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Is it Okay to Wear a Cardigan to a Wedding?

Wedding with guests

When it’s a crisp fall day and you need a little extra warmth, you might reach for a cardigan. You know it’s a perfect item to wear if you’re going to be out shopping or running errands. It will look great if you’re on an evening date at a casual restaurant or watching a movie. It can even be worn to the office. But is it okay to wear a cardigan to a wedding?

How to Dress for a Wedding

Weddings are a time for happiness and celebration…but they’re also a time for stress. Whether you’re participating in the wedding or you’re going as a guest, there’s a lot to consider. You want to wear something that’s appropriate that won’t make you stand out but you also want to be stylish and well-dressed. It’s a delicate balancing act and it’s very easy to get a little lost and confused in the whole process.

You might already know that you shouldn’t wear white to a wedding but what about everything else you have to decide? Knowing how to dress for a wedding is never easy and you might have a ton of questions about what’s okay to wear and what isn’t. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to stick to light, bright colors.

Just remember that you shouldn’t wear white. Pastels, jewel tones and off-white or light neutral shades are fine.

Wearing a cardigan outside

The only exception to this is an evening or night wedding, which is uncommon. A wedding scheduled at a less traditional time, such as 8 o’clock at night, is harder to dress for. When you’re going to an evening or night wedding, darker color shades are fine. Even black can be worn in this instance. In most circumstances, you don’t want to wear black to a wedding because this is meant to be a happy occasion. But for weddings taking place later, black is fine.

Weddings and Cardigans

Can you wear a cardigan to a wedding? Strangely enough, many of the modern traditions associated with weddings today first became popular right around the same time the cardigan was picking up steam as a fashion item to wear.

Unlike many items of fashion, which began around such-and-such time by people in this area, historians know exactly when the cardigan was first made famous and by whom. Probably, however, the person who made the cardigan famous wouldn’t be too keen at all on why it became famous and how he reached such legendary status.

The Really, Horrible, Awful, Terrible Decision

The year was 1854. The main character in the story is one Thomas Brudenell, a British military officer who was tasked with leading a regiment of soldiers. England was locked in a conflict with Russia and Brudenell’s troops were facing a group of enemy soldiers. They had a clear and definite advantage and yet, Brudenell disastrously led his men into a charge against them.

This is known, infamously, as the Charge of the Light Brigade. Brudenell rose to fame, or rather infamy, for his decision. The Charge of the Light Brigade remains one of the most famous examples of poor military tactics in all of history.

But as fate would have it, Brudenell was also known for something else at this time: he was a sharp dresser. And during this ill-fated charge, he was wearing a knitted waistcoat, which is just a fancy vest, that looked very handsome indeed. As Brudenell’s infamy grew, so did his fancy knit vest. And since Brudenell was officially the seventh Earl of Cardigan…well, you can see how it worked.

Sleeves were added to the design and within a few years, the cardigan as we recognize it today was created. It exploded onto the style scene and became a popular item with both men and women. By the 1920s, everyone was wearing cardigans as a standard, popular fashion choice.

The Queen of Weddings

For most of history, weddings didn’t have a lot of specific traditions associated with them. A wedding feast after the ceremony was common, but when it came to clothing, people typically just wore their best stuff. The groom would wear his best suit of clothes or his dress uniform if he was in the service. The bride would simply wear her very best dress. The color and style of the dress didn’t matter.

But all this changed in the mid-1800s thanks to one bride in particular: Queen Victoria. When England’s young queen married her prince charming, she did so in a brand-new dress made all in white. It was a wide ball gown style with a big skirt. And to this day, this is a popular wedding look.

White has now become the traditional color for wedding dresses, and ball gowns are still widely worn, though other silhouettes have become more popular. Some brides break with tradition and wear dresses in different colors or don’t even wear a dress at all, choosing to wear a pantsuit instead.

Wearing a cardigan on a bridge

Bridal style truly sets the style for the rest of the wedding. That means not just the wedding party but the guests as well take their style decisions from the bride. The bride determines the dress code and, essentially, chooses how casual or how fancy the wedding is going to be.

So can you wear a cardigan as a wedding guest? Is it just for casual weddings? How do you know when it’s okay?

Wearing a Cardigan at a Wedding?

Because cardigans are such an all-around fashion item, they can be worn everywhere and do anything. That means you can wear them to a wedding just as easily as you can wear them to the office or for a day of running errands. A cardigan is a stylish and classic addition to any outfit, even wedding attire.

The only time when it’s probably not okay to wear a cardigan to a wedding is when you’re actually at the wedding party. In that case, you’ll be told what to wear, and deviation from this is typically frowned upon. The rest of the time, however, it’s perfectly okay to top off your wedding outfit with a cardigan.

Different Ways to Wear a Cardigan at a Wedding

If you’re going to wear a cardigan to a wedding, make sure you’re wearing it with a lot of styles. There are many different ways to wear a cardigan as part of your wedding attire. Play around with some classic looks and find your own cardigan wedding style.

As an Extra Layer

Women's Peplum Hem Sweater Elegant Cardigan Sweater Button Up Vintage Cable Knitted Sweater (Grey, L)

A cardigan is a perfect additional layer to wear on top of a dress. This is great for an outdoor wedding where you might need a little extra warmth or for a fall or winter wedding when you definitely want to insulate your body. However, you want to make sure the cardigan adds to your style rather than taking away from it.

Wear a cardigan that is waist-length or shorter so that it doesn’t hide your shape and obscure the lines of your dress. Alternately, you can wear a form-fitting wrap style cardigan that has its own belt attached, or you can simply top it off with a belt.

Instead of a Blazer

H2H Mens Slim Fit V-Neck Button Up Cardigan Sweater Charcoal US M/Asia L (CMOCAL07)

A cardigan can be worn to a wedding in place of a blazer or suit jacket. A cardigan that fits well is often much more flattering than a blazer or suit jacket, anyway. This is actually a great variation for suits, which can look a little boring when so many other people are wearing suits.

To Add a Pop

Belle Poque Womens 3/4 Sleeve Bolero Shrug Open Front Knit Cropped Cardigan(Black M)

Add a little pop of extra color or style with a cropped cardigan. This will maintain the silhouette of your outfit and still add a little something extra to give you some added style embellishment. A cropped cardigan can be a great substitute for a shawl, a shrug, or a lightweight jacket worn in warm to cool weather.

To Cover It Up

MBJ WSK1048 Womens Solid Long Sleeve Open Front Long Cardigan XL White

If you’re going to a very formal or conservative wedding or a strictly religious ceremony, you might need to cover up a little. Bare shoulders are frowned upon at some events and venues. Adding a long cardigan is a good way to dress up any dress and make it more appropriate as conservative wedding wear.

If you’re going to a strict religious wedding ceremony but the reception will be somewhere more relaxed, a long cardigan is a wonderful solution. You can wear this to stay covered up and more conservative at the ceremony and then take it off for the most relaxed reception.

Is It Okay To Wear a Cardigan to a Wedding?

Can you wear a cardigan to a wedding? Not only can you wear a cardigan as a wedding guest, but it’s also often a great choice. It looks stylish, and it allows you to be a little more versatile in the way you wear your wedding attire.

Have fun playing with cardigan looks as a wedding guest. This is a classic fashion item, and it’s hard to go wrong with a nice-looking cardigan, no matter where you’re going.


Do you still have questions about wearing a cardigan to weddings of all kinds? There are always a lot of questions when it comes to putting together the right outfit. We’ve put together the most commonly asked questions about wearing a cardigan to a wedding, and we’ve got the answers, so you can do a better job of killing it with your wedding style.

How do you know the dress code for a wedding?

How do you know what the dress code is for a wedding? What if the wedding is super formal, and you show up in khaki pants? What if it’s a casual event and you turn up wearing a fancy dress? It’s pretty stressful stuff because no one wants to stand out for wearing absolutely the wrong thing.

If there’s something you should know about the dress code for the wedding, you will find this information on the invitation. If it’s a beach wedding, for example, you may see something that says “casual attire” or “smart casual dress.” If a wedding is a formal or black tie, this will also be stated.

When there is no dress code listed, this means you can be safe in wearing clothes suited to any semi-formal occasion. Semi-formal attire is the standard for weddings, so this is what you should aim for in your styling unless another dress code is specified on the invitation.

When it is not okay to wear a cardigan?

Are there times when you just shouldn’t wear a cardigan to a wedding? If your cardigan looks ratty and old or it’s ill-fitting, you shouldn’t wear it anywhere. But if your cardigan is well made and fits your body, there is no reason you can’t wear it as a wedding guest.

Even at a royal wedding, a cardigan would be acceptable in these circumstances. Strictly black tie weddings are conducted in the evening or at night, and wearing a cardigan to one of these events is a little more difficult to pull off, but it can be done.

Can cardigans be washed and dried?

Because cardigans are a type of sweater and sweaters are notoriously difficult to machine wash and dry, you might have questions about the proper way to care for your cardigan. Always check for a care label first. This will give you detailed instructions on how to properly wash and dry the cardigan.

If these instructions are not present, you can clean the cardigan yourself, but you need to be careful with it. Machine wash cardigans on a gentle cycle with cold water only. Cardigans should be machine dried with low heat only or not at all. You can lay a cardigan out flat to dry on towels.

Do not hang it up, as this could cause the knit to stretch and may ruin your cardigan.

Should your cardigan match your outfit?

Does your cardigan have to perfectly match the rest of your outfit? When you’re a wedding guest, shouldn’t you choose a cardigan in the same color shade as your dress or your pants? While you can always wear a matching cardigan if you like that look, it’s not necessary for your to do so.

In fact, a cardigan that contrasts with your outfit can be a really great look. Try mixing and matching colors and playing with contrast.


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