When a wedding invitation arrives in the mail, you may experience a bit of panic as you decide what to wear. If you’re bringing teenagers to the festivities, it may seem even more of a challenge to dress them. While teens have a bit more flexibility than adults, they should follow the usual dress-code guidelines for weddings while still choosing age-appropriate options. The invitation itself often spells out the suggested dress code, helping you and your child find the right outfit for the big day.


Semi-Formal Attire

Unless otherwise specified, an evening wedding usually has a semi-formal dress code. Teen boys should wear a suit, tie and dress shoes. In the spring and summer, a light-colored suit in tan or dove gray is an ideal option. In the fall and winter, a dark suit in navy or charcoal works best. Teen girls can wear a party dress in a almost any fun shade for a semi-formal wedding; a short floral or pastel chiffon dress works well. High heels aren’t necessary if your teen daughter isn’t comfortable walking in them — try ballet flats or kitten heels with beads or rhinestones instead to complement the dress. Add simple jewelry like a pearl necklace or diamond studs to finish the look.

Black-Tie Wedding

For a black-tie wedding, formal dress is a must, so a teenage boy should wear a tuxedo. Because your son likely doesn’t own one, rent a traditional tux with a black bow tie and cummerbund or vest. He should also wear black patent-leather dress shoes. Teen girls can opt for a long evening dress in a dark color like navy, eggplant or maroon or a more sophisticated cocktail dress with subtle beading to give it a dressed up look. High heel pumps work best for a black tie look — a nude, metallic silver or gold pair can work with just about any dress color. Jewelry can be a little fancier — think crystal chandelier earrings or a rhinestone necklace. Go with a beaded or sequined clutch instead of her usual purse.

Outdoor/Beach Wedding

For an outdoor or beach wedding, teens should still dress up but take the elements into account. For boys, a dress shirt and khaki pants are appropriate. In some cases, though, a tie may be necessary. If the wedding is more formal, a linen or other summer-weight suit may be a better option. Choose simple leather dress shoes, boat shoes or sandals depending on the outfit. Teen girls can opt for a sundress — a style in a fun summer color like coral or turquoise that hits around the knees is most flattering. Steer clear of a maxi hemline, which may get dirty if it skims the sand or grass. Instead of heels, opt for flat sandals — go for a dressed-up option with a metallic finish or beading on the straps. Accessories should be simple and natural — a few bangle bracelets or long tassel necklace are ideal options.

Dressy-Casual Wedding

At a more casual wedding, the dress code is pretty flexible, but that doesn’t mean teens shouldn’t look polished. Teen boys can skip a tie and pair a button-down shirt in a light color like white or blue with dress pants and simple leather oxford shoes. For a very relaxed outdoor affair in warm weather, a polo shirt may even be acceptable, depending upon the time of day. Teen girls can opt for a casual shirt dress in a soft color like sage or dusty rose or pair a simple lace blouse with a pencil or A-line skirt. Ballet flats and simple gold or silver earrings and a leather clutch complete the look.