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Memorial Day weekend is upon us, in all it’s sunny, star-spangled glory, signaling another fine beginning to another fine summer. With the long days, high heat, and stifling humidity come the invitations to impromptu rooftop and backyard barbecues and the less-impromptu summer weddings. At a certain stage in one’s life, these gilded mailers cue more anxiety than the corresponding lavish parties really should. The wedding effect. I takes many forms.

If you are lucky, one or two weddings from May through September are a nice way to break up the summer.  If they are local, even better. If they aren’t, hopefully they are in a place with nicer weather and a golf course.  But once the fourth or fifth invitation rolls in, some real planning is necessitated.

Outside of schedules, travel, and lodging (no small headache), there is the question of attire. Are any of the weddings black tie? If so, get yourself a tux and thank the hosts for what will surely be a lovely evening with absolutely no questions regarding what to wear.  Word to the wise: if the invitation says ‘black tie optional’, that also means ‘wear a damn tuxedo’.

Another easy-to-interpret request is ‘cocktail attire’, which means ‘suit and tie’. You may be able to get away with a sport coat and tie, but you really should wear a suit. 

Recently, weddings have stated things like ‘beach casual’, ‘semiformal’, or just plain ‘casual’. These mean different things for every party, but you can never go wrong wearing a sport coat and tie — you can always ditch the tie if you feel overdressed.

To plan ahead for the season, there are two foundational items you will need — a lightweight suit and a casual sport coat. If you don’t have a tux, add that to the list.  The lightness of the fabrics will pair perfectly with a warmer wedding, so while everyone else is complaining about the heat, you’ll look and feel relatively fresh.  

So throughout this fun and often stressful season, respect the wishes of your hosts and understand that attending a wedding as a guest is a lot more fun than participating in the ceremony.  All you have to do is dress well, bring a gift, and enjoy the open bar.

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