Dressing Respectfully

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Today on the Blue Orchid Designs blog I advised brides to ask their vendors about their wedding day dress code. I feel this is a fair question as we have all seen vendors who could use a good dose of Stacy and Clinton's "What Not to Wear" advice.

We'll get into more specifics about dress code in another post, but for now I want to bring up a point that is potentially controversial. There will be lots of potentially controversial posts in the future of The Smart Planner, and that is a good thing: controversy sparks discussion and debate and allows people to think about why they do the things they do. This is all good stuff for helping a business evaluate what it values and for helping it grow.

With that said, the rule of thumb I feel every planner should have for their wedding day dress code is summed up with the phrase "When in Rome, do what the Romans do". I did cross-cultural sensitivity training for an international non-profit for a long time and dress was always a big issue because people tend to place so much of their identity in it. Altering how you dress, for the short term, in order to respect your client does not need to be an identity issue. Here are some examples:

If the ceremony site has rules about not having bare shoulders, throw a lightweight cardigan on over your sleeveless top. It really is that simple. Yes, it may be hot, but if I can do it in Arizona with our 115+ degree summers, then you can do it wherever you may be at.

Okay, that example is the easiest. What about ceremony sites that require women to cover their heads while indoors? Put on a hat or a scarf. See how easy? If Audrey Hepburn can do it, so can you.

I personally have no problem wearing a scarf or covering my shoulders or whatever, if that is what the site or client expects of me. While I am a feminist, I also know that my value as a woman is not defined by what I do or do not wear. I also know that just because I may cover my head for a conservative Muslim wedding or wear a dress during a ceremony for certain denominations does not mean that I have abandoned my own religious beliefs or faith to take on theirs.

Respecting other people's beliefs and traditions does not mean you have to give up your own. It also does not change who you are. Cover up your cleavage and put on a sweater. It is really not that big of a deal and it may result in more referrals from guests who saw that you were willing to put your own agenda aside out of respect for the bride and groom.

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