Now that the details of your wedding are confirmed and finalized, it's time to think about your wedding guests and their attire. And if you're reading this, we assume that you need advice on what your siblings should wear since they're not in your bridal party. Although this causes tension in some families, we're here to say that it doesn't need to! There are plenty of options when it comes to dressing your siblings for the occasion, whether you're having a black-tie formal wedding or keeping your day relaxed and casual.
Sibling Dress Code Etiquette
First things first, guests should always remember that less is more. Lisa Grotts, an etiquette expert, typically tells guests “this is not your day, it’s the brides. So to stand out in a dress gives the impression that 'it’s all about me'. It’s okay to express yourself, but at a wedding, be mindful and somewhat minimalistic." Grotts adds, “if you want to dress up your look, wear bright lipstick or accessories that pop, but without too much notice."
Therefore, siblings who are guests should be aware of wedding day etiquette. Nneka C. Alexander, designer and director of Brides By Nona, Couture Atelier, told Brides “I have heard of instances where the siblings have worn outfits against the bride’s specific requests, thereby causing the bride to be very unhappy on her big day. This is a no-no!” Since it’s the bride’s special day, and she’s invested a lot of time into planning, "it's best practice to check in with the bride on what she would like to see you wear,” Alexander says.
Meet the Expert
- Nneka C. Alexander is the designer and creative director at Brides By Nona, Couture Atelier.
- Lisa Mirza Grotts, also known as The Golden Rules Gal, is an etiquette expert with over 20 years of industry experience. She's the author of a travel etiquette book, a former columnist for The Huffington Post, and has appeared on media segments for Fox News, NBC, The Today Show, and BBC News.
For brides, making your dress code well known is going to dictate what your siblings wear to your wedding. “There are rules of decorum that go along with being a bride-to-be, so keep your manners in check,” Grotts tells Brides. That said, make your dress code known and hold firm, but be prepared if your guests do not precisely follow it–especially your siblings.
For guests, “my rule of thumb, unless there is a specific request for guests to wear a particular color, is to always wear black,” Alexander advises. Grotts notes that “it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed,” so factor that into your decision as well. If you’re still unsure, start with the invitation, the wedding website, or the bride.
What Should Your Sister Wear?
Okay, now that you’re up to date on wedding attire etiquette, it’s time to decide what to wear. “If my sisters aren’t in my wedding, I would love for them to be an extension of me, so I would want them beautifully clad in somewhat coordinated outfits that compliment my wedding colors,” Alexander explains.
“While your sister does not have to match the bridesmaids, it’s not a bad idea for her to dress in concert, so she does not stand out. Make her feel comfortable: take her on a shopping trip to ensure her color fits your overall theme, not to mention your photographs!” Grotts explains.
If the dress code is black tie or formal, wear a long gown with either a muted print or one that's completely black. It’s a safe option, yet formal enough to match the dress code the bride put in place.
For a semi-formal wedding, wear something comfortable but still dressy. You can pair a cute chunky heel with a high/low look, or a one-shoulder dress for a less formal approach.
Weddings with a casual dress code are the most fun when it comes to selecting an outfit. You can wear something fully relaxed like your favorite beach maxi-dress, or play around with color and prints.
What Should Your Brother Wear?
Don’t forget about your brother! Although men’s wedding attire typically requires interchanging trousers and a jacket, it's important for brides to think about the male sibling. “Don’t get so involved in your wedding that you ignore family members, especially male siblings,” Grotts says. They may not expect you to have an opinion of what they should wear, but the same rules apply for men, as they do women–“stay within the color theme so everyone blends in,” Grotts advises.
“For brothers, immaculately tailored suits are a must! I would want there to be an obvious distinguishing factor between my brothers and the groomsmen, so I would, of course, have my brothers in a different suit color from the groom and groomsmen,” Nneka C. Alexander says. Tuxedos are the typical dress code for a black-tie event, but be sure to check in with the bride to ensure that nothing you wear is the same as the wedding party.
Consider giving your brothers ties that match, or complement, the groomsmen to set them apart from the rest of your guests.
If you’re attending a casual wedding, a pair of khaki pants and a button-down shirt are appropriate to wear. Even a polo shirt could work! Though the dress code is laid back, you should still dress with a touch of formality.