Is your mantel filling up with dates to save? Do summer (and autumn, gah!) weekends fill up quickly with B&B bookings, carpools and flights to Tuscan vineyards and Ibiza farmhouses? Wedding season is fast approaching friends, but what will you wear in the name of father, son and the Holy Ghost?
For men, different dress codes tend to be quite prescriptive, but for women, the choice can feel overwhelming. “I always take into consideration versatility, the environment, and most importantly, comfort,” says Natalie Dickson, head of women’s luxury at Flannels. “In other words; can I dance in it? Is it appropriate for the location? And will it survive after dinner? Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear at Matches Fashion, agrees. “Start by thinking about the destination, is it a beach wedding, a Chic summer wedding in the city or a country getaway?So, build your outfit around the venue.
Funereal black and bridal white are still resolutely off-limits, as are the neons that steal the limelight. It’s worth checking first whether hats are mandated or encouraged – these are rare these days and there’s no point in wearing one if you hate them and don’t have to. If you must have a hat, renting makes a lot of sense – Fulham’s Hectic Hat Hire is a treasure – and opt, says Debrett’s, for a style that doesn’t get in the way of kissing. Indeed, rental in general is reasonable when it comes to wedding dresses, particularly if you’re looking for something OTT that you’re less likely to wear again. Try Hurr and Rotaro for current season supplies at a fraction of the price. And read on for some ideas on how to tackle four of the top bridal dress codes.
A country wedding can vary hugely in terms of formality: from a boho garden party vibe to a Catholic church with sleeves required and hats recommended. Little flowers are a classic for the former, try Reformation’s bias-cut spaghetti strap iterations for a ’90s hip girl who play on chintz or for more modest dress codes try Rotate’s buttercup floral wrap dress (£250) or Borgo de Nor’s maximalist floral midi (£750).
The ever-unpredictable British summer time requires preparation for the cold. British brand E. Stott, founded by Emilia Wickstead’s former senior stylist and recently launched on Matches, makes elegant silk midi and maxi dresses with easily detachable sleeves (£2,780, matchesfashion.com). Grab a warm layer for nightfall – little cardies look infinitely cuter with florals than blazers (try Self Portrait’s fluffy white button cut out, £260). Sky-high stilettos are best avoided when grass is underfoot; opt instead for a block heel like Aeyde’s gold nappa Natania sandals (£345) or a wedge mule (try the silver mirrored ones from Wandler, £350) – both of which are a stylish alternative to the ubiquitous Castañer wedge. And for anyone seriously interested in her time on the dance floor, a pair of pretty ballerinas from Porte & Paire (£195, net-a-porter.com) or velvet Mary-Janes from Le Monde Beryl (£395, matchfashion.com) will make a welcome change from Cinderella at midnight.
Reformation silk gown, £505; shop here
Wandler mirrored wedge mules, £505; shop here
Self Portrait Cardigan, £260; shop here
Mango Ruffle Dress, £99.99; shop here
Whether it’s the registry office, city hall or restaurant, urban nuptials call for more elegant attire: think chic structured mini dresses, suits, separates and sling-backs. The color keeps the tailoring cheerful and non-corporate, and few suits are more uplifting than Reiss’ baby pink wool-blend (trousers £168, blazer £268), which looks great with a bow-trimmed blouse or a 70s shirt with exaggerated collar in a tonal pink. Even power skirts are sexy in the city; Belgian brand Bernadette’s sensational jeweled taffeta bow front mini skirts (£340) look fantastic paired with crisp white shirts and pointy pumps or try her stunning pale pink taffeta one shoulder top and matching floral embroidered pencil skirt – damn chic for Claridge’s.
Reiss pink suit, trousers £168, blazer £268; shop here
Gucci pumps, £795; shop here
Bottega Veneta pochette, £3,500; shop here
“This is your chance to get bold! With bright colours, bold prints and bold cuts,” says Dickson. The retailer’s rental site has impactful Jacquemus mini dresses in lime, orange and fuchsia to hire for just £70 for four days, leaving you spare change for a tan spray Fellow rental site Hurr, meanwhile, predicts Christopher Esber’s silky-cut Triqueta dress will be one of its best rentals yet again this summer — and it’ll be available in far more colors.
If you like that vibe but prefer to shop, Ghost’s silk Freya midi (£159) oozes Esber for a fifth of the price, while everything on the Cult Gaia site screams destination wedding glamour: keep the acid, shimmery colors d’ gold for an extra right- appeal to get off my yacht. “If you’re traveling to a tropical destination, think about how your outfit will be tailored and choose fabrics that won’t wrinkle and are easy to wear and breathable throughout the day,” says Liane Wiggins. A silky brief is blissfully breezy in the heat (note: pack a steamer) and Olivia von Halle’s (£490) comes with a fab chain and rhinestone shoulder pads. Good!
Olivia von Halle Bibi dress, £490; shop here
Rene Caovilla Cleo apartments, £1,120; shop here
De La Vali silk long dress, £590; shop here
Zara Earrings, £7.99; shop here
If your friends are getting married at night, you may find yourself navigating a black-tie dress code. Simple for guys (no clip-on bow ties, please), for women it means floor-length gowns or cocktail dresses that hit the knee…if you stick to Debrett’s definition, that is. “Elegance is key,” says Dickson. “Look for something full-length, but don’t be afraid to show a little skin at the top.”
Jordanian label Nafsika Skourti is fast becoming a go-to for eveningwear insiders who don’t skimp on ’90s fashion, while London-based labels Galvan and De La Vali can always be used for maxi dresses and gowns of great impact. Self Portrait has long since shed the curse of its all too popular Azaelia dress and is now adept at balancing sassy knits and embellished rhinestones. Throw it all together with a feathered bolero (try Cos and Nadine Merabi), some rhinestone-dusted pumps (Jimmy Choo’s Saeda plexiglass pumps, £895, are the stuff of Disney) and lashings of sparkly bling.
Nafsika Skourti dress, £1,326; shop here
Mach & Mach bow purse, £815; shop here
Jimmy Choo Plexi Saeda pumps, £895; shop here
Jennifer Behr hair clips, £80 for 2; shop here