Dress Code for Wedding Guests - Swagger & Swoon

Dress Code for Wedding Guests

Earlier today I received a call from someone who was attending a wedding as a guest on the weekend. The dilemma – what to wear? He ummed and aahed about a suit with or without a waistcoat, or just chinos and a shirt, and then he asked about wearing a tie that matched the wedding’s colour scheme. This is the advice I gave him, and it’s relevant to anyone unsure as to what to wear as a guest to a wedding.

1. It’s better to be overdressed than under-dressed

This is probably the key to dressing for a wedding, and for probably any event really. It’s rare that you’d go to a wedding and say someone is too smart, but if you’re sloppily dressed you’re certainly going to stand out, and not for the right reasons.

Here’s the thing: You can remove a tie, or a jacket. But once you’re in jeans and a band tour t-shirt and everyone else is dressed to the nines, you’re just going to look a tad out of place. The only exception might be a tuxedo – save that for when it’s actually required (and it would be on the invitation if it was!).

That said, check the wedding invite for a dress code. Some will have one, others won’t. If you’re unsure, ask the bride or groom. Which leads me onto tip number 2…

2. “Wear anything you want” does not mean wear ANYTHING you want

It happens all the time. You ask the bride (or usually the groom) what the dress code is for their wedding, and their response is: “whatever you want, we're just happy you're coming”.

It is never “pretty casual”. Even if it is. I’ve been to weddings where guests wore jeans and shorts because they had been told there wasn’t a dress code. And then the bride is wondering why no-one’s made any effort for her wedding! Go back to my first point – dress up. You really can’t go wrong. The worst that can happen is people tell you how great you look.

3. The wedding colours are for the wedding party, not guests

The final point is about the wedding’s colour scheme. Some guests want to wear items that relate to the colours the bride has chosen, but there’s a problem with that. The colour scheme, when it comes to what to wear, is designed for the bridal party i.e. the groom, groomsmen, bridesmaids, pageboys etc. Unless you’re in that bridal party, you’d be best to steer clear of trying to match them.

Think of it a bit like a stage show. The actors, in this case the bridal party, all wear the same colour to identify themselves as being in the cast. They’re the ones putting on the show. You’re there to watch the show. Get it? It’s a bit like the rule that women shouldn’t wear white to a wedding, although this isn’t nearly as bad as that!

There are of course exceptions to this – occasionally the invite will mention the colour scheme as part of the dress code, or the bride will specifically ask you to wear a royal blue tie. But there's absolutely nothing wrong with picking a tie to match your plus 1 and we've helped lots of people find the right shade with our colour matching service! Again, if in doubt, ask. But remember tip number 2…

So there you have my 3 top tips for what to wear, or not, to a wedding. Normal fashion sense still applies of course, and there are plenty of style sites that can help you find the right shoes or how to fit a jacket properly. Just don’t stress too much about it, no-one’s paying too much attention to you. After all, the star of the show is a lady in white…

Back to blog