Weddings are, arguably, the defining event of each and every calendar year. As expected of occasions of such momentousness and gravity, there are rules, spoken and unspoken, to follow. Failure to do that could make you appear as the odd one out and probably become a one-day social outcast. At least before someone disgraces themselves in a more conventional way, that is…
Although the pandemic caused a drop in weddings, this year they are well and truly back, with 2.5 million predicted for 2022 in the US, and big numbers expected in the UK for the second half of the year, too.
Whilst some weddings show reverence to a particular heritage and culture, others follow a more expansive, all-encompassing tradition. Either way, if you’re wondering what the biggest fashion faux pas for UK weddings are, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s find out…
Never Match The Bridal Party
These days, it is fairly standard procedure for wedding invitations to specify dress codes and even colour themes. However, if the invitation doesn’t include such information, it’s not a bad idea to find out more about the shades and styles the bridal party will be in. This will allow you to avoid the same colours that they’ll be wearing, as a matter of caution.
If you don’t want to pry too much, you can use other clues. For example, in many situations, the invitation card gives away a lot of information. It’s not a rule cast in stone that the invitation card should match the wedding colours of the bridal party, but it often does. The last thing you want to do is look like the bridal party when you’re just a humble wedding guest, as this is considered, if not a fashion faux pas per se, a little bit awkward, at the least.
Of course, rather than looking for clues in the invitation or trying to interpret a rather vague invitation instruction, it might just be worth asking the bride or groom!
Ignoring The Specified Dress Code
Before you plan your outfit, you’ll need to check the formality of the event and see if there’s a specified, strict dress code. Is there a mention of cocktail attire or black tie on the wedding invitation? Have they specified a colour scheme? Is the dress code unwritten but obvious?
Weddings are usually formal affairs, but if they aren’t, the invitation will specify what sort of attire is expected (business casual, hippy chic, or everyone-in-shorts, for example). Always follow the instructions on the invitation and don’t bend the rules too much with your outfit.
If your invitation indicates specific instructions regarding attire, it is disrespectful to show up well beyond the dress code. Moreover, you may stick out like a sore thumb when you stand or sit with guests who ‘obeyed’ the dress code, which might lead to you feeling pretty uncomfortable all day.
For example, if the dress code is specified as ‘cocktail’, it would be a style faux-pas to appear in a ballroom gown as a female guest. And if it is a white tie event, the expectation is for male guests to appear in tuxedo jackets, white ties and matching pants. Female guests can show up in ballroom gowns.
White and black-tie dress codes are considered strictly formal. However, if you’re not sure how to dress, you can always call the RSVP indicated on the invitation card for clarification. Do so well in advance of the big day, giving you time to shop for appropriate wedding accessories in keeping with the dress code.
Avoid An All-Black (Or White) Ensemble
While an all-black ensemble may look great at formal events, it may not exactly fit the bill for a wedding. Weddings are celebrations of love and happily-ever-afters, and unless it is actively specified as the dress code, an all-black ensemble may evoke something different from the celebratory mood.
If you really do prefer to dress darkly, then according to stylists, black can be combined with a brighter colour to create warmth, which may be a safer option. However, gambling with all-black apparel represents a big risk.
Even more importantly, however; do not, we repeat, not, wear a white dress when attending someone else’s wedding, unless it’s been explicitly stated as fair game. This is a time for the bride to take the limelight, after all. Same goes for cream, ecru, beige and any other hue with close ties to the fair, frosted shade.
Exercise Caution With Anything Too Show-Stopping Or Casual
Speaking of avoiding stealing the bride’s limelight, it’s generally considered something of a fashion faux pas to wear anything too sparkly or show-stopping.
Subtlety and sophistication are the watchwords here, so steer clear of, for example, a dress made entirely of sequins, an outfit that bears loads of skin, anything primarily made from sheer, animal patterns and, of course, a tiara.
On the flip side, avoid anything that’s considered ‘casual’ unless it’s truly, explicitly stated as acceptable. So, generally speaking, you shouldn’t wear denim, flip-flops (even if it’s a beach wedding), trainers, sloganned items, or shorts to a wedding.
The Bottom Line
It can be uncomfortable showing up at a wedding only to realise you look oddly different from the rest of the attendees. Because of this, it’s best to pay close attention to the dress code and, if in doubt, just ask!