A definitive guide for guests: What to wear to a wedding.

We love a good wedding. Sure there’s is the financial outlay of hen’s nights, kitchen teas, showers, wedding presents, sometimes accomodation, and (potentially) awful bridesmaid dresses. But in return you get a celebration where it’s socially acceptable to dance barefoot to the Macarena with a slab of cake in one hand and glass of champagne in the other.

Oh, and watching two of your favourite people publicly declare their love for each other isn’t bad either.

But weddings are not minefield-free events; no, no, no. And we’re not talking about navigating your way around the Groom’s dodgy uncle Bill, but more specifically What to Wear.

Deciphering a modern wedding dress code (Lounge suit, what the ..?) is right up there with figuring out the correct way to open a can of Milo. H-A-R-D.

Can you wear black? What about white? Does a garden wedding mean it’d be lame to wear florals? Or encouraged? And what exactly does dressing Cocktail style even mean?

Watch the Mamamia team reveal what their biggest ‘wedding regrets’ are (post continues after video).

We spoke to Julie Lamberg-Burnet of The Sydney School of Protocol about the dos and dont’s of modern wedding etiquette.

And we weren’t expecting this curveball: It’s now perfectly acceptable to wear white to a wedding. Yes, WHITE.

“Generations ago, women were cautioned against wearing white so they wouldn’t ‘out do’ the bride. But wearing white now, in no way detracts from the bride,” says Lamberg-Burnet.

(Unless you know, it’s a plunging floor-length gown and the guest also happens to have a veil.)

“Today, not all brides wear white.” If you’re not sure about donning the traditional shade on someone else’s big day, Lamberg-Burnet says “if in doubt, you should always ask the bride”.

Her advice is to pay attention to the wedding invitation and theme for the best guide to its formality or informality. Many couples invest time and money into choosing a style, and will appreciate it if you dress accordingly.

Pay attention to the wedding invitation and theme for the best guide to its formality (image via iStock).

“Black is also fine to wear, as long as you add a touch of colour and don’t look like you’re in mourning or going to a funeral,” says Lamberg-Burnet. (Mothers-in-law take note.)

As for what you should never, ever wear to a wedding; anything too skimpy or provocative. Plunging necklines, extreme mini skirts and bare backs are best kept for other occasions.

Soprts/Baseball caps and denim jeans are also out “unless the wedding is very casual and you know that the groom and his attendants will be in jeans and T-shirts”.

And if you’re planning to wear a large fashion hat, it’s best to remove it for the ceremony so it doesn’t block the other guests’ view. And you should also remember to remove your sunglasses if the ceremony is inside.

“The best rule is to overdress rather than underdress,” says Lamberg-Burnet.

With that in mind, we’ve put together three faux pas-free outfits for summer weddings (that you can wear beyond the big day).

1. Sheike Emblem Dress. Shop here.

2. Karen Walker Daisy stud earrings. Shop here.

3. The Iconic Cuff Heels. Shop here.

4. Gregory Ladner clutch. Shop here.

5. Essie nail polish in To Buy or Not to Buy. Shop here. 

1. NARS Sheer Lipstick. Shop here.

2. Mango Floral Print Maxi. Shop here.

3. ASOS Pearl Through Earrings. Shop here.

4. Kate Spade Bee wristlet. Shop here.

5. Spurr Clare Heels. Shop here.

1. ASOS Curve lace swing dress. Shop here.

2. Stila After Glow Lip Colour. Shop here.

3. Gold Plated Hoop Earrings. Shop here.

4. Senso Yves heels. Shop here.

5. Country Road Clutch. Shop here.

6. Butter London gold polish. Shop here.



Women: A floor length or ankle-length gown, clutch, jewellery and heels.

Men: a black tuxedo, white dinner shirt and bow tie.


Women: Knee-length dress, jewellery (can be bold or costume), evening clutch and heels. A pantsuit or dressy jumpsuit is also acceptable, as are bright colours and prints.

Men: Black suit with white shirt and necktie.


Women: knee-length dress, jewellery, clutch, heels.

Men:  Suit in navy, grey or lighter tones are acceptable, with shirt and tie and pocket square.


Women: can wear a dress, or a blouse and skirt or trousers. Heels, and a bag larger in size to a clutch. (No jeans.)
Men: Collared shirt worn under a blazer or dress coat with trousers or casual slacks such as chinos, tie not necessary. (No jeans.)

What dress code was your wedding?