When you attend a wedding, all of your focus should be on the happy couple you’re there to celebrate. However, the bride isn’t the only person getting photographed all day. Considering the fact people will be looking back at the wedding photos for decades to come, it’s only natural you take your fashion choices just as seriously. From dressing seasonally to matching with your date to steering clear of the bridesmaids’ dress style, here are the 11 style rules you need to follow.
1. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed
Wedding dress codes need to be heeded, but it can be pretty overwhelming to know the difference between vague labels like “semi-formal,” “optional black-tie,” “dressy casual,” and “cocktail attire.” While the differences are slim, you should never mistake a wedding as being open to everyday clothing. No matter which dress code you’ll be following, take our advice and always err on the side of dressing up. Looking too casual will make you stand out — and not in a good way.
2. Only the bride is allowed to wear white
This is the single most important wedding rule that tops all the rest: The bride is the only person at the wedding allowed to wear white, full stop. Of course, you know better than to wear a white dress, but even white jumpsuits, trousers, and blouses are off-limits. Furthermore, light gray, cream, and beige can come across as white in photos, so think twice before going for something in a light hue.
This exact scenario obviously won’t apply to every wedding, but it’s also a good idea to make sure the ones getting married are allowed the spotlight. If your best guy friend is getting married to his longtime boyfriend, ask him about what they plan to wear.
3. Your shoes need to suit the environment
Heels are a given on wedding days, but the style of heels you choose should fit with the event’s environment. No matter how perfectly your favorite pair of stilettos matches your dress, if the ceremony is taking place on grass, you’ll be sinking into the ground with every step. If you’re attending a destination wedding on the beach, wedges or flat sandals would be more appropriate. Considering the fact you’ll be on your feet all day, it’s a wise idea to make sure your shoes are suitable for the setting.
4. This is a conservative occasion – don’t dress for a party
Weddings are undoubtedly days to celebrate, eat, drink, and be merry. You’ll be mingling with other guests and dancing the night away at the reception. But while weddings have the energy of a party, you shouldn’t be dressing for one. Save your revealing outfits for the bride’s bachelorette blowout, because major cleavage, bodycon silhouettes, and short hems are a bit inappropriate on the actual wedding day.
5. Always read the invitation details
Your invitation serves more purpose than simply conveying when and where a wedding is taking place. On top of RSVPing in a timely manner, read your invitation very carefully to make sure the wedding doesn’t have a theme or assigned color scheme. Some people have a vision of an all-blue wedding attendance. Trust us, you don’t want to be the one person who shows up improperly dressed because you overlooked the couple’s wishes!
6. Steer clear of the bridesmaid dress color and style
If you’re not a member of the bridal party, there’s no shame in asking the bride or her maid of honor what the bridesmaids are going to be wearing. Accidentally attending a wedding in the same shade or style of dress as the bridesmaids could be disastrous. It will look like you’re trying to be included in the group, and you’ll be confused for one of the bridesmaids in photos. Avert this disaster by finding out which dress styles are already taken well ahead of time.
7. When it comes to black-tie, choose an understated gown
Black-tie weddings are especially exciting occasions because they give you the opportunity to fully dress up in a floor-length gown. That being said, you’re not dressing to walk the red carpet at the Oscars. You needn’t wear a ball gown, a feathered mermaid gown, or a color that makes you the center of attention. You’re better off keeping things subtle.
8. Comfort is key
There’s a reason you have to set aside a full day (or weekend) on your calendar to attend a wedding: They are full-fledged, nonstop, 24-hour occasions. As such, you need to make sure your wedding outfit is comfortable enough to last the entire day. If it’s too tight, you’ll be sucking in your gut and worried about how you look in photos. If your heels are too tall, your feet will be killing you before the reception even starts. Choosing an outfit that’s flattering and comfortable will make all the difference in terms of how much your enjoy yourself.
9. Remember to dress seasonally
Brides are very specific about scheduling their wedding in the season that best matches their personality. Knowing this, it’s best to plan your outfit to match the time of year. It should go without saying you shouldn’t wear florals during a fall wedding, nor deep, dark tones in the summer.
10. Coordinate with your date
If you’re attending a wedding as a guest or with a plus one, make sure to coordinate outfits with your other half. Matching dresses, ties, pocket squares, and whatever else you’re wearing makes for balanced, beautiful photos. You don’t have to go crazy, but you shouldn’t clash.
11. Bring arsenal for a fashion emergency
As we noted before, weddings are all-day events full of crowded dancing, food, drinks, and probably a few accidents. Plenty of things can go wrong, so make sure to pack an arsenal of fashion emergency tools in your purse. This includes a stain remover pen, foldable flats to change out of your heels, deodorant, double-sided tape, etc. With video cameras and photographers capturing your every angle, it’s better to be safe than sorry.