Wedding Guest Attire: What to Wear to a Wedding (Part 1)

Wedding Guest Attire: What to Wear to a Wedding (Part 1)

Have you been invited to a wedding, but aren’t quite sure what to wear? The first thing you’ll wonder when you’ve been invited for such special occasions is not what gift to give the bride and groom. It’s what you’re going to wear to the wedding as a guest. Well, in general, surely you’ll want to look fabulous in your personal look and wear an outfit or a dress (doesn’t need to be full-length unless it’s a very formal wedding) in just about any style or color goes except for white.

Depending on the weather and season (breezy, windy, summer, winter, etc.), different times of day (morning, afternoon, evening, or night), different themes of occasion (outdoor, indoor, garden party, etc.), as well as different formalities (informal, semi-formal, formal, etc.), you still have to dress the right attire – design, style, and color ways – appropriate and comfortable enough to celebrate the important day.  Here’s an easy guide to dresses to wear to a wedding to make the special occasion easy for you to navigate.

Things You Should Never, Ever Wear to a Wedding
First of all, besides considering your comfort, there are a few gray areas when it comes to appropriate wedding guest attire. So, know the dos and don’ts of outfit when attending such occasions. Just follow this list of things you should never wear to a wedding, and you’ll keep receiving those invitations.

Colors: Don’t wear white or black to a wedding
Common tradition says “Don’t wear white to someone else’s wedding because it competes with the bride”. Yes, it’s never a good idea to dress anything that could conceivably be mistaken for a wedding dress. However, some people think this rule may seem outdated, and it can be broken if you go about it the right way. Depending on how close you know the bride, wearing something simple in white should be fine as long as you’re absolutely sure she’s truly okay with you wearing white. Just keep in mind that the bride should always get to stand out on her wedding day.

White Wedding Guest Attire IdeasWearing white to a wedding shouldn’t pose much of a problem as long as you wear something dramatically different from the bride’s bridal gown. Dress your white outfit simply and more like a party dress than a bridal gown. Do balance with your appearance so you wouldn’t look too overwhelmed or over dressed. 

Ask her permission if you have a close relationship with the bride, or get a glimpse of the bride’s dress before the big day, and make sure your white outfit is dramatically different. For example, if she’s wearing a full-skirted gown, your simple and slender white evening gown shouldn’t pose much of a problem. But if she’s wearing a simple white number, just pick another color.

You may also wear white if your dress is only partially white – for example a white bodice with a colored skirt, or if your dress has a white background with an all-over print of a different color.

Wedding Guest Attire white and printUse prints and other colors on your white dress so that your outfit doesn’t look too bridal-y. Colors and prints work well on a wedding – especially in summer – and it can also add more femininity and brightness to your outfit.

Wedding Guest Long white and print dressWhile knee-length dresses are great for a day-time wedding party, gowns or long dresses are perfect for a more elegant, night venue. As long as your dress doesn’t not compete the bridal gown (or maybe the bride wears other than white), white dress with prints or embroideries look fabulous for the wedding guests. 

Wedding Guest Attire with white layersAnother option if you want to wear white to a wedding is to use the color as a layer. Pair your colorful dress with white cardigan or blazer, or do it vice versa – wearing white dress with colorful layer. This tip can help you minimize too much white on your look 

Wedding Guest Attire IdeasWearing white doesn’t have to be clean and bright white. Choose wedding guest dress in different type of white, such as very light pastel, off-white, or baby gray, so that you won’t look exactly like the bride. Of course, in this case, you should know at the first time that the bride is wearing a pure white bridal gown.

On the other hand, although rules can be broken, not wearing white to a wedding is actually a matter of showing good etiquette to not compete the bride on her special day. It shows how you respect the couple and their special moments. So the safest answer is to not wear white, even if it is your favorite dress, even if the bride is non-traditional, and even if it’s the marriage of two men.

Just like wearing white dress that shows no respectful to the bride, wearing black is also traditionally a no-go color at weddings — especially for women – since black dress connote mourning, funeral, and death for many people. But now you’ll frequently see guests wearing a little black dress. So notice that there’s a difference between showing up your best friend’s nuptials in funeral garb and wearing a sleek, little black number to an evening wedding.

Black Wedding Guest Attire IdeasWearing black to a wedding is actually easier than wearing white, all you need to do is to show that you are attending a joyful ceremony. Dress your outfit to celebrate somebody’s wedding, and not to mourn somebody’s death. Wear something light, chic, fancy, and fashionable. Style your look beautifully and fabulously.

Wedding Guest Attire in blackAt a night wedding party, put some glitz and sparks on your look. Give a little touch of glamour and elegance in it. Sequins, laces, and jewerly work well for this statement, but always keep it in balance. Don’t over do it, especially if the bride is wearing something simple and subtle. 

Wedding Guest Attire Long Black DressLet’s say you’ve decided to wear a glamorous black gown to a wedding. Before you pull it off, make sure the bride doesn’t wear a black wedding gown. Nowadays, black bridal gown is getting more and more popular that you must be careful for not wearing something that might compete the bride’s look. Make sure the bride is not wearing exactly the same dress like yours.  

Dress your black outfit in fun, cheerful, and light way, or wear something sparkly – such as sequins or jewelries – to add the glamour and shine into the look. But don’t wear black or sequins during the daytime. Anything too sparkly will make you look overdressed. However, if there’s even the slightest chance it could fit into a procession for the deceased, put your black gown back on the rack and slip into something more colorful since you come for an occasions of joy, happiness, and celebration.

Styles: Use good judgment when it comes to getting dressed
One rule when attending someone else’s wedding is to show respect, compliment, and joy to the couple. Do wear something feminine and appropriate. Never go with skimpy dress at a wedding. Clubwear, overtly sexy clothing – such as strapless, see-through, super-tight, etc. – that shows off leg or décolleté doesn’t belong at a wedding. If you have to ask if it’s appropriate, it probably isn’t.

Wedding Guest Dress Big No NoNo excuse, whatsoever. These kinds of dress are a big no-no for a wedding, no mater how gorgeous your body is, no matter how close you know the host 

Furthermore, unless it’s mentioned on the dress code, or the occasion is a very casual wedding, normally jeans or denims – in any styles, designs, and looks – are not an option to choose. Weddings are normally dress up, while jeans by their very nature are not dress up.

However, depending on the formalities and themes of the venue – a casual wedding on a ranch, for example – dressing in jeans would be your way of complying with the occasion and honoring the couple. Meaning, if you are invited to a wedding in a traditional service, then honor the couple by attiring yourself appropriately. For that reason, you will need to see the venue for the wedding, as some weddings are very casual and jeans might be appropriate.

Denim Wedding DressIf the bride is wearing something like these (pictures above) or the venue look like the pictures below. You might consider wearing jeans for the occasion. Remember that jeans evoke casual, informal look, so dress up neatly, more feminine and stylish to make your style more appropriate to the venue. You are still attending a wedding party, after all.  

Denim Wedding Theme

Wedding Guest Attire Ideas with denimIdeas of wedding guest dress in denim or jeans. Put metallic accessories to add glamour on your denim dress, or don  long denim dress with elegant embroideries to achieve the feminine look. Besides its designs and cuts, other additional elements, such as jewelries, belt, clutch, heels, etc, can also add more party look on your casual denim dress.     

Denim Wedding Guest DressKeep in mind that what you wear is not about you but it’s about giving respect to the host. Dressing up in someone else’s wedding is a way you pay a compliment to the occasion. It’s like you are saying, “Yes, this is an important occasion, and I am going to go out of my way to let the bride and groom and other attendees know that I recognize its specialness”. And this also goes for any casual, sloppy pieces, such as t-shirt, sweatshirt, jacket, shorts, or sneakers. Don’t wear them on a wedding !!

Continue the article to Wedding Guest Attire: What to Wear to a Wedding (Part 2) and follow some style ideas of wedding guest dresses depending on each occasions.

Last but not least, don’t forget to find more and more ideas of Wedding Guest Dresses via :
What to Wear to a Wedding Spring Summer 2014 Wedding Guest Dresses
What to Wear to a Wedding : Shoes, Clutches and Jewelries

2 comments on «Wedding Guest Attire: What to Wear to a Wedding (Part 1)»

  1. A really informative article, with lots of useful information!

    I think that wearing black to a wedding generally shouldn’t be a problem, especially if worn with some colorful accessories, such as a brightly colored clutch and heels, or some chunky jewelry, and you’re attending an evening ceremony. Personally, I wouldn’t wear plain white to a wedding, but I agree that a partially white dress which also features another color or colors, or perhaps a pattern, can be a great alternative. Also, I love your idea of using white as a color layer in an otherwise colorful outfit!

    And I really like the off-white, knee-length dress with the brown floral pattern and single sleeve – can you please tell me where is that dress from?

    1. dee-nee says:

      Thank you so much Sarah for sharing your nice opinions :))
      About the off-white, knee-length dress, you may check the dress here or here for more color options

      Have a great day Sarah :))

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