Style Me Pretty: Wedding Attire

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A photo of my BFFS and me at a “beach formal” wedding last weekend.

Last weekend I went to a lovely wedding on the beach (above is a photograph of me and my besties; I’m wearing a dress by Hoss Intropia). It was a beautiful ceremony and all of the guests in attendance looked just a nice. In light of “wedding season” (and the all too familiar mystery of “What do I wear to ____?”), I thought I’d put together a post on wedding attire.

While it’s exciting to be invited to a wedding, decoding the difference between “formal,” “semi-formal,” “cocktail,” and “casual” attire as requested by the invitation can leave you wanting to reply, “I don’t.” You may be wondering, “What does ‘casual’ mean anyway? Surely flip-flops and frocks cannot be appropriate…” (And you would be right!) Well ladies, wonder no more… Below, I’ve decoded the puzzling meanings of wedding dress codes.

If the invitation says…

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Black Tie. Black tie (or “formal” attire) is the most formal of all wedding dress codes. Most often, black tie weddings are in the evenings so turn up the glamour and bring on the beads and sequins! I suggest wearing an evening gown (such as the Clementine Gown by Paper Crown, pictured above) or an elegant cocktail dress. Dramatic jewelry is welcome and coiffed hair is a must.

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Semi-Formal. This is the toughest code to crack since it can mean a variety of things based on the time and location of the wedding. When “semi-formal” dress is requested, err on the side of formality and wear a nice cocktail dress or a fabulous blouse and skirt. If the wedding is during the day, opt for lighter colors and fabrics (sorry ladies, it’s the bride’s time to shine so no ivory or white) like the Floral Surplice Dress pictured above. For nighttime, richer, bolder shades work well too–especially when paired with a red lip. The maroon Ruffle Chiffon Dress is a great for an evening wedding.

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Beach Formal. Just because “beach” is included in the name doesn’t mean you can show up wearing any old sundress with boogie board in hand… Rather, it’s a courteous venue notice: Heads up everyone, this is going to be a formal wedding on the beach so dress accordingly! For this type of outdoor setting, you must dress to impress while considering the elements (sand, sun, and water). For an easy yet ethereal seaside look, wear a simple (solid or floral print) chiffon gown like the Ella Gown by Paper Crown (pictured above). Another option is a prim but delicate sundress. As for shoes, I recommend wearing flat sandals (and no, I don’t mean flip-flops) since sand is a factor. Also, the beach can get windy and cool so make sure you bring along a pashmina or wrap to keep yourself warm.

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Casual. Casual usually means anything goes, but in the world of weddings it translates to “business casual.” To achieve the perfect balance of informal chic, wear a sundress or a nice blouse and skirt. The Floral Dress from my LC Lauren Conrad collection for Kohl’s is perfect for a casual daytime wedding, especially when paired with a nice belt. Or, the Floral Ruffle Dress (pictured above) is great too! As for hair and makeup, stick with your natural, everyday look.

Dress code I do’s

  • Subtlety is best. Opt for simple, pretty or romantic looks rather than edgy or sultry ensembles.
  • Simple beauty. Keep hair and makeup natural and pretty. Click here for a complete makeup tutorial on bridal beauty. For my general “wedding appropriate” hair and makeup tips, click here.

Dress code I don’ts

  • The White Rule. This age old tenet says to avoid wearing all white (including ivory), as it should be reserved for the bride. The bottom line here: it’s impolite to upstage the bride so let her be the only one wearing white. Luckily this rule has relaxed a bit. Cream colored clothing and print dresses with white backdrops are usually fine.
  • Black. Try not to wear black to early morning/afternoon nuptials.
  • Absolutely, positively NO jeans and sexy or revealing clothing. No exceptions.

I hope you found this post useful! Now you can share your newfound “wedding attire” knowledge in the Forum.

Dish your best advice and find helpful suggestions by checking out these active discussions…
What should I wear for a summer wedding?
What do you wear to a semi-formal wedding?
Help: Outdoor Wedding
Help: Attending a Wedding

Did you go to a wedding this summer? Share a photo of your outfit by uploading it to your profile page and linking the photo in the comments below!

XO Lauren

P.S. Learn how to upload and share photos by clicking here.

Categories: Style Guide
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  • Amy Griffin

    My new rules – forget the mags, just read what LAuren says!xo

  • Melissa Panici

    I love your wedding advice! So classy and elogant:) I will be in a wedding next year but my dress will be chosen for me because I’m a bridesmaid! But I wll turn to this when I am invited to a wedding I’m not in! Thanks Lauren!

  • Bere

    I’m in capital L o v e with your collection. Thank you for sharing your wonderful gift to us. I will be attending a wedding soon and this came at the right time.

    XO Keep it classy

  • Lauren Barry

    This really did help Lauren! Thank you! I’m going to a New York wedding in October now I have a better idea of what I should wear:) Thankssss!

  • Ivanna Mijares

    wow its like you read my mind! i have a wedding coming up! THANKS :) xo

  • Beth Schilling

    Love this post! Here’s a photo of me at a wedding a few weeks ago: http://www.laurenconrad.com/photo/view/12103/1669/7227/1

    And this is a little off topic but I recently tried on my Grandma’s wedding dress and it totally fit! It was so fun to see how times and styles have changed! http://www.laurenconrad.com/photo/view/12103/1669/7226/1

  • nadine

    Thanks for this post, Lauren! Very informative, fun and just beautiful, loved the beach formal piccie of you and your amigas :) xo

  • Anna Gorbacheva

    I went to a wedding last month and I was wearing yellow dress and black accessories :) and I was the only one in yellow!!:))

  • Kristi Bucksbarg

    I love the beach formal look!

    xo

    http://www.luckygirlfinds.com

  • Karolina Cz

    yep, I’m going to a wedding this saturday, I am going to wear vanilla dress.

    thanks

  • Erin Tehan

    So what are your thoughts on a wedding that is in the early afternoon, and the reception isn’t until the evening. Do you wear the same outfit all day or take two, one good for afternoon and one for evening?

  • Alice Kayssar

    oh ohhhh… dont show ur friend this post… she wore black… (but she looks rather pretty, so i dont think it counts) :)

  • Vaiva Legenzovaite

    You and Your friends looks awesome! I love it! <3

  • April Janok

    Lauren, I am getting married this October and I am so glad you posted it! Great advice :) thank you.

  • Renos Fy

    You and Your friends looks awesome! I love it! <3
    Where lo the Whitney and the rest to friends

    http://renoos.tumblr.com/

  • Izabella Emerick

    Ah! This is perfect, I have a wedding to attend on the 19th of this month and it’s black tie! When is Paper Crown going to be in stores? I remember you mentioning that it’ll be selling in Nordstrom! <3

  • Amanda Lehrke

    I don’t have any wedding to go to but this was very helpful!

  • Lyndsey Marie

    LOVE THIS!! i did a post on the EXACT some topic not too long ago! check it out at http://www.alovelylittleblog.com/2011/05/what-to-wear.html I also am constantly featuring things from the beauty dept on the blog too! I LOVE ALL OF IT!

    alovelylittleblog.com

  • Katelyn Merrill

    “”Business casual”” it was always gets me.

    http://www.stylepennies.com

  • Megan Babin

    It wasn’t really a summer wedding,but it was at the beginning of April. My lil brother in the navy, got married in Virginia beach…I wore a simple dress with a cardigan in case it got cool. Their wedding was at 6 pm inside a chapel. Before the wedding we all went to the beach…Great day!!!

    http://www.laurenconrad.com/photo/view/10434/874/7234/1

  • linda jada

    i love dress’s ,,so i hope u post wedding dress next …:)

  • Jennifer Olland

    Lauren…..so fitting. I love this post. I have a wedding to attend in early October and the weather should be quite nice. I look forward to using your tips. I just had to ask the brider for the dress code however!! It wasn’t on the invitation! lol..I hope to get a response soon so I can work on that outfit right away!

    Being a mommy and a soldier kinda turns you into this closet girly girl! lol I want to get glammed up!!

  • Kiwi

    What dress code was the wedding you were attending in the picture above, Lauren? Thanks!

    <3Kaeli

  • Marine

    Here is a picture of my cousin wedding in May – I’m wearing a pink dress Marc by Marc Jacobs

    http://www.laurenconrad.com/photo/view/19480/834/7235/1

    I’m attending an other wedding in September … have the shoes – Kate Middleton Nude LK Bennett : ))) – but have not find the dress yet!

    Thanks Lauren for sharing all these tips!!!!

  • Syl

    Hi Lauren!

    One of my friends married in Barcelona in July. It was a formal wedding and some of us wore long gowns (like me :-) ) and others preferred to wear nice cocktail dresses. My besties and I had a great time! Hope you like the strong colours of our dresses! :-)

    http://www.laurenconrad.com/photo/view/28788/1674/7237/1

    Besos,

    Syl

  • lucky17

    This is the outfit I wore to a wedding in Washington D.C. in May. I couldn’t find any pictures of the actual day so I uploaded all the pieces seperately. I noticed that it sort of went with the “”romantic”” look you said to go for at weddings. :D

    http://www.laurenconrad.com/photos/list/28786/1676/1

  • Alex A.

    Hey Lauren, great idea for a post. You guys looked fantastic, and a wedding at a beach sounds just as wonderful. I haven’t been to a wedding since I was younger, but I do agree that there are certain guidelines when it comes to dressing for an event such as a wedding. Lots of love! xoxo -Alex :)

  • Kelsey Johnson

    Is one of your friends wearing white? haha that’s a no-no but all the outfits are super cute. I always seem to wear jewel tones to wedding, the colors are fun and looks nothing like the bride on her day! :)

    -Kelsey

  • Megan Fisette

    I personally think that it’s okay to wear white to a wedding. As long as the outfit doesn’t have any beading, rhinestones, or anything else that would make the top or dress look like a wedding dress. Because that would be trying to upstage the bride. I think it’s okay to wear white as a wedding guest as long as the look is simple and chic. I personally think the “”don’t wear white to a wedding”” rule is a little dated. But that’s just my opinion.

  • Kaitlyn Murphy

    Although it’s not a full-length shot, I opted for a royal blue cocktail dress, red lipstick, and black pumps for a friend’s semi-formal evening wedding. I got so many compliments that night!!

    http://www.laurenconrad.com/photo/view/16072/1680/7261/1

  • Hanny R

    I’m attending a wedding next week and I decided to either way the floral chiffon dress from your kohl’s collection with a pair or nude or tan pumps or my black open toe pumps.

    As for hair i’m going to follow your vintage hairstyle you posted on here.

    Keep your makeup and hair simple.

  • sweet_hunnybee

    I went to a friends semi-formal wedding last summer…got tons of compliments on my dress…lucky me…it was on clearance for 10 bucks! :)

    http://www.laurenconrad.com/photo/view/28806/1681/7267/1

  • Gabriela Garza

    This is a great guide!

  • Emily Taylor Avia Hu

    Do the same rules apply to wedding anniversaries?

    And I freaked out when I saw Lo in the picture <3

  • Kiran Kaul

    my uncle got married this summer and he had an indian- christian wedding these are only like 3 pics but it was a lot of fun and i loved the indian american feel to it if the link dosent work please just go to my page

    javascript:mctmp(0);

  • Monica Castillo

    Not wearing white is a respect thing. The rule may be outdated but respect is never outdated! It makes it seem like your being spiteful! I received an invite for a wedding this month that says after five attire…thinking this means semiformal..so idk what I’m wearing yet

  • Kendra Oatis

    I went to a wedding last month and had such a great time! I wore a strapless floral dress I got from Torrid paired with pearls. Hair and makeup I kept simple…my hair was down until I started dancing and sweating, then just pulled it back into a low ponytail! I love this dress and can’t wait to find another even to wear it to!

    http://www.laurenconrad.com/photo/view/10368/1683/7272/1

  • Koceva Tamara

    Oh I love ELLA GOWN and CLEMENTINE GOWN from your collection, theese are definitely must-have pieces for summer! I would love to have them some day… For wedding I would agree with you Lauren, you should not wear white and you should keep your make up and hair simple. Here is my example of what to wear when you’re going to wedding

    http://www.laurenconrad.com/photo/view/14480/735/3069/1

    It’s simple,but still romantic and cute, i hope you guys like it…. :)))

  • Sonja Obradovic

    Here is a picture from my good friend’s wedding two weeks ago. It was a beautiful outside ceremony. You can’t see it in the picture, but I added deep, rich purple accessories (a clutch, suede peep-toe wedges, a few bangles, and of course a mani and pedi). :)

    http://www.laurenconrad.com/photo/view/28859/1693/7290/1

  • Samantha Trejo

    This article is extremely helpful. Too bad it wasn’t posted earlier. I went to my first wedding ever last Saturday. I was completely freaking out about what to wear and how to act, but I believe I was quite successful. Thank goodness.

    I ended up wearing a navy blue summer dress and had a beige clutch and beige heels.

    The experience was wonderful. The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was so much fun.

  • Cassie Hanson

    this is great – thank you for posting this! a lot of ladies do not know :)

    http://www.daeplanner.wordpress.com

  • Megan Baird

    you guys look beautiful! i miss seeing you and lo on tv! you guys need a show together! you guys were my favorite! one of my friends acts and looks just like lo; its crazy! wish you girls the best! :)

  • Ashley Pinkham

    I went to a wedding back in May. It was a rainy day but still a beautiful, afternoon, indoors ceremony.I think my outfit follows most of these rules. =] Go me! Thanks Lauren!

    http://www.laurenconrad.com/photos/list/10799/1702/1

  • saffy bt

    as i cant remember it was last 2004, when the last wedding i attend,my cousins weding.@ im wearing a white backless dress.

  • Sarah Pavillard

    Loved this post – it is always one of the trickiest things to get right. I have lots of weddings to attend this coming Aussie summer – including my brother’s wedding in Laguna in January (I know, not summer!) and these are the dresses I’ll be sporting:

    http://www.the-dreamery.com/Designers/Lanphi_2/Lanphi-Rio-Printed-Full-Skirted-Dress

    http://www.the-dreamery.com/Designers/LP33-3/LP33-3-Turn-of-the-Tide-Maxi-Shirt-Dress-Melon

    http://www.the-dreamery.com/Designers/Megan-Park/Megan-Park-Rani-Beaded-Silk-Crepe-Dress-Charcoal

    http://www.the-dreamery.com/Designers/Sara-Phillips/Sara-Phillips-Isis-Sleeveless-Lace-Dress-Mint

  • Kimberly Debacher

    I know that my comment has nothing to do with a wedding but I need style help! My school is a boarding prepatory school and we have a business professional dress code. I have pencil skirts and blazers and all of that stuff, but I need style advice considering I couldn’t find any tops that weren’t flowy that were age appropriate. I like the look if them tucked in when I’m wearing them with a pencil skirt, but I’m open to any other suggestions!

  • Elena Puffolina

    there two photos of my wedding’s dresses. the first one is of this year and the second one is of a wedding celebrated two years ago! hope you’ll like it.

    http://www.laurenconrad.com/photo/view/28986/1714/7406/1

    http://www.laurenconrad.com/photo/view/28986/1714/7405/1

  • Diana Maier
  • Mikki Tregurtha

    I like your selection! Choosing dress is pretty difficult for wedding!!Mikki

  • Courtney LaHaie

    Went to a wedding last Friday with my best friend! Check out our British-inspired summer wedding looks!

    http://www.laurenconrad.com/photo/view/27495/1728/7562/1

  • Emma Haw

    Love it! I was so inspired by your website that I decided to start my own fashion blog! Its called “”Fashion and Frosting”” ! http://www.fashandfrost.blogspot.com

  • Corryn Batykefer

    Weddings are fun, I can remember getting ready for a friends wedding like it was prom.

    http://www.rewindwithcoffee.com

  • emma

    Where did you get your dress from xo

  • Summer

    Hey Lauren, I just wanted to say you guys are lucky you wear plain comfy dresses to weddings. On the other hand, for the weddings I go to we wear dresses that have sequence and that are evening gowns, so we have to wear long dresses!! and for our wedding sequence, like the whole organization it goes like nikkah(saying the i do’s), henna(an all girls party, basically the bridal shower where we put henna on our hands and just party all night!!), and finally the WEDDING(we never have weddings at the beach, i really don’t know why, but we have an overwhelming amount of guests like maybe 350-500 at the most!), oh and i forgot to mention, our weddings/parties are from 6:00pm until 2:30am!!! crazy right, let me know what u think about this…lol…kk ttyl bye for now!

  • Rachel Vitendi

    Does anyone know if there’s a shop online or on the high street that specialise in maxi dresses for weddings? It’s not for myself, but I will be attending a wedding next month and want to wear a maxi dress. They look great on my body shape, and I know I’ll be comfortable throughout the day.

    Any ideas people? x

  • Danyelle Gay

    Love the maxi dress season!

  • Georgina Hopkin

    Wow, that long beach formal dress ws gorgeous! I love the girlie floatiness and the way it makes you look super tall, it must be beautiful with a bit of coastal breeze!

  • Grace Kim

    I’m going to my cousin’s wedding in June at the park… and before this, im not going to lie, i was having a slight panic attack… even went shopping earlier today. But now I know what I’m looking for!! Thanks Lauren :) <3

  • Lidia Carrillo

    I will be going to a wedding next month so this helped out so much. Thank you Lauren :)

    (Btw.. I need some woredrobe advice and was wondering if you could help me out by posting on it. I will be studying abroad this summer in Paris and traveling after I am done to Italy, Spain, and Germany. I don’t know what to pack to wear out there because I don’t want to look like a typical “”tourist”” but I do want to dress really cute and nice because you know, it’s Paris :)

    Thank you for reading and I hope you can help me out :)

    -Lidia

  • Martin M

    So many of my friends are getting married at the moment. I always love toe see all of them get dresses up. Always look good but never better than the bride :)

    http://www.look-scout.blogspot.de

  • Amenah Hussein

    Lauren please post a full picture of your dress :) it looks fabulous! Please & Thank Youu

  • Stephanie McDonnell

    Darling selections.

    http://www.luxeboulevard.com

  • Marianne Jarvis

    Normally, I wouldn’t wear white to a wedding but on the link below I am since my Mum + Step-Dad picked out this dress for me to wear to their wedding.

    ( Back in Dec 2010 )

    http://www.laurenconrad.com/photo/view/54846/5247/25650/1

    Take a look!!! I adore my sister purple dress, she is the one to the right.

  • Lyndsey Ruchalski

    I could never find a outfit to wear to events like this! this helped soo much!

  • Rachael

    so helpful!

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