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So, you’ve been invited to a wedding this summer… Great, now what do you wear?

The first thing you should do is to find out the colours of the wedding party. If this was not indicated on the invitation, use your connections with the couple and their families to find out.

From your invitation, you should know the venue and time of the ceremony and reception. This will help you to determine how to dress properly for the occasion. This will answer some of the most important questions in your mind, such as: Is it a formal event? Should I be prepared for the heat? Do I have a long distance to walk ? Should I wear comfortable shoes? How do I wear my hair? I could go on.

A church, civic centre, town hall or a hotel conference room are sure bets it’s formal or semi-formal affair. A garden wedding is an entirely different matter. So too is a beach wedding. You wouldn’t want to be dressed in high heels , there, would you?

Let me just get to the point. You want to look as good as everyone else, not stick out like a sore thumb. Most of all, you must be comfortable to make it through the ceremony and reception. Remember, you’ll be dressed up for at least a few hours, unless you forget your manners and leave early, right after the groom kisses the bride.

Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Formal evening/black-tie wedding

Ladies, you can go all out for a this occasion, with a long and glamorous evening dress. Hold the beading and sequins unless you know that it’s a black-tie event. Bring out the diamonds, rubies and precious stones or your thrifty, but expensive-looking bling. If you’re wearing strapless or spaghetti strap dress, this is the time to bring along a very extravagant shawl.

Gentlemen, you may wear a dark suit with a really nice dress shirt and matching tie. Make sure your tie is a solid colour, preferably the same colour as the shirt. Remember, you’re not going to the office. Wear a tuxedo for black-tie and black-tie-optional evening weddings; however it’s best to stick with the traditional tux, unless the invitation specifies creative black tie.

Formal daytime wedding

Ladies, formal daytime weddings are quite rare; however, choose a short cocktail dress for a formal daytime wedding, making sure it’s not too revealing. And, no flowers please. If you’re wearing a dress that’s strapless, has spaghetti straps or a deep neckline, bring a nice lace shawl or a matching satin jacket for a religious wedding. You may opt for a nice suit, instead, something in a light shade that is well-tailored, no dark frumpy suits, because you don’t want to look as though you are heading into or just popped out from work.

Gentlemen, choose a nice dress shirt. These days men are heavy on satin, but remember your venue; think heat versus air-condition, so choose appropriately. Wear a darker suit and tie for a formal daytime wedding. Remember, don’t wear a tuxedo, unless the invitation specifies “Black Tie.”

Semi-formal daytime

Ladies, your best bet is to wear a fairly conservative, slightly floral or colorful short dress. Failing that, a business attire usually works as well; however, stay away from black, navy or dark brown. You may choose to glam up your suit by wearing an elegant hat and a pair of lacy gloves — no white please. Ladies, Caribbean women love bling, but please, not on this occasion.

Gentlemen, select a dress shirt, nice slacks, tie and sports coat — black and navy are fine. You may also choose a light coloured or seersucker suit. Jeans for this occasion is definitely a no!

We live in paradise, so there will be persons who don’t really care about all the pomp and circumstance when it comes to saying I do. So you will get invitations for beach and garden weddings. Some want you to dress semi-formally and some don’t really care; they just want you there.

For the persons who can’t be bothered to tell you how to dress, commonsense should apply. How do you think you will look in a wedding photo on the beach, everyone in smart casual, but you show up in torn jeans and a scruffy t-shirt? Definitely not cool. When it comes to a wedding, the word ‘casual’ usually means choosing a pretty sundress, or smart slacks and a smart shirt.

With that said, let’s get to the don’ts of dressing.

Ladies, don’t:

Wear white to any wedding. It’s the bride’s day not yours.

Wear black to a daytime wedding.

Wear jeans, unless the invitation says so.

Wear sequins during the daytime. Anything too sparkly will make you look overdressed.

Wear colors that the bridesmaids or the mothers are wearing

Wear clubwear, i.e. overtly sexy clothing (strapless, see-through, etc)

Wear opera-length gloves, unless you’re attired in a strapless or sleeveless gown.

Men, don’t:

Wear too casual of a pant such as cargo pants or worse, jeans

Wear Birkenstocks

Out-dress the wedding party

Wear unironed clothes and unpolished shoes

Wear wild colours and prints.

Wear a tuxedo during the day time, regardless of the formality of the event.

Don’t try to get cute with a tuxedo. A black tux with white shirt and black bow tie is the best way to go.

In the end, use good judgment if the invitation doesn’t specify the formality of the event. A pastel suit or soft floral dress for daytime event, or a little black dress for evening (after 6 p.m.) will take you almost anywhere. Gents, a dark suit and conservative tie will take you just about anywhere. Until next time, enjoy these lazy hazy, summer days and the weddings that come your way.

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