What to Wear to a Wedding



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With our wedding anniversary next Monday and fall weddings around the corner, I thought I would answer some common questions I get about wedding attire, especially fall weddings! You can find so much out about a wedding just by the time and the invitation, so I hope this helps ease your mind. But regardless, you were invited because the bride and groom can’t imagine their day without you, not because of what you will wear. So if anything, I hope that eases your mind that your presence is more important than presenting yourself in a perfect outfit! Don’t stress about too many rules [except no white please! 😉 ] and enjoy the evening with friends.

What Do You Wear?

I’ve heard so many rumors from friends and readers when it comes to wedding attire. “Is it bad to wear red?” “Can I wear sequins?” “What does Black Tie Optional mean?” I thought today’s post I would go over how to ease your concerns with wedding wear and a few of my favorite options for each type of wedding!

First, look at the invitation. The date and time is very telling of the ambience of a wedding. Of course, not every bride does that intentionally. Sometimes they like a date or it’s the only option that works, but to go hand-in-hand with wedding etiquette follow the time.

The traditional wedding is Saturday evening at 6 p.m. If a wedding is at that time [or close to it!] you can feel safe knowing to follow cocktail attire. You don’t need a formal gown but you also don’t want to wear a little Forever 21 number that you could pull off for brunch. An LBD is always a safe bet.

A non-traditional time might be morning, Friday evening or a Sunday afternoon. With this I love to go for a lighter hue and lace. Most of the time these weddings are held in a beautiful outdoor venue and so you want to feel comfortable with the weather. Of course, some Friday evening weddings are Black Tie, but the invitation would say so and you can also gauge based on how the invitations are designed. If an invitation is very traditional without extra touches like graphics and color, it is more formal. If an invitation has florals, graphics and color, it is less formal.

If a wedding is Black Tie Optional, opt for Black Tie or something close to it! Our wedding was Black Tie Optional and it is a way of saying, “If you want to wear a tux, go for it! If not, no worries.” It’s also a hint to guests that the wedding will be on the formal spectrum. Girls still wore long dresses or their cocktail dresses were a little more luxe! Black Tie means your date will wear a tux and you can opt for a long gown, something with beading or something with a more extravagant flair. Options 9 & 10 on the post above are Black Tie Optional pieces where as 11 & 12 are Black Tie.

Any Do’s or Don’ts?

At the end of the day the bride and groom really don’t care about rules. I was so happy to have friends and family there I didn’t care if someone came in jeans! No one did, but I wouldn’t have minded! However, out of respect to the bride’s family for paying for the wedding [a more traditional rule, of course now brides and grooms pay as well as grooms’ families] I always try to follow the do’s and don’ts as the family is probably paying for a $150+ meal for me.

My personal don’ts are: no white and not too tight.

I don’t want to wear white to distract from the bride and honestly, I don’t think a wedding is the time to show off how hard I’ve been working in the gym. The bride and groom’s family will be there. I would never want to offend a family member as not everyone at a wedding has the same convictions on conservativeness. Save your tight little numbers for the bachelorette party and follow the “tight enough to know you’re a woman, loose enough to know you’re a lady” rule of thumb for the wedding!

My personal do’s: lace, color and glowing skin.

Some people think red is a big wedding no no, but I find that rule to be a bit outdated. In fact, some of my favorite looks at my own wedding were from girlfriends wearing red dresses, which is why I included 10! It’s all about how you style something. I always look for lace dresses, colors I’m drawn to [ladylike pinks!] and soft silhouettes. I think a good rule of thumb is that if you could wear it to a more formal church as well as a date night, you know you’ve found a good balance for a wedding guest dress! I also love to have glowing skin at a wedding so I make sure to use my GLAMglow mask and favorite highlighter! After you put on moisturizer, lightly dust highlighter on your arms and legs in spots the sun would hit.

I hope this post gives you some fun options for weddings coming up! If you have any other wedding questions feel free to comment below and I will be sure to answer!


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  1. Such a great post, Katey! I attended a wedding 2 weeks ago where the ceremony started at 2pm but the reception wasn’t until 5. I knew I wanted to wear sequins but didn’t think my dress was Catholic mass appropriate so I did a dress change before the reception into my sequins number. I felt so high maintenance but also so much more comfortable going with lace for the ceremony and fun sequins for the party! I agree, at the end of the day all the bride cares about is having her favorite people celebrate her big day <3
    xx Tess | Sequins are the New Black

    Published 20 Sep 16Reply
  2. Sarah Beth Allen wrote:

    What would you suggest for a ‘dressy-casual’ wedding at a camp late next month? I ordered #1 in blue and am going to try it with booties and see how I feel. It’s my cousin’s wedding and she just stopped my aunt from wearing heels since it’s an outdoor wedding.

    Such a helpful post! Also loved the one by Paul last week. So cute.

    Published 20 Sep 16Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Sarah Beth!

      I love #1 in a lighter hue with booties! I have #1 in white and wore it with heels to one of my bridal showers and I’ve also work it with sandals to church! So I think paired with booties you’re fitting the outdoor venue as well as staying true to a wedding!

      Hope you have a great time!



      Published 20 Sep 16Reply
  3. Reagan wrote:

    Perfect timing with this post. I have an October wedding in Atlanta and you never know what card mother nature will draw! It is a formal wedding and wondering if closed toes heels or block heel sandals would be good?

    Published 20 Sep 16Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Reagan!

      I think with a more formal wedding, I would go with the heel option!

      Thank you so much for reading!



      Published 20 Sep 16Reply
  4. Looove number 8! So pretty!

    Published 20 Sep 16Reply
  5. Julie wrote:

    Thank you so much for this post! I have an upcoming wedding in November in SoCal and have had the HARDEST time trying to figure out what to wear! these picks definitely give me some good inspiration!



    Published 20 Sep 16Reply
  6. Amanda wrote:

    Loving that lace red dress!


    Published 20 Sep 16Reply
  7. Morgan wrote:

    Too funny that for a Friday evening wedding outdoors you suggested wearing a lighter hue in lace because I attended a wedding this past Friday and that is EXACTLY what I wore! ((https://www.instagram.com/p/BKby9g7hV7C/?taken-by=_how2wearit_)) – so needless to say, I totally agree! 😉

    How 2 Wear It [] http://how2wearit.com

    Published 20 Sep 16Reply
  8. Ashley wrote:

    Thanks so much for this post! ???? Very helpful! Defiantly going for #2, with some booties for the Midwest outdoors! What type of jacket would you reccomend? For later into the reception, I think it’s outdoors as well.

    Published 20 Sep 16Reply
  9. Amy wrote:

    Such a fun post! I love dressing up for weddings!



    Published 20 Sep 16Reply
  10. Nancy wrote:

    I have # 1 in the light minty blue and I love it. I wore it to my kids graduation ceremony!!

    Published 20 Sep 16Reply
  11. This is great timing, my best friend is getting married in New York next month and then having a big reception party back here (Northern Ireland) later in the month and I do NOT know what to wear!

    It’s just the two of them going to the states to get married (they are gay and we do not have legal gay marriage in N.I – cavemen I know -_-.) so the reception is a BIG deal. I have a lovely ombre sequin shift dress I bought last year and haven’t worn yet but I don’t know if sequins are appropriate and every dress shape I’ve seen that I like seems like a too summery or wintry pattern/ colour. Autumn is a tough one for guests! ha!
    I’m just worried everyone will be in navy and jewel tones too.

    But as you say – being there is the big deal – who cares what I’m wearing?! (as long as it’s not white – imagine looking like your trying to upstage TWO brides!!)

    Thanks for the advice!

    Published 21 Sep 16Reply
  12. Jessica wrote:

    I don’t know about 5 and 10 (as much as I love it!). 5 looks really close to ivory, which enters bridal territory. I would steer clear. And maybe I’m old-school, but it’s traditional that you should not wear red to a wedding, especially such a bright “look at me” shade.

    Published 21 Sep 16Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Jessica!

      Thank you so much for sharing! Haha, I did talk about the red color rule to a wedding in my post! I personally am not offended by it at a wedding [I get more offended by really fitted dresses] but I know some brides are different. My best friend bought the sweetest red dress to a wedding and so many people talked her out of it but I personally was like, “If you weren’t a bridesmaid you could wear it to mine! haha” However, we had 500 people are our wedding, so there were plenty of people wearing “look at me” items, so maybe I have a different thought process. Thankfully, I’ve seen 5 in person and it is much more pink/blush! Always so hard to tell online!

      Thank you for reading. 🙂



      Published 21 Sep 16Reply
  13. Kate wrote:

    What outerwear do you suggest for a formal wedding in November in Dallas?! I am completely stumped. Any suggests you can give would be wonderful!

    Published 29 Oct 17Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Kate! Ah that’s so hard! I always wear a scarf around my shoulders and then run to the car because I’m freezing! 🙁 But Sole Society has stunning faux fur wraps I just instagrammed and will blog soon! I got it for winter weddings! xo

      Published 29 Oct 17Reply