How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Guest Outfit — No Matter the Dress Code

Etiquette
Decoding Wedding Dress Code

Photo: Jessica Craig-Martin

Weddings are exciting occasions, but figuring out what to wear to them can make guests feel the complete opposite. Searching for the perfect look can be a bit overwhelming — especially when a specific theme or dress code is indicated on the wedding invitation. From black tie to dressy casual, the rules can fluctuate based on the type of day and formality of the occasion. To help ease some of the pressure, we've tapped advice from David's Bridal New York City store manager Stacey Rywelski. She's breaking down how to choose the right wedding guest outfit — no matter the dress code.

The time of the wedding should be the leading factor in your outfit choice.
You can never go wrong with an elegant dress, but choose one that is comfortable enough for the ceremony and a night of dancing. "A daytime wedding (usually late afternoon between noon and 4pm) tends to be more informal," says Rywelski. "One idea is to consider a pretty and colorful sundress for beach, coastal or garden weddings."

A little black dress is always a great option.
Rywelski suggests, "Even if you are attending a more formal daytime wedding, a short dress is still appropriate but you might want to wear a more neutral and sophisticated style, such as the iconic little black dress, which can be dressed up or down."

If you have to ask if the dress is too short, it probably is.
Remember the fingertip test from high school? Well, Rywelski encourages us all to use it in this case: "Hold your right arm straight down against your leg. If the hem does not extend to your fingertips, it is probably too short to be worn to a wedding."

Discuss your attire with your plus one.
"If you are bringing someone as your guest, it is a good idea to just let him know what you will be wearing and discuss his attire so that you are both on the same page", says Rywelski. By initiating the conversation, you will make sure your guest is dressed appropriately — some men have just as much difficulty deciphering the dress code on a wedding invitation as we do, so a friendly reminder can do them a world of good.

See more:5 Simple Ways to Be the Best Wedding Guest

Do not wear white — unless that is asked of guests on the wedding invitation.
White is reserved for the bride and since it is her special day, you should avoid the shade at all costs. There have been occasions when the bride has asked her guests to wear all white (usually for a second wedding) or has asked them to do so because she is wearing another hue, but those moments are rare.

If there is no dress code stipulated on the invitation, don't be afraid to ask about it.
"The bride and groom will appreciate your attention to detail and the fact that you want to look nice for their special day", says Rywelski.

There's more!

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