Bridal Style: What To Wear To A Wedding In Any Setting

August 6, 2014

What To Wear To A Wedding, especially when you aren't sure what's appropriate!

Knowing what to wear to a wedding when you’re in a venue or setting that’s unfamiliar to your everyday style can be totally daunting. I know I’ve agonized over my outfit as an attendee when figuring out what styles are appropriate for the venue or setting of the special day.  After you’ve determined what type of wedding you’ll be attending, whether it be a casual/outdoor wedding (like barns or rustic weddings, parks or ocean weddings), average day to night wedding, or a really formal black-type wedding, you’ll want to pull in a few key elements that will help you look the part.

The invitation ideally should provide the clues you need to figure out how to dress, but sometimes it can be misleading.  Typically, the more formal the invitation, the more formal the affair- but don’t rely on that entirely.  Google is your friend, you can always take a look at the venue and compare it to the invitation to see what type of attire is appropriate.  For instance, a whimsical invitation that takes place near a harbor, will typically be more casual.  Of course, I’ve seen brides choose exceptionally formal invitations for park weddings that have no sit down dinner, so if you’re at all confused, be sure to ask the bride, groom or mutual friend well in advance (please do not bug the bridal party the week of!) and plan you outfit.

Here are some rules of thumb and ideas for some of the major wedding types you’ll attend:

For A Wedding At A Hotel Or Traditional Venue (Day-To-Night Wedding That’s Ambiguously Formal & Casual):

What To Wear To A Day-Night Or Semi-Casual Wedding

What To Wear To A Casual Wedding

– A shift dress with heels and a statement necklace is always a safe bet, especially if the ceremony is more conservative or takes place in a church.

– Avoid dark colors (black especially) if the ceremony and party starts rolling out during the day.  Save the pearls and black pumps for a more formal affair.

– Pick colors that coordinate with the invitation but don’t make it look as if you belong in the bridal party.  If the bride has chosen a specific shade of turquoise, unless you’re in the bridal party, you don’t need to match.   The formality of your outfit should coordinate with the wedding, the colors themselves, do not have to.

– Air on the side of caution, especially if you do not know the cultural or religious customs.  Stay classy with your cleavage and make sure your undergarments fit properly for a smooth appearance and wear a supportive bra.

The Maidenform bra I’ve used in this post has a racerback, and is smooth enough to work under a sheer dress- so no surprise bumps, lumps and straps hanging out!

Maidenform Tback Bridal Style

(Pictured here: Maidenform T-Back bra)


For An Outdoor Wedding (Rustic Barn, Park or Beach Wedding):

WhatTo Wear To A Casual Or Rustic WeddingWhat To Wear To A Rustic, Barn or Beach Wedding

– Cottons and more casual fabrics or prints are appropriate for a more casual wedding.  You can wear a nice sundress, or something that will allow you to feel comfortable on a bail of hay or park bench if the setting is outside.

– Avoid heels and opt for a flat or wedge (shown above.) If the wedding is somewhat formal with a sitdown dinner and open bar, opt for a classy shoe that still avoids the issue of tripping in the sand or a stiletto sinking into the grass.

– Pack a pair of sunglasses for an outdoor ceremony and be sure to bring a cover up (shawls or scarves) to protect yourself from the sun, or, as the sun goes down, to bundle up-  outdoor venues and beach weddings are prone to fast temperature drops!

– Handbags should be as light as your outfit, don’t bring a big purse or tote.  Keep something small to hold your essentials and not weight down your outfit.

– Invest in good shapewear!  Summer and casual dresses tend to be more sheer, investing in a good slip to minimize lumps, bumps and provide more coverage with sheer, light fabrics, invest in a good slip.  I’m a fan of the types that don’t cover the bra but still offer smoothing and tummy control.  Slips are a great way to cover up that annoying little “belly button bump” that shows up on sheer dresses…plus, with a bit of coverage, it slims and covers panty lines.

Bridal Style Full Slip with Maidenform

{Seen above: Maidenform Comfort Devotion Smooth WYFOB Slip}




For Formal, Evening Weddings:

What To Wear To A Formal Wedding

What To Wear To A Wedding- Little Black Dress & Accessories

–  Darker colors are totally appropriate for more formal events.  If the invitation is more formal, there’s a sit down dinner, and the hotel or venue is quite swanky and traditional, you can opt for more traditional grace or even some glam.

–  You can accessorize with classics like black pumps, pearls, diamonds and plenty of sparkle on your dress, accessories and glam.  Patent leather is also appropriate for a high-gloss shine.

–  For a more formal wedding, the fabric of your dress should be a bit heavier- tafettas, silks, thicker poly-blends that drape and flatter are a good idea.  For a wedding like this, you can pick an accessory you love, like a string of classic pearls or a rhinestone bracelet and build around it.

–  Your undergarments should be smooth- no panty lines, bra straps or muffin tops on evening gowns.  Invest in a good pair of shapewear (Seen above: Maidenform Weightless Comfort Shortie Slimmer).  A convertible bra that can convert to one strap, two straps or racerback for the dramatic necklines or asymmetrical cuts of evening wear.


Bridal Style & Wedding Style with Maidenform

 {Seen Above:  Maidenform Comfort Devotion Natural Boost Multiway Bra}

If In Doubt, Air On The Side Of “Classy.”

There are a few things I can recommend for you if you’re still not sure what to wear. First, always dress with class and be sure you have shoes that work for the venue and your undergarments flatter your figure under the fabric of your dress.  (I’ve seen wayyy too many bra straps and undergarments sticking out from dresses!) Here, I’ve styled with Maidenform shapewear and undergarments. If you’re unsure of how formal the event is, it’s better to overdress a bit, than to underdress.

The easiest way to dress en pointe at a wedding is to bring transitional pieces to go along with the day- such as a pair of wedges for the ceremony and a pair of flats for dancing, and a light cover up for weddings that transition from day to night.  If you’re unsure about the event, ask someone, but don’t bug them the week of.

Finally, you can avoid the typical wedding pitfalls by making sure your shoes are appropriate.  Heels sinking into the grass or “mile high hooker heels” are better for a night of clubbing than a laid back wedding on the grass.  Conversely so, if you’re showing up for a wedding in dressy gladiator sandals and everyone else is in a pair of wedges, it will make you feel really uncomfortable, even if your feet feel fine!


Bridal Style With Maidenform, and Matilda


Matilda the pug, who insisted on being a part of this blog post throughout it’s photographing, agrees.

What are your best pieces of advice to get dressed for a wedding?

What is the biggest fashion blunder you’ve seen at weddings?


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Maidenform. The opinions and text are all mine.

10 comments so far.

10 responses to “Bridal Style: What To Wear To A Wedding In Any Setting”

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