Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Style Guide to Weddings

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You open the mailbox to find a gorgeous invitation to a friend's wedding. You peruse the invite, learning the time, date, and place that the ceremony and reception will take place. Once you have those details, you look for the most important information: the dress code. 

Wedding dress codes have often been a challenge for guests. While you always want to look your best, a wedding is not necessarily the place to stand out. After all, the attention should always be on the bride (and groom). Thankfully, we have etiquette gurus like Emily Post to give us the guidelines to how we should dress for this special day.

It's rare that you'll see an invitation for a white tie wedding, but if you do, you should break out your very best. Men should be in tails and ladies should be in formal long gown. Black tie is often listed as the dress code for a wedding. Tuxedoes are appropriate for the gents. For the ladies, there's often a gap as to what to wear as many feel as though a long dress is the only appropriate thing. However, cocktail dresses -- if dressy on their own or paired with great jewelry -- are certainly appropriate for black tie.

For a formal wedding, a cocktail dress or pantsuit is the perfect choice for the ladies. Men should choose a dark suit and tie for the event. A dressy casual dress code is popular particularly for outside weddings. Sundresses for ladies and sports coats or blazers (seersucker!) with slacks for gentlemen work nicely. However, I do think there is a bridge that is in between a truly formal wedding and a dressy casual wedding. I have been to plenty of weddings in which women are in cocktail or dressy sundresses, and men are in both suits and blazers with slacks.

Those bridges make dressing for a wedding difficult at times. For most weddings, I choose a relatively dressy dress, paired with shoes and fun jewelry. The perfect dress can be dressed up or down.

It's rare that you'll see a dress code for a wedding that is less than dressy casual. Casual can be defined as khakis and shorts, but even an informal backyard wedding is often accompanied with slacks and sundresses. Before going truly casual to a wedding, verify that it is appropriate.

Wedding season is here -- enjoy dressing up!



  1. Yay for wedding season! I love reading Emily Post's etiquette guidelines! Great post!

    <3, Pamela

  2. This = brilliant. Peeeeerfection! The perfect reference! xx

  3. Such a good reference! It's amazing what some people consider acceptable to wear to a wedding these days... I even had someone show up wearing a white dress at mine! Ridiculous!

  4. I really can't even tell you how hard it was explaining the difference between "Formal" & "Black Tie" to some of our guests that called all confused!! Really great reference you put together! I went to a wedding that was at a beautiful outdoor venue and someone showed up in JEANS!!! to a wedding - i was mortified for them!

  5. I love wedding season! This is such a neat little tool to have, it's so hard to tell what you should wear or not for weddings:)
    Mariel Collins
    Living For His Glory

    1. So glad you like it! And it is tough sometimes -- I've referenced Emily Post plenty of times!

  6. What's even more confusing is when there isn't a dress code listed. I always feel dumb calling to ask, but I'd feel worse about showing up in a cocktail dress when everyone else is in a gown!

  7. This is such a great guide!! I am so excited for wedding season!

  8. My dream is to go to a white tie event! Our wedding is cocktail attire and I made sure to specifically spelled it out to eliminate those awkward questions! xo

  9. Ah wedding season is upon us for sure and I never know what to wear!!! Love your post!


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