The language of weddings

Weddings seem to have a language of their own now and it is no longer the ‘norm’ to have a church ceremony with a three course meal. Change is ALWAYS a wonderful thing! Now a wedding invite requires a little more scrutiny than before, as there are a variety of wedding themes being embraced. A classic or traditional wedding is a formal occasion and a style that we are very familiar with so wedding guest attire is formal. There is also a contemporary elegance theme, still somewhat formal with a new contemporary twist where the ceremony is not in a church and some of the styling, flowers, decorations and so on may be non-traditional. A vintage theme means that the styling for the wedding will be reminiscent of a bygone era, which may or may not include a sit down meal – often times it is celebrated with a cocktail party. And the list goes on…so, as a wedding guest, you need to know exactly what is going to happen and what is the theme, so that you can choose the perfect wedding outfit.

Many relaxed, outdoor ceremonies and receptions call for casual attire. So how do you get dressed up enough without overdoing your outfit? The dress code, which is the most informal of all dress codes, allows you to wear something comfortable. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look chic so NO JEANS. Instead opt for a sundress in a casual fabric or wide trousers and an off-the-shoulder top. You can never go wrong with a floral sundress! If the weather is cold choose smart pants and a cute top or a well tailored three-quarter length sleeve dress that enhances your figure. When it comes to your feet, keep things laidback by swapping your usual stilettos for dressy sandals or low wedges. Hairstyles should be easy and flowing, no stiff up-styles (I always think that they age women) and there is no need for a headpiece other than an unusual headband or a sparkly clip. A casual wedding means that you can happily leave the dreaded clutch bag at home; no pressure trying to jam what you need into a tiny bag, as you can carry as big a bag as you wish. Beach weddings mean that you can wear your favourite pair of sparkly flip flops or flats; heels look so out of place in that setting! Everything feels more casual with flats, so don’t be afraid to pull out a more dramatic piece and dress it down with simple accessories that are more daytime appropriate.

Pair a structured formal skirt with a simple top. A high-waisted flare skirt or sharp pencil skirt can be ‘toned-down’ by tucking in a  tank top or silky blouse…you end up with a polished look that’s ideal for a casual yet formal occasion.

A Bohemian-style wedding does not mean that you just throw on any old thing, the theme is quality-based with a chic casual twist. Pretty feminine dresses are a must for this occasion, with little half sleeves and knee-length, modest yet trendy and in colder months, the addition of a fur stole is a must. Loose trousers with a pair of Mary Jane’s and a chiffon blouse with a bow-tie neck can also tick all the boxes.

While we all love seeing something outrageous in a magazine, choosing a wedding as the time to unlease your ‘bold’ side is not the time. There is a fine line between being fashionably bold and ‘too’ bold for a wedding, so sequins, gawdy animal prints and other over-the-top designs are not okay, as the focus should always be on the bride, not your outfit!

 For men, dressing for a wedding has never been so exciting. Guys always have an easier time dressing for weddings, even for a casual wedding thanks to the evolution of the suit. Men can ditch the traditional suit and opt for a cool jacket and khakis with a collarless shirt – smart, yet relaxed and not at all fussy. In fact, more and more guys are now choosing to buy separate jackets and trousers, a burgundy pants looks great with a beige or navy jacket or a forest green pants with either jacket is a real winner. While men certainly have fewer options than women, they do have the advantage of being able to re-use their outfits after the wedding, and mix and match the elements for different occasions. Casual looks can include colour so the world is your oyster when it comes to choosing trousers. The ‘no socks’ look is for a certain age only and while it can be considered very fashion forward to have a slightly shorter leg length, this definitely restricts the amount of places that you can wear that trouser to. A beach-style or Boho type wedding during the summer months allows the men in your life to show a bit of style flare, a fitted well-cut linen jacket in a light colour with a darker colour linen trouser teamed with a crisp white quality tshirt is an absolute winner. Just add loafer style shoes! It is probably at this point that I should add a little bit about belts. Believe it or not, a belt is not for the purpose of making your trousers fit better, that’s where tailoring comes in…a belt is now merely an accessory!

There is nothing nicer than getting dressed up for a happy occasion. It makes us feel better and can boost our confidence…exactly what is needed from time to time. Don’t ever underestimate the power of making an effort in how you look; it spills over into every area of your life. Dress up every day, celebrate everyday and make an extra special effort for the celebration of love! 

Louise O'Dwyer

Louise O'Dwyer is an Image consultant based in West Cork

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