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Wedding Guest Attire: 10 Do's & Don'ts

Does everyone get as excited as I do when a wedding invitation arrives in the mail? Celebrating love and commitment for either a friend, family member, or coworker is a highlight for any social calendar. So let's pop the bubbly and make a great impression as a wedding guest!

After attending a variety of weddings, I've seen my fair share of beautiful hits and disastrous misses. Before you go digging in your closet or shopping at your favorite store, it's important to keep a few rules in mind. The following checklist is my go-to process for picking an appropriate outfit and will help you hit the mark at your next nuptial celebration too.


#1 Start with the date. A spring/summer wedding will look a bit different compared to a fall/winter one. Warmer seasons call for florals, pastels, patterns, and light fabrics. Nobody wants to sweat profusely during an outdoor ceremony. Reserve jewel tones, slacks, and fitted blazers for colder seasons.

#2 Next up is the venue. Outdoor ceremonies tend to be more relaxed. A colorful sundress and pair of sandals are perfect for a beach or forest location. Keep the terrain in mind. Stilettos can be hazardous...well, they usually are anyway, but especially in grass or sand! Is the reception at a country club? Elevate your look with elegant styles and lush fabrics such as silk.

#3 Adhere to the dress code which is usually stated on the wedding website or invitation. Smart casual, cocktail, festive, semi-formal, and black tie all have unique parameters. Save floor length gowns with complex detailing for glamorous receptions since you don't want to outshine the mother-of-the-bride(s)/groom(s).

#4 Accessories can make or break an outfit. Aim for minimal pieces such as a dainty necklace or pair of earrings that complement your attire. However, statement jewelry or eye-catching shoes can be the perfect addition to round out a solid color ensemble. When in doubt, less is more.

#5 Ask around for the wedding colors if you want to be sure you won't match the bridesmaids. In my experience, pink and blue are the most popular bridesmaid colors for spring/summer, followed by burgundy and black for fall/winter. One wedding I wore a lace pink dress so similar to the bridesmaids that even the bride commented on the resemblance. Talk about mortifying!


#6 Avoid wearing white...or champagne...or blush, really ANY color that could pass as a wedding dress unless told otherwise. This rule seems to be debated, but let the bride(s) shine and stand out. A little is okay in accessories, but try to shy away from clothing that is more than 25% white.

#7 Ignoring the weather forecast is a gamble. Keeping an umbrella handy for an outdoor wedding is key, especially for tropical climates which can be unpredictable. Attending a wedding in the mountains? Temperatures can be warm during the day, but turn chilly at night. Wind can also be problematic and cause an unwanted Marilyn Monroe moment!

#8 Showing up in head-to-toe black. A wedding is NOT a funeral. However, a LBD is appropriate as long as you style it right. Choose accessories with a twist, such as a pair of vibrant heels or rhinestone clutch. I typically save black dresses for fall/winter weddings only.

#9 Keep it classy instead of brazen. Arriving with a short, low-cut dress exposing your goodies for the entire guest list to see guarantees poor attention. Avoid sequins, animal prints, and sheer pieces that steer attention away from the bride(s). Think sophisticated sexy. Have a tight-fitting jumpsuit? Make sure it covers either your chest or back to compliment your curves in a suitable way.

#10 Forgetting to coordinate with your date. If your invitation includes a plus-one, be sure to discuss the dress code to avoid confusion. Does he have to rent a tux or buy a suit? Ladies, help your guys out and make sure they are prepared to look as good as you do!