Theme parties are “fun” if you like riding public transportation dressed like a flapper in April. Theme weddings with strict dress codes requiring costume rentals are less so. Brides, please: Do not make your guests rent costumes for your wedding.
The New York Post reports on the dubious trend of costume weddings, citing a few real life examples that range from “fine” to “Oh god, is it okay if fake food poisoning and get out of this thing?” Not every bride in the Post story required their guests to wear costumes; one bride interviewed requested simply that all her guests wear black while the entire bridal party was dressed in “head-to-toe gleaming white.” That’s an easy enough ask and kind of chic, maybe? Anyway, it’s fine. What’s not fine is a Great Gatsby-themed wedding that throws your guests such that they require “a Pinterest board with low-priced outfit ideas for bemused guests.”
Weddings are a celebration of love and commitment between two people but they’re also a carefully executed extension of a personal brand. A regular wedding photographs well for Instagram, but a Downton Abbey-themed wedding that requires everyone to rent costumes from a Halloween store photographs much, much better:
According to a 2016 Knot wedding survey, one in four weddings comes with a specific theme or style, such as “farm chic,” “tropical,” “Cinco de Mayo” or “vintage.” (Black-tie weddings accounted for just 16 percent of receptions that year.) And these themes often end up influencing the dress code.
“It’s not just about the bridal party or the décor now,” says Kay, who herself had an all-white beach reception in 2013. “Especially since weddings aren’t just one-day affairs anymore, brides want everything to be cohesive.”
As a wedding guest, the stress of selecting something appropriate to wear to attend the nuptials of your mom’s best friend’s daughter ranks somewhere between figuring out the cheapest thing to buy on the registry that won’t make you look bad and determining how many wines you can have without being embarrassing. If you’ve been to at least three weddings in your entire life, chances are there’s something in your closet that works — a black dress that isn’t too scandalous or some sort of floral “cocktail dress” purchased under duress at a Macy’s after work.
Here’s what’s going to happen if you send out a wedding invite with a line at the bottom saying the dress code is “Tropical Vintage Farmhouse.” You will receive emails and strangely-worded texts from people wondering how to ask what that means without being rude. Someone will panic and show up in jeans and a bathing suit. If you have to provide a separate appendix to your wedding invitation that explains what your very specific vision actually means, then please, for the love of God, rethink that vision.
No theme weddings. No one rent a costume. Dry clean your Nice Dress and call it a day.