What Do I Wear To: A Picnic-Style Wedding?

In which we try to decipher the meaning of "Wedding Casual."

Hi Laia,

I'm going to a friend's wedding in Portland, OR later this month. It's in a park in the evening with a picnic-style reception. Everyone is camping out afterwards. As far as dress code, the wedding website says:

"Casual dress is okay. Maybe not jeans and a t-shirt casual... let's call it Wedding Casual. Whatever you feel comfortable in."

I just picked up this cute purple dress for a steal and was planning to wear it.

But what about shoes and other accessories? Originally I had planned to invest in some wedges for the occasion, but I'm worried they'll get ruined in the picnic-in-a-park setting. Heels seem impractical. I'm leaning towards wearing some strappy, flat, Grecian-style sandals I already own. I was also thinking of adding a belt as well. I'll need a sweater or jacket of some sort as well, since I assume late August evenings in the Pacific NW get chilly.

Is this Portland wedding casual? Thoughts on a belt? No belt? New dress? Different shoes? This was supposed to be my "easy" event of the summer.

Help out an uptight East Coaster!You the best!


Thanks for writing in Leah! This dress is super cute, and I can't believe it was so cheap! I love a good sale. Now on to this camping wedding with casual-but-not-jeans-n-tshirt-casual attire (best category ever?), I think this dress is perfect for the occasion, it's a simple shape in a great bright color, perfect for the outdoors. Your idea to forgo a heel or a wedge seems like the right one, especially if there's a campout afterwards. Honestly, I think you are in the right track for this look.

So let's discuss the belt situation. Normally I am not really a belt-it person, BUT I think this orange belt is the perfect way to accessorize it. I think this is a dress that definitely needs the accessories. If you go without the belt you'd need some kind of chunky necklace or earrings, and that simply would not be practical for camping in the outdoors. The bummer is that when I look at the back of the dress with that great long exposed zipper, I think that the belt is going to ruin the back view. So I'm kinda torn? In the end I still think the belt is the better idea because it really packs a nice punch and I think it outweighs the possible disappointment of an interrupted zipper.

(Ooh interrupted zipper could be a good band name!)

V-Neck Cardigans $26.94, Old Navy

As for a cover-up, I think a nice thin cardigan would be great in a contrasting bold color for that color-blocking thing that's so popular these days. Old Navy has them in every color and I would experiment with all of them to see which one looked the awesomest. If we're being casual and all, then I think if it's okay for you to rock a cool jean jacket. (You should know though, that I rocked a denim jacket for prom, so I tend to think these can be made appropriate in any situation.)

Mellow Flat Point Lace Up Shoe $68.96, ASOS & Blowfish Naked Flats $19.99, Dillard's

As for shoes, flats are the way to go! A strappy sandal is a good idea but you can also do a simple closed toe flat to keep it more "casually dressed up." I love the idea of a pointy lace-up or a simple but delicate Mary Jane. All perfectly suited to have fun and be comfortable outdoors while still looking totally awesome.

You're definitely on the right track so just remember to trust your instincts; they haven't led you astray so far! Have fun!

Have a fashion conundrum? Let me at it! Send me all your queries and a pic of yourself to laia@janepratt.com.