Saturday, May 31, 2008

Can I (how can I) tell my guests what to wear?

I wanted to suggest "barn dance attire" on the invitation. I pictured guests in western shirts and gingham sundresses... (And it would be our little ode to David Shrigley.) But I got mixed reactions when I threw the idea out to my friends.

Things have changed a little now that I have a new dress. Barn dance attire might feel too casual. But I'm having trouble letting it go.

What the f* is the attire for a (stylish) wedding on a farm in the forest? Help! (And how closely do the guests really have to match the bride and groom?!)

(Image courtesy of jchamp54)


  1. Hmm. Suggesting a dress code hasn't really worked for us. We have tried and tried to tell my family that our wedding is relaxed, not formal but they just won't take it. They want to hire full kilt outfits (the bad kind) and my Mum just looks at me like I'm nuts when I say it's a relaxed wedding and says 'hardly, you're wearing a wedding dress'. Grrr

    I think that all you can do is give an idea of how formal things will be on the invitations and if you have a wedding site stress the atmosphere that you're going for (that's what we've done).

    But honestly, I think that it only really sinks in with the guests who are like minded and 'get' what you're trying to do.

    As for what is appropriate attire, I've no idea. You could hand out gingham dresses and cowboy shirts at the door!

    Sorry, that wasn't much help!

  2. I say you make a little attire suggestion at the bottom of your invite, something like, "barn dance dress casual" which should illicit some creative interpretations, and then if you're going to have a wedding website, you could have a little section called "what to wear" with photo examples and a more complete description of what you mean. I would say though, some people are just going to wear whatever they want, and you shouldn't stress too much about it.

  3. How about "festive attire" -?- They should get the hint with that description.

  4. The only thing I would suggest to your guests is to where attire appropriate for the venue snd the season (ie. semi-formal garden style vs. formal ballroom). Then, let your guests dress themselves.

    I think having barn dance props for your guests is a great suggestion - cowboy hats and even lassos come to mind and would make for some great photos. BTW, I included the term 'festive attire' on an invitation for a work event I planned and no one understood what it meant. Without a 'what to wear' web guide a la Kathryn's post above, I can assure you that you will be receiving lots of puzzled e-mails and calls.

  5. Ladies, this is so helpful! Please keep it coming :)

  6. I agree with Allison. I hate getting invites that say "festive attire" because I feel like that could be a tutu or a ballgown. If you are going to say something spesific on the invite I'd only say something that has a strict definition, ie, semi formal.

    What I'd really suggest though is going with a more casual invitation, which will give a clear signal. Also, I think if you say something like "followed by a barn dance" people will get the drift and not wear white tie. Then you can have a "what to wear" section of the website if you really care.

    That said, personally, I think that other then level of formality, you can't ask much from guests. It's best to just let them wear something they feel comfortable in. I've been a guest at weddings where I'm supposed to be 'theame' dressed, and I end up feeling stressed that I'm not dressed properly, uncomfortable in my weird outfit, un-pretty, and wishing for my regular dresses and shoes.

    So thats my two cents! What you really want is their smiling faces... you are going to be too happy to care what they have on :)

  7. I gotta say, I agree with Meg. Ultimately you want your guests to be happy and free to enjoy the day as much as you. Give them a basic idea of what to expect of the day - barn dance, brilliant! - what kind of attire would be appropriate then provide them with props to create an atmosphere for the day and for the photos (which will look awesome, by the way).

    Oh, and Peonies and Polaroids, my groom will be wearing a kilt with all the regalia and he's gonna look fantastic! Not all kilt outfits look bad. Though, some look a little too much like waiters outfits sometimes.