What To Wear To A Wedding

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What should I wear to an outdoor fall wedding?
How should I dress for a wedding at a hotel?
What should I wear to a boho wedding?
Can I wear Jeans to a wedding?

These are questions that wedding guests everywhere are asking themselves, their friends, and their significant others constantly!  I’ve been in the wedding industry for almost 10 years, so I thought I’d offer some modern-day, real life suggestions on how to be dressed appropriately for any wedding scenario!


Above photos by Lindsey Lowe Photography

So Why Am I Qualified To Tell You What To Wear To a Wedding?

I’m a 36-year-old female business owner, a wedding florists, a wife, and a mom of two kids.  In any room, whether it be an office, a girl’s night out, or a casual get-together at a friends house, I am typically dressed somewhere in the middle of everyone else in the crowd; not the most formal or glamorous person in the room, but definitely not the most casually-dressed or relaxed.  Also, because of my age, I’m right in between two key generations of wedding attendees:

  1. The older generation consisting of the parents of the bride and groom, and even the grandparents of the couple.
  2. The younger generation consisting of the bride and groom’s friends; these are often recent college grads, 20-something singles and young couples.

As a wedding florist, my client is the bride.  Here in Tennessee where we are based, the typical bridal age that we see is between 22 and 30.  Especially with the younger brides, the mother often joins in on the initial consultation and the booking process, since she’s usually supplying the checkbook.  We have worked on over 100 weddings, and between these two generations, I have heard TONS of ideas and opinions on wedding etiquette and whether or not the bride is going to adhere to some of those old-school traditions her mother and father had no choice but to include in their big day.

A Little About Etiquette When Deciding What to Wear.

These days, it’s so much more common for couples to ditch the etiquette checklists (think garter toss, receiving line, cake cutting ceremony), and instead truly evaluate what makes them special as a couple.  Today’s bride and groom spend a significant amount of time dreaming up unique elements to make their event wonderfully personal. That’s why my first PRO TIP is going to be taking your style cues from the couple.

PRO TIP #1:  Think about how the Bride & Groom would dress if they were attending a wedding.  There’s your starting point!

Bonus points if you know a lot about the bride and groom’s parent.  Chances are, the bride’s parents are going to be more influential in the planning process than the groom’s.  For instance, if you know that the bride is super casual, but her parents are extremely formal or stuffy, plan to meet somewhere in the middle attire-wise.

PRO TIP #2:  Over-analyze the wedding invitation.

You can learn a LOT about what to expect as a wedding guest from the invitation.  If the invitation has gold embossed lettering, that thin tissue paper layer, and requests your entree preference in the RSVP, you will know that you’re about to attend a pretty formal event. 

Guys: Break out the dark suit and tie or maybe even rent a tux.  Try these tie/pocket square sets to spruce up a suite you already have.

Ladies: A formal cocktail dress with heels, or floor-length dress will be best. Check THIS ONE out. It comes in several different colors and necklines and gets great reviews on Amazon!

But maybe the invitation has a more modern design, printed with less bells and whistles.  The wording might read a bit less proper, and there may be mention to the reception being “casual” or “hor d’oeuve”.  You can even gain hints from the time of day; an evening wedding is always going to be more formal than an afternoon ceremony. If the invitation points toward a more casual affair, you can have a little more freedom to be yourself.

Guys: Rather than a tux or full suit and tie, feel free to choose something more relaxed like a button down shirt, vest, and khakis, or maybe this Suspender/Bow-Tie Combo.

Ladies: If a fancy cocktail dress is your thing, go for it!  But if you’d feel more comfortable in dress pants and a blouse, you’ll still fit in just fine.  A great belted sheath dress like THIS ONE would offer a versatile and relaxed look (bonus points: it has POCKETS!), and a good way to avoid having to wear heels is a long Maxi Dress like THIS ONE.

PRO TIP #3: The Venue Can Help You Decide What to Wear to the Wedding

The type of venue can also help you determine what to wear.  If you’ve never been to the venue, do a quick google search while you’re analyzing the invitation details.

For instance, an indoor wedding at an upscale hotel or museum in the city leans more toward a formal and fashion-forward affair.  However, you’ll find a slightly more casual atmosphere at a venue that has indoor/outdoor options like a farm-style wedding venue or a vineyard.


Above photos by Rafferty Photo

PRO TIP #4: No Jeans! 

My NO JEANS Policy When Deciding What to Wear to a Wedding:

In my professional opinion, unless you know that the groom or groomsmen are wearing jeans at the ceremony and that you’re going to be sitting on bales of hay and partying on a dirt dance floor, jeans are a NO for a wedding.  Don’t get me wrong, you will almost always see at least one or two people, typically guys, dressing up a pair of dark jeans at the event. 

This is a conversation I often have with my husband.  I say “Let me ask you, if you end up being the ONLY person there in jeans, will you feel out of place?”  His answer is always reluctantly “Yes.” The guy in the dressed-up jeans sticks out.  He just does.  He can look sharp and put together, but he is still being noticed.   I’m not one to cave under the pressures of the expectations of others, especially when it comes to stuffy wedding traditions.  But I also SEE every day how much money, effort and care people put into planning their big day.  This is why wearing jean will always be a “NO” in my opinion.

I hope this helps you choose with confidence what to wear to a wedding, the next time you need a little pro help. At the end of the day, the bride and groom just want to celebrate with YOU, their friends and loved ones. So try to be yourself, while still being dressed appropriately for the type of event you’re attending.


Above photos by Lauren Mihae Photography

Planning a Fall Wedding?



Lang Floral Designs is a premier wedding florist in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  We do wedding and event flowers in the surrounding areas of East Tennessee and North Georgia, and we also love providing brides everywhere with useful ideas and information for their wedding day. For a better idea of all we can do at your wedding, click hereContact us today if you’re interested in hiring us for your wedding or event.

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