Wedding attire advice needed
September 29, 2007 7:40 PM   Subscribe

What is appropriate for a woman to wear to a daytime black tie wedding, where the ceremony is at a Catholic church? The day-time and church elements are throwing me, so if you have any advice please offer it!

The marriage ceremony will be early afternoon, dinner late afternoon, and the boozing til late.

Any black tie events I've attended before have been night time affairs and certainly didn't have the church component, so I'm confused about what may be appropriate. Possible further wrinkle, this wedding will be in November in Ireland, so getting from place to place will be in the cold and wet, although I guess I can borrow loverboy's tux jacket if necessary. Any suggestions would be really welcome.
posted by jamesonandwater to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total)
"Daytime" and "Black Tie" are two concepts that totally don't go together, so either the host of this wedding is completely obtuse for billing it that way, or they expect that guests will do a quick-change between the wedding mass and the dinner later on. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they meant it's the latter.

I think your best bet is to be prepared with two outfits: something to wear to the ceremony (nice suit w/ skirt, or wedding-appropriate dress, nice but not overly dressy) and the whole nine yards for the dinner and festivities. I hope you have somewhere convenient to change your clothes.
posted by brain cloud at 7:47 PM on September 29, 2007

I don't see what the church component has to do with it, unless you were planning on wearing one of your stripper ensembles. Wear panties. Don't show too much skin. If it's going to be cold, that shouldn't be a problem.
posted by clh at 7:48 PM on September 29, 2007

I've been to zillions of weddings. Just wear something classy and don't sweat the church part at all. But I'm a boy, so what do I know?
posted by Camofrog at 7:58 PM on September 29, 2007

Typically black tie doesn't fit a daytime wedding but scheduling in Catholic churches is such that the weddings often occur around 3pmish or even earlier. I had this happen as well. We had a 3pm wedding ceremony with cocktails and reception following immediately and going late into the night. We were black tie optional but only because a few immediate family members were vocal on the issue.

I would say you would be fine with one outfit, just lean towards the formal rather than the semiformal side. You don't have to wear a ballgown, but you should probably be wearing something more than a cocktail dress.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 8:03 PM on September 29, 2007

Re: the church part
As far as I know, that really just means don't wear something sleeveless or too showy for legs/cleavage. In stricter churches you can be tossed out if you're a visitor not wearing something covering your shoulders.

I think willdeep has the other part down.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:30 PM on September 29, 2007

I've attended several of these, and I've never felt out of place in a fitted suit made of an elegant fabric like silk shantung. I wouldn't plan on a multitude of outfits, but it is good to have a backup if you're caught in the wet. There are too many options available in formal coats for women to rely on your escort's jacket for your own comfort and warmth.

(Plus, let you in on a secret: the guys will do it because they've seen the same movies as you, but if you expect it, they will end up resenting you...and they're just as likely to catch a cold as you. I've gained this insight from being raised by a single parent: my pop, having a brother, 16 years of marriage and a lifetime of guys as best friends.)

A friend came from Ireland to Japan recently to attend a similarly structured wedding and she wore a suit which consisted of a cocktail dress under a matching knee length fitted coat. And a hat, but I suppose that was fine because she always wears her long hair slicked back...your hairstyle will dictate whether a hat is feasible. She was able to lose the coat and dance later in the evening, as well.
posted by squasha at 9:02 PM on September 29, 2007

Wildeep nails it--lean towards the formal side, but it probably doesn't need to be strictly black-tie formal wear. Keep in mind that if this is a wedding mass, you're going to be switching a few times from standing to kneeling to sitting, so wear something that won't make that an issue. (Oh, and just follow the lead of the person in front of you, if you're worried).
posted by thecaddy at 9:15 PM on September 29, 2007

The last wedding I attended was during the day in a church, and all the ladies were in strappy or sleeveless little black dresses. It was the height of summer, however. I guess I'm just nthing the opinion that the church component doesn't matter. Actually, all weddings I've attended have been in churches, most during the day, but none were black tie. What I'd do in this situation is go to the store where I buy dresses, see what's in fashion, see what looks good on me, and buy it. :) There really isn't a huge gamut of dress styles. Or at least, there are a whole bunch that fall into the, "I can really wear this to a whole bunch of different types of events" category.
posted by iguanapolitico at 9:31 PM on September 29, 2007

oof. i've had to do this. what i ended up doing was wearing a black lace cocktail dress and a black velvet blazer over it for church (you could also cover up with a big black shawl, not one of those little ribbony things). i had a fancier pair of shoes and some eye makeup in the car.
posted by thinkingwoman at 11:59 PM on September 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

It depends on the local community, but, in conservative areas, the preferred dress would be like that at St. Peter's Basillica in Rome no bare knees and no bare shoulders.

(Unless your friend is a traditionalist in which case headcoverings would be typical too.)

It is unlikely (except in Rome or at a traditionalist Church) that you would likely be turned away for violating the rules.)

I can't help with the fashion part of the question -- black tie during the day.

Formerly, Catholic weddings were held in the morning because the Mass was only to be celebrated "at any hour between dawn and midday (ab aurora usque ad meridiem)". Also the priest and people marrying had to be fasting from midnight to recieve communion. So morning dress was worn (for formal weddings) and the reception was a luncheon (usually called a communion breakfast).
posted by Jahaza at 1:45 AM on September 30, 2007

I would take the approach of a long formal gown (probably quite strappy and revealing on the top) with some sort of pretty but relatively conservative shawl/wrap/very nice cardigan that would completely cover me on top for the church ceremony and for warmth purposes. The wrap could be velvet or perhaps along the lines of mohair/cashmere (to which I am allergic but which would seem to be a good strategy).
posted by sueinnyc at 4:58 AM on September 30, 2007

If you're worried about being conservative enough for the ceremony, stick with a dress that's anywhere from just-below-knee to tea-length. The top part could be as strappy as you'd like it to be for par-taying reception purposes, as long as you pair it with some nice, warm wrap or shawl that can cover things up during Mass and keep you from freezing. The J. Crew wedding section tends to have some decent examples of the level of formality I'm trying to describe.

Length is probably the most important thing--too long and ballgowney, and you may feel silly during the daytime part of things.
posted by paleography at 11:11 AM on September 30, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks a million for all the input folks, I think I've got a better handle on a couple of ways to approach this now.

too long and ballgowney, and you may feel silly during the daytime part of things

Yeah, this is definitely true.
posted by jamesonandwater at 11:39 AM on September 30, 2007

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