A wedding is no time for casual
I know people who do not own a suit or even a sport coat. In fact, the thought of it makes their skin crawl. I remember having a conversation with a bride-to-be who felt concerned that her future in-laws would arrive in jeans. She could not believe what she heard. “It doesn’t matter,” they said, “you’re the one getting married.” To her great relief on the big day, they arrived as they should – dressed up.
A wedding is no time for casual. The bride and groom will not be saying casual vows. Their love for each other is a serious thing. They value the moment. When you show up like you stopped by after a couple hours at the mall, you are telling them that their marriage ranks a little lower on the importance list. Tell them that their wedding is of great value and that you care in an excited, not casual, way. It is always disappointing for me to witness someone wearing jeans or a t-shirt at a wedding.
You should always wear a suit to a wedding (a tie is assumed). There are a few rare exceptions such as the beach and certain outdoor weddings; but, for the most part, do not deviate from this principle. It is better to show up to a hay ride wedding in a light suit than to show up to a more formal wedding where you look like you are headed to a hay ride – standing out as much as the wedding party, but in the opposite way. If you have any doubts, then ask. If the invitation notifies you that it is a black tie event, then you need a black tuxedo. If you lack one of your own, you can rent one for the day or you can buy one. Nowadays, you can have a custom-made tuxedo delivered right to your door for under $500 (i.e. http://www.indochino.com). Black tie optional means that you can either wear a tuxedo or a dark suit and tie. Add a white shirt paired with a black tie and polished shoes to complete the look. If your wife, girlfriend, date, mother, or any random woman at the wedding comments on your sharp appearance, then you are headed in the right direction.
Overall, bring you’re A-Game of social behavior. Make sure to bring a gift. Congratulate the bride and groom telling them that they put together a beautiful wedding and that they truly honored you with their invitation. And one more thing, brush up on your manners and etiquette. No stuffing your napkin into your shirt collar. No elbows in the table. No chewing with your mouth open. Imagine that you are dining with the president of the United States. With all that in your mind and a smile on your face, you can’t help but have a warm-hearted, classy and fun time.
For more information about dressing for a black tie event, read Dress codes: Black Tie (Tuxedo basics).
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