How to dress for a civil wedding

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Wedding season

In Germany, the dream wedding month is May. Many young couples want to get married in May because it is the first real spring month with the first real warm days in Germany. The trees are green and the flowers, bushes and trees are in full bloom. Somehow they associate May with sunshine and hope. Actually, May is the rainiest month in Germany. When I told my sister, she switched her wedding to October.

bride wearing a hat
Wearing a hat at our wedding

In the US, June is the wedding season. Anyhow, as weddings need long planning, especially here in the US, I thought it is the right time for some Dress for Success posts on the various dress codes for a wedding.

fashionover50 shirt dress 40s style
Corduroy velvet shirt dress (self sewn) with L.K. Bennett pumps, Hermes collier de chien leather band and D&GM sunglasses (all own)

Civil wedding guest outfit

Let’s start with just a civil wedding with just the legal wedding procedure. They differ strongly by states and countries, but when borough, county, city or religious officers are involved you cannot be wrong with pants or skirt suits, a formal dress, anything along the line of business casual as long as you leave your jeans at home. What’s called Sunday’s Best like a velvet dress would work too in Germany. A cocktail dress with cropped jacket to cover the shoulders will work as long as you are sure not to out-dress the bride.

Don't outdress the bride. #weddingguest Click To Tweet
#maturefashion wedding guest outfit example black shirt dress
Corduroy velvet shirt dress with leather coat, L.K. Bennett pumps and Jaeger bag (all own)
In the US, a LBD is ok, in many European countries it's a non-no. #weddingetiquet Click To Tweet

Add a hat

In some regions, women wear a hat. This accessory makes the outfit very sophisticated. The hardest part is to find a hat that goes with the vibe of the outfit. How lucky are our sis in Great Britain where there are still hat makers and stores with huge selections!

robe in retro style for non-bridal party invitees
Front view of the 40s style shirt dress with L.K. Bennett open toe pumps (all own)

Wedding guest outfit inspirations

The photos below give some outfit inspirations for a formal civil wedding.

fashion over 50 wedding guest outfit Abstract floral print Eli Tahari sleeveless summer sheath dress accessorized with MOSHINO belt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, small lady-like bag, pink jacket and slingbacks (all own)

pink jersey attire for a guest at a  civil wedding Baby pink sheath jersey dress c/o Lookbook with own studded flats and necklace for a civil summer wedding guest

fake skirt suit for a participant in nuptials at a court house Linen blazer with black straight skirt, Dolce aand Gabbana Madonna sunglasses, GNW polka dot top, Anne Klein silk scarf, pearls, structured bag and L.K. Bennett pumps (all own)

style over 50 What to wear to a civil wedding Victoria Victoria Beckham cat pleated drop-waist dress with pumps, Paloma Picasso sunglasses, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Bulova watch, bracelet and scarf (all own)

mature woman in color blocked dress for attending a civil nuptial Liz Claiborne pumps, statement bag, a coin necklace designed by my late Dad, Hermes collier de chien bangle (all own), and color blocked jersey dress c/o Ronen Chen

look for a civil wedding Long sleeve turtleneck layering top c/o Adea with own hounds tooth blazer, pearls and Sienna Studio pencil leather skirt and pumps for a sleek, sophisticated and effortless look

vintage style gives a romantic vibe to a nuptial ceremony
Retro shirt dress, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Dolce and Gabbana Madonna sunglasses and L.K. Bennett pumps (all own)

Be aware – a wedding is a sort of family reunion

Since weddings are also some sort of family reunion you may want to also take in to consideration what to wear at a family reunion to not become the amusement of the freshly weds future kids at a family reunion down the road.

When your kid is marrying you may also be interested in reading the 6 does and don’ts of selecting a mother-of the bride dress or in a review of JJHouse’s mother of the bride dress including some styling tips.

Accessories for wedding guests

Jewelry is a no-brainer. And sure, you need a purse. Avoid shoulderbags. They will let your dress, blazer, jacket, or blouse look odd. Of course, a fancy day clutch works, but a small, fancy top handle or wrist-handle is best. This way you have your hands free to greet people, have a glass of champgne or take photos with your cell phone. When it is a sunny day, make sure your sunnies look great with your outfit. They should have the same vibe. On a rainy day, an umbrella is a must-have. Since the photos are a memory for the couple, make sure the color of your umbrella doesn’t clash with your outfit or that of the wedding party.

Do you have a wedding coming up? What kind of wedding is it? Just curious.

Do you want more tips and advice like given in this post? Then you may want to get a copy of my style book “How to Dress for Success in Midlife.” It covers all kind of dressing situations for women over 40 from job interview over spa to dinner invitation. Buy it now.

Get the inspiration, support, motivation, and tips to look to your best in life. Get a free subscription to High Latitude Style. Deep inside you know when I can do it you can do it too.

Photos: G. Kramm

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