The Who’s and Whats of Proper Wedding Attire

Most people know the feeling of receiving that first “Save the Date” in the mail for a friend’s or family member’s upcoming nuptials. Sure, you’re happy for them. Maybe you’re already planning what kind of gift you will give them. Well, fast forward a few months to the actual day of the wedding. You go to your closet, and then it hits you. All of a sudden, the thought of “I wonder what everybody else will wear,” and “I can’t remember. Is it an outside wedding? Is it supposed to rain today? Should I dress for the heat?” come rushing to mind. You look at the invitation, and there are no clues hidden amongst the fancy font and glossy pictures of the happy couple that give you even the slightest idea of what to wear. As an upcoming bride, I can tell you that there is always an unspoken DO and DO NOT when it comes to your outfit of choice when attending a wedding.

First, DO know your couple. Obviously if you’re important enough to receive an invite in the mail, you know the couple to some extent. For example, everyone receiving an invite from me knows me as a person and understands the type of person I am. With that being said, I am not fancy or one to showboat. I’m down to earth (or so I like to think) and really don’t care what someone might wear to my wedding, within reason. As long as Uncle Danny doesn’t show up in a greasy tank top, ripped jeans, and muddy boots with his rat tail hanging down, I’m good. However, some brides exhibit a more formal and luxurious preference and would rather their guests wear something that reflects the atmosphere of the wedding. Know your couple and use your best instinct when deciding what to pull out of the closet.

Second, DO NOT wear anything that would take away attention from the bride. I’m sorry (not really), but when I pay upwards of $2,000 for a wedding gown and $500 for hair and makeup so I can look like a princess on my one big day, I’d really appreciate it if you can cover the “girls,” pull your dress down, and wear something that I would not label as a “second skin.” As I said before, I am not uptight about much, especially about how other people decide to dress. But when you show up to my wedding in a more than suggestive dress and have all of the groomsmen lining up to get your number instead of lining up to take pictures, then we have a problem. Yes, we are going to dance, maybe have a few drinks, and party the night away. But don’t wear something that people are going to see before they even see the bride. Even the shyest and simplest of brides deserves all of the attention on her wedding day. Keep it cute, simple, and classy.

Third, DO dress for the weather. I use to tell tourists visiting the area, “Welcome to South Georgia. If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. It will change.” If it is 95 degrees outside, don’t try to wear a three-piece suit. Understand that a bride would rather her guests be comfortable and able to stay upright than deal with a fainter during the ceremony. That doesn’t make for a good video. There is a chance that the wedding could be outside, so if you are unsure, wear something that is versatile. Wear something that would keep you comfortable in most conditions. But there is a magic trick to dressing for the weather, and that’s layers! Wear an outfit that would let you adjust to the weather when you are unsure of the setting.

Lastly, DO NOT dress too casual. There is a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate attire. Men, a nice button down or polo tucked into some blue jeans or khakis looks very nice in wedding photos. But please, leave the “Atlanta Braves” tee and tennis shoes at home. Ladies, stay away from blue jean shorts, “Southern Belle” t-shirts, and sparkly flip flops. A cute blouse and jeans or even a simple sundress is great. If you wear heals, that’s dedication, and I thank you for it. I won’t even be wearing heels, but know that I understand kicking them off to jump on the dance floor and have fun. You can be casual to an extent. Wear something you might wear to church or on a first date, but not something you’d wear to a football party.

It seems like it might be confusing or even annoying to figure out what to wear, but at the end of the day, unless instructed otherwise, just use your best judgement. A lot of time, effort, and money is put into planning a dream wedding. Understand that brides want the best pictures and best memories to last the rest of their lifetime, and that includes their guests looking presentable.

And brides, don’t be afraid to have fun with your guests at your wedding. My wedding date is the week before Halloween, and I have a lot of young children attending. So, my save the dates insist that kids wear their costumes and bring their “trick-or-treat” bags. I can’t wait to look at pictures of my first dance with my husband and see Batman and Cinderella eating cupcakes in the background. It makes for cute and memorable moments at a wedding. Having that kind of fun and excitement with the people you love most while everyone is celebrating you and your new spouse is what it is all about.

Dress appropriately, behave appropriately, and celebrate with the new couple. Don’t be boring. Get on the dance floor, take silly pictures, and help the bride and groom make a night they will never forget. Don’t stress too hard about what to wear. Stress about how many other people you think bought the couple a slow cooker as a wedding gift. Here’s one last piece of advice: If you feel compelled to give a gift, money for the honeymoon is always a winner! Happy wedding season!


The Who’s and Whats of Proper Wedding Attire

by Emily Shelton

September 2016 | Health & life

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