Guide to What to Wear at a Wedding as a Guest – Ceremony & Reception Attire

Guide to What to Wear at a Wedding as a Guest

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to deciding what to wear at a wedding as a guest. Each wedding is unique, and a whole host of factors come into play as to what’s appropriate guest attire for a ceremony and reception. With that in mind, this post will cover essential details, tips, suggestions, and the do’s and don’ts of choosing an outfit when attending a wedding. Before we dive in, though, let’s take a look at a quick summary of the question at hand to get the ball rolling:

What should I wear at a wedding as a guest? Adhere to the dress code, such as black-tie or upscale-casual. Then, consider the season and time of day, calling for formal suits and dresses in muted tones or casual light-colored sundresses and linen suits. Also, align your attire with the venue, from tuxedos and floor-length gowns for upscale wedding halls to cotton shirts, slacks, or knee-length skirts for backyard ceremonies.

Ok, now that you have a general idea of what to wear, let’s break this down by going into all the details so you can start planning your wedding attire!

Information & Tips on What to Wear at a Wedding as a Guest

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to finding the perfect wedding guest outfit. However, when you break things down a bit, you can easily pinpoint what type of clothing will fit in well for the ceremony and reception you’ll be attending. Below, we’ll cover the essentials so you’re well informed, enabling you to confidently show up at any wedding looking your very best.

First Things First – Don’t Wear White or Outshine the Bride

Wedding Guest Attire or Men and Women – Tips and Suggestions, Dos and Don'tsWearing white to a wedding is traditionally frowned upon for several reasons. Firstly, at a wedding, white is the color most commonly associated with a bride’s dress, symbolizing purity and new beginnings. When a female guest wears white, especially a dress, it can detract from the bride’s presence, which can shift some attention away from her on a day that is meant to celebrate the couple.

In addition to this, careful consideration should be given to not outdoing or outshining the bride. What we mean by this is that guests should be careful not to wear wedding attire that’s so gorgeous or attention-grabbing that it shifts attention away from the bride, who should always be the center of attention on her big day. One tip to accomplish this is to stay clear of sequin or sparkling dresses.

Common Dress Codes Decoded – Wedding Attire for Women & Men

Now let’s jump right into the dress code you may see on your wedding invitation. It’s important to dress accordingly, so we’ll give a basic description of each to set you on the right path.

  • White-Tie Wedding: The most formal of all dress codes, at white-tie events, men are typically expected to wear a black tailcoat over a white shirt, with a white waistcoat and a white bow tie. Black formal trousers, patent leather shoes, and optional accessories like a top hat and white gloves can complete the look. Women should opt for full-length ball gowns, preferably with elegant, intricate detailing. Accessories should include fine jewelry, opera-length gloves, and sophisticated evening bags.
  • Black-Tie Wedding: This is the second most formal wedding dress code. Men considering what to wear at a wedding such as this should opt for a tuxedo, suit, or dinner jacket accompanied by a black tie, or bow tie. Women should wear an elegant formal evening dress, along with refined jewelry.
  • Cocktail Attire: Slightly less formal than black tie, cocktail attire strikes a balance between elegance and comfort. For men, this typically means a tailored suit in darker colors like navy or charcoal, combined with a dress shirt, a conservative tie, and dress shoes. Women can opt for a sophisticated cocktail dress that falls around knee length, paired with elegant accessories and heels or dressy flats.
  • Semi-Formal or Dressy Casual: This dress code strikes a balance between formal and casual. Men should consider wearing a suit and tie or button-up shirt with dress pants. Women can opt for cocktail dresses, elegant skirts with dressy tops, or a chic jumpsuit.
  • Casual Wedding: As for what to wear at a wedding that’s casual, the dress code blends comfort with a touch of sophistication. Men might choose a button-down shirt paired with chinos or dress pants, and a blazer can be added for a bit of extra style. Women could opt for a nice sundress or a skirt and blouse combination. Choosing footwear that balances style and comfort is key, so think about loafers for men and stylish flats or low heels for women.

If no dress code is specified, you would base your outfit on the season the wedding takes place, the time of day, as well as the venue it will be held at, and we will discuss these elements below.

Seasonal Considerations for a Guest’s Wedding Outfit Choices

What Should I Wear at a Wedding as a Guest – Ceremony and ReceptionWhen deciding what to wear at a wedding as a guest, your outfit choice should take the season into consideration. This means keeping the various weather conditions, as well as the atmosphere of a particular season in mind. For instance, while attending spring and summer weddings, lighter fabrics and brighter colors are typically more common since they reflect the light and cheerful ambiance of these seasons.

Additionally, opting for flowy dresses, linen suits, or breathable cotton attire not only keeps you comfortable but also aligns with the vibrant setting of warmer months. Accessories like sun hats or light scarves can add some elegance while shielding you from the sun during outdoor ceremonies. Fall and winter weddings call for warmer and richer fabric choices like wool, or even velvet dresses. The color palette shifts to deeper tones such as burgundy, navy, forest green, or classic black, which reflects the mood of the cooler seasons. Layering plays a crucial role in these weddings; elegant coats and shawls not only serve as stylish additions but also keep you warm. For footwear, consider closed-toe options and even stylish boots to complete your look.

Although the season is important in selecting your wedding attire, the dress code does take precedence. So, if you’re attending a black-tie event during April, it might not be a good idea to show up in a light blue suit and purple tie even if it perfectly matches the season at hand.

The Time of Day Matters When Choosing What to Wear at a Wedding as a Guest

The time of day a wedding is held can greatly influence what you decide to wear to your next ceremony. This is the case because morning or early afternoon weddings typically call for lighter fabrics and more casual attire, such as sundresses or a shirt and trousers combination. In contrast, evening weddings often lean towards more formal attire, with an expectation for darker colors, longer dresses, and potentially black tie for men. It’s important to consider not only the style but also the comfort of the outfit for a specific time of day, warmer clothes in the evening in case the temperature drops, and so on.

Aligning Your Choice of Clothing with the Wedding Venue

Checking out the venue before selecting your attire for a wedding is vital. The venue’s setting and formality level directly influence the dress code. For example, a beach wedding would obviously require a different style and footwear compared to a formal ceremony at a luxury hotel. Or, a backyard wedding, compared to a ceremony held at an upscale banquet hall at a country club, would go from casual to upscale casual or elegant. Additionally, familiarizing yourself with the venue layout can let you know if heels are ok or if comfortable shoes are more practical, given there could be extensive walking, or uneven surfaces for an outdoor ceremony, and so on.

Wedding Guest Attire Frequently Asked Questions

We hope our wedding attire write-up has set you on the path to landing the perfect outfit. However, we realize that you may have a few more questions about what to wear at a wedding that you’re planning on attending. With that in mind, we’re providing a few more tips below that may give you additional insight as to what type of clothing is appropriate for the ceremony you’ll be attending.

Is it ok to wear the same colors as the bridal party?

Wedding Guest Fashion Guide – What to WearWearing the bridal party’s colors as a guest at a wedding is generally considered a faux pas for several reasons. Primarily, it can create confusion among other guests and potentially detract attention from the bridal party, who are meant to stand out on this special occasion.

The colors chosen for the bridal party often have personal significance to the couple, so wearing these colors without being a part of that intimate circle can appear as an oversight in etiquette.

What should I wear at a wedding as a guest if it’s a themed ceremony and reception?

The outfit you wear to a themed wedding is entirely dependent on what the theme is. However, we do advise that if the bride and groom designate a specific theme, that you dress accordingly, even if it’s not your style. For instance, Las Vegas is famous for having themed weddings, especially Elvis-themed ceremonies and receptions.

The couple may want the guests to dress for that era or even dress in Elvis-inspired clothing. Although it may be out of your comfort zone, you will be more uncomfortable if you’re the only one not following the dress code. Our advice is to take whatever theme the couple is requesting and go for it; it will make the bride and groom happy and you’ll be a hit. You can check out our post on themed weddings to get an idea of the various types of themes that couples choose.

Look Your Best While Sporting the Appropriate Wedding Guest Fashions!

Now that you have more details on the topic, we’re sure you will do just fine finalizing what you’re going to wear at the wedding you were invited to. Whether it’s a morning or evening ceremony, taking place in the summer or winter, formal or casual, there’s a multitude of options that can set you on the path to looking fantastic and feeling comfortable.

If you happen to be planning a ceremony and reception yourself, we invite you to explore our website to discover if opting for a Las Vegas venue aligns with your dream wedding. The best place to start is our main wedding venue page; it has various details on our venues and includes images of our lakefront ceremony spaces. You’ll also want to head over to our latest post on weekend wedding packages to get an idea of what Lakeside Weddings & Events has to offer.

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