When you are invited to a wedding you will of course want to dress stylishly – but also appropriately, so that you fit in with the couple’s vision for the day and don’t cause any offence. However, it can sometimes be challenging to know what you should wear when attending a wedding. You want to look very smart and put together, but it’s important not to upstage the wedding dress or bridesmaid dresses with your outfit. Some invitations will spell out or give you hints about the theme or dress code of the wedding; if not, check out this guide from Hong Kong wedding planner Elle Chui to help you decide.
What to wear for an evening wedding
For an evening wedding you can wear a darker coloured dress that is more sophisticated. A cocktail dress or a maxi-dress would be perfect, but make sure that it is not too sexy or revealing – no upstaging the bride, and avoid shocking any older relatives. Men should wear a dark suit and a nice dress shirt and tie.
What to wear in the daytime
For a daytime wedding, your look should be light and fun. Men can wear a light-coloured suit and should avoid anything that looks like they are going to a business meeting. Ladies can wear a pretty pastel-coloured or floral dress, perhaps with a beautiful hat that matches their outfit. Although it can pass for evening celebrations, remember not to wear black to a daytime wedding.
What to wear to a “Black Tie Optional” wedding
When the wedding invitation says that the event is “black tie optional”, it usually means that the couple would ideally like their guests to dress in black-tie attire, but they don’t want to pressure them. For a black-tie wedding, men should wear a tuxedo, or their most formal dark suit. Ladies should wear a glamorous cocktail dress that reaches the floor. This is also an appropriate occasion to get out your most flashy beaded purses, or fancy wraps and your beautiful diamond jewellery.
Can you wear black or white?
It is possible to wear black or white to a wedding? Yes, but it will only be appropriate if your white dress doesn’t look anything like a wedding dress, or your black dress doesn’t look like you are attending a funeral. Accessorize with some splashes of colour so that the look isn’t completely monochrome. Of course, some brides might object to you wearing black or white, so make sure that you ask first.
Whatever the dress code, always make sure that your shoes are stylish yet comfortable so that you can dance the night away.
Keep the wedding theme in mind
If you are invited to a theme wedding, make sure you wear a dress that fits in with the style of theme. A pretty fancy skirt or floral dress would be appropriate for a more formal spring wedding brunch or luncheon while colourful summer dresses are perfect to attend a beach wedding if the invitation states the dress code. For a garden vintage wedding, a rustic chic dress with a wedged heel is nearly always flattering, appropriate and gorgeous.
Be respectful or religious affiliations
When you are attending wedding that is going to be held in a Catholic church, it might a good idea to cover your bare arms with a shawl or long-sleeved bolero. The most fitting outfits for a Catholic wedding are typically a modest cocktail dress or a skirt suit that avoids showing too much leg or cleavage. If you are invited to a wedding in a Jewish synagogue, you are expected to wear your most conservative dress. Any revealing features like deep V-cut or flashy colours may be incompatible in this situation. Also, remember to cover your hair if you are married.
Elle Chui is a graduate of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her experience with various event companies as a Project Executive/Manager has propelled her to be a Senior Wedding Consultant and Project Manager at One Heart Wedding, one of Asia’s biggest and most popular wedding planners.
(Second, third and fourth images provided by author.)