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Squiddles

cocktail attire dilemma

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My cousin is getting married.  Our dads are brothers (and opposites), Uncle is a multi millionaire and hangs in "those circles" my dad is a redneck boat builder that raised us in a double wide trailer because he spent more money helping others in need than on his house lol.  We love our relatives, they are good people.  We are super happy about the wedding.  

So... it's like a half million dollar evening wedding.  No kids or infants.  Dress code is cocktail attire.  We do not own cocktail attire.  My older brother is already not going... his joke was "I drink plenty of cocktails wearing this!" (greasy carharts and a t-shirt).  We just finished building a house and are pretty broke, we already don't plan on a big Christmas for the kids... the wedding is next month.  I can't afford a thing on the registry (not one).  So I am really resistant to the idea of shopping for new outfits that we will never wear again.  My husband put his foot down and refuses to go if he has to wear a suit.  I can convince him to go if I can find something else for him to wear. 

This area is SO unfamiliar to me.  I don't know what to do.  

The bride and her mother are "intense"  My uncle emailed me (a week before the RSVPs were due!) and asked if we could please RSVP cause the mother of the bride was "pretty hyper" about all this and they were trying to keep her calm...  So if my cousin the groom is chill about it... that doesn't mean the bride and her mom will be 🤐

 

Outfit ideas???  Google shows suits suits and more suits 

 

 

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dark dress slacks and a dress shirt for men should be just fine.  if he has a dress jacket (doesn't have to match the pants - just coordinate) that would probably be good.

women a knee length snazzy/nice dress (doesn't have to have bling/lace/rhinestones - which is what makes them expensive.)  or evening pants (re: 'drapy") and nice blouse.

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and if the mother of the bride makes any snarky comments about how you are dressed - you can give your condolences to your BIL that his son is marrying into such a shallow family. . . . . hopefully the only reason she's freaking out is wanting a definite head count. (and getting that info to the caterers.)

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19 minutes ago, Squiddles said:

This area is SO unfamiliar to me.  I don't know what to do.  

It is not *necessary* to go to a cousin's wedding. That's too far removed to feel obligated. I certainly would not do it if it makes Christmas tight for your own kids. Send a nice, homemade present or whatever you can afford that is thoughtful and move on.

I got INVITED to my cousins' weddings and I appreciated it, but I didn't go. In your case, I would not go. Consider it a courtesy invitation, feel flattered, send something thoughtful, don't go.

Besides, most people in that situation would host a reception later for the people who weren't able to go, weren't local, that kind of thing. If they're so tacky they don't do that, then boo on them.

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Can you ask if the venue has a dress code? Because it would be terrible to not have a jacket/tie if it’s required by the venue.

Does your DH have dress pants/sports jacket? Maybe a new shirt? Have you looked at renting a dress? 

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I would just go with dark/black.  Any basic black dress or skirt/top combo would be fine.  Or even dress pants and a blouse.  You could dress up with a scarf/jewelry if you wanted.  Dress pants and a dark shirt would be fine on guys.  He could add a tie if he has one and is willing.  

I actually don't think "cocktail attire" is too onerous for a wedding.  I think basic dress up clothing would be fine.  I also think a wedding invitation is not a summons.  So if this really is not your scene and you really don't have some basic dress up clothes, I think it's fine to decline.  I wouldn't expend any energy wondering what the bride would think of your clothing if you want to be there for the cousin.  We had a dude show up to our evening wedding in overalls.  Makes for a great story later.  LOL.  

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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It's okay not to go and okay to buy something not on the registry.  When going off registry maybe go with something personal like your family's favorite cookbook with a note.

It's also okay (unless the venue has a dress code) to dress how you need to.

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13 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

It is not *necessary* to go to a cousin's wedding. That's too far removed to feel obligated. I certainly would not do it if it makes Christmas tight for your own kids. Send a nice, homemade present or whatever you can afford that is thoughtful and move on.

I got INVITED to my cousins' weddings and I appreciated it, but I didn't go. In your case, I would not go. Consider it a courtesy invitation, feel flattered, send something thoughtful, don't go.

Besides, most people in that situation would host a reception later for the people who weren't able to go, weren't local, that kind of thing. If they're so tacky they don't do that, then boo on them.

We are actually pretty close to this family, the other three of their kids got married out of state and of course we couldn't go.  So for years we've joked with them about when "cousin" gets married we can finally go because it's 45 minutes away... 

8 minutes ago, arctic_bunny said:

And yes, you don’t have to go. Because hotel rooms and sitters make for more expense than a dress! 

thankfully no hotels and MIL can't wait to have them over for a sleepover 🙂

6 minutes ago, FuzzyCatz said:

I wouldn't expend any energy wondering what the bride would think of your clothing if you want to be there for the cousin.  We had a dude show up to our evening wedding in overalls.  Makes for a great story later.  LOL.  

love this... thanks, helps me in my decision

4 minutes ago, happi duck said:

It's okay not to go and okay to buy something not on the registry.  When going off registry maybe go with something personal like your family's favorite cookbook with a note.

It's also okay (unless the venue has a dress code) to dress how you need to.

also love this

 

 

 

I think I'm going to browse for an affordable button up shirt and slacks for him (no he doesn't own any!) and I have planned to borrow a dress from a friend 🙂

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Sounds like a great solution!  I also think cash or a gift card is totally fine if buying something for the diva sounds too intimidating.  LOL.  You'll have to report back on this affair!

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Then I think you have a great plan! Have fun! FWIW, my mom’s cousins wore their dress jeans and best cowboy hats to our wedding. I’m honoured they made the 5-hour drive. And I have no idea about their gift. I do remember that three of my mom’s co-workers gave us a lovely locally made serving bowl. A gift does not have to be expensive to be meaningful.

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24 minutes ago, Squiddles said:

I think I'm going to browse for an affordable button up shirt and slacks for him (no he doesn't own any!) and I have planned to borrow a dress from a friend 🙂

This sounds totally appropriate!!! I'm glad you can work it out this way. :wub:

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1 hour ago, Squiddles said:

We are actually pretty close to this family, the other three of their kids got married out of state and of course we couldn't go.  So for years we've joked with them about when "cousin" gets married we can finally go because it's 45 minutes away... 

thankfully no hotels and MIL can't wait to have them over for a sleepover 🙂

love this... thanks, helps me in my decision

also love this

 

 

 

I think I'm going to browse for an affordable button up shirt and slacks for him (no he doesn't own any!) and I have planned to borrow a dress from a friend 🙂

 

In our family, cocktail attire for men would absolutely require a suit. I have never attended a wedding where anything more casual than a suit would be considered acceptable. At the very least, your dh needs to wear dress pants, a nice sport jacket, and, obviously, a tie.

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Not sure where you live but we have awesome thrift shops near us.  Full of suits and dresses and such.  So if you have time, a quick look into those might be more affordable and fun.

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I think your plan to borrow a dress, get something for your husband sound fine.

But also given that your brother isn’t going due to clothes issues and this may be affecting others too:

My suggestion is to talk honestly with your uncle.  You say you love him and that he’s good people.  

As you did here. How happy you are for your cousin’s marriage, but that you are concerned about not having right clothing for event and tight money situation.  

 Ask if you (and your husband, or just you) should go in the “best” clothing you already own and even though unable to afford items on the registry, or whether you should not attend given the circumstances.  

 

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3 hours ago, Catwoman said:

 

In our family, cocktail attire for men would absolutely require a suit. I have never attended a wedding where anything more casual than a suit would be considered acceptable. At the very least, your dh needs to wear dress pants, a nice sport jacket, and, obviously, a tie.

But I do think this depends on your invite list.  I know we had an evening wedding at an urban fancy historic hotel venue and I would have never wanted anyone to feel obligated to shop for new clothing to attend my wedding.   I would hope the reasonably gracious couple would understand their guests are coming from a variety of backgrounds and are doing the best they can with the resources they have available and were kind enough to show up and celebrate their wedding day.   We're in the midwest and it isn't unusual to see a range to what people consider dressed up.   

If your DH really has no dress clothes in his closet, thrifting is actually a great idea if you have a little time!

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12 hours ago, matrips said:

Not sure where you live but we have awesome thrift shops near us.  Full of suits and dresses and such.  So if you have time, a quick look into those might be more affordable and fun.

This. I got my ds a blazer, nice shirt and pants for Model UN at a thrift store for less than $20.  You could find ties and maybe even dress shoes there as well.

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I’ll admit to not reading all the replies, but just wanted to throw in checking thrift stores or resale shops for a nice dress. When my kids were younger, and we didn’t have money for nice church clothes (as in multiples so we wouldn’t have to wear the same nice clothes every week), we ALWAYS did the thrift stores. Those types of clothes rarely get used enough to be in less than great condition.

I have a basic black dress from the Gap (tailored and classic Gap - not new Gap) I bought for $3.99 at a thrift store probably 15 years ago. I STILL wear that dress to funerals and for occasions where I need a basic black dress. Best purchase I’ve probably ever made in my life. 😜 

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I live in a metropolitan area where people have a lot of money and have events like that.

For that and other reasons, I bought a good black dress that I found on sale (Anne Klein). Works great for things like that and an occasional formal funeral in the city. I have pearls that belonged to my grandmother. Out where I live, people wear whatever, but I needed something to have on hand.

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You can probably do much better at a thrift store,  but in case it would help,  my son has this under $30 blazer in black: Pishon Men's Slim Fit Blazer Jacket Solid Cotton Casual One Button Sport Coats, Black, US Size 38R(Tag Size XL) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N0TT3JU/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_K1b0DbT6VMCFY

He’s normally a men’s small and “XL” fits him, so order way up if you were to get it.  If not a slim fit type person, this blazer won’t work, but the concept might.

It works well over blue jeans (or could be Carhardts tan pants) and a plain color T-shirt, or on up line of dressiness, all the way to with black pants and tuxedo shirt if necessary... not quite a tuxedo, and in between are various business or dress up event suitable looks.   

It is not great quality but has held up to two years of teenage dances (it’s a little stiff for dancing so he often takes it off), job fairs, etc

 

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19 hours ago, FuzzyCatz said:

  I wouldn't expend any energy wondering what the bride would think of your clothing if you want to be there for the cousin.  We had a dude show up to our evening wedding in overalls.  Makes for a great story later.  LOL.  

 

19 hours ago, happi duck said:

It's okay not to go and okay to buy something not on the registry.  When going off registry maybe go with something personal like your family's favorite cookbook with a note.

It's also okay (unless the venue has a dress code) to dress how you need to.

 

I like these dress ideas and the cookbook idea! 

 

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13 hours ago, FuzzyCatz said:

But I do think this depends on your invite list.  I know we had an evening wedding at an urban fancy historic hotel venue and I would have never wanted anyone to feel obligated to shop for new clothing to attend my wedding.   I would hope the reasonably gracious couple would understand their guests are coming from a variety of backgrounds and are doing the best they can with the resources they have available and were kind enough to show up and celebrate their wedding day.   We're in the midwest and it isn't unusual to see a range to what people consider dressed up.   

If your DH really has no dress clothes in his closet, thrifting is actually a great idea if you have a little time!

 

That's a good point. 🙂  I wasn't really thinking of the couple's wishes as much as I was thinking that if my dh and I were attending a wedding that had a specific dress code, we would want to dress appropriately so we wouldn't stand out from the crowd in an obvious way. Not dressing up enough for this particular wedding would be the same as going to a very casual event in a ballgown and a tuxedo -- we would look pretty inappropriate and silly, and we would feel uncomfortable. 

I'm not sure what the OP's dh has against wearing a suit, but that is really what he should be wearing to this particular wedding, mainly because if is a half-million dollar event in a prestigious venue, he may stick out like a sore thumb if he wears anything else, as the other guests will probably be dressed very nicely. I guess if that truly doesn't bother him, he can wear whatever he likes, but he could probably find a nice, dark suit at a thrift store and have it altered, if necessary, for a very reasonable price. If there are church stores and Goodwills in the OP's area, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a nice navy or charcoal suit, as well as a dress shirt and a tie. I'm assuming her dh already has dress shoes, but if not, he may be able to buy those used, as well. If he won't be wearing them regularly, he doesn't have to be overly particular about them.

Another thought -- is there anyone who could loan a suit to the dh? Does he have any friends or relatives who wear the same size? If he borrowed a suit, his only cost would be having it dry cleaned before he returned it. 

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19 hours ago, FuzzyCatz said:

I actually don't think "cocktail attire" is too onerous for a wedding.  I think basic dress up clothing would be fine.  I also think a wedding invitation is not a summons.  So if this really is not your scene and you really don't have some basic dress up clothes, I think it's fine to decline.  I wouldn't expend any energy wondering what the bride would think of your clothing if you want to be there for the cousin.  We had a dude show up to our evening wedding in overalls.  Makes for a great story later.  LOL.  

 

I was thinking the same thing... "cocktail attire" is in the range of normal for a wedding. Suits and ties are normal & don't imply snobbery. 

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I forget what it was but the last wedding I attended had a level of dress indicated and for several reasons I could not meet that level.

I did not ask anyone, I just attended wearing what I could.  It was really okay.  Even seeing pictures I did not stick out.

Lots of men ditch their suit jackets pretty quickly anyway.

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We live in an upscale, urban(ish) area and have gone to a few very upscale weddings (including dh's old boss who had a million dollar wedding).  At ALL of them, we've seen everything from nice jeans with nice blouses and shoes to sundresses to formal cocktail dresses, and button downs with nice jeans to tuxedos for men.  At the same weddings.  

I think a nice button-down shirt and slacks is fine.  I seriously doubt EVERYONE else is going to be dressed more formal.  Most men will ditch the jackets and ties by the reception anyway so he won't stand out as much at that point anyway.

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8 hours ago, happi duck said:

I forget what it was but the last wedding I attended had a level of dress indicated and for several reasons I could not meet that level.

I did not ask anyone, I just attended wearing what I could.  It was really okay.  Even seeing pictures I did not stick out.

Lots of men ditch their suit jackets pretty quickly anyway.

 

1 hour ago, Where's Toto? said:

We live in an upscale, urban(ish) area and have gone to a few very upscale weddings (including dh's old boss who had a million dollar wedding).  At ALL of them, we've seen everything from nice jeans with nice blouses and shoes to sundresses to formal cocktail dresses, and button downs with nice jeans to tuxedos for men.  At the same weddings.  

I think a nice button-down shirt and slacks is fine.  I seriously doubt EVERYONE else is going to be dressed more formal.  Most men will ditch the jackets and ties by the reception anyway so he won't stand out as much at that point anyway.

 

This is so interesting. I have never attended a wedding where people were dressed in jeans or sundresses, and the men never take their suit jackets or ties off at the reception.

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40 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

 

 

This is so interesting. I have never attended a wedding where people were dressed in jeans or sundresses, and the men never take their suit jackets or ties off at the reception.

Not even once the dancing starts?  None of them do?  That seems super strange to me.

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13 hours ago, Where's Toto? said:

Not even once the dancing starts?  None of them do?  That seems super strange to me.

 

LOL! It seems super strange to me that they would take their jackets off, so I guess we’re even! 😉

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If it was me, and it was my cousin, I'd rent or thrift a dress and go without my husband if he didn't want to go.

One of our bridesmaids got married the year after our wedding, and he refused to attend with me.  I was stunned.  I thought married people did these kinds of things together.  But not him.  So although I don't agree with that stance, I don't let it stop me from things like this that are important to me.  

 

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17 hours ago, Catwoman said:

 

 

This is so interesting. I have never attended a wedding where people were dressed in jeans or sundresses, and the men never take their suit jackets or ties off at the reception.

 

16 hours ago, Where's Toto? said:

Not even once the dancing starts?  None of them do?  That seems super strange to me.

I've never seen them keep them on for dancing and such! Can't imagine it. Too hot!

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That is lovely that you are happy for your cousin and would like to help celebrate.  It sounds like a beautiful event, and a nice way to re-connect with your family.  As many have advised, I wouldn't let clothing get in the way of that.  That said, I am puzzled about the variety of interpretations of "cocktail attire."  It absolutely means a dark suit for a man -- no tails, but certainly a nice suit.  If your husband does not have one already, it would be a very useful thing for him to own, and can be found inexpensively at a thrift or consignment store.  Just be sure to leave time to have it tailored.

You could probably find something quite festive for yourself at a thrift or consignment store as well -- knee or tea-length (full-length would be "formal" and not "cocktail"), or borrow one from a friend.  And if you can't find something just right, a simple black shift dress can be dressed up with sparkly jewelry and strappy sandals or dressy pumps.  I would hesitate to wear pants unless they were in a more formal fabric like raw silk and paired with a very fancy blouse and heels.

Coincidentally, I learned after our wedding that my husband's Great Uncle had a similar situation. He actually did not own a suit, and had thought about not going, but instead he picked one up for $5 at Goodwill.  He looked wonderful, and had a great time. 

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1 hour ago, Squawky Acres said:

That is lovely that you are happy for your cousin and would like to help celebrate.  It sounds like a beautiful event, and a nice way to re-connect with your family.  As many have advised, I wouldn't let clothing get in the way of that.  That said, I am puzzled about the variety of interpretations of "cocktail attire."  It absolutely means a dark suit for a man -- no tails, but certainly a nice suit.  If your husband does not have one already, it would be a very useful thing for him to own, and can be found inexpensively at a thrift or consignment store.  Just be sure to leave time to have it tailored.

You could probably find something quite festive for yourself at a thrift or consignment store as well -- knee or tea-length (full-length would be "formal" and not "cocktail"), or borrow one from a friend.  And if you can't find something just right, a simple black shift dress can be dressed up with sparkly jewelry and strappy sandals or dressy pumps.  I would hesitate to wear pants unless they were in a more formal fabric like raw silk and paired with a very fancy blouse and heels.

Coincidentally, I learned after our wedding that my husband's Great Uncle had a similar situation. He actually did not own a suit, and had thought about not going, but instead he picked one up for $5 at Goodwill.  He looked wonderful, and had a great time. 

 

There’s probably a bit of variation on what people mean.

Not sure in this thread people are not understanding that it’s an expensive evening event, but looking for ways family can go and be supportive of family even if they don’t have right clothes.

not all descriptions of what “cocktail attire” is will agree with you though.  Here’s one indicating blazers with trousers separates,  as well as suits are in range:

“Men’s Cocktail Attire Pants

cocktail attire for men pants

Cocktail attire for men isn’t limited to matching jackets and pants. Unless you’ve opted for a suit jacket, matching your pants and jacket is optional for a cocktail party. In terms of fabrics, stick with cotton, wool, moleskin, or linen (weather permitting). The color of your pants should complement your jacket and not vice-versa. Stick with darker grays, navy, and black for a safer look that won’t disappoint!”

 

Edited by Pen

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Go to the thrift store. If he doesn't want to dress up, then he doesn't need to come. Enjoy the celebration in a fantastic, new to you, dress. A simple black dress is a great addition to your wardrobe - I wear the same one to funerals as to wedding. Pick up a wrap or borrow one from a friend, and get a sparkly necklace for the wedding. Simple is elegant.

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