With summer fast approaching, get prepared for a slew of wedding invitations to start flooding your mailbox. And while it may not be your big day, choosing the right ensemble for any wedding can pose a challenge. Luckily, SoulTrain.com is bringing you the essential do’s and don’ts for picking the right ensemble for any ceremony.
Read your invite … carefully. Though most ceremonies will not mandate guests wear a particular color or don more formal garb, it is essential that guests put the wishes of the bride and groom as their top priority. So it’s simple: If the invite says black tie, go formal. If the invite says please wear animal print, then hit the mall and find the most stylish cheetah patterned dress money can buy. You may feel silly, you may feel overdressed, but when all is said and done it’s the bride and groom’s big day, making sure they’re happy is what’s most important.
Location, location, location. Be mindful of the bride and groom’s venue choice as well as the time of day they have chosen for their nuptials. Especially during the summer months when guests could be looking at an outdoor event as opposed to a more traditional service, it is important to take that into consideration when choosing an appropriate outfit. A day ceremony amid rolling hills and a lush, green landscape could give guests more freedom in choosing clothes that are made of a lighter material or have a more summery feel.
More is more. When in doubt, it’s better to overdress than it is to under dress. Particularly if you are serving as a friend or significant other’s plus one, it can be very difficult to sift out if the bride and groom are aiming for a more formal affair or something slightly more laid back. For the ladies, a little black dress can go a long way. Provided it is not too revealing and it is appropriate for the venue, few wedding guests have attracted bridal ire for a classy black number. For the fellas, go the traditional route. A single-breasted suit in a classic black, dark gray or micro-pinstripe is a timeless look that can provide a nice transition from a day ceremony to an evening and night-time reception.
Don’t outshine the woman of the hour. The cardinal sin. The unforgivable offense. Ladies, stay away from white. Whether intentionally trying to steal the bride’s thunder or not, wearing a pure white dress to any wedding will undoubtedly incite eternal resentment and indescribable rage within the bride and the rest of the wedding party for that matter. It’s the bride’s big day, she should have the honor and privilege of standing out in a sea of people and that can be difficult to do if she is competing with someone else who is decked out head to toe in white. There are a plethora of perfectly good colors to choose from, so even if white is your absolute favorite, even if it’s the color you look best in, stay far, far away from it.
… that goes for the bridal party, too. Along the same vein as staying away from clashing with the bride, it is also proper fashion etiquette to, when at all possible, find out what color the bridesmaids will be wearing. Again, it all boils down to allowing the people most closely associated with the bride and groom to shine and standout among the dozens or hundreds of guests who might be in attendance.
Don’t ditch the heels. As appealing as it may seem to kick off those high heels in favor of something a little more comfortable as the night wears on, flip-flops are simply not appropriate as reception footwear. Sure, if the venue itself calls for something with a sub-five inch heel then yes, sandals or fancier flip-flops might be perfectly acceptable. But at the end of the day if you’re looking at an indoor venue or an outdoor one with synthetic floors then it’s best to tough it out and stick with your formal footwear.
Don’t show off the goodies. It goes without saying that showing too much skin, even on a sweltering summer day is a huge wedding guest no-no. That’s not to say that someone attending a summer wedding, particularly one that’s in a venue that won’t be air conditioned, should be completely uncomfortable. But it is important, once again, to keep in mind that the bulk of event’s attention should be squarely on the bride and groom. Guests shouldn’t be busy ogling your twins or admiring a thigh-high slit. Keep it classy, keep it simple. The bride, the groom and the majority of fellow wedding attendees will be very, very grateful that you did.
Amanda Younger is a freelance writer and web producer based in New York City. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Time Out New York, ESPN the Magazine, YourTango and FHM.com.