Weekend Workshop: My Best Friend’s Wedding

July 16th, 2011 § 17 comments

What Do You Wear to a Wedding?

Ask this question and you’ll get about a hundred different answers: Don’t wear black, Don’t wear white, Don’t show too much skin, Don’t wear a pattern, Don’t wear something too tight, Don’t wear bright colors, AND no matter what, Don’t show up the bride!

Well, did any of those answers help you? With the exception of “don’t wear something too tight”, which is always a good piece of advice, none of those answers helped me either. Sometimes being a bridesmaid isn’t that bad – at least your dress is picked out for you in advance – even if it is pink, poofy, sparkly, or any other number of things, at least you don’t have to ask yourself, “What, oh what, will I wear to this wedding?!” In an effort to give just a small bit of guidance, we at Academichic wanted to provide you with a few ideas based on the many weddings we’ve attended (or hosted in the case of A. and S.).


Spring and Summer Weddings

A few summers ago we answered What to Wear to a Beach Wedding. We recommending things like: “Brighter colors and prints are more easily made beach appropriate but can just as easily become formal as black or grays” and “look for silk or chiffon blends. Try to avoid 100% cotton – it’s easier to dress down a silk-blend fabric than it is to dress up a cotton dress.” S. debated the taboo against certain colors and decided on a black dress for one wedding and a pink dress for another summer wedding last year. E. too opted for a bright hue for a Labor Day weekend wedding, and of course, A. wore a gorgeous sapphire colored sheath dress for S.’s wedding.

Labor Day Weekend Wedding 2 June 2010 28 June 2010 - Outdoor Wedding 4 August 2009

As it happens, I (L.) had the chance recently to put this advice to the test because prior to my departure for Peru, I had the pleasure of attending my best friend’s wedding on Cape Cod. The wedding was on the beach and the reception was under a tent on the lawn of her yacht club. I wanted to wear something dressier than a sundress, but not overly formal (or hot) for the beach. I knew Ab’s dress, from BCBG via Nordstrom, was long and flowy and had flowers on the skirt. My only restrictions were that I had to wear flats due to the sand and grass, and I wanted to stay away from blue since I knew that was what the bridesmaids were wearing. I settled on a bright, cheerful, printed, vintage Nicole Miller halter dress that I’d bought at a consignment shop two summers ago.

Mom, the Bride, and Me Me and the Bride

The wedding was gorgeous, the weather was perfect, and Ab looked amazing. After the ceremony they walked off together down the beach, happily ever after. Congratulations Ab and Eb!

Walking off down the beach

Fall and Winter Weddings
While the majority of weddings are still probably in the spring and summer, there are more and more cropping up in the cooler months. E. and A. attended weddings in Colorado and Montana where the temperatures varied from the 50s to almost the 30s at night.

6 September 2009 - Mountain Wedding 14 March 2009 - Wedding Outfit

While some fall weddings are held outside, most winter weddings are indoor affairs and lend themselves to being a touch more formal. A. added some bling for another of her winter wedding outfits, and shoes are another way to dress up a look. For A. and A2′s wedding reception last fall, the Chics varied from black taffeta cocktail dress on L. to a red-orange jersey dress refashioned by E. The cooler temperatures can also mean layering more either on top with a wrap or sweater or under with tights like E. did for a wedding last fall.

Academichic Partying

9 October 2009 Wedding Attire - the Preggers Version Fall Wedding

Ultimately, what really matters in your wedding attire is that you feel beautiful and happy (and comfy enough to dance the night away!). Not all “rules” suit all people, and the only guidelines that you have to go by are your own. We hope that seeing some of our sartorial choices will inspire yours, but we, like you, are still figuring things out, one dress at a time. What will you be wearing to your next wedding?

Tagged ,

§ 17 Responses to Weekend Workshop: My Best Friend’s Wedding"

  1. Yael says:

    I love this Chics!
    I have settled on two dresses as my go-to’s for weddings. A sheath in a blue print and a black and white wrap dress. I once went to two weddings wearing a bright turquoise dress, but the straps are too thin and make me look a little wonky.
    I went to a wedding in Israel this year and people are shockingly casual. Jeggings at a wedding. Oy.

  2. HokieKate says:

    I have no idea what to wear to my next wedding. My cousin is getting married in October, and I’m bringing a three-month-old baby! So I need something wedding appropriate with reasonable nursing access, and I prefer sleeves and hemlines just below my knee.

    • Allison says:

      Kate – you might find good stuff from Motherwear, Expressiva, or other nursing-wear sellers that would give you discreet nursing access and the appropriate level of formality. Their stuff is uber-expensive, though, so check their clearance sections and eBay outlets (or other eBay sellers) for deals. I’ve got one dress from motherwear that has gone to multiple wedding ceremonies (so that I could justify the cost of buying it), and it’s looked great every time. I even nursed in it–quite discreetly, as the pictures attest–while *performing* a wedding ceremony for my best friend! Or if you’re handy with a sewing machine, there are a bunch of online tutorials and patterns that you can find to make or modify your own dress (which I’ve done with several thrift store finds). Good luck with the newborn and the travel!

  3. Olivia says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this post! So helpful. I love seeing the diversity of styles you all have worn to different weddings. It definitely helps dissolve the sense of those annoying ‘rules,’ which everyone else seems to give such importance too. And E, that one-shouldered pink dress is a show-stopper! Hot!

    I’ve got a winter wedding in DECEMBER this year. And we’re not talking December in California or anything — it’s in Pennsylvania! I’m reading for the ceremony, so I have the unfortunate position of wanting to look particularly nice, since I’ll be standing in front of everyone, but also not having my wardrobe prescribed in any way by the bride and groom.

    I’ve settled on this Yoana Baraschi dress that I discovered at Anthropologie, though I snagged it for $30 on ebay: http://s2.thisnext.com/media/largest_dimension/2CC16222.jpg (the only img i could find of it–i think i’ll be sporting a smile along with it, unlike the model.) I’ve already worn it to a summer wedding, but I think it really could work in any season! There will probably be tights and cute boots/-ies involved, though I haven’t figured those out yet. And maybe a cardigan or something. so much planning!

  4. Alison says:

    I think I can safely add another wedding-guest fashion faux pas: DON’T WEAR YOUR OWN WEDDING GOWN! My fiance and I are getting married in a couple of weeks, and it’s going to be a very small, casual affair (in our backyard, catered by our favorite barbecue restaurant). One of our friends asked what she should wear. I told her “Well, not TOO dressy. I’ll be wearing a short-sleeve, knee length dress. It’s outside, so it will be warm. Think garden party.” And she replied, “Maybe I’ll just wear my wedding gown. I really love that dress and I don’t know when I’ll get to wear it again.” I was really speechless. Her gown’s not white, but it’s still a formal, floor length gown! I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to sound like a Bridezilla and tell her she couldn’t wear it. I think I tried to make a subtle joke, like, “Wow! Even I won’t be that dressed up! Haha!” But inside, I’m kind of steaming about it. No matter how small or casual, no one wants to be upstaged on their wedding day!

  5. Sara says:

    One of my best friends is getting married in September on the beach (in San Diego it’s still hot then) with a reception in a huge backyard with lots of grass, so I’m not sure what I’ll be wearing! Hah. I think I’ll go with something bright & not the colors of the wedding. I kinda love using weddings as an excuse to buy a new dress ;) (not that I spend a lot, they usually come from Target!)

  6. Ruth says:

    This is so great! I’ll definitely consult when planning my next wedding outfit.

    And speaking of using academichic as a fashion consulting service…

    I’ve just discovered that I’ll be attending a summer, donor function in a few weeks. I’m a very unimportant guest, but the important guests are very, VERY important folks. The label is “dress up” (whatever that means). I’ve loved your Winter Holiday Party workshops, but I need help figuring out how to translate your winter/holiday suggestions into August finery. I’m stumped about patterns, fabric, color palate, etc. and am on a very tight budget. If you have any suggestions for what an unimportant grad student should wear to a Summer Donor party, I would be so grateful to hear/see them!

  7. Mia says:

    My best friend and co-blogger Tia is getting married in May next year, and I get to be Maid of Honor! This will probably be my only time in that position (and possibly my only time in a wedding party), so I’ll have to enjoy it for all it’s worth. Thankfully, Tia is letting us bridespeople pick out our own dresses, so long as they’re brown. I’ve been on the hunt! I’ve only been to two other weddings as a grown-up-type-person, and one was a Vegas wedding. For that one, I wore a light greenish-blue dress with more bling than I’m used to. For a more traditional October wedding last year, I just pulled a green, navy, and off-white strapless dress out of my closet and dressed it up a bit. I think it was the first time I wore that dress, due to its straplessness, actually…

    I loooove A.’s sapphire dress, by the way. Gorgeous!

  8. Eleanorjane says:

    Very helpful ideas. Can’t go wrong with a pretty dress, it seems (well, you can, but you know…)

    I had to assemble an outfit for a Muslim wedding ceremony in a wedding venue (not mosque), but it seems they’re pretty casual so a knee-length skirt, a cami to cover the cleavage and a light cardigan to cover the arms will do it.

  9. Karen says:

    Perfect timing on this post, chics! I was just invited (somewhat last-minute) to a friend’s wedding in a couple weeks. Right now I’m traveling and don’t have my whole closet at my disposal, so I’m not sure I have anything appropriate to wear. Do you ever see people wearing skirts at weddings instead of dresses? Do you have any additional suggestions for dressing up an outfit, if that’s the best I can do on short notice?

    • admin says:

      Hi Karen – You can definitely dress up a skirt for a wedding ensemble! A little sparkle or bling goes a long way, so pairing a less formal skirt with a top with a bit of shimmery embellishment (sequins? beading?) can do the trick OR adding your own accessories can take an outfit up a notch in formality. Think necklaces (maybe more than one!), belts or sashes, a pashmina or wrap of some kind, and of course, shoes. I’m not sure what kinds of skirts you have with you, but you can also fake a dress by using a belt or sash to cover up your waistband between the skirt and tucked in shirt, or make a dress into a skirt and top, or do something like what A. did recently with a shirt over a dress. I hope this helps and have a great time at the wedding!

      • Karen says:

        Oooh, thanks! This is just the advice I needed. (More than one necklace! How decadent!) Ha. These are the things I never think of myself. :) Thank you!

  10. R says:

    There is one rule that I think has to be followd by anyone of a minumum amount of respect and consideration to the bride: no white. Period.

    • Ruth says:

      I’d agree, with one minor question: does the rule still hold if the bride isn’t wearing white (or any close shade of ivory, off-white, etc.)?

      • R says:

        I believe so. Let’s say one’s a close friend to the bride and knows she won’t be wearing white or any close shade etc, but the other guest don’t know. I think it would affect their perception of the on wearing white… I can’t quite explain, I still think white and similar shades are for the bride and only for the bride.

  11. Leah says:

    This is great, I NEVER know what to wear to these things… and I totally agree with the previous comments: don’t wear white! This may seem totally obvious, but I was certainly surprised when one of the brides friends showed up to my brothers wedding in a white dress… a big no-no.

  12. Amy says:

    Where did your friend get that pink halter? I LOVE it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>