The guest's wedding outfit is always a decision that takes some time and attention to detail. The decision about what to wear to a wedding can be as stressful for the guests as it is for the bridal party. If the wedding invitation advises a guest's dress code or wedding theme the options are narrowed and the decisions easier, otherwise the outfit for a wedding guest is left to the individual.
If the invitation does not advise a dress code or wedding theme, then you should choose an appropriate outfit to suit the occasion. Make sure that your wedding outfit is respectful to the bride and groom and select an outfit that doesn't reveal too much flesh at the wedding service.
When deciding on the colour of your wedding outfit, avoid white (or the same colour as the bride has chosen for her dress) it's the bride's big day and your outfit shouldn't upstage her. It is acceptable for your choice of wedding outfit colour to be the same, or similar, to the colours chosen for the bridesmaids or for the bride or groom's mother's outfits.
Give some consideration to your footwear, although you will want something that compliments your wedding outfit, bear in mind that you also need your shoes to be comfortable throughout a long day and evening.
Many wedding invitations will indicate a dress code for the wedding. This narrows the choices that are available to you for your wedding outfit, but it can also make the decision easier. Do take into consideration the time of year that the wedding is to be held, your choice of outfit for a summer wedding will be quite different from that chosen for a winter one.
Where a dress code is indicated it's important to understand the various definitions before going out to choose the outfit that you will wear. We have listed below the main types of wedding codes to give a better explanation of what is expected and to help you choose an appropriate outfit for the day:
For the ladies, your outfit can be as you would dress for a smart evening out with friends. An elegant top pieced with a three-quarter-length skirt and stunning accessories will set off a perfect wedding outfit for this occasion and dress code. The gentlemen would be expected to wear a smart shirt and tie with smart trousers or a suit, jackets are sometimes optional but should be worn for the wedding ceremony. Smart-casual outfits are often recommended for civil ceremony weddings, garden weddings and those occasions where less-formal attire is desirable.
A morning suit is easier for the gentlemen than the ladies. Traditionally, morning suits are only worn for weddings that commence before 3pm. The whole outfit can be hired from formal suit outfitters. The morning suit consists of a tailcoat, which is worn with either striped or plain trousers, accompanied by a wing-collar shirt with a cravat, a waistcoat and top hat.
Generally a colour theme is adopted in blue, grey or black and you should check with the groom about suit colour before making your arrangements. Gloves often accompany a morning suit, but are carried and not worn.
Depending on your place on the wedding guest list (your involvement in the wedding ceremony) the morning suits are sometimes worn by males in the wedding party only - it may be worth clarifying whether you are required to wear the formal morning suit outfit, or not. For a less-formal wedding where only the wedding party wears morning suits, it is acceptable for the other male guests to dress smartly in a suit with white shirt and tie or cravat.
Ladies attending a wedding where the dress code is advised as morning suits should try to reflect the dress style in their outfit. Blue, grey and black are appropriate colours if you are to dress formally and you may wish to consider a plain or thinly striped pencil skirt with a tailed jacket, complimented by a white blouse with a scarf tied cravat-style around your neck, accessorised appropriately for the dress code and the occasion. For a less formal wedding where the dress code is morning suits only for the wedding party, ladies may wish to consider wearing a suit-style wedding outfit.
For gentlemen, a dinner suit or tuxedo is most appropriate for a wedding that has a Black Tie dress code. This should be accompanied with a white wing-collar shirt and bow tie. Gentlemen's outfitters hire suits for these occasions.
Black Tie is quite a popular dress code for weddings and it gives female guests scope for glamorous and sophisticated outfits. For ladies, the main rule at a Black Tie wedding is to look smart, feminine and 'dressy'. A smart classy suit or a sophisticated dress with gleaming accessories will fit the bill perfectly. Team with high heels if possible (but remember that these will be on your feet for several hours at least).
Formal dress is considered a similar term to Black Tie when it comes to choosing your wedding outfit. If the invitation says Formal Dress and you follow the guidelines for Black Tie, then your wedding outfit will be what is expected. For the men, a smart suit, shirt and tie. For the ladies, sophisticated dress or classy suit with the correct accessories.
White Tie, also sometimes called 'Full Dress', doesn't mean that you arrive dressed all in white! It is a term that defines a dress code similar to Black Tie, but with a brighter theme. White Tie is a very formal dress code for a wedding and isn't often requested. For the gentlemen, it means you should wear a tail-coat with black tuxedo dinner trousers, instead of a dinner suit - and the tail-coat doesn't have to be white! However, your shirt (winged or normal collar), waistcoat and tie should be white. Ties can be as appropriate to the shirt (a dress tie or a bow tie) and should not be brightly patterned. Formal shoes should be worn.
Ladies choosing an outfit for a White Tie dress code, should consider formal dinner wear, longer dresses, classy, stylish but not outrageous. Tastefully accessorised.
Many couples are choosing to have a theme for their wedding. The range of wedding themes is as wide as the imagination will allow. A themed wedding is fun and adds interest to the whole day, as well as bringing an element of uniformity to the guests and surroundings. However they can be something of a nightmare when you come to choose your outfit for a themed wedding.
Before you start to plan, or shop for, your wedding outfit, make sure you check exactly what the theme is and what the wedding organisers are expecting of their guests in term of their outfits. If the opportunity exists, you may wish to go shopping for your wedding outfit with others who are attending the same wedding - that will give you inspiration and some reassurance in your choice of outfit, as well as being great fun!