Can you tell other people what to wear to your wedding?

If you’d asked me this question a year ago, my answer would have been an immediate and unequivocal “no”. I didn’t even want to tell my bridesmaids what to wear – I wanted them to wear whatever they felt comfortable in.

Then I changed my mind – I wanted my bridesmaids to wear whatever they felt comfortable in, as long as it matched the colour scheme.

Then I changed my mind again – I wanted my bridesmaids to wear Doris Designs skirts.

Then I changed my mind again – I wanted my bridesmaids to wear Doris Designs skirts in four different colours and I wanted each groomsman to have a tie that matched a bridesmaid’s skirt.

Then I changed my mind again – I wanted my bridesmaids to wear Doris Designs skirts paired with four beautiful, custom-made Flossy and Dossy dresses and I wanted each groomsman to have a tie that matched a bridesmaid’s skirt.

Image © Satureyes

As you can see this was a process (or a slow descent into wedding planning hysteria). In the end, I’m SO glad I chose to vaguely match them. It makes such a difference to the pictures, to how they felt, their status on the day. Some of them brought changes of clothes in case they felt silly or dressed up – nobody chose to change.

So asking the bridesmaids and groomsmen to wear something specific worked. But that was the bridal party – what about the guests? Surely I couldn’t start dictating what people wore to the wedding. So I didn’t. And then the phone calls starting coming in.

“Sara, what’s the dress code for your wedding? What do I wear? Panic!!”

Dress code?

So, to appease the masses, John and I put a vague dress code on our wedding website – banning hats (sorry hat lovers) and dictating a general English country garden theme – nothing too fancy, nothing too casual.

This caused yet more confusion. While some of my friends totally got it, others were completely stumped as to what I meant – but more importantly, they really wanted me to tell them what sort of thing to wear.

I ended up sending pictures, links to fashion sites, mood boards – I was telling people what to wear and I was horribly uncomfortable with it. The idea that people were going out and spending their money on something new because I wanted a “theme” was really awkward – and I hadn’t planned it that way.

But I have to say, with hindsight, I’m so glad I didn’t just say “wear whatever you want” and let people guess. Our wedding looked amazing – everyone looked like they fit, in their chinos and linen trousers, their floaty summery dresses – that was exactly what we wanted and we didn’t even know it. Everyone dressing to fit the theme really brought something special to the atmosphere of the day, and though we wouldn’t have dreamed of enforcing a dress code, it turned out nobody wanted to look the odd one out and everyone followed it anyway.

Image © Satureyes

How to let people know what to wear to your wedding

If you’re having a themed wedding, or you don’t really want a formal wedding with the usual attire, you have to let people know – but it can be really awkward as well. So here’s a little guide on how to let people know what they will feel the most comfortable wearing at your wedding:

DON’T impose a dress code. I know that seems counter intuitive if you want people to dress a certain way, but it’s like making gifts mandatory – it looks absolutely awful (unless you’re having a proper theme, like a 20s theme or something similar). Certainly don’t say you won’t let people in if they’re dressed a certain way – Bridezilla alert.

DO make the information available. Sorry to my friends (sorry, sorry, sorry) but I can’t tell you how annoying it is when you’re in the last week of your wedding planning, you’re stressed out of your brain and your phone rings every five minutes with people asking you what to wear.

DO make the information visual if you can. It will save you so much time in explaining to people what you mean by a certain style.

DO make it clear if there are any no-no colours – like white for example.

DON’T get annoyed with people on the day if they’re not dressed the way you prefer. It’s really not a big deal and they won’t thank you for it!

DON’T make your dress code expensive or hard to follow. I figure most women have a floaty, summery dress (well, most of my friends do) or won’t object to wearing one. However, if I’d imposed a “designer label” dress code, I think that would have been somewhat out of line.

Are you having a dress code for your wedding? Have people asked you what they should be wearing? I’d love to hear from you!

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