It’s wedding season! People are getting engaged and/or married left & right. There is a lot of unspoken etiquette around engagements and weddings that most people wouldn’t know unless they’ve ever celebrated one. It sounds straightforward, but one of the most confusing things is how to properly dress for this type of celebration. For background, engagement parties are typically hosted by the bride’s (or groom’s) parents. Yes, it’s a soirée to celebrate the newly engaged couple, HOWEVER, it’s also a huge moment for all families to get together, meet, mingle and well, become one big happy family. Jack and I recently just celebrated our engagement with family and a small group of friends and our rule of thumb when advising our engagement party guests on “What To Wear” was, if you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see it or someone else’s grandparents to see it, then don’t wear it.
Okay okay, that last statement is really vague. When it comes to engagement parties and what to wear, it’s as simple as this: being overdressed is always better than underdressed, but know that you can always ask the bride or groom. I realize that’s also a very vague statement, so below are some detailed tips to find your best outfit.
Dress for the occasion & location: The occasion in this instance is obviously an engagement party, but it’s important to keep in mind what style of party it is. A good way to tell what the style is of the party is to know if there is a theme. For us, we had a fiesta themed engagement party in our family’s backyard. From the theme alone, our attire skewed on the more casual side. Based on our location at home in our backyard, this also signaled it was a more casual event! For women, I advised them to wear a summer casual dress or jeans and a nice top. There are so many ways you can dress up the latter! Jumpsuits were also a big hit. I let Jack handle the menswear, but he basically told all his buddies that a shirt with a collar (AKA a polo or button down) and jeans was fine. No fancy shoes needed for the men. We live in SoCal, so Vans were perfectly ok for me! Althought semi-casual was our dresscode, don’t always assume that a backyard event is a free for all. Many fancy events take place in people’s backyards, and out of respect for the couple, more polished is better than not. This wasn’t true for us, but we made that clear to our guests from the start.
No matter what, don’t wear white. Yep, don’t do it. This applies to any style of party, any location, and any theme. Regardless of whether the bride-to-be wears white or not, you still shouldn’t. I know what you’re thinking: “What if I have a white dress with colorful florals on it?” I would still try not to wear it if you can help it. Out of respect for celebrating the bride-to-be, just don’t be that person!
Don’t wear anything you wouldn’t want your elders to see. Again, this is a super vague statement…but it’s an important one to note.
It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. This is my favorite form of measure whenever I have an event to go to. Now, you may not need to show up in a cocktail dress and pearls. However, opting to wear a more sophisticated outfit is 100% better than the cute crop top and skirt you bought for brunch with the girls. Remember, engagement parties are usually hosted by the bride & groom’s parents, and there will definitely be lots of extended family there. Whether you have met them all or not, it’s always better to put your best foot forward and opt for an elevated, timeless outfit. This doesn’t mean that you need to buy a new dress or outfit just for this event. There are many ways to “dress up” things in your closet with accessories like jewelry, shoes, handbags, etc. Be creative!
If an engagement party’s dress code is ever unclear, hopefully these rules can help you make your fashion decision. However, know that you can always ask around too…ahead of time, of course. In case you ever find yourself completely unsure what to wear, below are a few of my favorite trends and looks that are engagement party appropriate and A.W. approved!