Times have changed since the days when most weddings were morning church affairs, with a “wedding breakfast” following. Consequently, what people wear to a wedding has changed, as well. Wedding wear runs the gamut from very casual to black-tie: it all depends on the kind of wedding.
“Destination weddings” have become very popular, and you can wear almost anything to this type of event. For an outdoor, ski-themed wedding at a resort in Colorado, the bride and groom might wear black and white ski suits, with the guests wearing similarly warm clothing. A wedding at the ski lodge would probably dictate casual dresses for women and slacks for men. Similar attire would also be appropriate at a beach wedding. Guests can be guided by the specific destination and plan what to wear accordingly.
Another rule guiding what to wear is the formality of the wedding, which includes the time and place. An evening wedding in a church or similarly formal venue will mean suits and ties for the men and cocktail-style dresses for the ladies. If children are invited, they should wear their Sunday best, according to the season. Sometimes, invitations will give a clue about what to wear to a wedding, specifying “black tie” or even “casual.” For a wedding with a sit-down dinner at the reception, however, dressier is usually better.
Afternoon weddings are generally more semi-formal. That is, the groom and his attendants will wear tuxedos, and the bridesmaids will typically wear tea-length dresses. When thinking about what to wear to a wedding of this type, most people will think “Sunday clothes.” Men should wear jackets and ties (suits are optional) and ladies should wear a nice dress, similar to what they would wear to the bridal tea or luncheon. Women may also wear a dressy pantsuit. Outdoor weddings may require something a little less formal, such as a nice skirt and blouse, with low-heeled sandals for the ladies. The season also comes into play when deciding what to wear. Obviously, lighter-weight fabrics are suitable for spring and summer, while the heavier fabrics and darker colors are more suited for autumn and winter.
At informal weddings, guests can wear more casual clothes. This may translate to a sport shirt and slacks for men and a skirt and blouse or dressy slacks for women. Children should wear a child’s versions of this. Church weddings are usually a bit more dressy than weddings at other venues, although the reception venue should be considered when deciding on clothing.
The key in deciding what to wear to a wedding is good taste. This means women should not wear short skirts, low-cut blouses or tops, or other too-tight or revealing clothing. In short, they should not seek to compete with the bride. Men should wear shirts and slacks in good condition. Jeans and T-shirts are rarely appropriate at any type of wedding unless the couple specifically suggests it. Parents should insist their teens dress neatly, even if their usual garb consists of ripped clothing and black make-up. They do not have to give up their individuality, but should understand they should not compete with the bridal couple for attention. When good taste and good manners rule the day, wedding attire will typically not be a problem.