Let’s not even talk about the politics of present-buying (Should singles spend twice as much as couples? Is money ever an appropriate gift? If you can’t attend the wedding, how much do you spend on a gift, and do you even buy one?), just the fashion quagmire is enough to make you wish your entire social circle had boycotted the institute of marriage.
But, should you find yourself with a few 500GSM envelopes embossed with the names of your friends and the words “marriage”, “union” or “wedding”, there is a good chance you will need to give some thought as to what to wear.
Bec Cooper and Bridget Yorston, better known as Bec and Bridge, know a thing or two about wedding dressing.
They recommend playing it relatively safe and embracing colour and print.
“Weddings are all about celebration, so opt for something that makes you feel chic, effortless and comfortable,” they said via email. “For a more relaxed dress code, we love the idea of a bright floral print … Separates can also be a polished yet versatile look that you can mix and match for other occasions.”
When it comes to dress codes, most fashion experts agree that they are set by your hosts for a reason, so don’t be dissing them.
“For formal or black tie dress codes, fabric choice, length and accessories are key,” the pair said. “Opt for satins or silks that bring a luxe feeling to your look … Statement shoes and accessories are great to add polish and something you can have fun with!”
Fashion and racing identity Kate Waterhouse agrees that a good guest will observe the dress code, whether it’s beachy or ball gown.
“Know your hosts, look at the location. If you are really fashion forward and out there, push the boundaries but judge it by the bride and groom. If they are conservative, play by the rules,” she says.
Waterhouse said it’s not necessary to research what the bridal party might be wearing, as casually coordinating with the bridesmaids can look great in photos. But she thinks sending out moodboards for guest attire may be a bridge too far.
“You want people to feel comfortable and their best on the day and what they feel great wearing. But you can put hints in the dress code, like ‘summer brights’ or ‘black and white’ without dictating what people should wear.”
Elleni Pearce, founder of wedding and events company Lenzo, says there is a return to tradition in weddings generally, so she is also seeing that reflected in dress codes.
“People are going back to all-whites [for the theme] – that whole trend around preserved florals, creams, caramels – it’s romantic and quite chic,” she says.
Still, she says the rules around dress codes, even black tie, are a lot more blurred these days. “But the number one rule that hasn’t changed is don’t wear white.”
Pearce says couples that set dress codes are usually trying to “enhance the experience of what the theme is and tie everything in. Now, with social media, everything is shared.” But she agrees that some people can worry too much about what their guests will wear.
“Does it really matter, as long as your guests are having a good time?”
Melissa Singer is National Fashion Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.