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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
References and ResourcesThe Knot: Wedding Guests -- Wedding Guest Attire Cheat Sheet
Fashionista: What To Wear to the Wedding -- We Ask the Experts to Help us Decode Dress Codes
Huffington Post: Crack the Dress Code for Summer Weddings
Glamour: "Can My Teen Daughter Wear a Prom Dress to a Black-Tie Wedding?" (I Say: Um, No)