"If you think business and manners don’t mix, try talking with your mouth full.” - Diane Gottsman, Modern Manners & Etiquette Expert, Author, Media Resource

How to Dress at a Summer Wedding

June 2nd, 2017 by

Dear Diane,

My brother is getting married on July 1st. There will be an outdoor ceremony and indoor reception. I have attended many weddings before, and all were quite formal. My brother has not explicitly stated a preferred dress code, but says we should dress “nice.” I am baffled as to exactly what my wife and I should wear, as “nice” is subjective.


Summer Wedding Attire

Dear Aaron,

Summer wedding attire can be a bit tricky. Your brother wants you and your wife to feel comfortable but I am sure he is expecting all of the guests to use their best judgement when it comes to dressing appropriately at his wedding. But, not clarifying a specific dress code leaves the guests in the dark and complicates a an already dicey matter. Here are a few of my suggestions:

A Backyard or Outdoor Wedding

The climate will likely be hot, dry or humid. Select a fabric that breathes and will keep you perspiration free. For guys, a nice pair of slacks in a summer-friendly fabric (no linen as it wrinkles easily) or a suit that is both comfortable and dressy would be a good choice. Ladies can choose from a variety of summer options including sleeveless, off the shoulder or a flowy maxi dress in a blend, silk or cotton. One of my favorites is lace, which does not have to be stiff and stuffy. High heel sandals or open toe shoes look great but may difficult to walk in if the ground is gravel or dirt. Find out about the venue in advance and adjust your heel choice accordingly.

An Indoor Wedding

An indoor venue is more forgiving. You can get away with wearing a heavier weight material because you won’t have to endure the scorching sun. For a black tie “formal affair,” men should choose a lightweight worsted wool suit and women a floor length dress. Cocktail attire dictates a dark suit (or nice slacks and shirt for men) and a short or cocktail length dress. Women should always keep in mind the venue may be air conditioned and you may get chilly so bring a scarf or lightweight shawl to throw over their bare shoulders.

On the Beach

Beach weddings almost always include sand. If you’ve been invited to a celebrate on a tropical island, consider yourself lucky and loved! Men may find themselves wearing slacks and a short sleeve shirt while women wear a sundress and pretty hat to block the sun. The sand is unforgiving when it comes to shoes. Ladies, stilettos and the beach don’t mix. Select a sandal that can go from fine, grainy sand to cement and still keep you looking stylish.

Finally, when in doubt about what to wear, directly ask the bride, friends who will also be attending or call the immediate family member of the couple. You will never go wrong by asking questions.

Have a great time and don’t forget to wear sunblock!

Best of luck,

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