Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dressing for a Wedding (an in-depth analysis) with Deb the Fashionista

I know a lot of people who really stress out when faced with the challenge of dressing for formal/fancy occasions - I am not one of those people.  My father instilled in me at an early age that it is far better to be over dressed than underdressed and I have never second guessed that advice.  Any occasion to get gussied up and I'm there!
When I was in my early teens my dad and I drove to a neighbouring province to attend a family member's wedding.  This is the gown I wore.  Yes, gown.

It's floor length chiffon, the straps are covered in 2 rows of rhinestones and it has a matching sheer wrap.
We got it at a vintage store, I can't remember where, and for no real occasion.  So, I was very excited to wear it to this wedding.

As happy as I felt when I was wearing this then, I would not recommend it for any upcoming weddings you may be planning to attend.  While I'm all for dressing up, I'm also for staying within the lines of being appropriate - albeit the higher end of appropriate.  

In general, I find it wise to dress for not only the event, but for the people you will be with at the event, and to show respect for the hosts of the event.  Look at Princess Beatrice's hat.  It was technically appropriate, as in her culture hats of that style(ish) are the norm; it was designed by a very posh and reputable designer who has made many millinery creations for the royal family; but it was so over the top and bizarre that it stole the bride and groom's thunder for days after!  Not respectful.
When going to a wedding your goal should not be to outshine anyone but to look and be respectful to the culture of the event and occasion.  

Questions to ask when putting together a wedding outfit

1. Where is the location?
Is it local or destination wedding?  If it's in a place that you've never been I find it helpful to google weather conditions in the area during the time of the wedding.   If it's in your hometown you can gauge the weather and the fashionista level a lot easier.  Also, is it in a small town or a big city?  Small town weddings tend to be a bit less big and fancy than city weddings.

2. What is the setting?
Church, backyard, hotel, ranch, beach.
General rule of thumb: shoes can really set the tone of an outfit.  They make or break what you are wearing and can make the same dress hit a totally different mark.  

Church: dressy sandal or dainty shoe (heel or flat).  Note: some churches have their own dress code, if it's a service you're not familiar with (Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, Greek Orthadox) ask the bride or google it - check multiple sites, don't just trust the first one.

Backyard: nice sandal or wedge. Nothing with a spike heel, you don't want to sink into the lawn (and ruin your shoe)!

Hotel or Country Club:  Chic heels, open or closed toe.  

 Ranch or Rustic Resort: chunky shoe, fun sandals.

Beach: flat sandal, nice flip flops.  Not the rubber ones you wear in the shower at the gym.
 3.  What kind of reception?
Is is a sit-down meal?  That makes it more formal.  Must be able to sit comfortably in your dress, also look for a fabric that doesn't wrinkle easily.

Buffet/ finger food?  Semi-formal to casual.  Must be able to walk back and forth to food in your shoes.

Is the reception outside under a tent or in a hotel?  Tent is usually more casual, hotel more fancy.

In a restaurant or church hall?  Semi-formal dress code would be accepted for both.

Is there a dance afterwards? Bringing a change of shoes may be wise.  By the time the dancing starts the pomp and circumstance is over & no one is noticing what's on your feet.  Be comfortable.

4. What does the invitation look like?
Take your cues from the invite itself.  Is it professionally printed and tied up with ribbon?  Definitely more formal.  Is it a handmade or kitchy?  Probably more casual.  What kind of font is used?  Decorative & cursive denote formality while hand-written or non-cursive denote a more casual affair.
Is the wedding still 6-8 months away and you've got the invite already?  Then the bride is excited and organized...maybe too excited.  Expect formal.
Also, sometimes the dress code is written right on the invite.  If it's important enough for the couple to put it on the invite then it's important to respect their wishes.                                                    Here's the invite to a wedding that Deb the Fashionista is attending in the fall.  Let's have a look:
The envelope is fancy.

The invite itself has ribbon and a gold border.  It's written in a very traditional style.  This to me would denote formal.  And, look at the bottom: ladies are encouraged to wear hats.  
So, from just looking at the invite Deb can plan to dress formally & with a hat for this wedding.  But how formal? Check the setting.  The ceremony is in an Anglican Church (must wear tasteful, church appropriate clothing) and the reception is in a Country Club (posh) but it's cocktails (more casual).  Also, look at the time.  This particular ceremony is at 6pm.  Evening weddings are a little more chic and fancy than daytime weddings (the later the time the lower the hemline).  Now we need to consider the location,  a fairly small town, so we know that this is not going to be over-the-top or a black tie event.

5. Season
What time of year is it?  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.  Dress in fabrics that are appropriate for the season.  A light cotton eyelet dress ain't gonna cut it in November, even if you've layered it over dark tights and shoes.
Deb's wedding is on September 2nd.  September makes us think of fall but in our part of the world the weather is still warm and sunny.  She could still wear a bright summer dress or wear something darker and more Autumnal, but in a lightweight fabric.

6. The couple
Who are the couple?  Are they pretty laid back people in general?  Has the bride been dreaming of a big, fairytale wedding her whole life?  Do you know how many people are going to be in the bridal party?  Big weddings tend to be more formal weddings.  I put the couple last on the list because you can't always get a good gauge from them.  The bride could be the biggest tomboy ever but go all out for the big princess experience.  
The couple whose wedding Deb is attending is fun and young.  They grew up and live in a small town. Looking at all the info Deb decided to wear a long dress in fall colours but light fabric, a closed toe heel and a hat or fascinator.
Deb trying to shoo away her paparazzi 

Classic heels with a fun corset detail.

Because Deb is petite on top she's having this dress altered (so it stays church appropriate

Now we need a real fashion blogger pose from Deb:
Deb likes her arms covered so she added this cardigan.  

We tried a hat...
...but this one doesn't quite do the outfit justice
so I think we're going with a fascinator.
 Something like this would be perfect!
found at this etsy shop.
Thank you Deb for being a fashionista and letting me document the proof!

Stay tuned for examples for a Summer wedding look!

photo credits:
Church shoes: all Franco Sarto
Backyard shoes: clockwise Franco Sarto, Franco Sarto, Born Shoes, Payless
Hotel shoes: all Franco Sarto (the top 2 are the same, what a difference the pattern/colour makes!)
Ranch shoes: Born Shoes, Franco Sarto, Payless, Franco Sarto
Beach shoes: Payless, Payless, Franco Sarto, Franco Sarto


  1. I take it my cheque is in the mail??

  2. I really like this look on your mum. I think those colors look fab on her. She is so darn cute and such a good sport.

    I am loving those blue suede low wedge sandals with the brown accents.

    This is a very detailed guide for dressing properly. This would be of use to a lot of people I see at wedding who look like they just got off shift at the local convenience store or just came from a day at the beach.

  3. Love it all! Your mum looks quite beautiful. You've given us some good advice. Now I wish I were going to a wedding this summer. I'll have to get busy matchmaking one of my single friends. :-)


Quips & Queries all appreciated!


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