Wedding Day Attire Dos and Don’ts for Guests

Most people are more or less aware of what’s expected when it comes to appropriate attire for attending a wedding. But there is a wide range of options included in the formal wear category, so you might be a little sketchy on the finer points of selecting an outfit to wear to the wedding of a friend or family member. However, if you follow a few simple guidelines you should be able to dress up without making a spectacle of yourself. Here are some dos and don’ts you might want to keep in mind when choosing your attire.

1. Dress formally. Unless the wedding is specifically listed as black tie, you don’t necessarily have to go for tuxes and full-length gowns. But you also shouldn’t show up in jeans and a tee shirt. A wedding is a special event, and a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence for most couples. So you need to be respectful and dress appropriately. At the very least, consider that your family member or friend who is getting married will have to look at the photos for years to come, and you don’t want to be the jerk that ruins their pictures.

2. Dress for the setting. Weddings are held at a variety of locations that may determine the appropriate level of attire. For example, a daytime wedding almost certainly allows for short or tea-length dresses, while floor-length gowns should be reserved for evening affairs. On the other hand, a beach wedding calls for a slightly more casual approach to dressing, and depending on the couple, shorts may even be acceptable.

3. Ask when in doubt. If you’re not sure what attire is appropriate for the event you’re attending, don’t hesitate to contact the bride or groom for clarification. They will let you know exactly how you’re expected to appear at their event.


1. Wear white. Although social mores are shifting on this subject, it’s better not to chance raising the ire of the bride or getting an earful from other guests that are insulted on her behalf. The best rule of thumb, even if the bride is not particular on the subject, is never to wear white, or even off-white to a wedding. This color is reserved for the bride, whether she chooses to wear it or not.

2. Skimp out. Sure, weddings are a great place to meet eligible singles. But this doesn’t mean you should dress like you’re going out clubbing for the night. Showing a little skin is okay, but try to keep it tasteful. As a rule of thumb, if your mother wouldn’t approve of your outfit, it’s probably not appropriate for attending a wedding.

3. Go overboard. When it comes to attention-grabbing ensembles, you never want to outshine the bride. So while you can certainly shop at stores like Allure Bridals or high-end department stores, try not to select a dress that’s going to turn every head in the place and overshadow the happy couple. Even if you have a flamboyant personality and a style aesthetic to match, it’s best to tone it down and cede the spotlight to the bride and groom on their special day.