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Dressed for the Occasion

Published: 21st January 2011 11:49
Whatever you decide to wear, remember, you will be looking at those wedding photos for years to come - so it's never too early to start thinking about your wedding outfits.

 Image by Neil Bowler Photography

Even if you think you know what sort of wedding gown you want, keep an open mind and leave yourself enough time to try out all kinds of styles and shapes - and take along a friend who will give you sound advice and a reality check!

Some points to bear in mind -

  • full skirts will draw attention to your bottom half 
  • full sleeves and fancy bodices will emphasise your top half 
  • If you're curvy, make the most of it and go for a classic hourglass shape and a simple neckline.

If you can, try to make a decision about your dress around six months before the wedding to allow time for fittings and alterations. If you think you may gain or lose weight before the wedding, tell your dressmaker or supplier - it is best to schedule in last-minute alterations.

And don't forget to wear "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue".

For your head dress, there is a very wide choice, from a full veil to simple flowers.  If you do want flowers, remember that fresh flowers may look great when you first put them in your hair but will soon start to wilt.  Better to have silk flowers which can be matched to your bouquet.  Alternatively, tiaras suit both long and short hair-styles and are easy to wear, or have a simple circlet of silk or satin trimmed with pearls or silk flowers.

When choosing your shoes, don't forget how long you will be standing.  If you don't normally wear very high heels, now is not the time to start!  And try to wear them in a little before the big day.

I don't think you will need reminding to buy some especially gorgeous lingerie! You'll also need time to shop around for your going-away outfit.


Once you've chosen your own dress, you can start thinking about how you'd like your bridesmaids and pageboys to look.

  Image by Neil Bowler Photography

Their outfits and accessories should complement your own, both in terms of theme and colour.  If your dress is romantic, it would be appropriate to echo this in their outfits, but if you've settled on something elegantly simple with smooth outlines, keep their dresses and suits subtle and understated, too.

Plan on choosing your attendants' outfits at least one month ahead of the wedding day.  The younger they are, the fussier they seem to be about what they wear - both girls and boys.


Whilst all eyes will be on the bride, that doesn't mean the groom and his attendants can turn up in any old thing.  This is not the occasion for the men to be making their own personal "fashion statements"!

The groom's outfit should be chosen, ideally, at least three months before the wedding and should reflect the overall tone or theme of the wedding.

  Image by Neil Bowler Photography

Whether it is formal, traditional or contemporary - the theme should be extended to the other men in the wedding party including the best man and the ushers.  Traditional Highland dress is another option for a fairly formal event.

Not to be forgotten, the groom also requires a going-away outfit!


We have all seen it happen - a terrible clash of styles, colours or hats - so the best thing is for the bride to consult with both families in order to co-ordinate and resolve conflict and problem areas.

Although the bride is the main focus of attention, the bride's mother will also be scrutinised for her choice of attire but she must endeavour not to upstage her daughter in any way.


Do you need to wear a hat?  Whist it is not necessary now, because a wedding is such a special occasion, it is often seen as an ideal opportunity to dress up.  

If you do decide to wear a hat, something simple but smart is generally the order of the day. 

The bride may have a particular theme and ask you to dress accordingly but, if in doubt, check with the bride's mother before you decide.

Always remember, though, that you will be photographed and I am sure you will want the photographer to be able to see your face.

Can I take my hat off?

The general rule is that you can take your hat off if or when the bride's mother does.

Can I wear jeans?

Generally, no.  It would only be appropriate if the bride and groom have specifically said so. 

It would possibly be seen as impolite to your hosts to wear something totally inappropriate to the mood of the day.  

If the invite says 'casual' on the invite, this means smart but casual, not shabby, and don't forget the golden rule - it is much better to be a bit more stylish than everyone else than to turn up looking like a poor relation.

What is 'formal wear'?

If the invitation stipulates formal dress' this generally means black tie, although you may not have to stick to this too rigidly and you might be able to allow for a bit more flexibility.  

Again, check with the bride's mother if unsure.  A really formal wedding - that is, with top hats and tails for the main men, will mean the guests must dress ultra-smart.

Do I have to wear gloves?

These are not necessary today unless it is a really formal occasion though they can add that final touch of elegance to an outfit. 

This is another one to check with the bride's mother.

The wedding's colour scheme is pink.  I look dreadful in pink - what shall I do?

If there is a colour scheme to the wedding which makes you look truly dreadful, choose a neutral colour for the outfit and accessorise it in the requested colour. 

Belts, bags, scarves, even jewellery can be colour co-ordinated to suit the theme.  You will look great, and you will have done your bit towards meeting the bride's request.

Can I wear black to a wedding?

Although plenty of people wear black to a wedding, it can be associated with mourning as it is the traditional colour for funerals. 

If you are set on wearing a dark colour, better to go for navy blue.

Can I wear something really eye-catching?

The golden rule is - don't out-do the bride; it is her day, after all.


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