With fall being a very popular time for weddings, chances are good that you’ve recently received at least one wedding invitation. And while it’s true that all eyes will be on the bride and groom at the event, it’s not fair to assume that you will simply be able to blend into the background. It’s always important to dress appropriately at a wedding, not only out of respect for all the planning and hard work (and cost) that went into the event, but also because you will likely appear in photographs that the wedded couple and their family will keep for years and years to come.
One common misconception about weddings is that it is inappropriate to wear black. Today, this rule has been overturned. It is not even uncommon to see bridesmaids outfitted in black. However, before pulling out your best black suit, you’ll need to consider some specifics about the event to determine if this is your most appropriate choice.
First, take a look at the invitation. Does the wedding take place in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Attire for a morning wedding will generally be lighter than an evening one. Wearing black may not be your best bet here. Instead, you may wish to opt for a khaki colored suit, or perhaps a nice pair of gray dress trousers with a sport jacket and a tie. You can experiment with different types of tie knots to see what best compliments a little more of a breezy feel. Sometimes a morning wedding or an outdoor wedding may be specified as “casual attire,” but this does not mean jeans. It means dress trousers with a cotton button down and a tie. You can think of “wedding casual” similarly as you would “business casual”– you still need to look nice and put together.
Phrases you might see that indicate that black is a very smart choice would be:
Black tie optional
With cocktail attire, you’ll generally see women wearing longer dresses and more luxurious fabrics than they would at, say, a wedding that takes place outdoors in the afternoon in a botanical garden. Your level of sophistication should match them. A black, navy, or dark gray suit would be appropriate.
Even if you do not see the term “cocktail attire” actually listed on the invitation, you may be able to tell that it is implied. For example, is the wedding to take place after 5:00 pm, in a grand location such as a hotel ballroom? Is the invitation printed on heavy cream colored cardstock with black calligraphy print? Did you have to choose between chicken, beef, or fish as a plated dinner (rather than knowing that you’ll be eating from a buffet)? If so, these are all hints that the bride and groom are having a wedding on the formal side of the spectrum, and cocktail attire would be appropriate. Reach for your black suit in this case. A classic and classy look would be a black two or three piece suit, a crisp white button down shirt, and a burgundy or bronze tie.