Finding what to wear to a wedding can be stressful. Even more so when you get invited to a church wedding. Allow us to help you navigate wedding attire for guests at church weddings.
We’ll look at 10 important dos and don’ts that’ll make dressing for church weddings as easy as pie.
The Dos On What To Wear To A Church Wedding
Do Follow the Dress Code
You’ll usually find the dress code briefly stated in the wedding invitation. This will be your best guide to choosing the appropriate outfit. Failing to follow dress codes can make you stick out like a sore thumb.
If you’re unsure about anything regarding the dress code, contacting the couple will be best. Just make sure you’ll call weeks before the wedding day to not add to their stress.
Confuse how a formal wedding differs from a semi-formal wedding? For a very detailed guide on the various dress codes possible for weddings, this post from Brides will help you out a lot. But be sure to finish this list before checking that out.
Do Keep It Modest
As a general guideline, it’s important to keep in mind that a church wedding will often call for a more modest dress code—even if it’s not stated in the invitation.
For example, in most Catholic weddings, showing too much skin is frowned upon. You won’t be thrown out of the chapel or anything like that. But prepare yourself for some looks thrown your way from the conservative crowd.
This doesn’t mean strappy or off-shoulder dresses are completely off the table. If you’re fond of the off-shoulder dress you have but worry about modesty, bring something to cover up. A pashmina shawl for the summer or cashmere knit in the winter can cover your upper body when needed.
Do Consider the Seasons
Dressing for the season is a must regardless if you’re attending a church wedding or not.
For example, if you’ll be attending a summer wedding in an un-air-conditioned venue (as chapels, especially older ones, tend to be), you’ll need to consider wearing natural fibers over synthetics (e.g. linen suit; cotton or lyocell dress shirt, or short-sleeved sundress; tea-length or full-length silk gown). In doing so, you’ll avoid becoming a sweaty mess after the church ceremony.
For a winter wedding, on the other hand, layering is your best friend. Wearing thermals underneath your outfit will keep you warm, as well as choosing a quality coat when the venue gets real cold.
Seasons can also help you determine what color to wear if a color scheme isn’t indicated in the dress code. Wearing lighter colors is highly appreciated in the spring and summer. Meanwhile, dark colors are more for autumn and winter.
Do KISS: Keep It Simple & Sophisticated
Keeping it simple and sophisticated (KISS) is key to putting together an appropriate outfit for a church wedding (and for most occasions, to be honest). Whether you’ll be attending a Catholic church wedding, a casual church wedding, an evening wedding, or a daytime wedding, KISS will be the safest, fool-proof method to take.
To keep things simple, opt for having three colors max in your outfit (2 major colors and 1 accent color). For example, consider patterned dresses in a combo of 2 colors (e.g. blue and gray; green and white) plus a complementing color via your accessories (e.g. cream clutch, red shoes, etc.).
To add sophistication, choose accessories that will complement your outfit. If you’re wearing a very plain dress, choose bolder (but not a statement) jewelry. Same when going with a monochromatic tailored suit or classic suit. Wearing a thick band watch or a patterned tie or bow tie will give a touch of sophistication to your outfit.
Do Get Creative
How can you bring a splash of creativity when keeping things simple? Easy—tweak your colors, fabrics, and textures!
Still following the three-color max rule, if you’re fond of bright colors but still want to adhere to the wedding dress code, add pops of color through your accessories. A red bag, yellow pumps, or burgundy lips can bring some fun to your otherwise “boring” outfit.
Mixing and matching fabrics is another great way to get creative. Instead of the typical grain or smooth leather, male guests can go for suede dress shoes to match a tailored suit. When dealing with a semi-formal dress code, female guests can opt for a flowy skirt paired with a crisp, structured dress shirt.
Textures are a more subtle yet effective way to let your personality shine through. Consider a velvet fit and flare dress or velvet shoes to be even more subtle. Textured suits (suits made with thick threads and visible weaves) can also make for a creative outfit.
The Don’ts On What To Wear To A Church Wedding
Don’t Wear Denim
Even if the wedding you’ll be attending is a casual event, you’ll want to avoid wearing denim—especially straight-up farmer’s blue denim. The thing with denim is that, like flip-flops, it can instantly make any outfit look casual—too casual for a wedding.
Even if you pair your blue denim with your nicest top, you can still look underdressed for the informal attire needed for a casual or dressy casual dress code. It’s like wearing your nicest tailored pants with t-shirts. Sure, it can make for an interesting fashion choice. But it’s likely inappropriate for a wedding guest.
If you feel the best when wearing denim and can’t go without it, opt for dark-wash pairs then dress it up via your top and accessories. Beware though that even the darkest wash of denim can look glaringly casual when worn for an evening celebration.
Don’t Wear Sweats
Nothing screams loungewear better than sweats. These are a big no-no to wear to a wedding— even more so to wear to a church wedding.
Unlike dark wash denim, there’s zero hope of dressing up sweats for a commonly formal affair like weddings. Unless the sweats are specifically requested by the couple, just leave them at home.
Don’t Wear White
Wearing black will be more acceptable than wearing white to a wedding. White and other similar-looking colors (cream, beige, champagne, very light blue or gray, etc.) are the common choices for most brides’ dresses.
So, yes, even if you love the white dress you found to death, save it for a future event. Perhaps it’s time to whip out your little black dress. Wearing black to a church wedding isn’t that frowned upon for more modern churches. A black outfit, especially as a choice for evening wear, will be quite suitable.
Don’t Go Overboard
This goes hand in hand with KISS. Going overboard with what you’ll wear—no matter the dress code—will instantly make for a disaster. The last thing you want to do at a wedding is to overshadow the bride.
Remember to leave the tiara to the bride. Even if this is the first semi-formal or formal event you’ll be attending in a while, avoid wearing outfits that are a notch dressier than the dress code indicated. If you waltz into the wedding wearing a dress in a dramatic silhouette or color, you’ll risk taking the focus of most guests off the married-couple-to-be.
Wedding guests are often informed weeks (sometimes even months) before the wedding day on what to wear and where the wedding will take place. With that, don’t wait until the same week of the wedding to put together the outfit you’ll wear to attend the event.
Procrastinating will especially burden you when the event is a more formal affair that calls for formal attire (e.g. a black-tie or black-tie optional event). It might not be possible to find the perfect formal dress or classic suit in a couple of days.
Some More Tips When Preparing What To Wear To A Church Wedding
Check if the church has a website. Most churches now have websites and various socials where you can inquire regarding their dress code.Some even have a page or post dedicated to detailing what to wear during a church ceremony for wedding guests.
When unsure, triple-check all details. When we’re unsure, we can feel a lot more stressed. To lessen your apprehension when attending church weddings, triple-check all details available to you.
Bounce-off ideas with your fellow wedding guests.Try to ask your fellow female guests or male guests what they’re planning to wear. Not only can this lessen your apprehension about the event. You might find a couple of ideas on what to wear after asking others.
Always opt for the safer option. If you’re stuck between a simple outfit you’re not that excited about over a fancier outfit you’re unsure of, opt to wear the simple outfit instead. Sure, it might be boring to wear, but going for the safer option will be best when attending a church wedding or even a non-church wedding.
Deciding what to wear to a church wedding need not be mind-boggling. Just keep these dos and don’ts close to you as you peruse your options for your church wedding attire. You’ll surely be ready way before the wedding day approaches.
While you’re here, have a look at our previous post.