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How to Be the Best-Dressed Guest at Every Wedding Venue

From a formal religious ceremony to beach side wedding to a fun and casual backyard one, follow these tips to ensure that you feel both comfortable and appropriate when the bride walks down the aisle.

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How-to-Be-the-Best-Dressed-Guest-at-Every-Wedding-VenueMichal Skowronski/Shutterstock

For a ceremony at a place of worship

“I’ve been to my fair share of Catholic weddings and while the styles have definitely shifted in the last ten years, when I see a young woman in a church wedding in a mini dress, I think to myself, ‘amateur’,” says Vilté Rooney, founder of VilteCo, a creative agency that works with fashion brands, states. She notes that when attending a ceremony at any religious worship venue, we all need to be respectful of the traditions. “We all have a specific style and ‘vibe’ we want to give off, but as an adult, you realize there are more ways to express yourself.” Rooney’s go-to is a long dress in a classic color that has a sexy detail like a lower neckline or an open back. “This way, I could wear a nice jacket in church and throw a scarf over my shoulders at dinner, then hit the dance floor in my sexy number,” she says. For a wedding at a synagogue, it is appropriate to cover your shoulders and not to wear anything too short. The same goes for when the wedding venue is a mosque. A longer dress is preferred and if the top is too low, consider a wrap or scarf. When in doubt, refer to the dress code on the invite.

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How-to-Be-the-Best-Dressed-Guest-at-Every-Wedding-VenueAlex Gukalov/Shutterstock

A backyard wedding

Though it might be at someone’s house, you should take your cue from the couple and the invite. Sometimes people have a country chic wedding at home while others keep it a more formal affair. Dress for the weather and comfort, but also look nice. A comfy sundress or maxi dress for ladies and dress pants and a button up shirt for men should do the trick. Open-toed shoes and sandals are perfectly acceptable for this kind of an event. (Need to get your feet sandal ready? Here’s how to get healthy, pretty summer feet.)

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How-to-Be-the-Best-Dressed-Guest-at-Every-Wedding-VenueGladius Stock/Shutterstock

Destination wedding

Many of the above rules apply as it is more and more common for couples to head to churches in Italy, etc. so do your research. (Some of these wedding traditions from around the world may be helpful.) Also be sure that whatever you pack isn’t going to wrinkle or get ruined on the flight over and that it fits comfortable in your carry on in case your luggage gets lost.

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A Vegas wedding

If your friends decide to tie-the-knot last minute while you’re all on vacation, you still should dress up—choose the most classic dress from your suitcase or hit up a boutique for a little black dress that you can wear again. Though this may be the time to break out an outfit that you would wear to a club, check with the bride and groom before you choose your wedding wear. They may have more traditional nuptials in mind, even if Elvis is the officiant. This is, however, a great time to accessorize!

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How-to-Be-the-Best-Dressed-Guest-at-Every-Wedding-VenueSupacharapong Buanark/Shutterstock

A beach wedding

Sundresses and flip-flops or bare feet may be completely acceptable, but research the reception venue before you forgo a more formal dress. As Rooney notes, there are other factors to consider at a beach wedding when putting your ensemble together such as temperature, moisture, and wind. “I like to bring a stylish umbrella for the sun or a light scarf to protect my hair.” This is the opportunity to shop your wardrobe for the perfect wedding attire, as you likely have something appropriate in your closet.

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How-to-Be-the-Best-Dressed-Guest-at-Every-Wedding-VenueVAKSMAN VOLODYMYR/Shutterstock

Farms and vineyards

These are typically less formal affairs, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still dress nicely. “For the gents for example, you can attend a farm wedding in your cowboy boots, but wear a fitted pair of slacks instead of jeans,” says Ashly Priest, a designer based in Colombus, Ohio. And her advice for the ladies is to consider the terrain. This probably isn’t the time to break out the stilettos, but to wear boots or flats. Also, “a longer length sundress with a sweater” is best, particularly if it’s going into the evening when it might be chilly.

Julia K. Porter
Dr. Julia Porter has worked in Higher Education since 2008, following a career as a High School teacher in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a PhD in Global Leadership from Indiana Tech, an MA in English Literature from Brooklyn College, and a BS in English Education from Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI). She lives in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and rambunctious Australian Shepherd.