Formal vs. Informal?



You’re Wearing What????

You’ve chosen a gorgeous outdoor setting for your ceremony and reception, the bride is planning to wear a formal wedding gown, the bridesmaids will be dressed in floor-length satin dresses, and the groom and his attendants will wear tuxedos. The guests will be decked out as well, many of the men wearing suits and ties. The guests will be seated in beautiful white chairs covered in beautiful flowing fabric.

But it will be 85 degrees outside for your 5 pm August wedding, and the outdoor ceremony will be in full sun. Yes, the setting is beautiful, but it’s HOT!

Here's an example that may make you think twice about forcing your best friends to wear multiple layers of polyester blends on the hottest day of the year:

Sheila and Greg lived in a small Oregon ranching community. They got married in a charming old barn on a friend's property, and a good number of their friends spent a good number of hours cleaning and decorating that barn for the September wedding. Shelia insisted that the men in the wedding party wear matching suits, even though they were all cowboys who didn't own suits. And Shelia wore a formal wedding gown… with a train!  It was a beautiful sunset wedding, but the temperature at sunset in central Oregon can be as high as 90 degrees.

Need I say more? Yes, there’s more…

There was no air conditioning or insulation in the barn. Sheila's train was literally dragged through the mud. She almost fainted from the heat during the ceremony, and the wedding photos showed armpit stains on her extremely expensive dress. The guests were sweating as well. Everybody was miserable.

In another example, Alex and Andrea had a "formal" wedding on a beautiful beach. Their well-dressed guests had to walk through burning sand to get to the shoreline ceremony site, and were then forced to stand in the blazing sun for the duration of the ceremony, since nobody had thought to bring chairs. The bride and her attendants sweated in their formal gowns, while the groom and his posse wilted in rented tuxes.


If you're going to get married on a beach or on a ranch in the hottest month of the year, do NOT have a formal wedding!  Let the bride wear a lightweight, sexy cotton dress, and let the groom and his attendants wear drawstring yoga pants and Hawaiian shirts, or jeans and cowboy boots. If you want something more formal, get married in a more formal environment. Beaches, forests, parks and backyards are not suitable for formal wear. Let the venue dictate the fashion.

The way to decide what to wear at your wedding depends on several factors, including:

. The environment: Outdoors or indoors?
. The venue:  A beach or park? A winery? A church? A hotel ballroom?
. The weather:  winter, spring, summer or fall?
. The overall tone of the event: Casual or formal?
. The personalities of the people wearing the clothes (see "casual or formal").


This is what you wear for a wedding at a ranch


This is what you wear for a small family ceremony at home



This is what you wear for a wedding on a beach


And this is just plain ridiculous for a beach wedding



Portland Wedding Officiant
Rev. Dr. Terri Daniel