bu George Mickum

Attending a wedding is a serious matter: guests are joining in on one of the most momentous days of the bride and groom’s lives. It is important to dress appropriately, because dressing in an incorrect fashion can damage a wedding. People often forget to show respect when attending weddings, without realizing how fundamental that respect is. For instance, it is appropriate to send the bride and groom a wedding gift up to one year after their wedding. This guideline takes into consideration that some couples leave for extended honeymoons, and it is best to not have unattended packages waiting for them. Similarly, the rules of dress are just as significant.

Unless the event is white tie, which allows men to wear white dinner jackets, there is no reason to wear white whatsoever—including ivory, cream, or bone. Those colors are strictly reserved for the bride. Wearing white on the bride’s day is highly disrespectful, not only to the bride but to her family as well. Women should also avoid red. Even though it is less shocking, red is such a flashy color that a guest wearing red could be accused of stealing the spotlight from the bride. Brides are often in a highly sensitive frame of mind, and it is important that as a guest, you do your best to make sure they do not feel you are attempting to upstage them by wearing white or red. More recently, black has become more acceptable at weddings; however, it is a very somber color.  Black has connotations of death and is best saved for the business world and/or other events. Guests should try to focus on pastels, navy, and other hues that are more fitting for the mood and ambiance of a wedding.

Men must always wear a coat and tie, but not necessarily a suit. It is a sign of respect to the host and hostess. The invitation will indicate if it is simply cocktail attire or formal attire. A guest can get away with a sport coat and tie at a “cocktail attire” wedding. Again, unless it’s a white tie affair, it is best to avoid white ties and pocket squares.

When attending a wedding, it is crucial to keep in mind that as a guest, it is not about you. It is your job to attend the wedding, be supportive of the bride and groom, and adapt to the atmosphere that they have very deliberately created for you to enjoy. Ultimately, guests should aim to blend in at a wedding.

Alexander McQueen
This dress reflects the right amount of demure and respect that a “cocktail attire” wedding calls for. Alexander McQueen Crepe Ruffle Dress ($1855) adds a little bit of whimsy with the crepe ruffle. saksfifthavenue.com

Antonio Berardi
This lovely Antonio Berardi Stretch Candy Origami Dress ($1,910) is  extremely close to red, but has enough orange in the color to make it still palatable for a wedding. saksfifthavenue.com

This Isaia Checked Silk & Cashmere Blazer ($3,595) is a great piece for a spring/summer wedding that calls for “cocktail attire.” Offering a splash of color among other dark suits, it’s the right balance of elegance and formal appeal, while also being understated. saksfifthavenue.com