So you’ve been invited to a wedding, and now you’re wondering what to wear. Selecting an outfit for a wedding guest can be surprisingly challenging, especially for women. Men can toss on a suit or maybe some nice slacks and a button-down, but for women, it’s more difficult to find the perfect outfit to match the dress code and vibe. Here are some wedding guest outfits do’s and don’ts that our wedding photographers have picked up over the years.
Do Follow the Dress Code
Most wedding invitations will let guests know what sort of attire is required. If it’s white or black tie, expect to wear a tux/suit and a long, formal gown. If it’s a cocktail or a garden-style wedding, you can opt for something a little more casual but still put together, like a cocktail or floral dress or slacks and a button-down. You can check out our complete guide for more ideas. If the invitation doesn’t list a dress code, just ask!
Don’t Wear Anything Close to White
At Western weddings, it’s in extremely poor taste for guests to wear white. While most guests know to avoid white, cream, and ivory, what they often don’t think of is how lighter colors can also look white in photos. Avoid super pale colors like yellow or pastel pink as these may get washed out in photos and look like you wore white.
Do Avoid Looking like the Wedding Party
There’s nothing more embarrassing than showing up to a wedding and accidentally looking like you copied the bridal party look. Some couples let guests know what the bridal party will be wearing to avoid this, but if they don’t, you can either ask (if you’re close to the bride or groom) or take cues from the invitation. If the invitation is purple and blue, it’s a safe assumption the bridesmaids will be in those colors, so try to avoid wearing those.
Don’t Show too Much Skin
Current clothing styles may be all about tight dresses, cutouts, and showing skin, but while those might be acceptable for daily wear, they probably aren’t for a wedding. This tip is especially relevant for women. Try to avoid outfits with cutouts, crop tops, ultra-high slits, low-cut cleavage, or overly tight dresses. If you’re unsure if a dress is appropriate or not, run it by the bride or opt for something else.
Do be Considerate of their Culture
Just like you wouldn’t wear white to a western wedding, each culture has its own wedding traditions. At a Chinese wedding, you should avoid colors like red or gold, as the bride will probably be rocking these. At an Indian wedding, avoid black or white, as these are common funeral colors. In other words, do a bit of research if the bride or groom comes from a different culture to make sure you’re being respectful of their customs.
Don’t Forget About the Weather
While it’s important to be respectful of the bride and groom, you also want to keep your own comfort in mind. Make sure you check the weather before the wedding day to make sure you’ll be okay in your outfit. You probably don’t want to wear a heavy, long-sleeve dress to an outdoor summer wedding, nor would you want to wear a strapless cocktail dress to a winter wedding where you’ll be freezing.