A Guide for the Wedding Guest - What to Wear

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Whether this your first wedding invitation, or one where you absolutely have to be right on with what you are wearing, here are some guidelines that should help. If, despite this article, you are unsure as to what to wear, check with the bride, or one of her close friends, well before the wedding day.

A wedding is not the place at which to show off your individuality. Instead, it's a place where you can express your personality, but need to do it with some degree of conformity. Avoid experimentation and forget about going retro, or period. It helps to keep in mind that after the wedding is over, besides the couple, what's "left" are the photos and video, and you will want to make sure that you look your best in them.

Unless otherwise noted on the invitation, a wedding is a dress up affair. Let yourself be guided by the notation on the invitation.

If the wedding is "Black Tie," it means that the appropriate dress for a man is a tuxedo and for a woman, a long gown, or cocktail dress.

Black tie optional means just that. A man may wear a dark suit or tux. Women should wear whatever they would wear to a black tie wedding. Years ago etiquette said that women should wear long dresses. Today it's perfectly acceptable to wear a not too short dress.

If the invitation reads "cocktail attire, it means a suit (dark or light) for the men, ties optional, and a cocktail dress for the ladies.

There is a relatively new designation called "creative black tie." Translated, that means the gentleman is expected to wear a tux, but he can be "creative" with the tie he picks. A woman can wear a dress that's appropriate for black tie, but she can get creative with the handbag and shoes she picks.

Some invitations will read "casual elegance," "elegant, "semiformal," "afternoon elegant," "festive attire," or "Sunday best." That usually means men in suits, with ties optional and women in a "party dress."

If the wedding is being held outdoors, the invitation might read "shorts & sundresses and beach casual," which are self-explanatory. You may want to consider flats instead of heels, which will be far more comfortable on grass, or a surface that's not solid. If might be chilly on the day of the wedding, decide what you will wear over your dress and make sure that you cover it up with something pretty that compliment your dress.

Try on your entire outfit on and make sure that it fits and that you are comfortable wearing it. Over the course of the wedding, nothing will be more annoying than continuously having to pull down your dress, or push in your bra straps, Make sure that the "try on" is close enough to the wedding so that you don't have to take weight loss, or gain into consideration. Finally, a wedding is an elegant event. It's not the time to show excessive cleavage, or to wear an extremely tight-fitting dress. When you're picking out what to wear, keep in mind that it's the bride who should be the center of attention, not you!

Last, but not least, "arm" yourself with attire "first aid" for the day of the wedding. A travel size spot remover, safety pin, needle and thread, may come in handy.


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