Dress etiquette at wedding time

Written by helena cain
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
Dress etiquette at wedding time
The clothing you choose for your wedding day sets the tone for the entire event. (wedding image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com)

While there are etiquette rules for how to dress at weddings, each wedding can have its own clothing rules. Formal weddings are predictable; however, more informal weddings may have a themed dress code or no dress code at all.

Essentially, a wedding's dress code revolves around the bride's dress. The groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen should all be dressed to coordinate with the bride. Guests should dress according to the formality of the wedding, without detracting from the beauty of the bride.


Many current trends stray from traditional wedding styles. Wedding themes, such as those that take place on the beach, may have a Hawaiian dress theme, or the engaged couple may choose an entirely informal jeans-and-T-shirt dress code.

If a couple decides to marry at a justice of the peace's office, formal wedding attire should be avoided. Instead, the wedding party should dress well, but conservatively, and guests should dress informally, unless requested otherwise.

The Bride

The bride's dress is one of the primary focal points of a wedding. A bride's wedding day is her day to shine and her gown should make a statement--whether that statement is traditional or non-traditional.

Some brides may opt to wear family heirloom dresses if available. According to "The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette," if a bride chooses to wear her grandmother's wedding gown, then she should. Otherwise, "if you want to choose your own dress, and many brides do, no family pressure should be brought to bear."

The Groom

As a general rule, the groom's suit should be coordinated to complement the bride's gown, not the reverse.

According to "Letitia Baldrige's New Manners for New Times: A Complete Guide to Etiquette," "If you are in a long, flowing white dress and veil as a first-time bride at a large formal afternoon wedding, your groom should wear a cutaway. Or after 6 o'clock, he would wear a black tie."

Bridesmaids and Groomsmen

The bridesmaid's dresses should coordinate with the bridal gown. Traditionally, they should be the same type of style and length. The dress colours should also match well with the wedding colours.

The groomsmen should all have matching suits, which complement both the style and colouring of the bridesmaid dresses and the wedding decor


When dressing for a wedding, guests should dress as if they are going to see a play or out for a nice dinner. If you are unsure of the dress code, ask the bride or groom prior to the event.

Generally, female guests should avoid wearing black, which is traditionally a suitable colour for funerals), and should also be careful not to wear an outfit that draws too much attention. After all, this is the bride's special day not the guests'.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the eHow.co.uk site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.