s. McVeigh’s Own “Almost” Wedding Blunder
My husband Daniel and I were invited to a “black tie optional” wedding. Daniel was told that everyone was going to dress up, with men in tuxedos and women in formal dresses. The bride and groom live in a different state than we do, so I did not see them right before the wedding to hear firsthand about the wedding details.
We were one of the last to arrive and sat in the back. We never saw people coming in to take their seats. To my horror, everyone around us was dressed a lot more casually than we were. The men were in coat and ties, and the women were wearing short cocktails dresses. I started to internally flip out, and remembered that my mother always taught me that if you are overdressed, remove your jewelry to look less dressed up. As I am pulling off my jewelry I am going over my options. Did I pack anything else that I could wear? (No!) Should I stay seated at my table at the reception all night so no one noticed my long dress? (Eventually Daniel would pull me out onto the dance floor.) Should I hide in my hotel room and not go to the reception at all? (Mr. McVeigh would tell me that I am being rude – and ridiculous!)
When the wedding ceremony was over, we exited the room to go on to the reception, and to my relief I saw other women in long gowns and men in tuxedos. What I noticed was that people in my age range and older were dressed formally in long dresses, and the younger people were in shorter ones.
What to do to avoid over or under dressing at an event? Contact a female who is part of the planning (in this case the bride), even if you do not know her very well. Ask her specifically what the expectation of dress is, and what she has heard that other people are wearing. If you do get caught dressed inappropriately, walk with confidence and do not mention how uncomfortable you are about the situation. If you act as if it does not bother you, then you will call less attention to yourself.