We all have to walk that fine line when it comes to deciding what to wear to a wedding: You want to look striking, somewhat fun, but still appropriate. You want to be remembered for the right reasons, even if it isn't your day whatsoever. Well, there are some basic ground rules worth referencing before rushing to the big day in a floral-print panic. We've covered the official dressing dos and don'ts of formalwear so that you can be the best-dressed guest at all manner of nuptials and high-society soirées—with zero wardrobe stresses.
So whether you have a city wedding to attend, a religious ceremony to consider carefully or you just don't want to have a miffed bride on your hands (no white lace, okay?), this is a good place to start. We can all lose our heads when a swanky event comes a-knocking, but it's really just a case of being fully prepared for every eventuality—and learning from some of our own fashion faux pas. Those strappy stilettos looked great in the store, yes, but were they really cut out for a marquee reception in a field? Not so much. Click through to read the nine must-know rules for what to wear to a wedding when you're just not sure.
#1: A dress is a safe go-to
If you're struggling to compile the perfect trousers, top and jacket combination with ease, then simply reach for one of your trusty statement dresses. Add heels or fancy flats, a few choice accessories and the makeup that makes you feel good. Perfection.
#2: Avoid short hemlines
It's not only about respect for the bride, but it's also a lesser-known fact that longer hemlines are conservatively sexy—especially irregular hemlines that give a peekaboo flash of leg when the woman is in motion. Err on the classy side and go midi, midaxi or maxi.
If you're at a city wedding it's likely you'll wear something different from a countryside do. Same goes for destination nuptials or something low-key that's designed to be more of a party. If you're on location then why not go all-out and dress with local or traditional influences in mind?
#4: It's okay to wear black
The modern world has ushered in many wonderful changes: iPhones, Headspace, hashtags, Voga and the acceptance of wearing black at weddings and baptisms. Black once was the mark of doom and gloom, but now it's a tone for the chic urbanites. Wear it to weddings, and wear it with aplomb!
#5: Always carry a small bag for your essentials
Large tote bags and cumbersome shoulder bags don't ooze "special occasion." Rather, they make it look like you're going on a daylong trek across the urban jungle. Go minimal and head out to the wedding with a micro or clutch bag, cutting loose from your heavy accessories for a day. Think of it as a handbag detox.
There's nothing worse than climbing into a pair of heels only to find that you are limping across the dance floor a mere few hours later. Find the comfy elevated shoes that will party harder than all your other footwear.
#7: Wear sleeves or bring a cover-up for religious ceremonies
There are lots of religious wedding ceremonies that may take place in sacred spaces that require a respectful covered-up dress code. Think royal enclosure at Ascot and wear thick straps and take a generous silk scarf to drape across your décolletage or wear sleeves to nail the issue in one.
#8. Check with the bride if you're not sure.
If you're not sure about your outfit and there isn't a clear dress code, it's always a good idea to check with the bride. Pro tip: Make sure it's at least a couple weeks before the big day, as the bride will most likely have bigger things on her mind the days running up to the wedding and will not appreciate a text hours before she's about to walk down the aisle. And if you're still not sure, stick with a suit, jumpsuit or classic wedding-guest dress.
Despite the changes in formal dressing over the past few years, with many brides opting to go for non-white or cream wedding dresses. That doesn't necessarily mean you should turn up in a floor-length white number. Debrett's wedding guide still says it's a no-no. You can, however, choose white add-ons, opt for subtle shades of champagne, peach and nude or opt for a white dress with a noticeable print so that it is clearly different from what the bride could turn up in. Remember, as per point #8, you can always ask and check.