What to Wear as a Wedding Guest

What to Wear as a Wedding Guest

Have a wedding to attend in the coming months and don’t feel like wearing the same old suit or dress? With brides and grooms setting nontraditional trends in their wedding apparel, why shouldn’t their guests do the same? There are tons of great designs and modern chic styles available to help you step things up a notch. If you’re interested in setting your own trend, we’ve gathered a few fashion-forward ideas perfect for nuptial-driven events.

First, you’ll need to consider the tone of the wedding. What you wear will depend on whether the bride and groom are hosting a formal affair or a casual one. A black-tie optional event will call for a much different kind of apparel than a destination wedding. The season and time of day are other areas that will greatly influence your mode of dress. 

Below are some fashion options, covering different types of weddings and what’s expected at each so you can make your best entrance ever. 

 Formal Wedding

Also known as a white tie event, this style of wedding is the utmost in stately affairs. In this case, modern etiquette tips for wedding guests call for some pretty standard attire rules. A floor-length evening gown is a basic requirement for the ladies, while gents are expected to don a tailcoat with vest, shirt, tie, and gloves.

To veer a little off-center, color is the way to go. Add a dash of red to spice up your attire. Ladies have the option of going all out. Make a splash with a one shoulder chiffon red evening gown. Guys might want to strategically place color on their feet with socks that are sure to grab attention.

Black Tie Wear

Ladies really have two options here: a formal floor-length gown or a short, dressy cocktail dress. Color is a fabulous way to keep it interesting or you might want to accessorize–brooches are especially great at getting the job done. Find one that suits your style and pin it on your waistband or décolleté to draw the eye. 

As the name states, a black tie means guys need to wear a black tie. But the tie isn’t the only thing that’s expected to be black. Traditionally, men are expected to wear black tuxedos (unless it’s summertime, when a white dinner jacket may be worn) with white shirts, black socks, black shoes and, of course, black ties. The cummerbund or low-cut waistcoat is the wildcard. Color and patterns are where you can stand out from the crowd. Cufflinks and shirt studs are another place that can turn your black tie ensemble into one that’s uniquely yours. 

Black Tie Optional and Semiformal Events

Sparkle and fringe are hot trends for the ladies in 2012. For subtle pizzazz, try a black spaghetti-strap, knee-high dress with beaded fringe all around the top. For fashion trailblazers, think flapper-inspired apparel. Vintage retailers have lots of options. Now take that shine and movement, slip into your cocktail dress and be sure to swirl around the dance floor a time or two. 

Men can opt to follow the black tie suggestions listed above or go for a dark suit. To break free from the confines of tradition, consider setting your signature with an unexpected tie. To rock the boat just a bit, work a dark tie with small white polka dots for a classic ’60s-styled throwback. 

Casual or Destination Weddings

From wrap-styled dresses and sundresses to blouses, skirts, and pantsuits, causal weddings often leave plenty of room for guests to play with style. The location can definitely impact what you wear. Traditional afternoon weddings would be served well with a soft jersey knit wrap-dress and ankle-strapped heels or booties, which are currently the rage. Consider sundresses for a beach or outdoor wedding with peek-a-boo lace for straps or as part of the sheath.

Guys can button it down in a yellow or red oxford shirt with or without a tie and/or sports jacket. Even a fancifully stitched Guayabera can make the wedding rounds. Khaki pants or shorts might suffice, but plaid is trendy and fresh.

Make It Your Own

Weddings are a time for celebration and that applies to your garb. Keep it fun and fabulous with a touch of your own sense of style–bearing in mind the cardinal rule that a guest should never outshine the bride or groom–and you’re sure to add to the enjoyment of the festivities.