Wedding day fashion isn’t just the purview of the bride and groom—fashion conscious guests will also want to look their best on the big day. Whether that means black tie, desert chic, or simply cocktail attire, attendees will want to know how to best pick their outfit for a fashionable wedding day. Luckily, as long as you’re paying attention to the hints being dropped by the bride and groom, it isn’t that difficult to dress to impress.
Before embarking on a pre-wedding shopping expedition, it’s important to get a sense of what the happy couple has in mind. Generally, some sort of clue or direction will have been included within the wedding invitation, though some couples are more direct than others. “Black tie” is fairly unambiguous, but the common yet infuriating “dressy casual” can mean different things to different people. When in doubt, it’s considered fair game to put out feelers to other guests, or even the couple themselves, in order to gain some clarity.
Once the general theme has been nailed down, the next step is understanding what NOT to wear. It’s important to look sharp and stylish, but equally important not to upstage the bride or groom, or to accidentally look like part of the wedding party. The most obvious rule, particularly for ladies, is to not wear white to a wedding not your own. Jeans and sneakers are off limits for anything but the most casual of backyard weddings, no matter how stylish or expensive a brand. A stickier question is that of wearing military dress uniforms to a civilian wedding, and there is no clear answer, as some feel it upstages the wedding party, while many others welcome it. If in doubt reach out and ask the bride or groom their feelings.
Bridal stores are an excellent place to find more upscale guest attire, as they will carry a selection of evening gowns and other formal wear, and have employees skilled in finding suitable and flattering attire for their customers. Department stores and boutiques also tend to have a wide selection of appropriate outfits, especially for more casual weddings or ones with more specific themes. While browsing online can be a good first step towards narrowing down a style or brand, it is always recommended to go to a brick and mortar store to try on the frontrunners, as clothing can look very different on a model or in a picture than it does in person.
In the end, all eyes will be on the bride and groom, not on individual guests, and that is the way it should be. The goal for a wedding guest should not be to stand out, but rather to fit into the theme of the wedding day, complementing the overall decor of the wedding. A clean, well-tailored outfit will not only look good on the day itself, but will stand the test of time for years or decades to come in beloved wedding pictures.
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