It’s undoubtedly awesome to get an invite to a wedding. There’s a little partying, some music, an open bar–the works.
But unless you’re the groom or the best man, there’s always the underlying question: What are you supposed to wear?
When you’re not the one getting hitched, there’s a lot of gray area when it comes to figuring out a surefire ensemble.
However, with a little consideration and a little know-how, you can figure out a perfect, stylish, and appropriate look for any wedding, no matter how casual or fancy.
Consider these tips and tricks the next time you’re invited to a wedding and you’ll be good to go!
Table of Contents
- Dos and Don’ts of Wedding Guest Attire
- Things to Never Wear To A Wedding
- Deciphering Wedding Dress Codes
- What To Wear To A Seasonal Wedding
- Crack the Wedding Dress Code
Dos and Don’ts of Wedding Guest Attire
Check the invitation
If you only just skimmed your wedding invitation, go back and give it another look.
If there’s no dress code on the invitation at all, it’s likely that semi-formal dress will be a safe bet.
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Consider the venue
If the invitation’s lacking in details, scope out the location of the wedding.
Beach and backyard weddings mean you’ll be wearing more relaxed clothing, but dress it up for indoor venues like churches and ballrooms.
It’s all in the timing
Weddings that occur earlier in the day tend to lean to the more casual side, while evening weddings usually call for more formal attire.
So it’s likely that you can get away with less dressy duds in the morning, but be sure to pull out that suit and tie for anything after dusk.
It doesn’t hurt to ask
If you’re still not sure, then why not simply ask? Either ask the bride- or groom-to-be, or any of your friends that are also planning to attend.
Trust us, it’s way less embarrassing to ask the soon-to-be-weds directly than to show up at a black tie affair in shorts.
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If you don’t have it, rent it
An invite to a more formal wedding might have you stressing out over the cost of a good tuxedo.
If there’s not a tuxedo conveniently hung up in your closet, don’t sweat it. Places like The Black Tux rent out formal wear for a fraction of the purchase price.
Things to Never Wear To A Wedding
Your Canadian tuxedo
Anything denim should stay far, far away from your wedding getup. Even if the dress code says casual, jeans are still taboo.
When it comes to pants, the most casual we would consider appropriate would be a pair of navy or khaki chinos — and even those we aren’t sure about.
Anything you would wear to the beach
Beach weddings may be commonplace, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to break out your summer threads.
If you would be comfortable wearing it while sitting in a beach chair, it shouldn’t be making an appearance at anyone’s nuptials.
This means no flip-flops, shorts, or hats of any sort. And the Hawaiian t-shirt you think is a hit? Stay far, far away.
Something that will upstage the bride (or groom)
If your formalwear makes heads turn, this might not be the day to break it out.
Anything that’s going to draw focus away from the people you’re celebrating is an absolute no-go. You’re a guest and your job is to support the people who invited you.
You definitely don’t want to be the person sticking out in photos because of what you have on.
Deciphering Wedding Dress Codes
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The pinnacle of all things fancy, white tie weddings will require you to break out your dressiest of duds.
Because of the strict dress code, little can be left to interpretation, which makes your job that much easier.
A black dress coat – yes, that means one with tails – is required for this formal event, along with black patent leather dress shoes.
The trousers should be made of the same fabric as the tailcoat, and the dress shirt is always white. Pair it with a white bow tie and optional white or black gloves.
- Black tuxedo
- White dress shirt
- White silk bow tie
- White pocket square
- Three button vest
- Black leather dress shoes
Black tie weddings are likely going to be fancy evening affairs, so this is still a chance to dress to the nines.
Now, while the nomenclature may suggest a tie, “Black Tie” affairs actually call for black bow-ties (confusing, right?).
Along with that, a formal black tuxedo is an absolute must. If the weather is too hot, consider a white tuxedo and black bow tie for a formal ensemble with a twist.
We realize black tie attire can be a little daunting, but luckily we’ve summed it all up in one handy formal dress code guide .
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For formal weddings, you can still opt for the tuxedo if you wish, but sporting a simple suit is just as acceptable in this situation.
A dark suit can be worn in place of a tuxedo, but a suit is still necessary. Bow-ties can be replaced with ties.
Stay away from light colors if possible (though accenting with colored ties and pocket squares is fine).
- Black, navy or charcoal suits
- Black or darkly-colored silk bow tie or tie
- White dress shirt
- Black or brown leather dress shoes
Creative or Festive
Creative black tie still requires formal attire, but gives some wiggle room to add unexpected touches to the outfit and display your personal style.
You can get crazy with cufflinks, a cool bow tie, or choose an unconventionally colored undershirt or tie.
You can play with materials as well – a velvet jacket is a popular and fashion-forward choice for adding some creative flair.
Festive formal weddings often have a predominant theme, so take this opportunity to coordinate your accessories to match.
- Colored suits or suits in different fabrics
- Burgundy, navy, or charcoal pieces
- Printed dress shirt
- Colorful bow tie or tie
- Black, brown or colorful dress shoes
Also known as dressy casual, this category tends to be the broadest because it represents the flimsy line between formal and casual.
In other words, you can get away with a whole breadth of ensembles at a semi-formal wedding.
To narrow all the choices down and figure out what you will wear, pay attention to the time of day of the wedding: Earlier in the day, lighter colors fly. Later in the evening, darker shades will do.
- Navy, gray, or tan suits
- Suits without jackets
- Solid or printed dress shirt
- Colorful tie or bow ties
- Black or brown dress shoes
Beach formal is what it sounds like: formal attire you’d wear to the beach (um, right. Yes). What makes it complicated is the weather.
To avoid melting under the sun, go for light fabrics like linen or seersucker that will keep you cool, literally and figuratively.
The host will understand that you’re dressing to brave the elements, so an outfit you might wear to a nice restaurant will do well in this scenario.
- Linen or light-colored suits
- Tans, light grays, and light blue pieces
- White dress shirts
- Brown dress shoes
Again, you might think jeans are casual – but your friends are tying the knot, and that’s still an occasion to dress nicely for.
Think business casual. You can sport a pair of khakis and a button-down or polo t-shirt and call it a day.
Ties and other niceties are completely optional (but if you’re feeling it, by all means wear a tie).
- Suit separates
- Oxford button-down shirts
- Cotton ties
- Brown dress shoes or boots
What To Wear To A Seasonal Wedding
Dressing for a spring wedding
Spring weddings are some of the easiest to dress for and often have the least predictable weather.
If you’re attending a wedding with one of the more flexible dress codes, we suggest being sure to have a jacket if there are any outdoor portions of the ceremony or reception.
You can always take it off if you end up being too warm. Sring is a great time to break out light colors like tans or light grays in suits and pastels for any suiting accessories.
- Gray or tan suits
- Printed dress shirts
- Pastel ties, bow ties, or pocket squares
- Brown dress leather shoes
Dressing for a summer wedding
When you’re in a certain age range, it feels like you’re attending a wedding every other week during the summer months.
You definitely don’t need to break out a whole new outfit at every ceremony you go to — small changes like switching up your dress shirt and tie combo go a long way.
In the summer months, focus on staying cool while still adhering to dress codes. Try out a linen suit and keep the colors you’re as light as possible.
If you’re going to a more formal wedding, be sure to wear an undershirt. The all-white look isn’t too forgiving in the heat.
- Linen or lightly-colored suits
- Printed dress shirts
- Bright or pastel ties, bow ties, and pocket squares
- Brown dress leather shoes
Dressing for a fall wedding
Just like dressing for fall, dressing for a fall wedding means layering up and working with color. Burgundy, charcoal, and navy suits are especially popular at this time.
No matter the dress code, when a wedding takes place during the colder months, scaling up formality is perfectly acceptable.
If you go for a more traditionally colored suit, try accessories in jewel tones or incorporate some fall fabrics like wool and flannel.
- Charcoal, navy, and burgundy suits
- Jewel-toned ties, bow ties, and pocket squares
- Wool or velvet pieces
- Brown or black dress leather shoes
Dressing for a winter wedding
When it comes to dressing for winter weddings, we say keep it classic and prepare for the elements.
A crisp black or navy suit will keep you warm if you’re outdoors at any point and the classic nature is an instant hit.
In case you’re faced with any weather like snow on the ground or an afternoon sprinkle of rain, make sure your shoes are weather-treated and prepped for the elements.
If you’re nervous you’ll get too cold, don’t be afraid to bring a jacket. However, this should be a peacoat or another style of an overcoat — anything you’d wear on the slopes should stay at home.
Crack the Wedding Dress Code
When you don the right outfit, you’ll be looking smart and feeling fresh.
Now that you’ve got the dress code down pat, all you’ve got left to do is enjoy an evening free of wardrobe worries, and check out that open bar, while you’re at.
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