Be Our Guest
Spring is upon us, and that means the beginning of wedding season. Although nothing can compare to the stress that the bride is feeling, finding the perfect wedding attire can be a dilemma for the wedding guests as well. When you have been asked to witness the most important day in the couple’s life – you want to dress to impress (without upstaging the bride, of course). In order to focus your search, you need to know the venue and the formality of the event. Depending on how many degrees of separation are between you and the planning committee or the bride herself, this may take some detective work. Start with any pre-wedding events or communication – engagement party, bridal shower, save the date cards, and invitations. How formal were these events, was the bridal shower a barbecue at a local park, or a more formal affair at a country club? Are the invitations on heavy cardstock with calligraphy and formal wording? You should also hit the internet and take a sneak peak at the location of the reception; you will be able to get a general idea of the formality based on the look of the event space and any photos they have online of prior events. It is any shopaholic’s first instinct to go to the mega dress department of your favorite store, but your best bet for looking brilliant might even be found in your own closet.
For an afternoon or beach wedding, keep it casual without sacrificing class. You don’t want to be more formal than the bride and groom, so err on the side of caution with your own attire. A short dress is most appropriate, but if you want to be on trend this year you could step out with a hi-low hemline. A floor length dress can appear over-elegant, and stay away from black – it will not compliment the airy mood of daytime nuptials. Footwear is key here, especially if the venue is outdoors or on the beach. Flats are the logical choice; if you cannot bear the thought of a major event without your stilettos, you may be aerating the soil when you should be cutting a rug. Sandals or jewelry with a little bit of bling will add just the right touch of glitz for this type of wedding.
It is safe to assume that if the celebration begins in the evening, and is in a ballroom, country club, or upscale catering venue, the dress code will be more elegant and refined. If you go with a short dress, make sure it is dazzling enough for the occasion with some element of glam – satin, chiffon, sequins, or glitter. For a longer dress, don’t overdo it. Long and elegant is one thing, upstaging the bride is a big mistake. Just because you are in a ballroom, does not mean you should look like a princess. If you want everyone to see how much of a fashionista you are, try one of this season’s trends like one shoulder silhouettes, coral or mint for color, and lace overlays. When in doubt – find shoes and accessories to make your little black dress rise to the occasion. If the ceremony is in a religious setting, be respectful and wear a shrug or jacket for that portion of the festivities. And although white after Labor Day is no longer faux pas, wearing white to a wedding may offend the bride.
If the occasion is intended to be formal, the invitation should have told you so by saying “Black Tie” or “Black Tie Optional”. Long gowns are the uniform here, black being the most desired color. Elaborate jewelry like a statement necklace or chandelier earrings are a good way to make this otherwise uniform look stand out. Dramatic makeup and an up-do for your hair will also take your look to the next level. Trends in gowns are as timeless as a Chanel bag, and you really can’t go wrong with a strapless neckline, form fitting bodice, and a side slit for that extra hint of glamour.