What to wear for a casual wedding

For a more casual than lavish couple, a casual wedding is the way to go. Casual weddings usually have a smaller guest list, allowing the couple to be more present with their guests and enjoy the experience rather than worrying about what happens next in the timeline. Instead of four-course meals and a detailed seating plan, expect to see comfort food and empty seating at reception.

A casual ceremony may seem simple, but it’s still a celebration worthy of looking its best. So how do you dress for this type of wedding without being too informal or overdressed? We asked a wedding fashion and style expert to help us define and recommend what to wear for this particular dress code.

Meet the expert

  • Yasmine Moinian is a personal stylist at Wishi, an online styling service founded by celebrity stylist Karla Welch. Wishi connects you with the world’s best stylists to help you shop online while incorporating what’s already in your wardrobe.

With the expertise of personal stylist Yasmin Moinian, we’ll break down the do’s and don’ts of this dress code and help you achieve a casual look.

Casual wedding attire for men and women

When choosing what to wear, sometimes it’s easier to start with what not carry. Avoid jeans, shorts, tank tops and tennis shoes unless otherwise specified on the invitation. Sandals are tricky, as some might consider them too casual for an event like a wedding, while others say sandals are the obvious choice for a casual beach nuptials. Again, count on the invitation to point you in the right direction.

What is casual wedding attire?

Casual wedding attire is comfortable and easy to dance to, without being complicated or over the top. Most casual weddings take place outdoors, so this style of dress should be something that works day or night.

To play it safe, Moinian recommends women wear a wedge or block heel. For men, a casual loafer gives off a casual vibe that goes perfectly with a casual wedding. In addition, your outfit will depend on the season and the temperature. What you might wear to a beach wedding is completely different from what you would wear to a fall wedding.

In spring and summer, give preference to light fabrics. “Men in navy, cream or white linen are great casual wear,” says Moinian. “For women, floral dresses are also a great example for warmer temperatures.”

In the fall, a casual suit (tie optional) or a blazer and dress pants, in a dark hue, are both appropriate options. For women, Moinian offers a midi dress in silk or chiffon fabric. If it’s cool, don’t hesitate to add a sweater over it. Play with funky fabrics, patterns and accessories to make your casual look more unique and reflect your own personal style. As for designers, some of Moinian’s go-to brands include Christopher Esber, Staud and Loewe.

To make your ensemble more special, add little touches that give a nod to the wedding theme (if the couple has one). For a seaside wedding, wear palm-themed accessories or consider a fishtail braid for your hair.

Avoid wearing black, which can seem more formal and/or stuffy. Casual weddings are a perfect opportunity to play with color when it comes to your wardrobe!

casual wedding dress etiquette

If the invitation says laid back, the couple probably expects at least a few guests to test the limits on both sides of the spectrum of what is considered “laid back.” It’s easy to exaggerate, since this is a wedding after all, but don’t overthink it. “[The] the basic dress code for a casual wedding would be [to not wear] something authoritarian,” says Moinian. “Don’t go beyond that. Just an easy dress you could wear day or night.

There is a common belief that it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed at a wedding, which is true for the most part. But if the event is more informal, chances are the bride is wearing a simple yet elegant wedding dress. The last thing you want to do is upstage the bride, which is easier to do on a casual wedding than on a formal occasion.

Consider the couple, their preferences, and what they would consider casual if you don’t know what to wear. The answer should be pretty obvious given your relationship with the couple, especially if the ceremony has a smaller guest list, meaning they consider you a close, personal friend. When in doubt, text someone else and ask for their opinion.

FAQs

  • Think mid-length summer dresses, light maxi dresses or even high-quality jumpsuits. High / low dresses are also ideal for a casual wedding if worn with a raised sandal or a shorter heel.

  • “A block heel is perfect,” says Moinian. “Platformers are fun too.” As for jewelry, she recommends wearing minimal pieces or adding a pop of color or texture with statement earrings. “Play with your pieces depending on the environment you’re in,” says Moinian.

  • “Cocktail is a mix between casual and formal, whereas casual dress is just casual,” Moinian explains.

  • It depends, but we recommend something a little dressier, just to play it safe. If you wear sandals, leave your beach flip flops at the hotel.

  • A summer sun hat is a fun accessory for an outdoor daytime wedding, but be sure to take it off for the ceremony so you don’t block the view of other guests. No caps, visors or baseball caps!

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