what to wear to a 5pm wedding

We have researched What To Wear To A 5pm Wedding. This is why we are sharing this post on 5 oclock wedding guest attire, and afternoon wedding evening reception what to wear. Suppose you want what to wear to a black tie wedding, then reading this post will help.

It can be a rather daunting task figuring out what to wear to a wedding. What’s the proper etiquette depending on the type of event? You’ll learn all about it and more below including:

  • Simple, proper wedding attire etiquette tips
  • What the kids should wear
  • What to wear to an informal wedding vs. a more formal affair
  • Any exceptions to the rules

What To Wear To A 5pm Wedding

what to wear to a black tie wedding

Guide: Proper Attire to Wear to a Wedding

5 oclock wedding guest attire

“I was invited to a 5pm wedding ceremony held at a chapel. The reception is being held at a very nice hotel.

I have read that your attire should go by the invitations style. I have a few choices but am a little indecisive. My friend is a laid back person who loves color, but I fear that her wedding will be slightly formal.

My first option is to wear a cute red-violet halter style dress with a few sequins and my second option is a pair of tan tweed flair trousers that have a hint of dark brown and pink with a cute pink silk tank and a dark pink tailored tweed jacket. I like them both but am leaning towards the trouser set. What do you think would be appropriate? I need help.”

Our Answer

It sounds like this event is formal. The selections you have sound nice but I wouldn’t recommend you wear either option. My suggestion is that to be safe you should wear something more in line with a 5:00 p.m. and after formal affair. I’m not comfortable recommending the flair tweed pants with a tank and jacket or red/violet halter dress fit that bill.

Try looking for a nice black, blue, violet or mocha/brown dress with sequins. A wrap or light jacket to accent the dress is a nice touch. Or, you could get a suit in any of the aforementioned colors and dress it up with a sequined colored tank or shell. Add a pair of matching sparking sling back shoes with a complementing metallic clutch purse (for any of the options) and you are definitely ready for a 5:00 p.m./formal affair.

You don’t have to spend a lot. I’ve helped find attire like this in places such as Marshall’s and TJMaxx with great success. My favorite secret place for sequined or sparkling tanks and metallic purses is Target.

Other Expert Answers

“It can be a fairly dark-colored dress, but it is considered rude to wear black to a wedding (superstition is that black is associated with death, as if you were mourning the wedding). It seems like a very classy event, so an after-5/cocktail type dress is likely best. Also, not white (superstition is trying to outshine the bride, and white is very day-time-ish).”

“Times have changed and I think black is generally okay at weddings these days. However, you may want to base your decision on your knowledge of the couple; if they’re very traditional or formal (or superstitious!), you might want to choose another color. I’ve worn black to an evening wedding reception. I found that a good idea was to “lighten” the outfit by wearing a colourful shawl and jewelry.

Evening weddings (5pm and later) are generally formal attire, however the invite should say formal or black tie attire. A black dress is fine, but if its formal I would say it should be on the longer side, (as opposed to a short or tea length dress) if it is formal tux and bow tie for hubby if its not noted in the invite, either ask you friend who’s getting married or someone else who is going.”

A General Guide to Wedding Attire

Figuring out what to wear to a wedding is one of the most fun – and most trying – parts of being a wedding guest. Sure you can take your cues from the invitation, but what does “black tie optional” or “festive attire” really mean? And what should you wear to a formal daytime summer wedding, or a destination wedding?

The etiquette for proper wedding guest attire can vary greatly depending on the style of the wedding. You’ll have to become a little bit of a detective, but fear not. There are clues everywhere.

Start off with the invitation. Is it in flowing engraved black script on a heavy cream paper with formal language? Odds are the wedding will be similarly formal. Does it cheekily ask you to come see them get hitched? Wedding guests should look for a nice casual outfit. And of course, it may tell you directly on the invitation – black tie, casual attire etc.

Think about where the wedding is located – if it’s outdoors avoid anything that will get caught in the wind – you won’t want a battle of wills between the wind and your modesty!

Avoid high heeled shoes that will sink in the sand or in the grass. If it’s in a hot location avoid the suit and go for a breezy dress to help you keep your cool. Indoors at the country club or fancy restaurant? Make your outfit slightly more tailored and dressy.

Examples of What to Wear to a Formal (ie- 5pm) Wedding

Women

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Men

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Children

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Examples of What to Wear to an Informal Wedding

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SEE ALSO

wedding invite problems

Invited to Wedding Ceremony But Not The Reception. WTF???

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Men

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Children

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Black-Tie Wedding Guest Attire

If the wedding invitation indicates Black-Tie dress, there really is little room for interpretation or deviation in your wedding guest attire. You must wear a tuxedo. While there is some opportunity to show your personal style while wearing Black-Tie attire, it is most appropriate to stick with tradition.  Meaning you must wear a tuxedo jacket, tuxedo pants, and a bow tie.  To show off your style a bit for the occasion, consider doing that through your dress shirt, bow tie, lapel pin, and shoe selections.

DO
  • Wear a black or midnight blue tuxedo. For a Black-Tie wedding, black and midnight blue tuxes are most appropriate.  If you must wear another color, try to keep it as dark as possible.
  • Wear black patent leather, leather, or velvet oxford or loafer shoes. Unless indicated in the invitation, sneakers or any other casual shoe are considered inappropriate for the occasion.  
  • Wear a collared dress shirt. T-shirts, polo shirts, and banded collar shirts are not acceptable for a black-tie dress code.  If appropriate for the wedding venue and theme, consider a tuxedo shirtin a different color, texture, or pattern (ex. pastel, denim, pinstripe)
DON’T
  • Wear a white or ivory dinner jacket. Feature looks and dinner jackets, especially white/ivory dinner jackets should be strictly reserved for the groom and his attendants
  • Wear a floral boutonniere – these are typically reserved for groom and wedding attendants.  Instead, consider adorning your tuxedo lapel with a stylish lapel pin.
  • Intentionally intend on upstaging the groom or his attendants with your apparel. Keep your look clean, classic, and free from too many details that may appear that you are trying to upstage the Man of the Hour.
Dress codes for men’s wedding guest attire

If the wedding invitation indicates Black-Tie dress, there really is little room for interpretation or deviation in your wedding guest attire.

Formal Men’s Wedding Attire

If the wedding dress code calls for Formal, many of the Black-Tie attire rules apply.  The largest difference is that a tuxedo is not required for Formal attire but it is often optional.  Instead of wearing a black or midnight tuxedo, consider wearing a black or dark colored suit.

DO
  • Wear a dark suit or tuxedo. For a Formal wedding, dark suits (ex. blackcharcoal greymidnight blue) are most appropriate.
  • Wear a bow tie or necktie. Different than Black-Tie attire, a bow tie is not required.  You may wear a bow tie or necktie.
  • Wear a collared dress shirt– T-shirts, polo shirts, and banded collar shirts are not acceptable for a formal dress code.  If appropriate for the wedding venue and theme, consider a dress shirt in a different color, texture, or pattern (ex. pastel, denim, pinstripe) to show off a bit of your personal style.
DON’T
  • Wear casual shoes – Although black patent leather shoes are not required, dress shoes are a must for formal attire.
  • Mix and Match Suiting Separates – A full suit with matching jacket and trousers should be worn.  Resist the urge to mix suiting separates in different colors for Formal wedding attire.
  • Wear a floral boutonniere – these are typically reserved for groom and wedding attendants.  Instead, consider adorning your tuxedo lapel with a stylish lapel pin.
  • Intentionally intend on upstaging the groom or his attendants with your apparel – Keep your look clean, classic, and free from too many details that may appear that you are trying to upstage the Man of the Hour.
Dress codes for men’s wedding guest attire
Dress codes for men’s wedding guest attire

Formal (left) vs. semi-formal or cocktail (right) attire for a wedding.

Cocktail (Semi-Formal) Wedding Attire for Guests

An invitation with Cocktail attire indicated, provides more freedom in look styling than Black-Tie and Formal dress codes.  With Cocktail dress you can loosen the neck-tie a bit, literally and figuratively, and relax into chic and modern fashions for the event.  Now remember to keep it classy because it’s still a wedding!

DO
  • Wear a suit. For a wedding with Cocktail Attire, suits or suit separates are most acceptable for men’s wedding guest attire.  Navy blazers and sport coats are often popular for cocktail events because as the evening moves on and the dancing begins, you can lose the jacket and get more comfortable.
  • Wear a necktie. You should consider wearing a necktie with your suit to the event initially and if you see that other guests are not in neckties, feel free to slip it off and put it in your jacket pocket.
  • Accessorize your look. Feel free to adorn your look with sophisticated jewelry (wooden or beaded bracelets), lapel pin, tie bar or patterned pocket square to really show your personal style
DON’T
  • Wear a tuxedo. Cocktail attire requires a certain level of formality but definitely not a tuxedo.  A suit and trousers will suffice.
  • Wear Jeans. Jeans are not typically considered acceptable for a cocktail attire wedding even with a blazer.   Save this look for another time and place.
  • Wear clothing with rips, holes, tears. Cocktail attire is still considered dress-to-impress so clothing with rips and holes will not make the cut.  Keep your look sophisticated and classy unless otherwise indicated by the couple.

Casual Wedding Guest Attire

The designation of Casual Attire is probably the most broad and confusing of the attire designations discussed in this post.  It’s the most confusing because everyone’s description of casual wedding guest attire may be different. First and foremost when deciding what you will wear to a wedding indicated as “Casual Attire”, try to take some clues from the invitation, venue and time of day that the wedding will take place.

DO
  • Wear chinos or suit pants. Chinos or khakis are a great option for casual weddings especially those that take place in the summer.  If it is an especially warm climate, you may even consider wearing khaki or chino shorts. In cooler climates, opt for a nice pair of lightweight wool trousers.
  • Wear a printed shirt. A printed shirt in plaid, stripes, or all-over pattern is a great option for a casual wedding  
  • Add color to your look .Different than black-tie and formal weddings where dark colors are encouraged, a casual attire wedding is often a good time to add a little color to your look.
DON’T
  • Wear a t-shirt. Unless specifically indicated by the couple to be a super casual wedding, a t-shirt is probably not your best bet for a wedding.  Opt for a polo or short sleeve poplin shirt if you are looking to wear short sleeves.
  • Wear a necktie. For Casual Attire, you can likely skip the bow tie and necktie.  If you are not comfortable wearing your shirt open and unbuttoned at the top, consider wearing a banded collar shirt with all buttons fastened.
  • Wear open toe shoes or flip flops. Unless specifically indicated as a beach wedding, you should still wear a closed toe, oxford or loafer shoe, even if you go without socks.

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