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What Is Aproppriate to Wear to a Celebration of Life?

Cheerful man raising wine glass in a toast with friends

Unlike a funeral or memorial, a celebration of life is a happy event, but every gathering of friends and family to toast and celebrate the life of a loved one is unique. Appropriate attire always depends on the location, the time, and the planned activities.

What Does a Woman Wear to a Celebration of Life?

If you're a woman, ask yourself what would be appropriate to wear to any event held at the same location and time as the celebration of life gathering. However, take care to wear subtle and natural-looking make-up, cover your shoulders, and avoid attire that is too short, tight, sexy, or revealing.

Church or Family Home Celebrations

The best attire for a celebration of life gathering held in a church or family home is a casual but stylish dress or pants with a flowy blouse, flats, or conservative heels. This attire would also be appropriate for a pot-luck or informal banquet celebration of life gathering.

Couple with bouquet of flowers joining group at table for celebration of life

Dinner Celebrations

If the celebration of life gathering includes a sitdown dinner, a woman should wear a dressy dress, skirt, or even slacks with a dressy blouse. Select colors that are muted-bright and fashionable closed-toed heels.

Woman wearing formal dress pants beads celebration of life dinner

An Outdoor Celebration

If the Celebration of life gathering is a picnic, held on a beach or outdoors, consider wearing jeans and a casual top, or a longer dress so you can sit without feeling awkward. Forgo shorts and sandals and stick with flat shoes that are appropriate for a lawn or on the beach.

Girl wearing pink and white dress walking on beaching

What a Man Wears to a Celebration of Life

Men have fewer clothing options to choose from but must also dress appropriately and respectfully for a celebration of life gathering.

An Informal Gathering

If the celebration of life event is an informal banquet or held in a church or family home, a man should dress smart casual. He would be dressed appropriately if he wore jeans or khaki slacks and an open-collared shirt with a sports jacket. A necktie is optional, and loafers or slip-on shoes are OK.

Man in casual sports coating informal outdoor dinner

A Dinner Gathering

If the celebration of life event includes a sitdown dinner, the appropriate attire for a man is semi-formal. A good, well-fitting suit, dress shirt, matching tie, with dress shoes is always suitable.

Man in business suit adjusting tie in mirror

An Outdoor Gathering

If the celebration of life gathering is held outdoors, a polo shirt with khakis and jeans are safe, respectable, and comfortable. A man could also wear a Hawaiian shirt, a T-shirt, or shorts that are longer than mid-thigh and canvas shoes.

Man wearing Hawaiian Shirt celebration of life outdoor party

How to Dress Your Child

Children should be dressed for a celebration of life gathering in the same type of clothes that are appropriate for mom and dad.

Father and son outdoor dinner for celebration of life
  • For more formal celebrations of life, they should be dressed in their Sunday best.
  • For less formal events, cute school clothes would be appropriate.
  • If the celebration is outdoors, a child's best play clothes work, but make sure they wear sneakers.

Themed Celebrations of Life

If you see any sort of specific request on your invitation, pay attention, and dress accordingly. Some celebrations of life adhere to a theme that ties the gathering to something important to the deceased person's life. Perhaps the loved one was a Trekkie, a fitness fanatic, enjoyed a specific sports team, or was highly involved in another pastime, often a celebration of life gathering is planned around what the individual enjoyed that made their life happy.

What Should Not be Worn

There are things you should avoid wearing unless the host specifies otherwise.

  • Avoid wearing anything that might be distracting
  • Avoid neon colors, bright prints, and keep accessories simple
  • Avoid anything flashy or excessive
  • Avoid flip-flops and sandals
  • Avoid t-shirts with graphics and logos

Remembering the Good Times

While wearing the proper attire to a celebration of life gathering is meaningful and respectful, it's also important to join in on the happy remembrances as each person shares fond memories of their loved one.

What Is Aproppriate to Wear to a Celebration of Life?