Wedding Guest Dress Etiquette

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By Catherine Strawbridge, published in Real Cambridge, March 2017 edition

On the 25th February I celebrated the 5th year of being married to the wonderful Bob.  He’s a keeper!  Our anniversary is a good reminder to look back at the pictures, sparking memories of the day and also the lead up to it.

Mr and Mrs Strawbridge Wedding
Mr and Mrs Strawbridge

As you may know, a lot goes into a wedding – choosing your dress, the groom’s suit, bridesmaids and flower girl dresses, venue, colour themes.  The thing is, I list all of those things but these days you’re as likely to come across a wedding of 4 people in a registry office followed by a Steak and Honour burger wedding breakfast (have you been to their new restaurant, delicious!) as you are a 400 people affair in Ely cathedral.  Either way, as the bride and groom you are the ones holding the reins and making the decisions about the day.

During my time working in a bridal store I was often asked what the etiquette was when it came to Mother of the Bride or Groom outfits – should it match or at least tone with the bridesmaids? To hat or not to hat?  Should the hat match the shoes or bag or both?  All the time avoiding the faux pas of wearing the same outfit as the other mother or another guest – never really a good thing whatever the occasion.

My answer then, as now, is: the rules are there are no rules except those chosen by the bride and groom.  Tradition isn’t followed as closely as it once was and, when it is, it’s more acceptable to mix and match old traditions with new ones that you create yourself.  Yes to a wedding dress, but a purple one.  Yes to bridesmaids, but they can all wear different dresses.  Sometimes hats are a must (thanks to those who put this type of guidance on their invitations, most helpful).  You get the picture.  Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with breaking from tradition, it’s your day and you should have it your way. However, it can leave some of the wedding party a little in limbo when it comes to their choices.

So what am I getting at with this column.  I guess it’s a plea really.  To all would be and soon to be brides and grooms from all the mothers, fathers, family and friends. Try to let us in on the dress code.  It’s your day and we want it to be fabulous!  But, when you’re sharing your wedding snaps by the likes of Lina and Tom photographers all over social media, we also want to know our #ootd (outfit of the day) made us look and feel good, and most importantly made you feel as proud as punch!

If you have an upcoming wedding, or any event, and you’re not sure what to wear let me help you.  Contact me for more information and a free telephone consultation.


Lattice Pillbox by Karen Lewis Designs, from £80, available at
Meadow flower on ivory pearl string necklace, £135 by Cloudberry Design at
Amelie by Willowby Wedding Dresses, from £1,395, available at the Tailor’s Cat
Mia Dress by Vilagallo, £199 from
Rieker Shoes, £59.99 available at North Shoes

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