Whether you’re in the wedding party or simply attending as a guest, it’s important to consider what to wear. While many people may not think about wedding guests having a dress code, there are definitely some things to consider when deciding on an outfit for the big day. Whether you are going to a casual backyard barn wedding or a black tie affair at the Plaza, your attire should be thoughtful and appropriate for the type of event it is.
If you’re stressing over what to wear, don’t worry: we’ve got you covered with our guide on how to dress like a wedding guest.
With so much information out there about what everyone from bridesmaids to groomsmen should wear at weddings, it can be difficult to figure out what is expected of guests and how they should dress for each occasion.
Start with the wedding invitation.
As you can see above, the invitation is a good place to start when planning your outfit. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Dress codes. The most obvious but important thing to look for on the invitation is the dress code. While some couples will explicitly state this in their invitations, others may go for a more subtle approach. Check out what colors are included in the design of the invitation and try to match them with your outfit. If you don’t see any colors or patterns that give you inspiration, it might be best just to go with something neutral like black or white, which will be sure to match whatever they choose!
Behold the beauty of a plan. If you are the kind of person who likes to just wing it, who ignores deadlines and chooses spontaneity at every turn, we ask you to consider putting your free spirit aside for just a moment. A little bit of planning can help save you a lot of stress in the future.
There are several ways to prepare ahead, such as:
- Make sure that all your measurements are up-to-date and correct. Hold off on that chocolate bar until after getting measured; some little things can go a long way when it comes to ensuring your outfit will fit well at the big day.
- Don’t get stuck paying for expedited shipping, because it could cost more than your entire outfit! It’s better to be prepared from the start with enough time for any unexpected delays or problems along the way.
Consider the season.
Ceremony time is the most important part to consider when choosing what to wear. Religious ceremonies typically have stricter dress codes than the civil ones, so keep that in mind. If you’re attending a religious ceremony, it’s better to play on safe side and stick with more formal attire.
Beach weddings are usually informal, but even there you’ll want to avoid swimwear and flip-flops. There are some beach wedding styles that allow for more casual guest attire (such as barefoot sandals), but it’s always good practice to check with the bride first if there are other rules you should be aware of.
The season also plays an important role in your wedding guest wear. You don’t want to be too hot or too cold at your friend’s big day, so keep in mind the weather conditions and pick an outfit accordingly. It may not be a bad idea to bring a jacket just in case of unexpected weather changes or air conditioning.
Dress for the location.
The location of the wedding is a key factor you should keep in mind when deciding what to wear. If this is an outdoor wedding, the main thing to consider is whether the ceremony and/or reception are being held on a beach, in a garden, or somewhere else outside. For example, if it’s on a beach and you’re worried about getting sand on your clothes, wearing a nice sundress would be ideal because it doesn’t require dry cleaning, making it inexpensive and easy to clean. Wearing shorts for an event like this may seem convenient because you can easily rinse them off with water afterwords, but they’re much less formal than dresses.
For garden weddings that are more formal and will have people standing around in one place throughout the event (instead of sitting outdoors), women should opt for something light-colored and floral or patterned; men should stick to darker colors like navy or black so they don’t stand out too much. If you want to wear black as a woman (and some people do like dressing all in black), make sure that there’s plenty of contrast between your outfit and the flowers surrounding you so that your outfit isn’t washed out by nature’s beauty.
Don’t bare too much skin.
You might be tempted to show a bit more skin at a wedding than you typically would. After all, it’s a celebration of love and your chance to look dazzling. But in general, keep the dress code on the conservative side: no big splits up the leg and nothing too short or tight (and of course, avoid any sheer panels that require pasties).
If you’re still not sure how to navigate this dilemma, ask yourself if what you’re wearing requires frequent adjustments. If so, then it’s probably too revealing for a wedding. And remember: At some point during the night, your boob will inevitably pop out from the neckline of your gown—so make sure that moment is okay with you!
Wear something that makes you feel confident.
I am a big, big believer in the idea that you should wear something that makes you feel good about yourself. Confidence is contagious, and if you feel sexy at a wedding, I guarantee that other people will notice.
No matter what style of dress or skirt you choose—from full-skirted ballgowns to slinky sheaths—just make sure it fits well. Whether your shape is curvy or straight up and down, if your clothes fit correctly, you’ll look hot as hell.
And there’s no point in wearing something super uncomfortable if it’s going to distract you all night long! The right shoes can make any outfit stand out (bonus points if they match your bag), but the wrong ones can ruin your mood faster than a rejected toast proposal. The key to finding comfortable shoes is to always find some way to break them in before the big day so that they aren’t stiff and unfamiliar. If they’re brand new, wear them around the house while doing simple chores like washing dishes or folding laundry. If they come with a high heel, put some of those stick-on pads on the balls of your feet so that each step doesn’t feel like a stabbing pain in your arch. And for any type of shoe: bring an extra pair for dancing!
Do your homework on dress codes.
Dress codes are often listed on the invitation, so check these out before you even start running around looking for your ideal outfit. There might be an added dress code for the reception that’s different from what you’d wear to the ceremony, so plan accordingly and make sure you’ve got two options to choose from.
A church or temple wedding is always going to call for formal attire, while a backyard wedding can be more relaxed. If your invitation says “black tie optional,” then it’s acceptable to show up in a more informal outfit if you’re comfortable doing so; just ensure that it still falls in line with the overall feel of the affair.
Find out what other guests are wearing from an attendee who knows the couple well.
We know a few people who are getting married this summer, and we recently asked the couple what they wore to their wedding, which was less than one year ago. We’d love to hear about your best outfit for a wedding; skip the boring stuff and tell us how you dressed up for your special occasion. Maybe you don’t have time to recreate it exactly (sorry), but just give us some details so we can better understand what you’re all about when it comes to weddings.
By submitting this form, you will be subscribed to our wedding newsletter with tips and advice on planning the perfect event. Information is provided in good faith, but please remember that everything published here is neither guaranteed nor representative of any particular person’s opinion or experience. Like many other information services, we operate at the mercy of our readers’ creativity and honesty in naming potential sources of bias. In no way do we claim ownership over anything submitted here; it is simply an attempt at sharing useful advice with a group of readers interested in weddings who may not already know about us.
Not sure if your outfit is appropriate for the venue? Test it out at home first.
The first thing you need to do is try to replicate the venue’s lighting. This way, you can see how your outfit looks under different kinds of lightings such as dim lighting, spotlights, fluorescent bulbs and etc. Once you have done so, it is time for you to learn how to pose in front of a mirror. You will be taking lots of photos at the wedding and with that said, there are a lot of poses that will give off good vibes when they are captured on camera such as sitting down while crossing one leg over another or standing with one leg in front of another.
Next up is replicating the environment and the event’s atmosphere. If possible, go for a walk around your neighborhood wearing what you want to wear for the wedding so that nobody would get shocked when they see your outfit at the event itself. For example, if it is going to rain on that day then bring an umbrella along or wear something made from water-resistant material instead. Lastly but certainly not least important are shoes! You need to make sure that your shoes match well with whatever clothes
Try on your full outfit beforehand to ensure nothing (including a new pair of shoes) requires last-minute adjustments or tailoring.
Putting together the perfect wedding guest outfit isn’t just about assembling the right pieces for your body type or choosing a dress that matches the style of the event—it’s also about ensuring that nothing you choose to wear needs any adjustments before you leave. In other words, it’s essential to try on your full outfit beforehand and make sure everything fits well!
If you’re feeling nervous about any part of your outfit—whether it’s a new pair of shoes or a blouse you haven’t worn yet—putting it all together in advance gives you time to look for an alternative (or have something altered if necessary) rather than waiting until right before the wedding, when there may not be much time left.
A little bit of planning can help save you a lot of stress in the future
When you’re invited to a wedding—or multiple weddings—you might find yourself in need of a new outfit for each occasion. Buying an extra dress (or two, or three) can get expensive fast, but there are ways to keep costs low and still look fantastic.
You can save yourself a lot of trouble by thinking ahead. Planning is important for all kinds of events—not just weddings, but also other big commitments like relocating to a new apartment or country. Aside from helping you structure your time, planning can save you time, money and stress. It can also help you avoid problems and make the most of an opportunity!
So there you have it—a few guidelines for what you can wear as a wedding guest. There are so many great looks to choose from, and the best thing is that you can’t really go wrong. Wear what makes you feel good and able to be your best self all day long, and you’ll be sure to have a blast at the event.