According to a 2021 study conducted by The Wedding Report, 2.24 million weddings are estimated to take place in 2023 (following a reported 2.47 million weddings in 2022). Let that sink in! Even if you're not currently invited to a wedding, chances are, an invite will land in your mailbox in the next year or so.
While getting asked to attend a wedding is a huge honor—you get a chance to celebrate the beauty of love with those closest to you—being a guest does come with a few societal norms and practices. For instance, etiquette rules state that guests are encouraged to buy a gift for the couple of honor as they enter this new life chapter. Another factor to consider, and maybe one that's most important, is what to wear.
Wedding guest attire is not only important but essential in assuring that you respect the couple's requests and enhance their big day. Of course, each celebration will vary based on the dress code, but understanding the basics is key to dressing the part for every event. And whether you've been invited to a black tie affair, a casual backyard bash, or both, there are a few essential items that everyone should keep in mind when it comes to deciding what to wear. So ahead, here are the top four wedding guest attire must-haves for any type of affair.
An Outfit That Fits the Dress Code
We absolutely can’t stress this enough: All guests must adhere to the dress code set in place by the couple. There are no exceptions to this rule. If you’ve been invited to a black-tie optional event, break out your best floor-length gown or suit to match the wedding's formal vibe. The same rule applies to casual, festive, and cocktail attire, plus everything in-between.
Today, couples are also experimenting with more personalized dress codes like festive chic or garden tropical. If you're a bit unsure of what to wear when navigating these custom specifications, ask the couple or someone in the wedding party for clarification. Most to-be-weds will happily answer any sartorial questions in order to ensure everyone is appropriately dressed for their big day.
A Jacket or Shawl
Unless you’re absolutely confident that you’ll feel comfortable in your outfit, no matter what the temperature might be, it’s always a good idea to bring a jacket, shawl, or scarf to any wedding. Weather can be unpredictable and it never hurts to veer on the side of caution when planning your day-of look.
This piece of advice also extends to tropical and destination weddings, too. Since temperatures are known to slightly drop in the evening, your spaghetti strap dress may be uncomfortable to wear a few hours post-sunset. Also, if you're attending a wedding with an indoor reception, you will likely want something to help keep you warm from the chill of the air-conditioned air.
A Clutch or Small Purse
For those who choose to carry a purse on a daily basis, a wedding is not the time to ditch this trusted accessory. Having a clutch or small purse by your side is extremely beneficial as you navigate someone's big day; plus, it's a fashion piece that's equal parts stylish and practical. Think about it: Where else will you be able to store your keys, card, lipstick, gum, phone, and any other toiletry necessities? So be sure to find a purse that matches your look and the formality of the event.
A Second Pair of Shoes
While not completely necessary, if you’re a guest who enjoys dancing (and the shoes you plan to wear are a bit uncomfortable), bringing a second pair of comfortable shoes is something to consider. In general, we recommend carrying a pair of flats, formal sneakers, or nice sandals for any type of reception. That way, once you’re feet start to hurt towards the end of the night, you can easily switch into your backup shoes and continue partying until the DJ cuts the music.
The Wedding Report, Inc. "2021 Covid-19 Wedding Market Update." 2021