Dress Etiquette for Afternoon into Evening Weddings

It’s not surprising that the bride and groom were scratching their heads trying to decide what to say on the invitation as far as attire when their friends are really fun loving Harley Davidson riding buds and the last time the guys dressed up was never according to the groom. This bride and groom were fun loving and unpretentious. They didn’t care so much about everyone looking as fancy as they were going to be, but at the same time they had to abide by the club’s rules. The only “no no “ for the club was denim. So it was decided if ties were requested,  the guests would know that meant a pair of slacks and some kind of tie and jacket……..??

The wedding was held at an upscale country club. Gentle breezes and warm weather made it possible for the ladies to shed their wraps early for the ceremony and outside cocktail hour before going inside for dinner and dancing.

There was quite an array of outfits on view as the guests began arriving shortly before 4 PM. Ladies with varying degrees of sparkling fabrics, 4 inch heels,  dotted the terrace landscape along with men clad in sport coats and slacks, some with ties, others with just shirts and ties. It wasn’t until the beginning of the cocktail hour when the catering captain came over to me and pointed out just one person in the crowd that had jeans on, albeit along with a long sleeved white shirt and tie. Ugh!

The captain and I went over to the gentleman and politely interrupted his conversation with friends and gently told him of the strict policy of the club.  He said he had one pair of slacks at home but they were ripped and he didn’t make time to get another pair. We offered to take him to the pro shop on property to see if there was a pair of pants for him if he would like. He was even willing to pay up to $200 for the slacks, but none fit him due to his ample waistline. The general manager was contacted to see if we could bend the rules, but the request was declined.

The guest was a good egg about it, and said he would leave the club and see if he could find something to wear. He did say he read the invitation and it said to wear a tie so he thought wearing a pair of jeans would be OK.  We empathized with him since he was trying to interpret the invitation as best he could. We mentioned that it is customary when a tie is mentioned to assume that a suit or sports jacket and slacks would be worn along with the tie.

Lesson learned: Sometimes it’s best to pass along a friendly, but blunt reminder to friends in an email to head off any bigger embarrassment on the wedding day. This time it was just one person, gratefully so, but unfortunately for the guest,  he missed the reception.