So you’ve been invited to a wedding. Maybe it’s your best friend’s, maybe it’s a random coworker’s or maybe it’s that one distant relative’s. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you have no idea what to wear. And that’s as normal as a squirrel chasing after a nut. Weddings are big events and every couple has their own expectations. You want to look good and you also want to keep your outfit appropriate for the event. And short of sending a picture of every possible outfit to the bride to get her approval (which we do not recommend), there isn’t a foolproof way of finding the perfect dress. But there are some rules that you can follow to kiss that particular flavor of anxiety goodbye.
The first thing you need to establish is what you are trying to achieve with your dress. Your job as a wedding guest is to help make the day special for the happy couple, so your outfit will have three distinct goals. First, it should help you blend in with the other guests. This is not your day and it is not your event. You shouldn’t be the center of attention and take the spotlight away from the bride and groom, try to help create a homogenous setting. The second goal of your outfit is to look good for pictures! It’s a wedding, after all, there will be a lot of pictures and you will be in several of them so, look your best. And the third goal of your outfit is to make you comfortable enough to have fun. It’s a party, after all. The couple invited you to help them celebrate, so there probably will be dancing too.
With those goals in mind, the appropriate outfit will vary according to the occasion. That said, there are a few things you should always avoid. Repeat after me: do not wear a white dress. Not white, not ivory, not eggshell, champagne, dove gray, cream, bone, cloud or any variation of white. That color is for the bride only. Even if she chooses to wear another color. That’s probably another good rule. If the bride is wearing a different color, avoid that color too. In recent years, black is becoming more accepted to wear to a wedding, but you should err on the side of caution. If the wedding is very conservative, you should probably leave your little black dress at home. If you really want to wear black, it will be more appropriate for night weddings, and you should probably pair your dress up with some colorful accessories. Finally, red is another controversial color. In Asian weddings the bride wears red some times, so you should avoid it in those cases. In every other wedding, a red dress can be appropriate, as long as is not extremely flashy, clingy or revealing. Remember, you are not the center of attention at this wedding.
The rest is just common sense. Stick to the dress code provided in your invitation, keep your neckline appropriate and be considerate of religious dress codes if part of the ceremony will be at a temple. And wear comfortable shoes, nobody looks good while wincing from pain.