The 2022 dress codes that couples are choosing for their weddings
Photo-Illustration: The Cup; Photos: Getty
This summer, Rebecca Davis is getting married at the Picnic House in Prospect Park, a place she says could be confusing about what to wear. “If you see ‘Picnic House,’ you might think we’re having a picnic for our wedding,” she says. “I’ve been to ones where the bride is barefoot, the groom in shorts, but it’s not our wedding. We didn’t want anyone to come forward as if they didn’t understand the mission.
On her wedding website, she explains that the dress code is “formal festive,” but that too could be confusing, so Davis, a writer and brand strategist who marries data analyst Stephen Reader, created a chart Pinterest to illustrate for guests what they should wear. For what she envisions a “disco party in the park,” she included snaps of Liza Minnelli in a purple silk jumpsuit, Bianca Jagger in a halterneck lamé dress and David Bowie in chest-baring velvet. “I’m not normally a Pinterester,” Davis says, “but having two and a half years to think about marriage, and being in a pandemic and stuck at home, I was like, Of course I have time to find pictures of Dennis Rodman in the 90s.”
In the past, this kind of dictation on how to dress for a wedding might have raised eyes and earned the bride the tag of “bridezilla,” but it’s been two long years of Zoom ceremonies. with guests in casual attire. Couples waiting for their big days are ready for anything, as are the people they’ve invited to party with them. And for the most part, these guests don’t mind being told — and, in many cases, shown — what to wear. At Davis’ bridal shower, guests were enthusiastic about the dress code. A woman pulled out a Pinterest board photo of Jennifer Aniston in a strapless red dress and gold necklace, hugging Brad Pitt, and told her table, “That’s what I want to do.
In part, wedding dress codes have become more explicit (and essential) because we don’t dress up much anymore. And it’s not just the pandemic’s fault. “In the past, everyone might have known what to wear to a wedding,” says Richard Thompson Ford, a Stanford Law School professor and author of Dress codes: how fashion laws shaped history. “It’s a wedding. But now there are no more standards and we have to tell you that.
This possibility of orientation has led to very specific dress codes, often with explanatory images, not only for the wedding, but also often for welcome parties, rehearsal dinners and other wedding-related gatherings. What used to be printed in tiny print at the bottom of the invitation (i.e. “cocktail attire”) now features prominently on the wedding website and is an increasingly important part of the whole event.
“Modern marriage is in many ways kind of a throwback,” says Ford. “It’s an opportunity for role-playing and fantasy. The trend is more towards costume balls. The dress code corresponds to this element. It’s a costume party, and here’s what to wear. You have to script this fantasy.
For some couples, this fantasy is Bridgerton. Shelley Brown, fashion and beauty editor at The Knot, has seen a tendency to Bridgerton-themed weddings, and, perhaps surprisingly, there wasn’t much grumbling from guests about wearing puffy sleeves and trains. “We’re in this collective mindset now where we want to celebrate, where we can’t wait for things to get back to normal, and if that means you have to dress like a character from Bridgertonso be it,” she said. For a “colorful black tie” wedding she went to, she bought a shiny fuschia maxi dress, “in the dead of winter, before the hot pink had a moment,” and ended up being glad she did. “Most people followed the dress code,” she says. “I would have stood out if I had been all black.”
For Michaela Erlanger’s three-day April wedding weekend in Miami, with restaurateur William “Mac” Osborne, she had as many dress codes as there were days on the wedding invitation. “No detail should be overlooked, including what your guests are wearing,” says Erlanger, who twice postponed her celebration so she could have it her way. “It’s just another conservation detail. Literally every detail of my wedding was personalized and curated, from the invitation to what people wore to the ring bearer’s pillow.
The first was “South Beach Chic,” for the “Meet & Mingle” party that kicked off – “no one knows what that means,” she admits. So Erlanger, a celebrity stylist, did what she does for her clients, including Lupita Nyong’o and Diane Kruger: she created a moodboard, a photo collage of women in ruffled, sherbet-colored skirts, men in crinkled linen jackets and half-unbuttoned shirts and the Art Deco rooftop pool where the event would be held, and uploaded it to the “Style” section of her wedding website.
She created another for the welcome party (a “Tropical Cocktail” dress code, with photos of women in elegant floral-print dresses and pantsuits, men in crisp baby blue suits and bare ankles, and an aerial view of the wharf on the Biscayne Bay on which they would dance). Then there was the actual wedding (black tie, with women in black lace dresses, men in classic tuxedos and a wide shot of the Vizcaya museum and gardens, the golden age estate in which they were getting married). As her wedding website said, “Our wedding weekend will be a celebration of love, food and of course fashion – so we encourage everyone to bring it with their wardrobe! “
“I had friends who wore Gucci runways or had custom-made dresses,” Erlanger says. “That’s kind of what we do. I was really proud of my friends and my family. They all brought it.
They brought it for Erlanger, but also for the wider audience watching on Instagram, the other reason couples are obsessed with dress codes. “Everyone does it because of the pictures,” says Nathalie Cadet-James, wedding planner and owner of Luxe Fête. “If you look at what’s really spreading fast, it’s the bride with all of her friends who aren’t bridesmaids that seem to be in the same chapter of the book.” Cadet-James herself followed Erlanger’s wedding on Instagram and was impressed with how the guests fit into the themes offered to them. “She did this shit,” she said. “I was like, It is simply magnificent. Everyone played their part. It was on the upper level.
Some couples are getting as specific as specifying not just what colors guests should wear but also particular shades, as Nicole Jarbo, a tech entrepreneur in Oakland, Calif., did for her June wedding to the manager. of special education Eva Huffman. She had wanted the ceremony to take place in a space filled with flowers and plants in San Francisco — “I’m a city girl,” she says — but her fiancée wanted a rural, rustic setting. Jarbo agreed to a barn in Monterey, but decided to use the dress code as a way to import lush colors: the shades of blue and green she describes in the “What to Wear” section of the wedding website. “When in doubt, go for cool greens and warm blues,” she wrote. “For green, think emerald or hunter. Blues, try cerulean, sapphire or royal blue.
Beneath the text, she put photos of women and men in dresses and suits in those tones — an idea inspired by her former days of instructing freshmen. “I thought, What would my first grade teacher do to me?she says. “Show a bunch of pictures of what’s appropriate.”
Immediately after seeing the dress code, a guest texted her, “What a bridezilla,” but many others told her it was helpful, which was Jarbo’s intention. She didn’t want the guests to be confused and stressed about what to wear. “It’s about encouraging people, rather than reinforcing them negatively,” she says. “I think the suggestions were really broad, but that’s because I made them.”
Those inclined to scoff at selecting the exact shades guests should wear might consider this cautionary tale: For a wedding Cadet-James knows, guests were simply asked to wear green. But the decor for the event was demure, earthy green, and most people were in St. Patrick’s Day green. “The two weren’t good bedfellows,” says Cadet-James. “But they didn’t share a style guide. If they did, you would know what to do.
Still, no amount of instructions or glamorous photos can entice some guests to follow the dress code if they don’t want to. Davis says if her wedding disco party is coming up and she’s the only one wearing sequins, “that’s fine.” David Pressman, who runs David Pressman Events in Los Angeles and has been planning weddings for 13 years, remembers only one wedding where every attendee followed the dress code: a 20-person black-tie affair. “Other than that, no, I’ve never had everyone follow the dress code,” he says, “and at the end of the day, who cares?”
After all, there’s only so much you can control, as Lauren Rodriguez found out when she married artist Chase Hall in May outside their East Village home. She adopted the black tie dress code because she wanted to take advantage of the contrast of being married on the street in front of a crowd in formal wear. On the wedding day, however, it was raining. So when Rodriguez watched her 200 guests, she couldn’t see her friends, like model Paloma Elsesser in a vintage Issey Miyake Pleats Please dress or model, designer and Kamala Harris’s daughter-in-law, Ella Emhoff. , in a Vampire’s Wife velvet dress. Instead, she only saw a sea of black umbrellas, which she says “was spectacular.”