The smaller the wedding, the bigger the style

Small and intimate weddings call for joyful dressing that’s big on style

Like many things, weddings are looking very different post-pandemic. Gone are the lavish ceremonies with hundreds of guests, as couples contend with changing restrictions, rescheduling and downsizing their nuptials. It’s all change for guests too, grappling with social distancing, wearing masks and, with wedding receptions reduced, it poses a new predicament on what to wear. With more intimate and low-key ceremonies planned for summer, attendees may have to adapt their style choices to reflect the relaxed functions.

According to global fashion search platform Lyst, scaled-down ceremonies don’t mean pared-back style, with joyful dressing dominating for guests. Demand has increased for versatile and non-traditional wedding guest offerings. Some of the trends coming through for occasionwear in 2021 include headpieces, bold coloured blazer dresses, sage and emerald hues, and garden party-inspired prints.

“We predict a significant shift towards party wear and maximalism as brides, grooms and guests will be making the most of being able to finally celebrate big life moments in person. With show-stopping dresses, bold suits, statement accessories and high heels once again making their way onto everyone’s wish lists,” says Morgane Le Caer, Lyst’s content lead.

But it’s a delicate balance, with dangers of standing out too much, especially if you pick something that’s too much of a statement for a small reception that could upstage the bride or groom. On the other hand, not making enough effort will also likely be noticed by a smaller guest list.


Kate O’Dwyer, from Emporium Kalu, says her customers are still looking for distinctive styles but with a certain amount of ease, saying: “Weddings are smaller – and there is a more relaxed feeling coming across during these times but this, of course, may change in future seasons.”

Elevated comfort may be key this micro-wedding season, but so is versatility, and a jumpsuit or soft tailoring will feel more relaxed, practical for the weather and serve you in multiple restyled ways post-wedding. The same goes for a midi dress that can be jazzed up or styled down with well-chosen accessories.

“I feel people will want a little more value for money when they buy something for a wedding this year,” says Tracy Tucker, from Costume in Dublin. “They will want to wear the pieces in several ways, heels for the wedding, trainers or sandals for the rest of the summer.”

For the men

For men, the similarly mellow and adaptable mood is coming through for wedding wardrobe choices. Lighter materials like linen and fresh, bright colourways will instantly project a more relaxed look while tailored separates that double for work and weddings will pull together any outfit.

“When we can finally mix with friends and attend an event, people will want to look their best. Even if not deciding to wear as a full set, a blazer and trousers are really versatile pieces to mix into an outfit,” says Andy Collins from Indigo and Cloth. Try an immaculately cut blazer over a shirt and finish off with chinos for the ultimate smart casual combo. If you’d prefer to stick to a suit, take it down a notch if it’s a more informal ceremony with the addition of more pared-back trappings like a pair of good quality trainers or even a sleek T-shirt.

The byline on this article, originally attributed to Deirdre McQuillan, was changed on June 13th