Ask the Bride
Before you think about what to wear, ask the bride. Most brides will be happy to tell you what to wear. The last thing they want is for their pictures to turn out odd or for you to feel uncomfortable because you didn’t know how to dress appropriately for the event.
There Will be Exceptions
We’re going to list things that you should and shouldn’t wear, but there will always be exceptions. If your friend decided to have a denim theme, you should wear jeans. Otherwise, we’d say you should avoid denim at all costs. For the most part, these rules are tried and true.
Do: Opt for Solid Colors
Solids will never go out of style. When in question, solid colors are the best option, especially if you don’t know the theme. Plus, solid colors take fantastic pictures. In most cases, photographers will be taking a flurry of pics, and you want to look your best.
Don’t: Wear White
One of the most obvious mistakes you can make is wearing white to a wedding. You don’t want to upstage the bride or draw attention from her. Not wearing white includes wearing ivory and off-white. Wearing white also runs the risk that someone may come up to you and give their congratulations.
Do: Go for Simple Patterns
Complicated patterns have a way of drawing the eye. Today is the bride and groom’s day, so you want to avoid being the center of attention. Plus, you don’t want to wear a pattern that could possibly clash with another person in photos.
Don’t: Show too Much
You never want to show too much skin at a wedding. This rule is even more important if the event takes place in a church. While you can wear a shorter dress, keep the length appropriate, and avoid excessive cut-outs in dresses or tops.
Do: Keep the Venue in Mind
The venue is critical when choosing an outfit. If it’s outside, you don’t want to wear heels that can stick into the dirt. Additionally, if the venue is a fancy restaurant, you’ll know to dress according to the restaurant’s attire guidelines at minimum (unless otherwise stated).
Don’t: Over Accessorize
A few pieces of jewelry and other accessories are perfect, but you want to keep things simple. Over-embellishing with a ton of jewelry can distract from the ceremony. Avoid the big hat and pick something a little more modest.
Do: Wear Comfortable Shoes
You have no idea how long you’ll be standing. Wearing shoes that hurt is one of the biggest faux pas of any event, mostly because it’ll encourage you to leave before you have the chance to enjoy yourself. If you’re unsure, a nice, dressy flat is the best option.
Don’t: Use an Old Bridesmaid Dress
Most bridesmaid dresses are completely unusable after the event. They’re often also too dressy to work as an outfit for a guest that won’t be participating in the wedding. Unless otherwise stated, it’s best to assume an old bridesmaid dress won’t work out.
Do: Pick Colors Similar to the Wedding Palette
We often hear to avoid wedding colors if possible, but it can be one of the best ways to dress according to the wedding. If anything, wearing something that complements the wedding palette ensures excellent photos.
Don’t: Wear Flip-Flops
Never, never, never wear flip-flops. Even if the wedding is on a beach, you don’t want to wear flip-flops. Naturally, the bride and groom may say otherwise, but flip-flops can be seen as a little too casual and can make you look woefully unprepared.
Do: Choose Something Light and Airy
Unless it’s a black or white tie event, try to wear something light and airy. Something that breathes will keep you from getting too hot whether you’re in a church or on the beach. Just make sure to check with the bride to see if it’s too close to her bridesmaid’s dresses.
Don’t: Don Jeans
Jeans are a little too casual for a wedding. If the theme is denim, then, by all means, wear those Levi’s, but wearing jeans to a wedding can make the other guests and the hosts feel as though you didn’t care about dressing up. Even if the attire is “casual,” it’s best not to wear jeans.
Don’t: Wear a Pantsuit
Pantsuits are in a weird spot. They can feel like it isn’t enough for formal attire while also seeming too much for a casual event. If you insist on wearing a pantsuit, make sure it’s tailored, and you have accessories that reflect the dress code.
Do: Dress for the Weather
Outside weddings can be rough if you aren’t aware of the weather. If it’s cold out, you want to wear a jacket and avoid that dress that shows off your legs. At the same time, if it’s going to be hot, you may want to avoid that heavy fabric.
Don’t: Wear Leggings
Leggings are hit and miss. While some brides and grooms are fine with leggings paired with a dress, but some may despise the garment. Even if the event is listed as casual, it may be best to avoid leggings altogether to avoid any hurt feelings.
Do: Think About the Theme
Themes are getting more and more popular, meaning your hosts may choose to go with something unique like a “rainbow” wedding. While this theme may be easy to dress for, a “Disney” theme may be a little tougher for a guest.
Don’t: Wear a Tiara
So, this is one of those things where people we know have worn a tiara to a wedding. You don’t want to put on anything that looks a little too bridal-like, as it could confuse or distract the guests. Unless it’s ultra-formal, try to avoid any tiara or headband that’s bedazzled.
Do: Keep Your Neckline Modest
This one can be tough since many dresses and nice blouses have a plunging neckline. While that may be great for a night on the town, you want to avoid wearing something like this to a wedding. If you have an outfit that shows a little much, you can always put something under it.
Don’t: Wear Animal Print
Animal prints don’t look too great in wedding pictures. Sure, someone may have a leopard themed wedding, but that’s a little different and usually only applies to those involved in the event. A single guest wearing animal print stands out quite a bit in photos, too.
Do: Modest Makeup
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look beautiful at a wedding. We’re not going to tell you to look bad. However, going with extremely heavy makeup may not be the best. Highlight your natural features and finish it off with a lighter lipstick or gloss.
Don’t: Go with Sheer Materials
Do: Cover Your Undergarments
A wedding isn’t a place to show off your underwear or bra. Although bralettes are becoming trendy, most wedding hosts will want a more conservative look for their event. Try your dress on in advance to make sure your bra straps are covered.
Don’t: Wear Anything with Sparkles
Sparkles and dazzle details are eye-catching – precisely the thing you don’t want at your friend or relative’s wedding. We’re not saying you shouldn’t have anything glamorous, but your accessories and outfit shouldn’t steal the show.
Do: Know the Difference Between Black and White Tie
Some weddings will list black tie as the attire while others will list white tie. Contrary to popular belief, these two things aren’t the same. A white tie event is as dressy as you can get, meaning men should wear black tailcoats, and women should wear floor-length gowns. On the other hand, a black tie event is a little more flexible. Women can wear short or long dresses, and men usually wear a tux.
Don’t: Sport a Slogan T-Shirt
Like jeans, slogan t-shirts are far too casual for a wedding. You want to look your best, even if you don’t want to go. This can get even trickier if you wear a slogan t-shirt that disagrees with someone else’s opinion. If you’re going to wear a t-shirt, try to choose a solid-color one.
Do: Opt for a Clutch Over a Bag
This is more for convenience. A bag can be aggravating to carry throughout the day. It’s a good idea to be touch-up ready, but you don’t need to take a ton of unnecessary items. A clutch works perfectly for a wedding. If you’re truly worried, you can keep your normal bag in your vehicle for quick access.
Don’t: Under or Over Dress
So, this is a given. Let’s say the theme is beachy. You don’t want to show up dressed to the nines, but you also want to wear a little more than a bathing suit. If you’re ever unsure, ask someone involved in the wedding. You can even show them the outfit you’re questioning.
Do: Dress Comfortably
Whether the event is casual or formal, wear something that fits and is comfortable. You’ll be in it for several hours while taking pictures, dancing, and talking to friends and family. Try on your outfit beforehand, sit down, stand up, and move around.