Weddings rank pretty high on the momentous-occasion scale — so being a guest at one rightfully carries with it a pretty high (albeit, reasonable) level of expectations. Yes, all weddings are different, but there's a basic code of conduct and dress that will serve you well no matter what kind of event you're attending. Is a white dress really a no-no? What does "semiformal" attire really mean? We're decoding the wedding dress code and more right here:

  • First things first — the invite will usually spell out the dress code for you, so follow the clues and dress according to time and location. When deciphering the dress code, follow this rule of thumb: "casual" — a day dress, sundress, or pretty skirt and blouse is a safe bet; "cocktail" or "semiformal" attire — a cocktail dress; "formal" — a floor-length dress or formal cocktail dress; "black tie" — opt for an evening gown or luxe cocktail dress.
  • To put an end to the age-old debate, we're taking a firm stance on this one: no, you can't wear white to a wedding unless you are the bride. Call us traditional, but we'd rather err on the side of caution than commit a major fashion faux paux. Even if the bride is easy-going, or your dress is ecru, eggshell, or cream, there's really no gray area here. Bottom line: just don't do it — at the wedding, the rehearsal dinner, even the bachelorette.
  • To be the best-dressed guest you can be, just keep reading.

  • You don't want to be overexposed (even if it's a hot, sticky, Summer wedding). Remember that weddings usually mean family is present — grandma and grandpa, the bride's nieces or nephews, the list goes on and on. You don't want to be remembered as the friend who forgot her slip, wore the dress with crazy cutouts, or flashed the groomsmen with her way-too-short hemline. Do yourself a favor and look for chic dresses that won't flash too much skin in front of the family circle or guarantee a wardrobe malfunction on the dance floor.
  • Don't test-drive your new heels at a wedding. If you're breaking in your gorgeous new heels, it's safe to say you'll be missing out on any dancing. Break in your new footwear before the wedding, and always be prepared with a few bandages in your clutch in case of blisters.
  • Do go for bold jewels and pretty details. While we suggest steering clear of any over-the-top dresses, feel free to amp up your accessories. Not only are accessories a great way to dress up your look, they can serve you well all wedding-season long by helping to make the most of the dresses you've already got in your closet.
  • Photo courtesy of J.Crew