The Do’s and Don'ts Of Church Wedding Attire

The Do’s and Don’ts Of Church Wedding Attire

Church weddings aren’t as popular as they once were since so many modern couples choose all-in-one locations.

The Do’s and Don'ts Of Church Wedding Attire

As a result, many guests are unsure of what to wear to this kind of wedding.

Above all else, you should consider the couple’s religious affiliation as well as the church where the ceremony will be held when choosing what to wear to a church wedding.

It can be beneficial to familiarize yourself with the place of worship, as not all churches have the same dress code.

If you’re still not sure, to help you choose the perfect attire for any church wedding ceremony, we’ve put together a handy guide.

Continue reading for all of our useful advice on how to look your best at a church wedding.

Knowing The Dress Code

Have a look at your wedding invitation first. Does it state a dress code? If it does, stick to it and choose something more modest.

If there isn’t a dress code specified on your invitation, think about the kind of church the wedding will be held in.

Short hemlines, plunging necklines, and open backs are generally not permitted in Catholic churches due to their fairly rigorous dress code.

You might also be expected to cover your shoulders, depending on how traditional the priest is.

A minimum of formal or semi-formal clothes is required for Catholic wedding ceremonies, which are usually quite elaborate.

Protestant churches typically have less formal ceremonies, although attendees should still dress in semi-formal or smart casual attire.

Minis, plunging necklines, and attire that exposes the lower back should be avoided by women.

Guests should generally refrain from wearing casual attire unless the invitation clearly states that the ceremony is casual.

Common Church Dress Codes

Most church weddings will fall into one of three categories: formal, semi-formal, or smart casual.

Although it’s uncommon, a casual dress code is also a possibility, but only if your invitation specifically states so.

Below, we’ll look at each dress code in detail and some outfit recommendations for each one.

Formal

Formal attire often means a dark suit for men and an evening gown or cocktail dress for women. You might even be asked to throw a tuxedo on! 

This dress code is common at grand venues.

Sophisticated Evening Gown

A traditional wedding calls for a dress like this evening gown from Oleg Cassini, which features a lovely lace bodice, a high neckline, and adorable cap sleeves.

The outfit is modest and understated despite its intricate features.

High-Low Cocktail Dress

This elegant, deep green velvet dress by Ever Pretty is ideal for a formal, traditional wedding and is stunning for a fall or winter ceremony.

It will fit in at even the most conservative churches thanks to its modest below-the-knee length, high, rounded neckline, and three-quarter sleeves.

Simple Evening Gown

With its empire waist and soft, flowing skirt, this Azazie v-neck, flutter sleeve gown is gracefully modest.

Keep in mind that if you have a lot of bust, you might need to add a lace cami underneath to keep the neckline discreet.

Tuxedo

A tuxedo may be your best option if you’re going to a formal ceremony in the evening. 

With a long tie and vest, this ensemble from Fine Tuxedos looks chic and contemporary.

Formal Suit

As long as it’s dark and the ceremony is before six o’clock, you can get away with wearing a formal suit.

Ideal colors to choose from include black, charcoal, and dark blue, as well as Sean Astin’s elegant black pinstripe suit.

Semi-Formal

One of the most common wedding dress codes is semi-formal.

Male guests should dress in a suit, dress pants, or sport coat and tie.

Women can choose a jumpsuit, a dress and jacket combo, a cocktail dress, or a garden party dress.

Keep in mind that for church weddings, necklines should be modest and hemlines should not be any shorter than an inch or two above the knee.

You should also cover your shoulders if you’re going to a Catholic ceremony.

Garden Party Dress

For a church wedding, this gorgeous Kaye Dress from Reformation is ideal.

It keeps the shoulders covered and has a modest hem and neckline. It might also be worn with a sparkling cardigan or scarf.

Cocktail Dress

The Barron lace cocktail dress from Tadashi Shoji is pretty yet refined, seductive yet demure with its long sleeves and high neckline.

Jumpsuit

For women who don’t feel at ease wearing dresses, Lulu’s chic emerald halter neck jumpsuit is a fantastic option.

The jumpsuit is modest in the front and dips low to display the back, but a shawl, fancy cardigan, or silk blazer would make it suitable for a ceremony.

Dress And Matching Jacket

For a church wedding, a timeless, fitted dress with a coordinating blazer is always a fantastic option.

Although the dress and jacket in this set are both conservative, the embroidery adds the finishing touch it needs for a semi-formal event.

Suit

Male guests will appear smart and ceremony-appropriate for a church wedding with this traditional and beautiful Hemsworth navy suit from Indochino.

Dress Pants And Sport Coat With Tie

For a semi-formal church ceremony, a coat and tie are essential, however it doesn’t have to be a suit. 

With this Jos. A. Bank check sport coat, guys can appear dapper in their Sunday best.

Smart Casual

The second most popular wedding attire is smart casual.

Although it is a little less formal than a semi-formal dress code, attendees should still pay some attention to how they look.

While women can go for a garden party dress, a skirt and top outfit, or a semi-fancy jumpsuit, men can wear a sports coat or blazer with pants.

Garden Party Dress

The Zahara dress is ideal for a smart casual wedding because of its high neckline and flirtatious yet modest hemline.

If the wedding will be held in an extremely conservative church, you can modify your dress by adding a lovely cardigan to cover your shoulders.

Smart Casual Jumpsuit

This straightforward and modest jumpsuit is elevated by the silky fabric and balloon sleeves, making it suitable for weddings.

If cobalt blue isn’t your color, it can also be worn in rose pink or black.

The long sleeves are ideal for spring, fall, or winter weddings but can be too warm for summer ceremonies.

Skirt And Top

For a smart casual wedding, a voluminous, below-the-knee skirt, like this one from Hunter Bell, teamed with a modest silk blouse is ideal, especially when matched with the proper shoes and basic accessories.

Sport Coat And Pants

You can choose not to wear a tie if you don’t enjoy doing so at a smart casual wedding.

It’s always appropriate to wear a classy sport coat like this one from Tommy Hilfiger with a great dress shirt and pants.

Blazer with Tie And Pants

While a tie isn’t required at a smart casual ceremony, it is a sign of respect for both the engaged couple and the church.

With lighter-colored pants and a tie, this blazer looks classy yet relaxed.

Casual

Although a casual dress code isn’t typical for a church wedding, you can do so if the bride and groom specifically state on their invitation that the service will be informal.

Men don’t need to wear a jacket or a tie. Instead, go with a classy dress shirt with buttons down, worn with khakis or pants.

Women can dress elegantly in a jumpsuit, a maxi dress, or a sundress.

Maxi Dress

Although there is a slit in this maxi dress, it ends just above the knee, making it suitable for most churches.  

The dress has an open back with modest flutter sleeves and a v-neckline, so you might want to bring a cardigan or shawl to wear for the ceremony.

Sundress

Despite having a halter neckline, this Mod Cloth dress will have you prepared for a church ceremony thanks to its wide straps, nearly entirely covered back, and full a-line skirt.

For a Catholic event, add a shawl or cardigan; otherwise, you can dress normally for most other church weddings.

Jumpsuit

This comfortable yet fashionable jumpsuit from Reformation is ideal for a laid-back church wedding any time of year.

For spring and summer, wedges or heels look excellent, while boots are best for the fall and winter.

Button-Down Shirt and Pants

This stylish yet casual BOSS shirt looks great with dark pants and would be perfect for a casual wedding ceremony.

Button-Down Shirt and Khakis

For a relaxed yet traditional church service, a well-cut dress shirt like this one from Macy’s looks great with khakis.

What to Avoid

There are several rules of etiquette that you should never break at a wedding, regardless of the type of ceremony you’re attending. 

Consider these crucial criteria when selecting your attire to prevent upsetting the bride and groom.

Don’t Wear White

This is a fundamental rule for attending a wedding as a guest. 

Wearing white to a wedding that you’re not the bride of is extremely disrespectful and is bound to upset the bride on her big day.

You absolutely do not want to come across as if you are trying to upstage her.

You should also be careful with light colors that are close to white, such as champagne, cream, or beige.

These colors might be fine in person, but could appear white in photographs.

No Jeans

Unless you are specifically told that wearing jeans is okay, you definitely should avoid wearing them.

Jeans can look smart, but they are simply not appropriate for a wedding and will make you stand out as someone who is underdressed.

Nothing Too Revealing

A church venue expects modesty from its attendees, so revealing clothing like mini skirts, low-cut necklines, and cut-out features should definitely be avoided.

Not only is it tacky, you might also draw attention away from the bride and groom, especially in photographs. 

Don’t Be Too Casual

A casual dress code doesn’t actually mean casual in the everyday sense.

Wearing shorts, sandals, t-shirts, sneakers, or sportswear to a wedding will not go down well, regardless of the dress code.

You should only wear any of these items if the bride and groom specifically state that you can. 

Don’t Match the Bridesmaids or Groomsmen

Make sure you know what color scheme the bridesmaids and groomsmen are following and what outfits they are wearing.

It’s better to ask than to find out when it’s too late.

If you wear the same suit or dress as these important people in the wedding ceremony, you might be mistaken for one of them, which would be incredibly awkward for you and frustrating for the bride and groom.

This is an easy error to make if you don’t find out the final details, so be sure to double check with the other guests.

What to Remember

Simplicity is Key

Whenever choosing what to wear to a church wedding, keep things as simple as possible.

The best option is to wear a dress or suit in muted hues. But that doesn’t mean you must choose a neutral color scheme.

Simply stay away from clothing with excessive sparkle, bright colors, and over-the-top jewelry.

Although it’s acceptable to wear makeup, stay away from extreme styles like punk or goth, even if that’s your preferred look.

Additionally, you should wear classic hairstyles and accessories.

Switch It Up

The majority of the time, there’s no need to change outfits for the ceremony and reception unless there’s a couple of hours between the two.

Regardless, you can still change it up a bit to suit the reception venue, which will probably be less formal than a church.

Ladies can wear a shawl or cardigan to hide any bare skin presented by their attire in the church, then take it off for the reception.

You can also wear a different pair of shoes to alter the appearance of your outfit for the reception.

At the reception, men may choose to take off their ties and jackets, but you should follow the groom and his groomsmen’s lead.

If they keep their jackets and ties on, then you should as well.

The Bottom Line

When attending a church wedding ceremony, you’re going to want to look the part.

It can be hard to know what’s appropriate, but with knowledge of the dress code and these tips, you should be able to dress both modestly and fashionably for your loved one’s church wedding.

Lisa Plaitt