Featured / Wedding Etiquette / Wedding Tips & Advice

Can I Tell Guests What To Wear At My Wedding?

Before we say ‘yes’ to this question, it’s a good idea to qualify what type of ‘dress’ we’re talking about.

If you have an urge for all your guests to attend wearing black and white because you’ve lost perspective and now have an urge that borders on fetishism, forget it. No-one likes being coerced into wearing a ‘uniform’, particularly to a wedding.

If you want a costume party, save it for halloween or a benchmark birthday…

But giving guests an idea as to how formal or informal the wedding is, is important. If you’ve chosen a wedding at a different kind of venue that requires a definite kind of attire (for instance there’s a swimming pool at your low-key, lunch time venue, or it’s a ballroom requiring splendid gowns) then, despite the fact that just about every wedding forum is going to tell you that it’s against wedding etiquette, letting your friends and family know not to pitch wearing clothes that will leave them feeling terribly uncomfortable seems only fair, in my mind.

How do you do this in a way that’s acceptable?

  • Forget terms like: semi-casual, garden party, or cocktail attire – none of its particularly helpful (casual can imply jeans, or a suit without a tie – apparel that is world’s apart and will leave someone feeling like a dork)
  • Use your invitation as a barometer: if your wedding is fancy, make the invitation classy; if you’re going seriously low-key then a funky look will indicate the style of dress
  • Some weddings are obvious: if you’ve already stated that guests are invited to a garden tea wedding, they know that they’re out of doors during the day and will dress accordingly
  • Include a postscript: here you can really spell it out. If there is a 1km walk to the venue and you’re worried about your guests’ choice of shoes, now is the time to say: ‘There will be singing. There will be dancing. There will be a 1km walk to the venue along a sand path! So choose the right footwear’
  • Have a FAQ section on your website or FB page – it’s a great place to go into detail about what guests can wear, under the question: ‘What shall I wear?’

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