While weddings can equal a fun night out (or even weekend away), they can also be a source of stress when you don’t know what to wear! From weddings that are on the more casual side, to full black-tie affairs, there’s a lot of room for anxiety. I’m here to help! More than likely, you already have the perfect outfit in your closet, you just don’t know it yet. Here’s what to wear to a fall wedding!
Wedding Scenario 1: Fall Outdoor Wedding
If this wedding is set in a park or in the countryside (as opposed to a vineyard or fancy garden), definitely feel free to tone it down. Does this mean you can wear jeans? No, no it does not. Unless the couple has specifically told you to wear jeans (or you know for a fact that it’s acceptable and encouraged), please at least wear a nice pair of dress pants or a skirt. If weather permits, opt for a lightweight dress, nice skirt/simple top combination, and make sure to grab a sweater or light jacket for when the sun sets.
If you are more comfortable in pants, try to dress it up a bit with your accessories- a little bit of sparkle goes a long way. One last note here: Unless you are attending a full blown “country” wedding, keep the cowboy boots at home.
Wedding Scenario 2: Fall Church Wedding
Afternoon or evening ceremony, a church wedding calls for a slight increase in your formal-ness. While many church weddings today are more on the casual side, like the outdoor wedding, the most casual you should ever go is a nice pair of pants and top. (And take the accessories to the next level.) I’d opt for a dress in a jewel tone or a nice skirt. If it’s an afternoon wedding, keep the sequins/shine to a minimum.
Wedding Scenario 3: Fall Evening Wedding/”Cocktail” Attire
Don’t get too anxious here. Yes, this is more formal; no, you don’t need to buy a formal gown. Cocktail attire simply means you pull out your best dress. I’d skip the pants here (if you must, black is your safest bet). Look for richer fabrics – lace, brocade, and bead work is a definite “do”. And when in doubt, your best little black dress (LBD) with some glam accessories is a sure thing.
Wedding Scenario 4: Formal Wedding/Reception
So you’ve been invited to “the” wedding of the season and you’re in full-blown panic mode. True, you may not have anything to wear for a black-tie wedding, but it can be done regardless of your budget.
Option 1: You have a few options here; if you have the budget, head to a nicer store (most major department stores sell formal gowns) and look for something classy but understated. Remember, this is still the bride’s day, so no “Oscar-worthy” ball gowns here, unless you’re attending a Hollywood/red carpet wedding. Also, steer clear of last season’s prom dresses (unless you happen upon something truly remarkable).
Option 2: Rent. Check out a site like Rent the Runway. You can rent designer dresses for a fraction of what it would cost to purchase. (This is a great option for a cocktail dress also!)
Option 3: If your budget doesn’t allow, check out second hand stores or websites like Ebay or Poshmark, or ask your friends. Also, check out discount stores like Ross or the clearance section of your local department store. Sometimes a dress that’s missing some sequins or has a few loose threads will be deeply discounted and will be pretty inexpensive to fix. I once bought a fully beaded long gown for a banquet in college at a department store for about $20. It can be done!
Bottom line, don’t stress about your dress. You’ve got bigger things to worry about, like catching (or avoiding) the bouquet and dodging questions from relatives regarding your relationship status/plans for children/career aspirations, etc. Plus, just the general anxiety of seeing a lot of people you in know in one place. Have fun! (And make an appointment with your therapist stat.)
Originally published November 11, 2015