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Style guide: wedding guest do's and don'ts

As weddings begin to deviate more and more from tradition, the etiquette on what to wear as a guest becomes more difficult to dissect. Can you wear black? What about white? What's the protocol on hats these days? We've spoken to the experts and answered those frequently asked questions. Here's how to be the best dressed guest with Team LBD's modern day guide to what to wear to a wedding...

Can I wear black to a wedding?

Black is supremely chic, ultra slimming (perfect for bumping into your ex or a nasty cousin that used to tease you about your 'puppy fat'), and is now a popular choice for wedding guest style with the likes of Kate Middleton wearing a black dress not once, but twice (well, you know how K Middy is with dress recycling) on someone else's big day. Heck, even bridesmaids are being dressed up in the darker shade.

A simple little black dress with a delicate fascinator and colour-pop high heels is our recommended wedding day outfit as you'll feel comfortable, look a little bit sexy and a lot sophisticated. And everyone will acknowledge your efforts at keeping in with the special occasion.

The perfect colour choice for city weddings and evening weddings, it's probably one shade to avoid on the beach and abroad.

The moral of the story is if you want to wear black to a wedding, as long as it looks occasion-worthy and isn't head-to-toe (i.e. funeral chic), then do it. Still not quite sure how to wear black at a wedding? We asked the experts for a full comprehensive of how to wear and when to wear black at a wedding, read it here.


1. Invest in good quality deoderant. White stains on your little black wedding guest dress is not a good look.

2. Wear black underwear. In certain light, nude and white underwear will show through black clothes which will make for a serious un-tagging session on Facebook the next day.

3. Monochrome is always a classic look so opt for black and white prints or team your LBD with white accessories for wedding chic look.


Can I wear white to a wedding?

It started with Pippa Middleton. She wore a white dress worthy of an 'I do' when she was bridesmaid at her sister's wedding to Prince William and she looked so good, wedding guests the world over have been trying to make white-not-on-their-wedding-day work too.

Back in 2008 Gwynnie famously wore a white mini dress to none other than king and queen of music Jay-Z and Beyoncé's nuptials. For a less sophisticated example, Lindsay Lohan also did it at Kim Kardashian's weddng and she's not even her sister or her bridesmaid, let alone approved by the Queen of England.

When it comes to wearing white to a wedding, we say tread carefully. With white dresses becoming a popular trend, more and more wedding guests are keeping it light. If you want to do the same, opt for short and fitted frocks that have other colours in; nothing long, floaty or satin, and team it with a jacket of another colour, or add a statement, non-white accessory to stop it looking bridal.


1. Panel dresses and carefully placed colour-blocking is super flattering so satisfy your need to wear white on someone else big day with a slimming black and white panel dress.

2. Make white more chic and sophisticated than innocent and ethereal with a chic up-do, and over-sized clutch bag and sharp, sexy stilettos.

3. White can make you look a little washed out so make sure you've applied fake tan a few days before the wedding and be liberal with the blusher to give you a sun-kissed glow.


Should I wear a hat to a wedding?

You may think hats are a bit, well old hat. But with our rising interest in the royals, the Royal Wedding and events such as Ascot, Aintree and Goodwood, hats and fascinators are having a bit of a renaissance. Etiquette once dictated that you could only wear a hat if you knew the bride but that is certainly not the case now. While more mature wedding guests may gravitate towards the traditional over-sized hat, those who aren't quite ready for such a statement, and younger wedding goers, should embrace the fascinator.

These merry headpieces have come a long way since their feathery, floaty beginnings, and now come in a range of bold, strong shapes and styles. We love Kate Fearnleys colour clashing clip-ons and Rachel Black Millinery's artistic headbands. Or give a nod to summer's floral trend by wearing an over-sized hair flower courtesy of cult brand Johnny Loves Rosie.


1. Accessories can make or break your wedding guest outfit and if you've already chosen an elaborate hat or fascinator, we say go easy on the statement jewellery.

2. If in doubt when it comes to wedding outfit shoes, make like Kate Middleton and go for leg-lengthening, go-with-everything, nude, closed-toe heels.

3. Don't let your wedding guest dress down with a scraggy old cover up. Choose a lightly coloured pashmina, a tailored blazer or a cute, button-up cardigan.


How much flesh can I reveal at a wedding?

A wedding draws together a rather random group of people you wouldn't usually find yourself in the same room as. So when deciding how much chest is too much, picture the mother of the bride's 90-year-old mother and imagine what she would say. If this isn't enough to deter you from flashing the flesh at a wedding we'd like to point you in the direction of Sarah Owen at her sister, Lily Allen's wedding.

By all means, if it's a summer wedding, or even if it isn't and you know you'll be inside all day, go for bare legs. In fact, we encourage the naked pin as tights make dressing all the more difficult and look less 'special occasion' than a nice bronzed leg. In terms of hem-length, Team LBD recommends a safe knee length or this seasons favourite midi a la Moss at Jade Jaggers wedding so as not to offend anyone or embarrass yourself when the wind blows. Oh, and if you're in a church take a leaf out of your mum's style book and bring a cover-up.


1. Cover up in church. Nobody wants to be distracted from the ceremony by an overbearing cleavage, God included.

2. Delicate lace is a fantastic summer trend, perfect for showing some skin whilst still retaining your modesty.

3. Just going to the evening do? Fell free to wear a more revealing outfit, but the same rules apply at a wedding as a party: legs or chest; not both.


Only invited to the evening. What to wear?

If you're just attending the evening reception then you need to bear two things in mind. Firstly, this bit is the party; everyone will have let their hair down, the dance floor will be begining to fill and the drinks will be flowing.

Secondly, the majority of the guests will have been there all day and they may not have changed from their demure, daytime wedding themed outfits. So while you want to show you're fresh, fun and ready for the big crescendo remember that you'll be amongst pinks and a lot of florals.

Why not try a little black dress with a fun and feminine cut? Or a 1920's inspired floral frock? Or a floor-sweeping maxi in a bold hue? You can also use the occasion as an excuse to wear a tricky-to-know-when-to-wear-it midi dress with high impact, jewelled accessories. These looks are guaranteed to make you feel as special as the night itself but 'occasion' enough to look like you've been there all day. Cheat and check out our collection of perfect evening wedding guest dresses here.


1. Be sure to take a cover-up with you, even if it is summer. It could be a chilly night of drinks in the garden or a long walk home if you don't.

2. Think carefully about your choice of footwear. You won't be wearing your heels all day so if you're a high heel regular, your sexiest stilettos will be fine, but if you're a flat shoe fan and plan to dance all night, go for kitten heels, wedges or pumps.

3. If you're only going to the evening part of a wedding it's good manners to bring a card but the bride and groom won't expect a gift.

 For fail-safe wedding guest look take a look at our Wedding Guest Dresses


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