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Stunning Style: The Ultimate Guide on What to Wear as a Wedding Guest

Attending a wedding as a guest is not just about witnessing a beautiful union; it's also an opportunity to showcase your personal style. Deciding what to wear for any special occasion can be a cause for panic. Especially when it comes to dressing up for a wedding. How do you know what to wear? What are the rules? We’ve put together these helpful guidelines to make sure you nail the look!

Whether you're attending a traditional ceremony, a destination wedding, or a casual outdoor affair, we've got you covered. From elegant cocktail dresses to tailored suits, we'll help you find the perfect ensemble for any wedding theme or dress code. Our expert tips and styling advice will ensure that you strike the balance between comfort, elegance, and on-trend fashion.

Decoding the mystery behind what to wear!

  • Let the venue be your guide! Is it a ballroom? A beach? Or a barn? If it’s a beachside affair, wearing a ballgown or a suit with tails is probably not the best idea.

  • ·Timing is everything! Most casual weddings take place in the daytime, whereas a more formal event will take place at night.

  • ·When in doubt – ask! If the invitation says it’s a nighttime beach wedding, and you’re still not sure on the dress code, just ask the bride and groom!

Do’s and Don’ts of wedding guest attire

While it's essential to showcase your personal style, there are some dos and don'ts to keep in mind when choosing your wedding guest attire.

  • Don’t be TOO casual. No matter how relaxed the theme of the wedding is, you want to avoid wearing flip flops, jeans, shorts, or yoga pants.

  • Don’t wear clothing that’s TOO revealing. Weddings are family-oriented events, even if it’s adult only. You want to avoid possibly offending the bride or grooms 80-year-old nan. A touch of sophisticated sexy is great for cocktail and formal type events. A modest slit, or slight low back is perfect!

  • Don’t match the wedding party. Make sure you keep in mind the overall color scheme when you’re planning your outfit. If the bridal party is wearing light blue to match the beach theme, you don’t want to do the same!

  • Don’t wear white. Or any shade of white. The bride is the star here, so you don’t want to do anything that will take away from all eyes being on her. So unless specifically specified it’s okay, just don’t do it!

  • Do wear layers. Even living in Texas, the weather can change in a moment. Even if the event is outside, it’s a good idea to bring a cute jacket just in case. Or if it’s an indoor ceremony, some buildings can get pretty chilly!

  • Do wear comfortable shoes. Even if you’re wearing killer heels, bring an extra pair of comfy shoes you can dance in once those start to kill your toes!

  • Do choose bold accessories. Little details like this ensure you look and feel super chic!

  • Do pamper yourself before the wedding. Get your nails done, or a blow out! Even though the spotlight isn’t on you, it doesn’t mean you don’t want to look and feel your best!

Fancy, Schmancy and Formal

Attending a wedding means adhering to the dress code specified by the couple. Understanding the dress code is crucial to avoid any fashion faux pas. Let's dive into the different dress codes and the appropriate attire for each.

Casual Wedding Attire:

casual wedding attire

Casual weddings tend to be outdoorsy, like a beach or a farmhouse. Casual weddings provide an opportunity to showcase your personal style while keeping comfort in mind. Ladies, a nice summer dress with a cute pair of wedges or flats and a nice cardigan would be perfect for this type of event. Experiment with cheerful colors, playful prints, and lightweight fabrics to create a relaxed and effortless look. Guys, a nice button up or collared shirt, some khakis and dress shoes are the best option. You could even wear a nice blazer or dress it up with a tie if you’d like. You can consider opting for linen or cotton-blend fabrics for a more laid-back vibe. Complete the look with loafers or dressy sneakers for a comfortable yet stylish ensemble.

Semi-formal Wedding Attire:

semi formal wedding attire

Also known as dressy casual! If this is being held in the afternoon bright colors or pastels would be a great option. Darker colors for evening weddings. You should wear maxi length dresses or a trendy jumpsuit with bold accessories (depending on the time of day). Experiment with vibrant colors, playful prints, and delicate embellishments to add a touch of personality to your outfit. Pair it with heels and a clutch for a chic and polished look. For gentlemen, a nice dress shirt with slacks, and a tie, depending on the timing of the wedding. Go for lighter shades like light gray or tan for a more relaxed feel. Consider adding a stylish pocket square or a patterned tie to inject some personality into your attire. Complete the look with polished leather shoes.

Cocktail Wedding Attire:

cocktail wedding attire

Elegant and comfortable! This is a popular dress code option for many weddings. It’s a classic and polished look. Ladies, your dresses should be at or right above/below the knee. Not overly embellished but still formal. Elegant separates are also appropriate. For an afternoon cocktail event, bold and bright colors are appropriate. Evening weddings, again, will be darker colors. For our wonderful gentlemen, a suit is the required dress code for these types of events. A nice charcoal or navy suit would be great for either afternoon or evening depending on the color shirt you wear.

Formal Wedding Attire:

formal wedding attire

While a floor length gown and tuxedo are not required, they are absolutely appropriate. Formal weddings tend to take place in the evening, so dark, bold colors are what you’re looking for. There’s no need to be afraid to deviate slightly from tradition. A dressy pantsuit and fancy cocktail dress are perfect for these types of events. You can opt for fabrics like silk, chiffon, or velvet to add a touch of luxury to your ensemble. Don't forget to accessorize with statement jewelry and a stylish clutch to complete your look. Gents, just like JT, as long as you’ve got your (dark) suit and tie everything will be alright! You can also opt in for a tux if you’d like. Stick to neutral colors like black, navy, or charcoal gray for a timeless and polished appearance. Pair it with a crisp white shirt, a bowtie, and patent leather shoes for a dapper look that will surely impress.

Black Tie Wedding Attire:

black tie wedding attire

We are getting fancy y’all! Unless otherwise specified, black tie weddings will always be an evening event. Ladies should wear floor length dresses, while men are required to wear a tuxedo.

White Tie Wedding Attire:

white tie wedding attire

This is as fancy as we are gonna get! These aren’t very common, although after watching Bridgeton, they might make a comeback! The required dress code for ladies, is a floor length evening gown. This is quite literally like a ball! Men are required to wear a tuxedo with tails, white vest, and bow tie, and white gloves, paired with formal shoes!

Themed Wedding Attire:

themed wedding attire

Check that invitation! If the couple is throwing a Gatsby style wedding, or luau beach party make sure that you dress accordingly. And even though a little party never hurt nobody, like Fergie said, it’s still a good idea to err on the side of caution and ask the bride and groom if what you’re thinking is appropriate for what they have in mind!

Consider the season

When choosing your wedding guest attire, it's essential to consider the season. Let's explore some outfit ideas for each season to ensure you're dressed appropriately and stylishly.

Spring Wedding Attire:

spring wedding attire

Spring weddings call for outfits that embrace the season's blooming flowers and vibrant colors. For women, opt for pastel shades, floral prints, and lightweight fabrics. A flowy midi dress or a skirt paired with a blouse will keep you comfortable and stylish. Complete the look with strappy sandals or pumps.

Men can embrace the season by wearing lighter-colored suits or blazers. Pair it with a crisp dress shirt and complementing accessories. Consider adding a patterned tie or a pocket square to add a pop of color to your ensemble.

Summer Wedding Attire:

summer wedding attire

Summer weddings are all about embracing the warm weather and enjoying the festivities. For women, choose lightweight fabrics like chiffon or cotton to stay cool. Opt for bright colors, bold prints, or playful patterns to make a statement. Maxi dresses, jumpsuits, or breezy sundresses paired with stylish sandals or wedges will keep you comfortable and chic.

Men can opt for light-colored suits or dress shirts paired with dress pants in breathable fabrics like linen or seersucker. Embrace vibrant colors or playful patterns to add a touch of summer flair to your look. Complete the outfit with loafers or dressy sandals for a relaxed yet polished appearance.

Fall Wedding Attire:

fall wedding attire

Fall weddings provide an opportunity to embrace richer colors and textured fabrics. For women, consider wearing a stylish cocktail dress in deep jewel tones or earthy hues. Pair it with ankle boots or pumps for an elegant and sophisticated look. Don't forget to layer with a stylish jacket or a wrap to keep warm in cooler temperatures.

Men can opt for darker-colored suits or blazers paired with dress pants. Experiment with textured fabrics like tweed or corduroy for a more autumnal feel. Complete the look with leather dress shoes and accessorize with a patterned tie or a stylish pocket square.

Winter Wedding Attire:

winter wedding attire

Winter weddings call for outfits that are both stylish and warm. For women, consider wearing a long-sleeved cocktail dress or a chic jumpsuit in rich colors like burgundy or emerald green. Opt for luxurious fabrics like velvet or silk to add an element of sophistication to your ensemble. Pair it with closed-toe heels or ankle boots to keep your feet warm.

Men can opt for darker-colored suits or tuxedos paired with dress pants. Consider adding a stylish overcoat or a wool blazer for extra warmth. Complete the look with polished leather shoes and accessorize with a sleek tie or a bowtie.

Accessories and finishing touches

Accessories play a vital role in completing your wedding guest outfit. Let's explore some essential accessories and finishing touches to elevate your look.

  • Jewelry

When it comes to jewelry, less is often more. Opt for a statement piece like a pair of chandelier earrings or a bold necklace to add a touch of glamor to your outfit. If your dress is already embellished or has intricate details, opt for more delicate jewelry to avoid overpowering your look.

  • Handbags and Clutches

A stylish handbag or clutch is not only a practical accessory but also adds a finishing touch to your ensemble. Opt for a sleek and elegant design that compliments your outfit. Consider choosing a clutch in a contrasting color to add a pop of interest to your look.

  • Shoes

Choosing the right pair of shoes is crucial for both comfort and style. Consider the venue and terrain when selecting your footwear. Opt for heels or wedges for formal or semi-formal weddings, and choose flats or sandals for casual or outdoor affairs. Make sure your shoes are comfortable enough to dance the night away.

  • Hair and Makeup

Your hair and makeup can enhance your overall look and tie your outfit together. Opt for a hairstyle that compliments your outfit and the wedding theme. Consider consulting a hairstylist or experimenting with different styles beforehand. Keep your makeup natural and fresh, focusing on enhancing your best features.

bride and groom walking down aisle

Where to buy your look?

Now that you have a better understanding of what to wear as a wedding guest, you might be wondering where to find stylish outfits. Here are some great places to start:

  • Local boutiques:

Supporting local designers and independent boutiques not only allows you to find unique and one-of-a-kind pieces but also contributes to the local economy. These establishments often offer personalized styling services and can create custom outfits tailored to your preferences. Check out local fashion events, trunk shows, and pop-up shops to discover hidden gems in your area.

  • Online retailers:

Online retailers have become a popular destination for wedding guest attire due to their convenience and wide selection. Websites such as ASOS, Nordstrom, and Revolve offer a vast array of dresses, suits, and accessories to suit any style and budget. With detailed product descriptions, customer reviews, and sizing guides, shopping online has never been easier.

  • Rental services:

If you're attending multiple weddings or prefer not to invest in expensive attire, consider renting your outfit. Rental services like Rent the Runway and The Black Tux offer a variety of designer outfits for a fraction of the retail price. Not only does this option save you money, but it also allows you to experiment with different styles and designers without the commitment.

  • Designer stores:

If you're looking for designer pieces or high-end brands, head to your local high-end boutiques or department stores. These establishments often carry a wide range of formal and semi-formal attire suitable for weddings. Their knowledgeable staff can assist you in finding the perfect outfit that fits your body type, style, and budget.

Remember to shop in advance to allow time for alterations or any necessary adjustments to ensure a perfect fit.

bride walking down aisle

Attending a wedding as a guest is an exciting occasion to showcase your personal style while celebrating the couple's special day. By understanding the dress code, considering seasonal factors, and accessorizing thoughtfully, you can create a stunning wedding guest outfit that will make you the best-dressed attendee.

Whether you opt for a formal gown, a chic cocktail dress, or a stylish suit, remember to choose pieces that make you feel confident and comfortable. By following the dos and don'ts of wedding guest attire, you can strike the perfect balance between on-trend fashion and respect for the couple's big day.

So, go ahead and explore the latest trends, colors, fabrics, and accessories that will make you stand out in the crowd. With the ultimate guide on what to wear as a wedding guest, you'll be turning heads and making a lasting impression wherever you go. Happy styling!


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