What To Wear To A Formal Wedding

At a formal wedding, you have the chance to put on your fancy clothes and dress up in a way that you probably don’t do every day. Take advantage of this opportunity! It’s an excuse to get really dressed up and look amazing, so don’t be afraid to be a little dramatic. This isn’t the time for minimalist, subtle fashion—it’s time for fun!

Not that you should feel too restricted by what other people think is appropriate. You aren’t bound in any way by tradition. After all, this is YOUR outfit, not someone else’s. Feel free to do your own thing as long as it doesn’t cross any lines of appropriacy.

What to Wear to a Formal Wedding

Whether you’re more the classic-glam type or prefer a simple, sexy affair, there’s an outfit for you. Keep reading to see our picks!

  • A Floor-Length Gown

Not feeling the shift dress? Take it to the floor with a floor-length gown in neutral colors and pastels. This look is more formal than a cocktail dress and perfect for black tie weddings that require long dresses. But before you go all out in your ball gown, it’s best to know if there are any specific color codes that come along with the invitation! If so, this will determine what color of gown you should wear and whether or not your outfit is appropriate enough for the occasion. If not, then feel free to opt for beading, sequins, or sparkles on your dress as well.

  • A Cocktail Dress

A short number always works when it comes to wearing something formal yet fun to a wedding celebration! Keep things sophisticated by opting for a minimalistic design in black (a little LBD never hurt anyone) or you can go bold by wearing something that has a little more detail like lace embroidery and beading or even some frills at the bottom of your skirt! We love that this style can take many different forms – from fitted silhouettes with high necks down low backs – which means there really isn’t just one way to wear them either: so if you’re feeling edgy then why not add some leather moto boots underneath for extra pizzazz?

Don’t Wear White, Off-white, or Neutral Colors.

When it comes to wedding attire, there is one golden rule for women: do not wear white, off-white or neutral colors.

  • This includes ivory, beige, eggshell, ecru and cream. While the shade of white may differ slightly from dress to dress, wearing anything remotely close to the bride’s color choice is extremely rude and shows a lack of respect for her big day.
  • The bride should always stand out during her wedding. It’s not about being egotistical or vain; it’s about being the center of attention on what’s supposed to be the most important day in her life so far.
  • Wearing a different color may seem harmless enough—after all, you don’t intend to steal her thunder—but trust me when I say that she’ll notice. And if other guests also arrive dressed in similar tones? Now that’s just embarrassing for everyone involved.

Acceptable Colors for a Formal Wedding.

You should wear a dress that is a solid color. While prints and patterns are appropriate for most weddings, they’re generally not suitable for formal occasions. Darker colors are more formal (and more flattering on most people). Black is always acceptable unless the invitation specifically requests otherwise. Neutral colors like ivory, navy blue, brown, and taupe are also fine choices for a formal wedding. White or off-white gowns should be avoided however, even if it’s not a winter wedding.

Dress Length.

If you’re not sure what to wear to a formal wedding as a guest, here are a few tips:

  • Keep dress length in mind. A floor-length gown will likely be your safest bet. If you do go with a shorter hemline, keep it at knee length or longer.
  • Don’t be afraid of color. You’ll probably see lots of dark colors like navy and black at more formal weddings, but feel free to add some vibrancy and personality to your look with brighter shades or print patterns if you want.
  • Incorporate the details that make your outfit special. This might mean wearing unique statement earrings or picking the right pair of shoes to complement your overall ensemble. Remember that some aspects of the wedding celebrations may be outside in the sun for hours at a time; pick shoes that are comfortable enough for standing and walking around all day/night long in case there’s an outdoor reception after the ceremony (which can make for great photos).

Semi-formal/cocktail attire.

Semi-formal/cocktail attire.

For women, a cocktail dress or a long skirt with a dressy top will do the trick. In terms of color, you can play it safe with shades of black or white, or if you’re feeling bolder, you can go with bright hues and metallic tones. Whatever your choice in color, avoid anything resembling denim or seersucker (yes, even if it’s bright red), as well as busy patterns like plaid and polka dots. Spaghetti straps are fine as long as they are at least one inch wide. If you’re wearing a strapless dress, consider wearing a shrug or bolero jacket to cover your shoulders for the ceremony; however for the reception after, feel free to lose the extra layers and make your shoulders available for spontaneous dancing!

For men, formal celebrations call for dark suits (not black) with ties—no jeans or tennis shoes allowed! Ties should be solid in color except for miniature patterns such as small dots; avoid larger patterns that may look tacky under closer inspection (such as paisley). In terms of accessories and jewelry, less is more. Keep things minimal: no flashy necklaces unless they are classic pearls or heirloom pieces with sentimental value; cufflinks should be simple yet elegant; pocket squares may be worn but keep them subtle enough so the wearer doesn’t come off looking like he’s trying too hard to be noticed by everyone else.

Your Accessories.

It’s time to put the finishing touches on your ensemble. Here are some tried-and-true accessories to keep in mind:

  • A clutch is a small bag, usually without a handle or strap, that is held in the hand. The clutch has risen in popularity and is a great option for formal events as it keeps you hands free. Be sure to choose a neutral color (like black, ivory or silver) so that it will match any dress you wear. You can also choose a color that matches your dress for an extra pop of fashion.

When you’re deciding what to wear to a formal wedding, remember that it’s all about appropriate fashion choices and the details that make your outfit really stand out.

The first step to figuring out what to wear? Narrowing down the options. When you’re deciding what to wear to a formal wedding, remember that it’s all about appropriate fashion choices and the details that make your outfit really stand out.

Here are some things you should avoid:

  • White, off-white, neutral colors
  • Black
  • Short dresses
  • Jeans, sneakers, sandals, or flat shoes


You are now prepared to attend any wedding event with confidence. No matter if it’s a destination wedding in a tropical paradise or at a city hall, you’ll be ready to party and look good doing so. Remember that dressing appropriately depends on location, season, and time of day. You also want to be comfortable in what you’re wearing because no one wants to try cutting shapes on the dance floor in uncomfortable clothes. And remember that the most important thing is feeling confident—when you feel confident, no matter what you’re wearing, others will notice and respond positively! If you can remember these things while shopping for your outfit, then nothing can stand between you and looking fabulous at the next wedding event!

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