Fashion Dos and Don’ts for Wedding Party Dresses 

Finding appropriate Wedding party dresses can be a challenge to wedding guests. To conquer this plausible fashion challenge and help you find your wedding party dresses in no time, all you need to do as supportive and happy to be invited wedding guests is:

Read the invitation closely for dress code and dress code clues.

Decoding the dress code is key in finding the courteous wedding party dress. To honor and respect the bride and groom’s wishes, you don’t want to be underdressed and in some cases even overdressed for a super casual wedding. An evening reception in a city restaurant requires a totally different look from an afternoon in a country church. If the dress code is not clear, go ahead and check before the morning of the wedding. Ask the bride or bridesmaids or bride’s close friends who are helping out with the wedding planning. Some brides are very particular about their expectation of what guests should wear or not wear to their big day and there are some who don't care. 

The invitation reads: "White Tie" 
This is the most formal of all dress codes (think: White House state or Royal dinners!). 
•For the ladies: A formal floor-length evening gown.
•For the men: A tuxedo, a long black jacket with tails, a formal white shirt, white vest and bow tie, white or gray gloves, and black formal shoes.

The invitation reads: "Black Tie" 
This is the next most formal wedding dress code, and usually means the wedding is an evening event.
•For the ladies: You can go a bit dressier and wear a formal floor-length gown, or choose a short, dressy cocktail dress.

•For the men: A tuxedo. A black bow tie, black vest or cummerbund, and patent leather shoes are also suggested. For summer weddings, a white dinner jacket and black tuxedo trousers are also acceptable. (You might be able to get away with a conservative black suit as a substitute for the tux.)

The invitation reads: "Formal" or "Black Tie Optional" 
This means something slightly less formal than black tie is acceptable. So, a tuxedo isn't required, but the event is still formal enough for one to be appropriately dressed.
•For the ladies: A long dress, dressy separates, or a formal cocktail dress.
•For the men: A tuxedo or a formal dark suit, white shirt, and conservative tie.

The invitation reads: "Semiformal" or "Dressy Casual" 

The time of the event is leading here: Wear darker, more formal colors for an evening wedding; opt for light colors and fabrics for a daytime event.
•For the ladies: A cocktail dress or a long, dressy skirt and top.
•For the men: A suit and tie, dark or light depending on the season and time of day.

The invitation reads: "Festive Attire" 
This one invites you to have fun and play with your look. Opt for cocktail-party attire featuring bolder colors and playful accessories. 
•For the ladies: A cocktail dress or evening dress in a fun color, paired with playful accessories.
•For the men: A suit and tie, jazzed up with a bright tie.

The Invitation Says: "Casual" 
This indicates the wedding will likely be held outdoors or on the beach, meaning the event will be much more laid-back, especially when it comes to attire. That said, jeans, shorts, and tank tops are probably not appropriate unless they're specifically noted as acceptable. 
•For the ladies: A summer sundress is appropriate (just be mindful of the fabric. You don't want anything that looks too formal.

•For the men: Dress pants or khaki pants with a button-down shirt, tie (though you might be able to get out of wearing a tie), and sport jacket or sweater.

Learn the wedding fashion etiquette I have outlines in this article as 'The Golden Must-Know Fashion Dos and Don'ts of Wedding Party Dresses.' 

The Golden Dos for Wedding Party Dresses:

1. Use good judgment in choosing a wedding party dress style: If the invitation does not indicate a theme or the wedding's level of formality and you can’t reach anyone to help you decode the mystery, keep it simple, and refined. A wedding appropriate wedding dress style can be a classic neutral colored knee-high dress that is not too revealing in the bust and preferably has covered shoulders or straps or sleeves.

2. A Little Black Dress to the rescue: The LBD is a classic and if you choose a figure-flattering number with the right amount of accessories you can brighten up the dark color and match the happy occasion.

3. Give yourself time to plan & buy your wedding party dresses: You can’t leave this to the day or night before the wedding day. You need time to match wedding party dress shops to the clues you have learnt from decoding the dress code and not to forget your budget. Think of the accessories and undergarments you will need to complete your new look as well.

Elegant NARCES wedding party dress with open round back and sequined flower texture

4. Embrace soft, non-flashy and bold colours and flower prints dresses: Though pastels are usually associated with spring, they can work all-year round. A blush pink or nude color sheath dress or expertly-tailored suit will make you one of the best dressed no matter what the season. Avoid bold colors like bright red that halt people in their tracks like a glowing stop light or fabrics that sparkle and shine so brightly like crystal balls. You never want to take attention away from the bride.

5. Wear stylish dressy shoes that are comfortable for a full day: You will be dancing and mingling all night inside and outside, so you will be doing your self and feet a favor to invest time on purchasing a pair of stylish shoes that are also highly functional and weather appropriate as well.

9. Try on the outfit before you leave to the wedding. Check that the outfit works head to toe and that you have the right type of underwear on that doesn’t leave noticeable and embarrassing lines.

6. Master the art of layering: An A-line skirt with a pretty lace tank or a sheer blouse is a great option, and one you can probably assemble from pieces you already own (huge bonus!). If you're wearing a daytime sundress, choose a pastel cardigan, or you're rocking an evening cocktail dress, choose a feminine shawl.

8. Accessorize, Accessorize…Bold elegant accessories: Since a muted palette is necessary to be a respectable wedding guest, add color and intrigue with a few gorgeous accessories. Choose a bright turquoise necklace to compliment a strapless dress or work some bold bangles into your skirt-and-shirt look.

The Golden Don'ts:

10. Wearing white is a ‘no no’: Remember this is the bride's day, so you shouldn't compete with her by wearing the same shade including other shades that resemble white such as: ivory, cream and eggshell. There are so many other colors and light shades you can wear that are minimal and still gorgeous. Let the big day be about the guest of honor 'the bride' and save your white dress for a special occasion that doesn't involve vows.

11. Getting hung up on outdated traditions: You don't have to wear a fancy hat if you don't want to or have a hat that matches your wedding party dress style. On the other hand, don't be disrespectful of the wedding couple's religious or cultural traditions. That might mean covering your shoulders in church or temple, taking of your shoes at the entrance (make sure you to wear appropriate socks with no holes or have a nice manicure with clean toes) or being quiet during a ritual you don't quite understand.

12. Dress too revealing and flashy: There is never anything wrong with flaunting your figure, but a wedding is not the place for unabashedly sexy or foxy looks. Don't dress to compete with the bride. Your guest duties are to applaud and cheerlead, not to try and steal the limelight. Even if you worked out all spring, look better than you ever have before, and are dying to show off your beach-ready bod and sexy curves, a wedding is not the time to let it all out. Even if your personal style tends toward the revealing, "Tone it down,"! Ultimate test: If you look in the mirror and think, Hmm... is this really OK to wear? The answer is: No.

13. Wearing denim of any kind is a no-go: The denim print and fabric is casual comfort clothing. Some ceremonies are casual, but even then, wearing denim or chambray is not ok. Instead opt for a billowing maxi dress in a romantic print. Denim skirts and dresses are also out of question and inappropriate for any wedding.

14. Wearing brand new shoes. It's tempting to buy heels specifically for a special occasion like a wedding, but never wear your shiny new kicks without breaking them in first. At a wedding, there's absolutely no escape from your pretty-yet-painful pumps. It would be a real bummer to miss all the dancing because you can't walk! And ladies even though at some weddings the thoughtful brides offer flip flops for the lady guests for the reception, skip the floppy look opt-out and keep up your fabulous head to toe dressy look no matter how irresistible and available comfortable solutions are.

15. Forgetting the details. Pamper yourself pre-wedding! Paint fingernails and toenails a complementary shade. Pick up a tanning lotion for a subtle glow and some skin hydration. Get those locks a healthy trim...the little details go a long way to looking great. You never know who you'll see at a wedding (EXs...frenemies...) or who you'll meet (um, the hot groomsmen, maybe?), so may as well look your best and feel good too! And ladies no matter how beautiful you are a touch of make-up (blush,mascara,lipstick,…) will only add to that beauty and glam you up.

16. Forgetting to think about what you wear will over the dress. The season, time and location of the wedding activities can be the cues in choosing for a wedding-appropriate coat, jacket, shawl or shrug. Most weddings involve a fair bit of standing around outside and there's no point wearing a gorgeous dress if it ends up hidden under a dreary coat. It is also not worth you catching a cold if you don’t have a warm piece to cover yourself up.

I hope my golden fashion do’s and don’t for that wedding-appropriate party dress you are searching for will come in handy for you. Remember to not to stress yourself over finding wedding party dresses because you now have the fool-proof tools to go shopping and have fun with looking your best in an upcoming party. The good news is that if you choose your wedding party attire wisely you don’t have to look for one for the next wedding or other formal parties.  I am curious to know what do you plan on wearing to the next wedding you're attending? 

If you don’t mind sharing send me a picture of your dress and of you wearing the dress (complete outfit) or write down your doubts and questions in selecting a figure-flattering and gorgeous wedding party dress.

Coming soon...helpful tips and referrals on designer brands, retailers, and other accessible offline and online shops where you can find wedding appropriate formal party dresses / gowns.