The When, What, and Why of Dress
The all-important decision regarding the formality of your wedding influences all other planning decisions. The formality of the wedding is instrumental in completing the look and achieving the vision you desire. Traditional guidelines will get you moving in the right direction, but this is the twenty-first century and modern brides and grooms are forging their own paths.
Traditional Guidelines for a Formal Wedding
What are the guidelines for a formal wedding? The traditional guidelines for a formal wedding are as follows.
Ceremony held in a church, synagogue, or luxury hotel • Reception held in a luxury hotel, private club, or private estate
100 or more guests
Engraved or printed invitations with traditional wording
The bride wears a floor-length gown with a chapel-length or sweeping train, fingertip veil or hat, and gloves
The groom wears cutaway or tails
Bride and groom each have between three and six attendants
Bridesmaids wear floor-length gowns
Male attendants wear matching cutaway or tails
Guests wear formal attire or eveningwear
Elaborate floral and event design
Very formal weddings follow the same guidelines as formal weddings but with a heightened sense of formality and drama. Expect that a very formal wedding would have 200 or more guests, between four and twelve attendants each, and a white-tie dress code. The bride's dress, the wedding party's attire, and the guests' attire should reflect this very formal style.
What constitutes a semiformal wedding? The traditional guidelines for a semiformal wedding are as follows.
Held in a church, synagogue, private home, or outdoors
Reception held at ceremony location, club, garden, restaurant, hotel, or home
Fewer than 100 guests
Invitations may be printed with traditional or personalized wording
The bride wears a floor- or cocktail-length gown with a fingertip veil or hat
The groom wears a tuxedo, sack coat, or a suit and tie
Bride and groom each have between one and three attendants
Bridesmaids wear matching floor- or cocktail-length dresses
Male attendants wear matching tuxes or suits and ties
Guests wear evening or business dress
Meal can be anything from sit-down to buffet to light refreshments
Live band or disc jockey
Scaled-down floral arrangements and event design
What constitutes an informal wedding? The traditional guidelines for an informal wedding are as follows.
Daytime ceremonies held at a home, community center, hotel, or in a judge's chambers
Fewer than fifty guests
Printed or hand-written invitations with personalized wording
The bride wears a simple gown, suit, or cocktail-length dress with no veil or train
The groom wears a dark business suit and tie
Bride and groom each have one attendant
Maid/matron of honor wears a street-length dress
Best man wears a suit and tie
Reception usually held at a home, ceremony site, or a restaurant
Simple meal or light refreshments are served
Simple floral designs
New Rules for Weddings
Do I have to follow these traditional guidelines when planning my wedding? With these traditional guidelines in mind, you must remember that this is the new millennium and originality reigns supreme. A meticulously planned reception with crystal chandeliers, amazing floral arrangements, the best photographer money can buy, and a $7,000 gown can easily take place on a rustic ranch. Do you call that formal or informal? That's the beauty of the creativity today's brides, wedding planners, and designers bring to the table. Let your wedding speak for you and be a reflection of you.