Catholic weddings range from semi-formal to casual depending on the parish and the location of the wedding. As long as you dress smartly and modestly, you’ll usually not go wrong with most Catholic weddings.
So what to wear to a Catholic wedding? Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
Dressing Etiquette For A Catholic Wedding
There isn’t a standard dress code for all Catholic weddings. You won’t find a paragraph in the Catechism of the Catholic Church specifying what to wear to a wedding.
What you wear depends on several factors.
- How concervative the parish is. Some Catholic churches have a more relaxed dress code both for church and ceremonies like weddings. You can be a bit more casual. But if the church is more concervative, you have to dress accordingly.
- The location of the reception. Consider where the reception will be held after the wedding ceremony at the church is over. If it’ll be outdoors or in someone’s backyard, you can dress casually. If it’s at a country club or a formal venue, you have to dress up a bit.
- Dress code. Before you start scratching your head over what to wear to the wedding, check whether there is a prescribed dress code. It might be specified in the wedding invitation or you can call the clergy or someone in the wedding committee to ask.
Generally, there are two important factors to consider when choosing what to wear to a Catholic wedding.
The first is dressing smart. Even if you opt to go casual, you can’t do crocs and shorts. That’s just disrespectful to the couple and the sacrament of matrimony.
The second is dressing modestly. Similar to how you’d dress when going to mass, avoid showing too much skin or wearing overly tight clothing.
The bottomline is to dress in a way that honors the sacredness and importance of the occasion.
What Male Guests Should Wear To A Catholic Wedding?
For male guests at a Catholic wedding, a pair of smart pants, a shirt, and a tie is always a safe option.
You can dress that up more (formal coat) or less (no tie, casual pants) depending on how casual the ceremony is going to be.
For most Catholic weddings, a nice shirt and a pair of dress pants is a perfect combo. Add a tie and a pair of dress shoes to make it more formal.
For a more casual affair, you can combine a shirt or polo with a pair of jeans or chinos.
What to avoid:
- T-shirts. If you have to wear a t-shirt, wear a coat over it. Tucking in the t-shirt can also make you appear more formal.
- Shorts. Just avoid these, no matter how casual the wedding is.
- Ripped jeans.
- Crocs and sandals.
- Anything with rude or racy graphics or words.
You can wear a hat to a Catholic wedding, but remember to take it off when you enter the church.
What Female Guests Should Wear To A Catholic Wedding?
For women, anything between formal and smart casual is acceptable as long as it’s modest. Remember to check whether there’s a specified dress code in the wedding invitation.
Most female guests opt for dresses. They are casual, yet smart. They are also comfortable to wear through a long wedding ceremony.
If it’s a formal event, wear a formal and elegant dress that would also be suitable for an evening dinner at a high-end restaurant.
For something more casual, a summer sundress is perfect. Just make sure it’s at least knee length.
Whether you go strapless or not depends on the parish and the formality of the ceremony. But if you opt to wear a strapless dress, it’s a good idea to carry a shawl or scarf to cover your shoulders when in church.
If you’d rather not wear a dress, there are a ton of other great options.
You could pair formal or semi-casual pants with a nice top or a skirt and a top. You can also wear a pantsuit, a romper or a jumpsuit.
Just make sure to stay modest and adjust the casualness of what you wear to fit the wedding.
What to avoid:
- Short dresses or shorts that go above the knees. These may be acceptable in some weddings, but Catholic weddings often call for a more conservative fashion style.
- Anything overly casual such as ripped jeans, dresses and skirts with long slits, and crocs or sandals.
- Overly flashy jewelry.
What Kids Should Wear To A Catholic Wedding?
As long as they are looking smart and are not too casual, what kids wear to a Catholic wedding is usually not a big deal.
Pick something they look good in like a suit, shirt and pants, a nice dress, or a top and skirt.
Make sure they are comfortable, considering they might have to keep it on for a couple of hours or more. Be sure to account for the weather, and carry spare warm clothes in case it gets cold.
Do You Have To Change Outfits For the Wedding Reception?
Guests in most Catholic weddings are not expected to change into a different reception outfit.
No one will look at you sideways if you show up at the reception in the same outfit as the one you had on at the wedding.
But sometimes, depending on the circumstances, you can opt to change into a reception outfit.
If, for instance, you expect it to be cold during the reception. You can change from a dress to something warmer like a jumpsuit.
You can also change if you feel like it and you have the place and time to do it.
For instance, if there’s a long period between the end of the church ceremony and the start of the reception (the so-called ‘Catholic gap’), you can dash to your car or hotel room and change.
But changing outfits is usually not necessary. If you are not sure, check with the bride/groom or someone in the wedding committee.