More wedding attire fun: wedding party informal, guests formal - you?

So I’m going to a wedding; you care about that and want me to tell you about it.

Here’s how it goes: the dress code, it seems like, is going to be basically inverted. Guests are being told to wear whatever the hell they want; bride and groom don’t care. Groom is wearing a suit; groomsmen shirt and tie. I was told by my date, the maid of honor, that I should do what I feel comfortable in but my defaulting to a suit was totally unnecessary, to the point of being quaint even; really I don’t even “have to” wear a tie. So OK, I’m polite, it isn’t about me, when in Rome, etc. If they invite you to an In Honor of a Recently Departed Hip Hop Star of Your Choosing wedding, smile and turn your quadruple XL pants around backward, and have fun, right.

The bride and groom are the renegades of the family, though; the rank and file, I hear, will be dressed in standard wedding gear because they’re more traditional people. This will - importantly and self-servingly - include the extended family of my date, whose sister’s wedding it is, all of whom (the whole family) this wedding is my date’s occasion to introduce me to. Date’s father is in the same boat as me in that he said something about wearing a suit and they told him he didn’t “have” to; it isn’t clear whether he’s going to or what his whole perspective on this critical contemporary issue is.

Obviously nobody’s going to concern themselves overly much with how I personally resolve this - I’ve explicitly been told “no one cares.” This is mostly a philosophical musing about whether these rules of etiquette and respect even apply where the bride and groom don’t care about them - like if you dress up and they aren’t, is that actually disrespectful? Or is it respectful even if they don’t acknowledge it? Isn’t this all really about my own sense of propriety and is that unavoidable?. My sense is that there are probably a lot of people on this board who share the bride and groom’s view on traditionality. So: there’s a likelihood that dressing like the wedding party suggests would look mildly disrespectful to a traditionalist outside observer. There’s a likelihood that dressing according to the standard rules about weddings, which would mean I fit in with the other guests, would also mean I dressed nicer than the groom. So what would you do?

I’d bring a jacket but it would never be on. Have it folded over your arm in the church and draped over the back of your chair during the reception.

I think you take this at face value and wear what is comfortable to you. I tend to be just a little dressier than the norm, I personally would probably wear a nice dress. I wouldn’t feel like I was “showing up” anyone either in the wedding, or a family member of someone in the wedding, if my dress selection was dressier than their dress selection. “Looking nice” is never disrespectful.

This might be easier for women. For men, there is a big glaring line between SUIT and NO SUIT. There isn’t really an “almost wearing a suit” unless you want to look like Tom Cruise in Risky Business. (Note: you do not want this.) Oh sure, there are some half-assed ways you can slide up to this line, but few guys can pull them off (sadly, many who try do not realize they fail) but in essence, it’s suit or no suit.

For women, you can dress up or down an outfit in very subtle degrees that have more to do with one’s personal style.

In your particular case, I would ask what your date is wearing and suggest that you approximately “match” that. And out of curiosity, if, let’s say, this was your co-workers wedding and you had no family impressions issues to deal with, what would you be inclined to wear to a wedding where the attire was “whatever you want”?

I agree with “looking nice is never disrespectful”. Dressing it up a little may impress your date’s family, which is always good. It’s less likely to make them think you’re uptight, and more likely to make them think you’re “a nice young man”, which is always a good position to be in.

This is my impression. Were nice pants and a nice pants and have a suit jacket available if you feel the need to step it up.

Tom Cruise in Risky Business :(.

No, I’d wear a suit, I suppose, because it wouldn’t occur to me to worry about coming off as a suit to the bride and groom unless the bride herself had told my date to tell me, more or less, not that we care, but don’t wear a suit. Also because I’ve never gotten into the jacket but no tie look. I guess there’s no time like the present.

Oh, and she’s wearing “a cute dress.” No help there.

Really, is a codpiece ever inappropriate attire?

A suit works with a cute dress.

A suit, and your codpiece. You’re good to go!

So which is it, I wonder? For people who “don’t care” about what you’ll be wearing, this is a peculiar emphasis on whether you wear a suit and tie.

It is indeed vexing when one asks “Well, what should I wear to your party,” only to be answered with a self-contradiction. “Wear absolutely whatever you want, but probably not a suit and tie. Unless you want to! But who really wants to? But lots of other people probably will. So, really whatever, but, you know, informal. We don’t have any expectations.”

As it turns out, we have a way of remaining polite in the face of such non-instructions: Wear the conventional wedding attire for wedddings held at the hour and venue as the one you will be attending. So, church wedding in the afterrnoon ==> navy suit with tie, dress shoes, etc.

I’d wear a tuxedo, but I’d dial it down a notch by wearing my muted Blackwatch tartan dinner jacket.

That’s the beauty of the language everyone’s been using - it isn’t contradictory, it just imparts no meaning. They don’t care, but you don’t have to.

Which is I guess where it gets interesting to me - what sort of obligation replaces the normal obligation to respect the bride and groom’s wishes implied by general social courtesy. Obligation to myself to do whatever the hell I want? Obligation to their guests to show their guests that I respect the setting? You’re right, though, that the rational answer is just to dress like it’s a wedding, because wedding. It’s a sound rule of thumb.

I’ve since decided, instead, to wear a tux, but other than the visible portion, underneath the jacket my shirt will be all Hawaiian, baby.

Men wear suits to funerals and weddings. That’s how I was raised. As a result, I get mistaken for a wedding planner or undertaker often here in in the rural south.

Well, you can embrace the non-conformity and do what you’re told (which is kind of ironic, really), dress the way people normally do at weddings and be branded as stuffy, or wear anything you damn well want to. If the wording was specifically “wear whatever you want,” then that’s what you should do.

I’d say, wear a wedding dress. Or wear a Batman costume and see if your girlfriend’s family figures out who you are.

You are way overthinking this. “Wear what you like” means wear what you like. If you want to wear a suit, go for it. You can always take the jacket off if you feel overdressed. If you want to go no jacket, I doubt anyone would even notice. As long as you are in th realm of normal, nobody is going to give more than a moment’s thought to what you are wearing.

I have an absolutely lovely salwar kameez that I bought to go to a wedding of a persian friend and her new imported from the old country husband, so I would probably wear that - it is amazingly comfortable, and cheerily colorful. If I need to cover my head, I have the scarf that goes with it, and I wear basic black leather mary janes as shoes. Ha, they still carry the exact sameone, though I had the full salwar instead of the thin churidaar type. I have the inseam left extra long so we can hem it ourselves so it breaks right when seated in the chair.

So long as the weather is nice (warm) I’d go with a pair of nice dress slacks and a Cubavera shirt with classy embroidery on he front panels.

That’s really lovely. I don’t dress up very often but if I had one of those I might!

Nothing quite says “casual yet formal” like a seersucker jacket. It says, “I care enough to wear a jacket, but I’m so whimsical that I don’t care about the wrinkles.”

They come in everything from fairly plain cotton to sweet jumping jebus embellished silk suitable for weddings and coronations. I have a couple fairly plain cotton ones that are good summer wear, lightweight and well worn to be comfortable. [I hate stiff starched clothing, I am more the relaxed comfy type.]

I also wear the occasional sari too - I actually wore one for my formal graduation in HS [The private school I went to doesn’t use traditional graduation gowns, the girls wear white formal gowns and the guys black formalwear.] Casually I wear it with a tshirt instead of a choli, I have enough scarring on my torso from assorted operations that I don’t like exposing my middle.]

Did you see that they will make it with the type of salwar you prefer? Here is a cheat sheet of the types :slight_smile:

Wear the suit, and the tie. Wear them – don’t let them wear you.