Summer weddings are often joyful celebrations, but they also bring on a fair amount of stress– not just for the couple tying the knot, but for guests, too! What do you wear? What do you bring? How should you behave? Don’t worry! This guide will walk you through some major “do’s” and “don’ts” of summer wedding etiquette.
What to Wear
Go With Light Colors and Materials
For ladies, a lightweight but modest dress can suit both the wedding and the weather. If dresses aren’t your thing, try dressier pants with a colorful, solid-color blouse or top. Cool colors like lavender, green, and blue tend to go over well, but coral, pink, a muted orange or red bring just the right level of brightness.
For men, a tailored suit is a classic standby. A solid pop of color in the form of a coral or blue blazer is perfect for a summer wedding, and keeps your look stylish and sophisticated.
For both men and women, lighter colors, shades, and materials help you stay comfortable in the summer weather.
Dress in Layers
Even the warmest summer day can turn cool once the sun sets. Keep a cardigan, lightweight blazer, or other layer nearby in case the temperature changes. This is also helpful when an indoor venue sets the AC to full blast.
What NOT to Wear
Knowing what to wear to a summer wedding starts with knowing how you shouldn’t dress. There are several rules regarding summer wedding fashion, but they all boil down to this: don’t take attention away from the couple getting married, and be respectful of others.
Colors to Avoid
The royal wedding of England’s Queen Victoria in 1840 is credited with the birth of the traditional white wedding dress. More famously though, it’s known for kicking off the tradition of saving the color white for the bride! Though white is often considered a staple of summer fashion, unless your invitation calls for a snow-colored wardrobe, leave any all-white outfits at home.
Another color you might want to avoid is black. Weddings are meant to be happy occasions, and in Western culture black is associated with grief or sadness. Even if you feel confident no one will mind you wearing black, keep in mind that dark colors absorb sunlight, causing all that summer heat to intensify. Even if you’re attending an indoor summer wedding or reception, just a few minutes near a window, standing outside chatting, or sitting in the car could have you sweating buckets. Plus, you don’t want to look like you’re from The Matrix.
The Does and Don’ts of Hats
Traditionally, men are advised to avoid wearing hats in churches and at formal events such as an outdoor wedding. Ladies, however, often wear hats as a fashion statement and as a means of protecting against sunburn. But there are some hats that should be avoided. For example, at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Princess Beatrice of York (first cousin to Prince William) made headlines for her taupe hat featuring a giant “0” topped with a wavy bow. If you wish to wear a hat, just make sure you keep it modest and that your headwear doesn’t earn its own Facebook page.
Make Sure It Isn’t Too Short
Speaking of sweating buckets, hot weather is no excuse for short dresses or plunging necklines. Typically, as temperatures climb higher, clothes get shorter. But even if you’re attending a wedding on the beach (beaching weddings are a blast by the way), make sure you know the dress code. Unless you know for a fact that shorts are permitted, lightweight pants and dresses of appropriate length are best.
If you’re looking for more wedding etiquette pointers or any inspiration for attending (or planning) a wedding, our library of wedding ideas can lend a helping hand!
How to Handle the Heat
The ceremony is long. The wait to eat is even longer. While many people choose to wait until the newlyweds arrive to begin eating, most receptions will have water set out that guests can drink until wine or other beverages are served. It’s especially important in the summer to stay hydrated. Ensuring that other guests, especially elders, have something to drink is not only courteous, but makes sure everyone has a great time while staying safe in the summer heat. Beer is great too, but don’t forget about H2O!
Use bug spray, sunscreen & deodorant
While outdoor summer weddings are often beautiful, any grassy area runs the risk of housing pesky bugs and insects. Use an unscented bug spray to keep these pests away without smelling like summer camp.
It’s also important to protect your skin from sunburn. If you don’t like the shine or oily texture of a traditional sunblock, try a sheer sunscreen, moisturizer, or lotion with high SPF as an alternative. Check your product’s directions and reapply as needed if you plan to be outdoors for any extended period. You can also wear lightweight pants and long sleeves to keep the sun off your skin.
Remember, summer wedding etiquette requires you keep those around you in mind. Your neighbors will not thank you for bringing unpleasant smells as your +1, especially in a crowded space. Using an invisible deodorant guards against foul odors without leaving white marks on your clothes. Just in case some sweat breaks through, consider packing a change of clothes for yourself or a family member.
I fight the heat with an old-fashioned fan that folds neatly into my purse. Keep one of these stylish accessories handy to cool you off during a hot summer reception or ceremony.
Keep Cool & Collected
Feeling hot, sweaty, or uncomfortable can put anyone on edge. Even if the summer weather has you feeling testy, remain polite throughout the ceremony and reception. Don’t badmouth any part of the celebration. Not only does this make you an ungrateful guest, but your words can easily circle back to your hosts. It may be the thousandth photo of the day, but smile and do your part to make it a special and memorable occasion for your loved ones. Also, don’t forget to bring a unique wedding gift to show them your appreciation for the beautiful ceremony!
When it comes down to it, summer wedding etiquette is nothing to fear. With these tips, you can stay cool, have fun, look great, and enjoy the happiness of your newly married friends or family!
What is your experience with summer weddings? Do you have great summer wedding tips to share? Tell us in the comments below!