Don’t upstage the bride: The correct etiquette for wedding guest outfits

Would you want a guest to wear such a dress to your wedding? (Picture: Getty/@laurenperez)

Back in November, Kendall Jenner caused quite a stir on social media as she attended the wedding of one of her closest friends. 

The model and reality star was bridesmaid for the nuptials of entrepreneur Lauren Perez in Florida and initially wore a satin blue gown alongside fellow model Bella Hadid. 

However, for the reception, Kendall changed into a daring black cut-out dress by designer Mônot, which featured peekaboo moments on the neckline and the stomach.

When the 26-year-old shared pictures of the maxi dress on her Instagram, the internet reacted viscerally to her outfit choice. 

‘Totally disgusting for a wedding! Woe,’ wrote one Twitter user. 

‘This is so tacky, kinda feel like she wanted more attention than the bride,’ said another. 

In recent images shared on Instagram by Lauren Perez from her wedding day, it seems Kendall broke her silence on the controversy surrounding the ‘look.’

Responding to trolls criticising her outfit choice Kendall wrote: ‘@laurenperez obvi asked for your approval in advance too. We love a beach wedding.’ 

The bride added: ‘She looked stunning and I loved it.’

The dress affair has now caused a debate on correct wedding etiquette.

Questions around dress choices and bride permissions are floating around in the social media sphere so we thought it best to ask the experts for advice on how to navigate the big day. 

Firstly, wedding planner Illy Elizabeth says the notion of ‘upstaging the bride’ is an ancient idea. 

‘It is a dated concept,’ she explains. ‘In all my years of experience I’ve never had a bride be upstaged. 

‘Proper etiquette is allowing the bride to have her day and what is truly important to remember on wedding day is it’s about the love of the couple and their love for the people in the room.’

Yet, Illy does note that bridesmaids can sometimes cause stress unintentionally. 

‘This can happen when a bridesmaid thinks they are helping by interfering with the planning of the event,’ she says.

‘It’s because they are not used to what goes on behind the scenes. The bridesmaid then causes stress upon the bride by letting her know what things are ‘wrong’ when they are not wrong at all. However, it’s just that the bridesmaid is unaware of what is really going on.’

When it comes to fashion, Illy prefers the idea that there are no rules but she does advise guests to keep some protocols in mind and to inform the bride of your choice. 

‘Not wearing white to a wedding is also another etiquette that has become dated, with more guests wearing white to weddings,’ she notes.

‘But usually a guest will check in to ensure the bride is happy wIth that choice and remember, if wearing white, stick to shorter dresses rather than long as a wedding guest so there is no confusion.’

Unwritten rule

In contrast, luxury and celebrity wedding planner Liz Taylor, believes there is an unwritten rule that the outfits of guests should be respectful of the bride.

‘Guests should never try to upstage the bride,’ she warns. ‘If you are privileged enough to be invited to attend a wedding day, it’s your responsibility to dress in an appropriate style and colour.

‘Guests trying to upstage the bride is rare, but it does happen. I once had a mother of the bride that wanted to wear white to the day, and indeed did, which had the bride in tears. She was devastated.’

Within bridal parties, Liz says to avoid friction is it key to have open conversations with the bride.

‘I prefer it when couples organise a lovely opportunity to talk through what everyone is wearing,’ she advises. ‘Do this over cocktails or afternoon tea with the bride and groom’s parents, and bridal party in particular. 

‘Allow them to choose what styles and colours suit them best, but ask if they refrain from certain styles or colours you don’t want. Most respect this.’

Dress codes

Meanwhile, for guests, Liz urges using common sense.

‘Common sense should prevail, she says. ‘A simple dress code on the invitation should steer overall – black tie, formal attire, casual – these examples are a good indicator!’

Wedding planner and celebrant Amanda Wheal agrees.

‘A dress code is really helpful and should be followed,’ she says. ‘There are some general rules though. So yes, it’s definitely not a good idea not to upstage the bride.

‘Attention should belong to the happy couple, and after all it’s their day. It’s advised that you shouldn’t wear white or anything too revealing, so try not to wear something too see through. Weddings are often family affairs so try not to be too daring.’

Despite this, Amanda advises guests not to get too caught up in panic about wedding #ootds – the bride has many more pressing things to worry about.

‘As a wedding celebrant couples often ask me about wedding etiquette but seldom about their invitees,’ she explains.

‘I think brides have plenty of other concerns aside from being upstaged by their guests.’

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