Can You Tell Wedding Guests What to Wear?

It’s natural for the bride to want everything to go perfectly on her wedding day, but if she takes it too far, then she risks going viral for all the wrong reasons. Take the wedding coordinator who sent emails to guests with demands like, “Please do not wear anything other than a basic bob or ponytail” and “Do not talk to the bride at all.”

Your wedding should feel like a celebration rather than a hostage situation, so here’s what you can and can’t tell guests about what to wear.

Give them a general dress code

Your invitation should include more than just the time, date, and wedding venue. You also need to mention the dress code. There are lots of possible dress codes for weddings, including “dressy casual” on the informal end and “white tie” on the extremely formal end. If you want something in the middle, then ask guests to dress like they’re going to a cocktail party. That will give well-wishers a much better idea of what to search for when they go looking for the right wedding attire.

If a friend asks where they should go looking for dresses for wedding guests, feel free to give them the name of a store or two, but don’t do that unsolicited, since that can come across as overbearing. After all, if you want to to pick out a specific dress for someone, then you should invite them to be in your bridal party.

Be cautious with theme weddings

The average wedding takes about 14.5 months to plan. That gives you a lot of time to create an elaborate theme for your wedding. If you’ve always dreamed of getting married on Halloween with everyone in costume, then now’s the time to pursue that dream. Keep in mind, though, that some people will be turned off by elaborate theme weddings that require audience participation. If you and your beloved are really into dressing like you’re going to Comic Con, that’s great, but you shouldn’t require your guests to feel the same way.

Here’s what you can do, though. After you get engaged, a lot of people will congratulate you. Accept the congratulations graciously, then casually mention that you’re thinking of holding a theme wedding. The reactions you get will tell you a lot about whether or not you need to continue down the “elaborate theme wedding” path. You do have a little more leeway if you’re holding a destination wedding, since those already require extra commitment. Guests who are willing to travel with you to experience Florida’s Gulf Coast will generally be more willing to coordinate their clothing, so long as you don’t abuse that power. For instance, asking guests to wear green is a lot more reasonable than asking them to dress like a pirate.

Ask them not to wear white

It’s perfectly reasonable to ask guests to refrain from wearing all-white ensembles. A black-and-white pattern is fine, but an all-white dress or suit is not. You’re not being rude if you ask that. In fact, it’s a fashion faux pas to even think about showing up in white on the day a friend gets married.

The wedding is supposed to be about supporting the couple as they begin a new life together. It’s not terribly supportive to wear an outfit that purposely takes attention away from the couple. If you get word that, for instance, your mother-in-law is planning on wearing a white dress, it’s okay to take her aside and politely ask that she not do that. Better yet, get your future husband to help you.