It’s that time of year again, when your mailbox gets flooded with save-the-dates and embossed invitations on fancy stationery. Like it or hate it, wedding season is in full swing. Here’s your handy guide on what to wear to different kinds of weddings, from casual beach ceremonies to swanky black-tie soirées and everything in between.

Ground rules
First things first: Determine immediately if you are invited to a religious ceremony, because that is an outfit game-changer. In some traditions, it’s customary to cover bare shoulders, so carry a pashmina if you intend to wear a strapless dress. Use common sense: if the wedding ceremony is in a church or synagogue, perhaps ample cleavage isn’t appropriate. When in doubt, consult with the bride and groom—always err on the side of caution!

Runway inspiration: Issa, Spring/Summer 2012

What to wear to: A beach ceremony
Do: Since this is traditionally a more casual type of ceremony, a sundress in one of this season’s pastel colours is ideal. Accessorize with a statement necklace and a complementary clutch. Keep your footwear practical—chic flat sandals will look stylish and make your dance floor experience that much more enjoyable.

Don’t: Show up overdressed, in sky-high heels and a floor-length gown. Not only will you get attention for all the wrong reasons, but walking in sand in five-inch stilettos is a skill even Victoria Beckham can’t pull off!

Runway inspiration: Jason Wu, Spring/Summer 2012

What to wear to: A black-tie dinner ceremony
Do: Avoid over-the-top ensembles—loud colours and patterns, or too-tight dresses. You don’t want to be known as the guest who tried to outshine the bride. Take your inspiration from the ladylike frocks seen on the runways of Jason Wu, Lanvin and Chanel. You can always dress up your look with accessories—vintage chandelier earrings, a lacy pashmina, or an elegant clutch.

Don’t: Wear white—or ivory, or eggshell. Even beige is cutting it close.

Read more of our top wedding dressing dos and don’ts on the next page

Runway inspiration: Ralph Lauren, Spring/Summer 2012

What to wear to: A wedding in the countryside
Wear one of this season’s fun floral numbers. Look at the runways of Ralph Lauren, Erdem and Rodarte for some fashionable inspiration. Don’t: Be underdressed. Even though country weddings are likely to be more casual than big church affairs, jeans are inappropriate at just about any wedding. And just say no to flip-flops! Always.

What to wear to: A country club wedding
Do: Wear a lady-like silhouette. Tea-length dresses are ideal—if Charlotte York from Sex and the City would wear it, it’s probably a good call. In other words? Put on your pearls, girls.

Don’t: Wear a fascinator. Okay, we know the royal wedding made it cool, but unless you’re a British royal, consider the fascinator a big style don’t.

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