Play dress-up to help guests with their wedding attire

November 4 2013 | Guest post by Layne Norton
What does "outdoor-appropriate semi-formal attire" even mean!? THIS!

Sometimes even a moderately offbeat wedding leaves guests uncertain about what they should wear.

My fiancé and I are getting married in a field in November. It is the rent-a-tent, Porta-Potty, generator, and light-a-bonfire-when-it-gets-cold kind of field. NOT the behind-the-house-with-power-and-running-water-and-electric-patio-heaters kind.

We wanted our guests to be dressy but comfortable, so we included inserts in our invitations to give guests a heads-up that they should try to look nice but bring sweaters and avoid the high heels and ball gowns. But… it just caused confusion.

To remedy the confusion, my sister and I played dress-up! The two of us took pictures wearing a bunch of different outfits. We included examples of things that would be appropriate and inappropriate and posted them with cute captions on the wedding blog.

It has helped clear up some of the confusion cause by the too-brief invite insert, plus it was really fun!

play dress up

  1. You are one of the great minds of our generation. No seriously, visuals are many times over much more helpful than dress code slang. 10 points to you!

  2. This is exactly what I like! I like EXAMPLES of what's expected, whether those are given visually or verbally. When I'm not sure what to wear, I ask other people what they're planning on wearing. When people asked me what I meant by "black tie optional," I'd say, "Well, when I went to a BTO wedding, I wore a long black sheath dress with some beaded accents, a pair of strappy low heels, and a pashmina wrap." Or "If you have a tux or want to rent one, go ahead and wear a tux–the groomsmen will be in white tie, so you won't be out-fancying them. If you don't want to do the tux thing, a suit would be perfectly cool. If you don't have a suit, I'd recommend a tie with dress shirt and trousers." So, SPECIFICS.

    • Totally agreed! I also tend to prefer positive explanations like these. Whether I'm right or wrong or too sensitive, I always feel bad saying "No jeans" or "No t-shirts or shorts" because it seems like it's singling the more casual members of my family/friends unit out rather than leveling with the whole group to explain the intricacies of a possibly confusing request. Or not giving people the benefit of the doubt or something (because for most people, saying semi-formal means no jeans is a "no sh*t sherlock" moment)

  3. My wedding is going to be during a Traditional Latin Mass, so that traditionally means at least knee length skirts, covered shoulders, and no boobs- and covered heads optional. I put that on my wedding website, but maybe visuals are needed!

  4. My dress code included "dress for Michigan in December" but anyone who lives here knows THAT means squat. Maybe some visuals on the wedsite are in order (aka the beauty of layers).

  5. Very cool idea! My sister (who is helping me plan) and I have been joking about what to call our dress code! It is casual, but not too casual, if you know what I mean. Photos on the website could be really fun and would definitely help with confusion.

  6. This is brilliant!

    I'm having my wedding ceremony at the summer camp FH and I met at – the ground is super rocky and half the camp is a hill so I definitely don't want anyone to show up in heels and sprain their ankles!

  7. This is a brilliant solution! One of my best friends had a Vintage Garden Party dress code, and in her mind it was to be quite formal – lots of pearls and flowers etc…of course more than half the people misunderstood and came dressed as if heading out to a casual backyard BBQ. The few of us that had actually made an effort ended up being the ones that looked out of place, even in the beautifully decorated venue.

  8. I am putting up pics on my wedding website that specify the "dress" and has a "What Not to Wear" section with example pictures. My family kept threatening to put me on that show, so the section title is a running joke and a lot of people know the show anyway. Besides, other than friends and most of our closer family members, people who know us will appreciate the clarification since they probably think our tastes are a bit eccentric anyway.

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