Working at a lot of weddings I’ve had ample opportunity to observe outfits that wedding guests generally think appropriate. And I’m not just talking about the women, although it goes without saying that 90% of the time the female guests put more effort in and consider their outfit more than the men do. But it never fails to surprise me just how well people scrub up for a big celebration. It also never fails to surprise me just how optimistic the people of Britain can be weather-wise.
Most wedding guest outfits take on a very summery look. Something breezy, perhaps flowery or bright and loose. They seem to forget (along with their umbrellas) that 65% of the UK’s weather is overcast. Still, an anorak is never going to complement a suit or maxi dress. And that’s what I love about weddings. The throw caution to the wind approach. The “I’ll wear what I please, it’s a celebration!” attitude.
I have to admit, it does look good when the bridesmaids, flower girls and groomsmen all coordinate in some way or other, whether that be style or, more often than not, a colour-scheme devised by she-who-must-be-obeyed (that’s the bride). But it is effective. Recently I worked a wedding where the décor was mainly white and pale colours, with centrepieces of the most vivid pink. Not a gaudy, trashy pink, but seriously bold. The bridesmaids wore pale dresses with a pattern of the exact shade of pink, and the groomsmen in formal dress with cravats of the same shade. Now it sounds excessive, but the overall effect was absolutely stunning.
And that’s the key to a great looking wedding. Wedding guest outfits should all be bold and beautiful, but please don’t forget to check the forecast. Many tailored formal dress shops offer a range of sharp looking overcoats. And if that isn’t enough, it is certainly worth investing in a plain but classic umbrella. One that looks good on the arm as well as being able to keep your head dry.
A good wedding guest outfit also has longevity. I’m personally a fan of the guest that sees it through to the bitter end in full formal dress, rather than the guest who pops on a pair of jeans as soon as the disco ball goes up. So make sure your outfit is comfortable, because likelihood is you’ll be wearing it for a long time.
But of course practicality is always going to move to the side line when you’re picking out that perfect outfit. When all is said and done, there are going to be a lot of photos taken, so you’re going to want to look your best. And this isn’t just a night out, this is a special occasion. The perfect wedding guest outfit should reflect this. Your wedding guest outfits too should be special; something that you normally wouldn’t wear. It needs to be classy, stylish and if you have the time, practical.
Lisa Snow blogs on beauty and culture for Marie Claire. She lives in London with her husband and two children.