Five Things Wedding Guests Need To Know About Picking the Right Dress

If you’re in that stage of life where you seem to be invited to more weddings than you even knew you had friends, rest assured that it happens to the best. Certain seasons like spring and summer are immensely popular wedding periods, so all of your invitations are probably within close proximity to each other as well.

On the one hand, it can be incredibly fun to watch your friends get married, enjoy delicious free dinner and dessert, and then dance the night away with all your besties; but on the other hand, attending so many weddings means you need to have the right clothes to wear. And you need to know what those right clothes are.

If you struggle with picking the right dresses to wear to all those weddings, this guide is for you specifically! You’re going to be an expert on picking the right wedding guest dresses soon. Here is everything you need to know about picking your outfits for all those weddings on your calendar. 

Weddings Aren’t Black Tie Events Unless Otherwise Specified

You’ll be relieved to know weddings generally aren’t black-tie affairs. Black tie events are rigid in their formality requirements, and dresses need to belong to sophisticated evening gowns.

You won’t need to buy a dozen expensive floor-length gowns any time soon. Some weddings do specify that they’re black-tie affairs, but most couples don’t expect their guests to show up in their very best attire.

Weddings are generally more of cocktail, semi-formal, or even casual (but wedding casual, which is a little different) events for everyone but the marrying couple—unless they prefer to also steer away from convention. We adore a good barefooted bride wedding.

Five Things Wedding Guests Need To Know About Picking the Right Dress

Read the Invitation’s Dress Code

The only way to truly find out what the dress code expectation is for the wedding is to read the invitation. That’s right, it should always be super simple to define the wedding’s dress code. Your invite is your source of information on every detail you need to know.

If the marrying couple forgets to specifically mention a dress code on their invite, try to dress somewhere between semi-formal and cocktail. That means swap your jeans for a nice dress or pantsuit combo.

Dress for the Venue

Another way to deduce what kind of attire you should wear is to research the venue. If the wedding takes place at a gorgeous outdoor location in the summertime, feel free to dress in lightweight fabrics, cheery colors and patterns, and dresses that won’t have you unnecessarily sweating under the hot sun.

If the event is held at a suave hotel in the city, aim for a more formal outfit that matches the venue’s upscale vibe. If you dress for the season and location, you should be able to avoid being that token person who has the dress code all wrong. You don’t want to be that person, and now you’ll never have to be.

Dressing for destination weddings is often a little bit different. It makes sense to dress for the theme of the location at these weddings. With tropical destination weddings, you can be bolder in your choice to wear bright colors and patterns that pop against the stunning location. 

Avoid White and Off-White 

Never, ever wear white or off-white to a wedding. It’s the most important rule. However, there is a trend called an all-white wedding; at these white-themed weddings, all the guests are invited to wear white, and by invite, it really is a mandatory dress code requirement.

So white is occasionally acceptable but only when specified. But that doesn’t mean you can show up in a wedding gown. Short white dresses are a good choice. Try to avoid any floor-length white dresses that could be confused for a bridal outfit. When in doubt, ask the bride, but far in advance of the big day.

Unless it’s an all-white event, don’t wear a dress in a shade that could pass as bridal, like champagne, beige, silver, gold, or tan. Sometimes brides choose to wear an off-white dress, in which case, all the shades in those categories are reserved for the bride.

Dress for the Time of Day

In general, lighter colors are well suited to daytime weddings (like that summery outdoor wedding we talked about earlier) while darker colors are well suited to nighttime weddings (think jewel tones and deeper shades).

No one really knows the exact reason why, just that these color palettes match the theme of each type of wedding. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but a good one to keep in mind if you don’t want to stand out.

Takeaway

It can be tricky to know what to wear to the many dozens of weddings you’re invited to as a guest. Sometimes the happy couple isn’t all that clear about what they expect you to show up in, which is where a solid understanding of wedding guest dress guidelines comes in handy. Use these tips to go enjoy that wedding (or ten) you’ve got scheduled.