. If the wedding is to take place under the scorching midday sun, then men should avoid wearing dark suits with jackets and instead go for a light suit with a jacket that can be easily removed. In winters, guests can wear warm boots, gloves, coats, and wraps over their dress clothes.
Indoor Weddings
Traditional daytime church ceremonies and afternoon sit-down receptions should indicate a formal wedding attire where men are expected to wear 3-piece suits and women should wear formal gowns.
Indicated on the Invitation
Casual Attire
Although it would be rare to see this indicated on an invitation, it is sometimes used to indicate that the guests should not be too dressed up. This can get quite confusing as even your shorts and flip flops are casual. However, please DO NOT wear clothes that you might wear to a baseball game or for running errands on a Sunday afternoon. Instead, women can opt for a casual dress or suit with flat shoes. Men can wear slacks and a dress shirt with or without a tie.
Cocktail Attire
Dress as you would for a fancy cocktail party with clothes that show elegance and chic, high heels and fashionable evening bags. Men should dress up in dark suits.
Black Tie Optional
"Black Tie Optional" on the wedding invitation indicates that the male guests may choose to wear tuxedos and female guests may wear evening gowns, but this is not required. Men can opt to wear a dark suit in black, navy blue, or dark gray instead of a tuxedo and women should ideally be dressed in cocktail length dresses.
Black Tie
This is the most formal attire. Men should ideally dress up in a tuxedo, and women can don floor length formal dresses.
Attire Etiquette for Wedding Guests: Dos and Don'ts
  • You can wear black to a wedding. The long standing tradition of ladies not wearing black to a wedding is now nonexistent. However, consider accessorizing your little black dress with a brightly colored scarf or blazer. Avoid black during a daytime wedding.
  • Do not wear white or ivory colored clothes. Wearing white competes with the bride's dress.
  • Refrain from wearing revealing or clothing suggestive of your figure with plunging necklines or miniskirts to a wedding.
  • Do not wear jeans to a wedding, however casual the event might be.
  • If all else fails and you're still wondering what to wear, seek the help of someone close to the bride for a heads-up on guest attire.
So choose your dress with care that expresses your style and fashion. After all, despite the fact that absolutely everyone will be looking at the happy wedded couple, you will want to look your best and follow the etiquette for weddings.