What to Wear to a Wedding Reception: for Both Men and Women

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When you receive a wedding invitation, the time the location are specified. But one big thing is mostly up to you--What to wear to a wedding reception. Whilst there are some general rules to adhere to, such as not wearing white, not wearing clothing that is overly revealing, and not looking wrinkled or unkempt. Even with these rules, deciding what to wear can still be extremely difficult, this article will aim to reduce your difficulty, and give you ideas to pick the perfect outfit.

FOR HER – What to Wear to a Wedding Reception: For Different Types of Weddings

What you wear to a wedding reception depends greatly on where the wedding is occurring and at what time. A beach wedding in the afternoon, for example, will likely call for a more casual look than a church wedding. That being said, a certain degree of decorum is essential for all wedding receptions, regardless of time or place. So you should know the appropriate attire for different types of wedding ceremonies as explained below. ​
1

Daytime Wedding

Some suitable suggestions for daytime weddings include:

  • A beautiful floral dress.

  • A sweater and skirt combination.

  • If the wedding is taking place in summer, a light colored suit would be highly appropriate.

  • For footwear, sling-backs, sandals, or heels are a good choice.

  • You can accompany your outfit with a gorgeous hat that suits the rest of your outfit.

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2

Evening Wedding

Some suitable suggestions for evening weddings include:

  • A fancy dress or gown.

  • A cute cocktail dress (nothing that is overly sexy or provocative). The color black is fine for such an occasion.

  • A cocktail suit.

  • Sophisticated, dark colors.

  • Things like sequins, sparkles and beads should be avoided unless the wedding invitation specifies “black tie”.

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3

“White Tie” Weddings

White tie weddings require the most formal dress code:

A full-length ball gown with a neutral color (such as black or dark brown), matched with dazzling makeup and beautiful jewelry and stylish hair.

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4

“Black Tie” Weddings

This often suggests that the wedding will take place in the evening, and requires formal attire:

A dark colored cocktail dress or evening gown. Ask the bride to ascertain how long the dress should be.

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5

“Formal” or “Black Tie Optional” Weddings

This suggests that the wedding is slightly less formal than “black tie”:

A cocktail dress, long dress, or dressy suit which are dark/neutral in color would be perfectly appropriate.

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6

“Creative Black Tie” Weddings

A floor-length gown, cocktail dress, long dress, or a short dress with accssecories like jewelry and colorful shawl are all ok.

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7

“Beach Formal” Weddings

This type of wedding indicates that you should wear something smart, but also suitable for the beach:

A formal summer sundress (tea length or knee length) paired with flat sandals and natural makeup & hair.

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8

“Semiformal” or “Dressy Casual” Weddings

For weddings such as these, you should aim to dress somewhere between formal and casual. Darker colors are more suitable to evening events, whereas lighter colors are better options for daytime ceremonies:

A dressy skirt and top or a beautiful cocktail dress.

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9

“Casual” Weddings

Casual weddings generally mean that there is no dress code, although you should still try to look nice and avoid wearing tank tops, shorts and jeans. As it is a wedding, assume that “casual” means “business casual”:

A beautiful blouse matched with a pretty skirt or pants, or a summer sundress with natural makeup & hair.

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FOR HER: What to Wear to a Wedding Reception in Different Seasons

1

Summer Wedding

Casual: Keep your dress simple, airy, and light. Fresh-looking colors (such as pastels or peach) are a good option.

Formal: You should aim for a chic-looking dress that is not too short or provocative, paired with matching accessories.

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2

Winter Wedding

Casual: Opt for an elegant cocktail dress or pretty blouse and skirt, matched with light accessorizing for a simple, effortless look.

Formal: A jewel-tone (like ruby, roygal purple, emerald green and sapphire) dress matched with gorgeous heels would be sure to look festive and fun.

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3

Fall Wedding

Casual: A cute dress in a bright color is perfectly acceptable, although you should avoid the wedding colors so your outfit does not clash.

Formal: A glamorous gown would possibly be the best option for this occasion, even with embellishments like sequins and crystal.

Cocktail: You can wear almost any cocktail dress you wish, as long as it is not overly provocative.

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4

Spring Wedding

Casual: Wear fabrics like linen or cotton, and ensure your dress is a light color (just not white or off-white). Remember that although it says casual, you are still attending a wedding, so dress appropriately.

HERE is a complete guide for different types of weddings in Spring

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FOR HIM:What to Wear to a Wedding Reception

1

Daytime Wedding

  • If it is a formal occasion, a dark suit would be appropriate.

  • A light-colored linen or seersucker suit for spring or summer wedding.

  • If there is a cool temperature outside, a wool suit, or a sweater underneath a smart blazer and a tie is a great choice.

  • A blazer matched with a buttoned shirt, smart trousers and a tie.

Suit details

2

Evening Wedding

  • You cannot go wrong with a dark, smart suit.

  • A tuxedo is suitable for formal ceremonies taking place after 6 pm.

  • If the ceremony is semi-formal/casual, a blazer matched with a suitable tie and slacks is appropriate when considering what to wear to a wedding reception.

Suit details

3

“White Tie” Weddings

The best option is a black tuxedo, a jacket with long tails in black, a white pique vest, a bow tie, and black formal (clean/polished) shoes, white gloves would also be appropriate when dancing.

4

“Black Tie” Weddings

A tuxedo, including a cummerbund, bow tie, and clean/polished leather shoes.

Suit details

5

“Formal” or “Black Tie Optional” Weddings

A dark, formal suit and tie or tuxedo.

Suit details

6

“Creative Black Tie” Weddings

A tuxedo is traditional but you can have fun wearing a colorful tie, shirt and cummerbund.

7

“Beach Formal” Weddings

A summer suit matched with a linen shirt. Khakis or linen trousers and sandals. One is not required to wear a tie.

Suit details

8

“Semiformal” or “Dressy Casual” Weddings

A suit matched with a tie, either dark or light depending on the time of day.

Suit details

9

“Casual” Weddings

A buttoned shirt or polo top matched with dress pants.

Shirt details

Pay Attention to These Things to Make It Even Better

Other things to consider when thinking about what to wear to a wedding reception include:
1

Dress Shoes

Whilst selecting the right dress is important, selecting the right shoes to go with the dress is equally important. Normally, leather business shoes will likely not be appropriate for a wedding ceremony. Try to go for something a bit dressier, and remember to ensure that they are comfortable enough to dance in.

2

Accessories

Wearing dazzling jewelry can really bring an outfit together, try to find accessories that match your shoes and dress, but ensure not to go over the top. Keep it simple, and keep it elegant.

3

Pick the Right Bag/Clutch

Don’t take you everyday handbag with you to the ceremony, instead, opt for an elegant clutch or small handbag that matches your outfit perfectly.

4

Remember to Wrap Up

As the majority of wedding guest dresses are sleeveless, you will likely need something to cover your arms (especially if the ceremony is taking place on a cold day). For this reason, opt for an elegant, feminine, ladylike wrap to cover your arms and prevent you from getting cold during the ceremony.

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