Weddings can be stressful – even as a guest. You wouldn’t want to add to that stress by turning up in the wrong attire. So, can you wear jeans to a wedding reception?
Jeans should almost never be worn to a wedding reception. The informal, casual nature of jeans would make you stand out from a relatively formal crowd. You could also potentially upset the bride and groom through a perceived lack of effort.
Now we’ve got the short answer, let’s explore it in a little more detail.
Read on as we go through the main reasons why you shouldn’t wear jeans to a wedding reception, as well as some potential exceptions to the rule.
3 Reasons Why You Usually Shouldn’t Wear Jeans To A Wedding Reception
Consider all of these before making your decision.
1. You Will Stand Out From The Crowd
If you decide to wear jeans to a wedding reception, it’s almost a certainty that the moment you turn up and walk in through the door, you will feel out of place.
Many people have experienced it and it’s not a good feeling. Fortunately, you won’t have been the first to do so and you definitely won’t be the last.
The overwhelming majority of people attending the reception will have been to the actual ceremony earlier on in the day, often heading to the reception straight away.
Unless the wedding has been labeled a casual wedding, then it’s safe to assume everybody will be dressed formally.
This means attire such as tailored suits, cocktail dresses and trendy jumpsuits will likely all be being worn.
It would not be a wise choice to arrive in a pair of jeans.
Feeling out of place at a wedding reception could put a dampener on your evening as you might start to feel a little self-conscious about the situation.
It is worth pointing out, although it’s highly unlikely anybody would mention it to you, for the sake of your own enjoyment of the special occasion, it’s best to leave the jeans in your wardrobe.
2. Potentially Upset The Bride And Groom
This reason is possibly the most important one on the list as you certainly will not want to be the cause of any friction.
Without realising, you might actually end up upsetting, or insulting, the bride and groom on their big day.
It might not have even been a thought in your mind when you were deciding whether or not to wear jeans to the reception.
But the fact of the matter is, it could be viewed by others as a lack of effort on your behalf as jeans are a very informal and casual item of clothing.
The wedding day is an extremely special occasion and so the effort you put into your outfit should reflect that, and this also includes the reception afterwards.
In addition, this shows the bride and groom that you care about them and that they are deserving of your time and effort to dress up.
3. You Could Ruin Photos
At most weddings, the official photographer (if they have one) will usually be there for the wedding reception too.
Often fuelled by good food, plenty of drinks, free bars for a set amount of time, and funny, sometimes silly photos.
This is so the bride and groom can keep wonderful pictures and memories of their big day’s “informal” evening.
Just because the reception is seen as more informal than the actual ceremony, that certainly doesn’t mean attendees can dress any less formally.
With the official photographer there, you will at points throughout the night be gathered into group photos with other attendees.
Other attendees that’ll be wearing their formal suits and long dresses.
If you decided on wearing jeans to the reception, not only will you stick out from the others like we’ve mentioned, but you’ll also ruin the photos for the bride and groom if you’re the only one in a pair of jeans.
You could get lucky by having a bride and groom that doesn’t mind what you’re wearing, but these situations are best avoided altogether for peace of mind.
The only way to do that would be to wear something more formal.
Alternatively, if you have your heart set on wearing jeans to a wedding reception then here’s three exceptions where it may be acceptable for you.
3 Exceptions When Wearing Jeans To A Wedding Reception Might Be OK
While you should generally always avoid it, here are a few exceptions where it may not be as bad to wear jeans to a wedding reception.
1. If The Dress Code Is Casual
You’ve received a wedding reception invitation through the post and it states that the dress code is casual.
Although this is uncommon, it’s not unheard of.
But what exactly is a ‘casual’ dress code for a wedding reception?
As this can be interpreted in many different ways, it’s probably best to get a second opinion from another attendee to see what they might be thinking of wearing.
Whichever way the invitation dress code is worded, the wedding reception is still a relatively formal event. And with any formal event, there are some rules that need to be followed.
With that being said however, if the invitation explicitly states the dress code is ‘casual’, a pair of smart jeans could be a good option.
Well-fitted, dark washed, and non-distressed is probably the closest description to ‘smart jeans’.
They would offer comfort and the casual style required whilst also keeping the look relatively smart.
These can be paired with a buttoned Oxford shirt, blazer, and smart shoes for a ‘smart-casual’ look suitable for a wedding reception.
Whilst the invitation may have stated ‘casual’ as the dress code, it’s always a good idea to go overdressed than underdressed – especially to a wedding reception.
2. Part Of The Dress Code
Another exception when wearing jeans to a wedding reception might be ok, would be if the dress code explicitly stated something with jeans or if it was fancy dress.
Again, like the ‘casual’ dress code, having fancy dress at a wedding or wedding reception is quite unlikely, however it does happen.
Not everybody takes weddings and the following receptions as seriously as others and decide to honour their interests or hobbies with a themed wedding to make it as memorable as possible.
Some examples of themed weddings and receptions include the Wild West, A Pirate theme, Superheroes and various other film and television franchise themes.
All of the above could allow you to wear a pair of jeans to the wedding reception without the risk of disrespecting the bride and groom, or looking out of place.
3. You’ve Asked The Bride And Groom Beforehand
The final exception and probably the most obvious would be if you were to ask the bride and groom beforehand.
You should exercise caution with this exception though as the bride and groom might feel obliged to say yes even though they might not necessarily agree or want you to attend the reception in jeans.
As we have already discussed at the beginning of this article, you may risk contributing to the stress of the day by effectively pre-warning the bride and groom you will be attending in jeans, contrary to other guests’ formal attire.
As a sign of respect, this should be avoided at all costs.
It is worth noting however, asking beforehand is a better option than just turning up in jeans.
If they say no, then at least you know where you stand and you can adhere to the bride and groom’s request of not attending in jeans.
Avoid wearing jeans to a wedding reception as it shows a lack of effort. Plus you run the risk of disrespecting the bride and groom and potentially ruining their wedding photos. There are exceptions, but these are uncommon. It’s best to play it safe and leave the jeans at home.