Receiving a wedding invitation is exciting - it’s a reason to celebrate, spend time with your friends or family, and, of course, dress up. Whether it’s the first of your friends to get married or you’re a seasoned wedding guest, finding the right outfit can be taxing. What colours should you wear? Will a short dress be okay? How do you know if you’re sticking to the dress code? We answer all the burning questions below!
What to Wear to a Wedding With No Dress Code
If the wedding invitation doesn’t stipulate a dress code for the day, you can technically wear whatever you want, although just because you can, doesn’t mean you should—being given free rein to choose your own outfit can sometimes make things more confusing! If you’re not sure where to start, do some research on the wedding venue - the website will probably have photos from previous weddings you can use for inspiration.
Consider the time of day the ceremony will take place - evening weddings are usually more formal than afternoon affairs. When in doubt, ask the bride or maid of honour for advice!
Wedding Guest Dresses: Do’s and Don’ts
●Don’t wear white - it’s an age-old rule that still applies. Wearing white, cream, off-white, or even a super light pastel colour that might look white in photographs is a wedding no-no! If it's a summer ceremony and you really want to wear something white, opt for a flowing fabric with a bright print.
●Do consider bridesmaids' dresses - wearing the same colours as the bridal party might make people confuse you for a bridesmaid, which can get awkward quickly. Ask the bride about her bridesmaids' dresses to help you steer clear of similar hues to avoid any mix-ups.
●Don’t wear something too short - while many Hollywood weddings feature stunning minidresses, they’re not always comfortable or appropriate for intimate family ceremonies. If you’re questioning the hemline of a dress, err on the side of modesty and switch to something longer!
●Do consider location - what you wear to a beach wedding is very different to a ceremony in a historic building. Think about how your dress will photograph with the venue as your backdrop, whether it will be windy (a threat to short sundresses!), and if flat shoes will work with your outfit.
●Do colour coordinate - if you’re attending a wedding with your partner or a plus-one, try wearing colour-coordinated outfits for cute couple photos! Ask your significant other for their opinions on colour before going shopping to narrow down your search. You can match your dress with a tie or pocket square if your partner is wearing a suit.
What To Wear for a Wedding by Dress Code
Finding a dress gets easier if you’ve been given a dress code for the wedding. Here are five popular wedding dress codes and how to stick to them:
1. Black Tie
This is the most formal wedding dress code after full-dress or white tie and requires careful outfit considerations to make sure you don’t look and feel underdressed. Men must wear tuxedos, and women can choose formal gowns or pantsuits to match. A black tie wedding calls for a floor-length dress that touches the ground or the tops of your shoes. You can accessorise with pearls, diamonds, and other luxurious jewellery.
2. Formal or Black Tie Optional
This dress code has fewer outfit specifications than black tie weddings. Men don’t have to wear tuxedos, and women can choose a slightly shorter dress or suit that shows the ankles. Full-length dresses, dressy pantsuits, or fancy tea-length cocktail dresses will also make the cut! Wearing darker or more solid colours can make your outfit look more formal, as can pairing it with sparkling jewellery and accessories.
A cocktail dress code is a middle ground between formal and semi-formal, and cocktail dresses can be tea-length, knee-length, or shorter with some embellishment. While men must wear suits and ties for cocktail parties, women have more flexibility with their outfit choices. Strapless, one-shoulder, and halter dresses will work, so long as they look fancier than something you’d wear on a night out with your girlfriends!
4. Semi-Formal or Dressy Casual
You can adhere to this flexible dress code by choosing something you would wear to a fancy restaurant on a night out. You can dress up a knee-length sundress with heels and a clutch purse or dress down a cocktail dress with wedges or nice sandals. Bright colours are welcome at semi-formal weddings, including bold dressy pantsuits and printed maxi dresses. Men can wear slacks with a dress shirt, with the option to wear a tie or sport coat.
Seeing the word “casual” on a wedding invitation doesn’t mean you can wear jeans and a T-shirt! Sundresses or jumpsuits with dressy sandals or wedges are perfect for beach and garden weddings. Wearing too many accessories might make you look overdressed, so keep it simple - opt for jewellery and accessories that would suit business-casual settings. Slacks with a dressy blouse or open blazer are suitable for casual weddings.
Model Chic offers a diverse range of wedding guest dresses to suit almost any dress code. Our collection includes colours and styles to suit every skin tone, body type, and taste in fashion. Shop our premium gowns online or get in touch with us for more information.