A lovely girlfriend of mine asked me for my help recently finding an outfit for a wedding she is attending in Portugal this summer. She was told the wedding was on a beach and the men in the bridal party were wearing red chinos, so she thought it was fairly relaxed. It made me realise what a minefield dressing for a wedding can be with so many different types of venues these days and increasing deviation from the traditional white English wedding. Having been to a number over the years that varied in location, time and heat, I thought I’d give examples of what I’d wear to the following types of nuptials:
1. Beach Wedding
Ah a beach setting. It invariably means a destination wedding. Yippee!!! An all but organized weekend away somewhere hot and probably very pretty. As mentioned in my last blog, one of my BFFs got hitched on a beach last year and it was great fun, but sand sends women into a tail spin, mainly on the subject of what shoes to wear. What you really have to ask yourself is, where is the reception being held? If it is on stable dry land, shoe crisis is all but diverted by the fact that shoes can be removed for the wedding ceremony. Realistically, even if this barefoot idea appals, your feet are going to be covered by sand so it doesn’t matter going barefoot for the “I dos”. They take less than half an hour anyway. If the majority of the wedding is being held on the seashore, then please do buy a pair of pretty flat sandals. If you feel naked without a heel, strappy wedges can just about be worn and walked in without looking like a drunk dinosaur.
Here are my picks for such an occasion:
2. Registry Office
While a registry office may not have all the pomp of a church wedding, it is still someone’s big day. In my eyes, guests should still be smartly dressed and respectably so as well – no massive swathes of flesh on show. I don’t have any registry office weddings to attend this year, but if I did, I would use the opportunity to buy a new handbag and pair of shoes at the same time. If wearing headwear, I’m not a huge fan of handbags that match shoes and hats exactly, though this is only my opinion. I just think that outfits look altogether more stylish and chic when accessories complement each other as opposed to standing out against a dress like exclamation marks.
For a wedding this season at your local council headquarters, this is what I would choose.
3. Black tie
Another one of my best friends had a beautiful black tie wedding in Portugal almost two years ago now. It was an amazing day, despite the unseasonable rain. As her bridesmaid, she adorned me with a long rose gold sequinned number that I have been lucky enough to wear numerous times since. However, if you are attending a similar wedding as a guest, it should still be just as easy to get dressed. Black tie is about as formal as one can get (white tie means tiaras and therefore possible bride upstaging could occur!) and so wedding guests should dress accordingly. Men obviously have it easy, as usual one could argue, at such an event, but women have an excellent opportunity to buy beautiful long dresses that ordinarily we don’t have a use for day to day. To me black tie means maxi hem lines, though some cocktail dresses are so pretty and glamorous enough that it doesn’t really matter. I always wear a heel, but then I always end up dancing around them too.
Here are my glamorous numbers:
4. Traditional White Wedding
I have a new rule that I’m not allowed to buy any more dresses for a wedding for the next year. Particularly to traditional white weddings. I went through a stage of buying a new outfit each time so coupled with the cost of hen dos, hotels and presents, I was crippling myself financially. However, I do believe in investing in a good quality dress that is comfortable. The quality means that you don’t buy any 100% plastic numbers so regulating one’s body temperature is a great deal easier, and the dress will last. The fact that it is comfortable means that you will wear it again and again, and have a great time in it. Another thing to note for these weddings is the propensity for the Pimms round to be served on grass and, as mentioned before on this blog, footwear can be a tricky issue here, as well as a beach wedding. Flats are rarely smart enough, but high heels mean you spend a good hour trying not to put any weight on your heels so you don’t sink into the ground, and mid height heels can sometimes look frumpy. Luckily, this season the block heel has made a comeback which should stop any grass divots, plus they are comfortable too. If I can’t find a pair of shoes that coordinates with my outfit, I go with a nude wedge pair.
My choice picks for big white wedding:
5. Evening Guest
When you're an evening guest, you can afford, I think, to go a little bit shorter and relaxed in terms of appropriateness. That is not to mean I think you can go looking like a hooker, high class or not. But you can certainly have a bit more glitz on your outfit and perhaps in more after dark materials like satin. Black is also an option as an evening guest - traditionally a colour off limits at any nuptials. Smart and dressy playsuits are also a definite option for those attending after the wedding breakfast. Also, as ever for me, comfort is an issue. Whilst pitching up after about 1800 is a much shorter day than those who arrived at 12.30 for the I dos, sitting down is not as much of an option as often evening guests arrive purely for dancing and bacon sandwiches. Being able to move easily, drink freely to play catch up with the majority of guests, and shoes that let your feet breathe are all necessary issues to think about when planning an outfit.
Below is my idea for any after twilight attendees: