In today’s installment, we discuss what to wear as a wedding guest. Basically, your goal is on the one hand, to make the wedding couple shine and on the other hand, to highlight your personal style.
Wedding Guest Etiquette
- You never ever want to overshadow either the bride or the groom. It’s their day, they’re the center of attention and you’re there to celebrate it with them, not to outshine them or outdo them. So what does that mean? Basically, you tone it down. You don’t wear wild colors, you don’t wear bold patterns or accessories like a top hat or something that makes maybe other people uncomfortable or something that is decidedly dapper than what the groom is wearing.
- You also want to avoid looking like you are part of the wedding party if you are not. Or something that could draw attention away from them.
- You should dress within the requested dress code. If the wedding is an evening event, it’s going to be more formal than a day event. As a man, you can wear a dark suit either a navy or charcoal. I’d stay clear from black unless it’s a tuxedo or a stroller suit.
- Traditionally, you should always have some form of neckwear. Personally, I think a necktie that is long is the best. Bow ties can be a bit too flashy unless of course the groom loves bow ties and he wants you to wear one as well.
- A good rule of thumb is to always wear a suit or at least a jacket with a pair of chinos or a dapper combination maybe with gray flannels.
- Definitely avoid monochrome looks of black shirt, black tie, and black suit or any other colors that are very similar because it looks odd and there’s not enough contrast. Your best bet for a wedding is a crisp white dress shirt although light blue may work as well. Of course, if you’re at a beach wedding or if the couple has a bbq or their style is very relaxed, then these rules don’t apply.
These are guidelines you can use to look well-dressed, fit in, and help the wedding couple have a wonderful day.
It’s never okay to wear sandals, shorts, or short sleeved shirts unless specifically requested or invited by the wedding couple.
WEDDING DRESS CODES
Let’s talk about a few very distinct dress codes you may encounter on a wedding invitation. If you get an invitation that does not stipulate a dress code, please reach out to your host and ask them what would make them feel comfortable or what they expect. Otherwise, you may be way overdressed or way underdressed which makes you uncomfortable or them look bad and that’s something you definitely want to avoid.
The most formal one you can find today is probably black tie. Most of the time in the US, you’ll see black tie optional. That means you can wear black tie on some with the black bowtie. But if you don’t have a tuxedo, you can wear something equivalent such as a dark suit.
Another popular dress code for wedding is cocktail attire, it basically means you have a dark suit or suit has little sparkle or something special, a little more of a pop of color, a little louder than the business suit and you can wear a dress shirt, you can wear a tie, something that is still formal but just with a little more fun.
If your wedding is an outer event or in a garden setting and it’s during the summer, you can wear lighter colors but the best thing is to ask your host to get an idea of what kind of dress they want, And what kind of event it is. The more formal it is, the more likely you are to wear a suit and you don’t wanna show up in a seersucker suit if everyone around you is dressed in a very dark formal ensemble.
In those casual settings, neckwear may be optional but again, ask your host. If you’re at the beach wedding, things change dramatically. Maybe the couple doesn’t even want you to wear shoes, maybe they want you to wear sandals, maybe they don’t even want you to wear jackets and it’s just a t-shirt and shorts, so you really have to figure out what that means.
Destination weddings have become much more popular in recent years, at the same time, it could also mean that they want you to show up in a tropical worsted suit or in seersucker.
My tip would be to skip the vest for sure because it makes you feel warmer. Definitely, tuck in your shirt, it looks neater, maybe wear a belt with it and just go along and try to communicate with others long before the event so you can be relaxed and really enjoy that big day of your friends or your loved ones.
When it comes to accessories, apart from the tie, a pocket square is really fantastic because it elevates your outfit, it’s very easy to fold, just takes a few seconds, and just underlines the event and its importance. Sometimes having a big boutonniere means that you want to skip the pocket square because otherwise, your outfit can be overloaded and again, you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself. The flower is simply there to underline the celebratorial character of the event.
Have fun at your upcoming wedding as a guest!
When in doubt, always dress up a little bit but always communicate with the people that invited you because that will ensure you look great, you honor them, and everyone is going to be happy and they will remember this event and you very fondly.