I’ve often found myself locked in some department store dressing room when I hear something like the following conversation taking place:
“I don’t know – do you think this will work for the wedding?”
“Well, it is outside, but do you think it’s too casual?”
“I’m just worried about the little white flower things. I don’t know if it’s too much white for a wedding.”
It’s a conversation that many of us have, especially if we don’t go to weddings often. Most guests stress more than they have to, but here’s a quick guide if you’re still not sure about an outfit for the big day:
1. The Down-Low on “White”
If you’re wearing a dress, but you’re not sure if the color counts as “white,” go ahead and find something else. It doesn’t matter if the tag says “eggshell” or “cream,” you’re still going to look like you wore a white dress to a wedding. It’s literally the only wedding fashion rule other guests are sure to know about – so why risk looking like you’re trying to upstage the bride?
If you’re wearing white pants with a solid top, white shoes, a white bag, or a patterned or solid dress with white accents on it, you’re totally fine. No one is expecting you do eschew the shade entirely. No one is going to side-eye your fashion choices if you’re wearing nice white pants with a solid navy blouse and yellow pumps.
2. Eye the Invitation
For guests who are biting their nails about the formality of the event (“Oh God! She never told me if it was dressy-casual or cocktail attire!”), your first clue is the invitation. While most brides won’t come right out and say how you should dress right on the invite (as they rightly shouldn’t), the formality of the stationary is a good marker for how formal the event itself will be. Also, snoop around on their wedding website and find a few links to the ceremony and reception site. If the wedding is in a swanky hotel ballroom, you’ll probably dress a little differently than a backyard BBQ.
The only time an invite will definitely tell you how to dress is if the event is “black tie.” The wedding might well be held at a venue that has its own dress code, so gussy yourself up accordingly!
3. If All Fails, Go Ahead and Ask
There’s probably no reason to bother the couple themselves about your selected wedding outfit, but if you’re close with a family member or member of the bridal party, think about shooting them an email with a picture of your dress or outfit. This is a good way to find out that you’ve accidentally selected something very similar to a bridesmaid dress, or plan on wearing shoes that will not be conducive to the wedding environment. Hopefully they’ll include any terrain warnings on their wedding website, but it never hurts to check!