1. Suss the season.
Sounds obvious, but ascertain what the hell the weather is going to be like at the time. British weather, as we all know, is unpredictable but it’s important to consider a jacket for spring or autumn weddings, and choose a lighter outfit for summer that will be more forgiving should the air-con fail. Weddings are heavily photographed events and trust me (shudder) you do not want sweat patches on camera. Talking to you, satin, jersey or bodycon.
2. Follow the theme.
Since you’ve been invited to the Big Day, you probably know at least a bit about the style of the couple. Is this going to be a boho affair, all bare feet and homemade bunting, or high-end hotel with four-course dinner? In many respects, it’s more important to dress for the occasion than adhere to your usual style. Understanding the theme will also help you decide on how formal you should be, whether black is an option (some say no, I say yes) or whether it’s an occasion to dig the family jewels out of the vault.*
*Vault = local branch of Accessorize.
3. Know your place.
As much as we hate to admit it, weddings are a game of hierarchy. Congratulations, you’ve made it into the top 25/50/100/150 of people the couple know. But it’s important to be conscious of who you are in the line-up. If you’re someone’s partner, a trusty dress you’ve probably worn to another wedding is fine. If you’re a school friend, slightly removed family member or colleague who may be there for the whole shebang from start to finish, channel K-Middy (shouldn’t we all, all the time?!), who has extensive experience of wedding guest dressing, albeit at far more lavish society weddings than I will ever be within a ten mile radius of. If you’re involved in the wedding, top table or close relative, I say seize the opportunity to Bust A Hat. Or fascinator, whatever. There just aren’t enough opportunities in life for hats, but a general rule of thumb is to downsize unless you’re actually the Mother of the Bride, lest you resemble Kate Winslet boarding the Titanic:
4. Shop around
Even once you’ve considered the above, hitting the shops can still be pretty daunting. Luckily, ASOS have just brought out their very own ASOS Wedding collection, most of which is lovely and reasonably priced – although be warned, it can be easy to get carried away with the chiffon and turn up looking like a bridesmaid. I repeat: you are not a bridesmaid, put the full length gown down. Other reliable options are the classic Monsoon, while Reiss, Whistles, Warehouse and Mango are all serving up some good offerings this year. Also try independent brands Dahlia, Frock and Frill, Needle and Thread and Chi Chi London for non-high street alternatives.
So there you have it – your fail-safe guide to wedding guest dressing. Bring on the champagne…