What to Wear to a Wedding as a Guest? Dos, Don’ts and Top Tips (2024)

You’ve been invited to a wedding! Yay, free cake!

…But wait. What are you going to wear?

For as long as there have been weddings, there have been wedding guests struggling to know what to wear. Do you go traditional, simple, or show-stopping? Should you match your partner or go for complementary colours? And what’s the deal with hats? It’s enough to make anyone consider ‘losing’ their RSVP.

But, don’t worry — we’re here to help. From decoding wedding dress codes to navigating the fine line between fashionable and flashy, we’ll help you curate a look that not only complements the celebration but also shows off your personal style. Read on to learn the best colour to wear to a wedding, a breakdown of popular dress codes, and some top tips on wedding guest dressing. Happy styling!

What should I wear to a wedding as a guest?

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The most important thing about wedding outfits for guests is that they don’t upstage the bride and groom. That means no ball gowns, no top hats*, and definitely no white.

The key is to find that sweet spot between expressing your style and adhering to the dress code set by the couple. You’ll also need to consider the weather and the location of the wedding. For example, a beach wedding in the summer will call for completely different attire from an autumnal forest wedding.

As a rule of thumb, you can’t go wrong with semi-formal. That means a knee-length co*cktail dress, a tailored suit, or a chic jumpsuit.

*Top hats are a standard part of white-tie dress codes. However, white tie is rarely used. As a general rule, no top hats unless explicitly stated on the invitation.

What sort of wedding guest outfits are there?

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Winter wedding guest outfit

Winter wedding guests face the delightful challenge of balancing style with the practicality of staying warm. As the temperatures drop, it’s an opportunity to embrace luxurious fabrics, rich colours, and cosy layers to create a standout ensemble.

Consider a long-sleeve co*cktail dress in a jewel tone or something with a little bit of sparkle. If you aren’t a fan of dresses, you can’t go wrong with a well-tailored suit and a long coat that staves off the cold.

Close-toed shoes are always recommended, and you could try bringing a wrap or faux fur stole for both warmth and flair.

Summer wedding guest outfit

Summer weddings are all about being light and floaty. If you’re a fan of a dress, try a flowy chiffon number or a sundress in a cheerful print. Otherwise, try a light-coloured suit like pale blue or grey paired with a crisp, short-sleeved shirt. This strikes the perfect balance between formal and laid-back.

Loafers or dressy sandals are a great choice for footwear.

Plus-size wedding guest dresses

Plus-size guests will look fabulous in wrap or fit-and-flare style dresses. Don’t shy away from bold colours for a dramatic yet feminine look.

Slingback shoes are also a great option for those with wider feet as they provide comfort and style.

Mature ladies’ dresses for wedding guests

Mature ladies might want to opt for an a-line dress or even a tea-length gown for a sophisticated look. When selecting colours, consider timeless options like classic navy or sophisticated neutrals. These hues are not only elegant but also super versatile, allowing you to pair your dress with a range of accessories and outerwear for different seasons.

Petite wedding guest dresses

Empire waist dresses are a great choice for petite guests as they can make you look taller. You could also try a high-low hem which adds length where you need it, or try a suit tailored to your petite frame.

Maternity wedding guest dress

Maxi dresses are a great option for maternity wedding attire. The long, flowing silhouette provides ample room for your growing belly, allowing you to move with ease. If you’re not a dress kind of person, maternity jumpsuits are a modern and trendy choice.

Look for styles with an adjustable waist or a wrap design for flexibility, and make sure you can get in and out of it comfortably in a toilet cubicle. You may need a few practice runs before the big day!

What is the best colour to wear to a wedding?

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The best colour to wear to a wedding will depend on the season and the couple’s requests. For example:

Spring or summer wedding

Light or bright colours are perfect for a spring or summer wedding. Think pastels, mint green, coral, turquoise, or pink.

Autumn or winter wedding

Keep your tones dark or muted for an autumn or winter wedding. Think navy, burnt orange, purple, mauve, or dark green. Jewel tones are always trendy and can add an air of sophistication to your outfit.

Match the dress code

It’s become increasingly popular for the couple to specify what colours they’d like the guests to wear. For example, you might see:

  • “We’d like everyone to dress in pastel colours” for a whimsical wedding.
  • “Please could everyone wear different shades of blue” if someone has a specific colour scheme in mind.
  • “We’d appreciate it if everyone could dress in black” for an ultra-chic wedding.

Don’t wear white as a guest

Unless specifically stated on the invitation that the couple would like you to wear white — just don’t do it. Most people consider it disrespectful.

It’s best to steer clear of different shades of white too. That includes ivory, bone, cream, and other similar tones.

What if my dress has a white base but a pattern over the top?

White dresses with flowers, birds, or another pattern over the top might be acceptable if the dress is more than 60% pattern and the white base isn’t the predominant colour. If you’re certain you want to wear this dress, we’d recommend getting the bride’s approval first.

What is the dress code for a wedding?

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You may see one of the following dress codes listed on your wedding invitation:

  • Black tie. Black tie usually means a tuxedo, elegant evening gown, or a co*cktail dress.
  • Formal. A formal dress code will mean a suit, knee-length dress, or co*cktail dress.
  • Beach formal. Try suit trousers with a button-down shirt and no tie, or a floaty maxi or midi-length dress.
  • Casual. Casual can mean many things. However, you can’t go wrong with suit trousers and a short-sleeve button-down shirt. You could also wear a sundress or a blouse and skirt.

If no dress code is listed, it’s best to dress semi-formal, which means a well-fitted suit or a pretty, knee-length dress.

What is the most popular dress code for a wedding?

Most people tend to opt for semi-formal. This keeps everyone looking smart while still allowing the guests to be comfortable.

Where to buy clothes for wedding guests

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Whether you’re bougie-on-a-budget or have a little more to spend, you’re sure to find beautiful options in these online shops.

Less than £50

Vinted

Vinted is a second-hand clothes-selling app where you can find beautiful dresses for as little as £1! You can search for specific brands, sizes, colours, materials, and more. Many clothes are brand new with tags, and those that aren’t are in great condition. Plus, buying second-hand clothes is way more sustainable than purchasing brand-new clothes.

Asos

Asos is the perfect shopping destination for wedding dresses. You can set a budget using the ‘price range’ filter, and even sort dresses from lowest to highest price. You can also filter for size, colour, length, brand, and body fit.

Zara

Zara has a mix of pricier and low-cost dresses. This European brand exudes sophistication with its unique contemporary style, and you can filter dresses by size, colour, and style. However, taller guests may struggle with the length of Zara’s dresses.

Quiz

Quiz is a beautiful option if you prefer traditionally feminine styles. Packed with flouncy and fluttery styles, Quiz offers great clothes for wedding guests at reasonable prices.

£50-100

Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch has a whole section of their website dedicated to helping you be the ‘Best Dressed Guest’. Their dresses are beautiful, high quality, and suit a wide range of body types with their petite, regular, and tall sizing.

John Lewis

The John Lewis department store stocks a range of beautiful brands; it’s the perfect destination if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. If you’re lucky enough to live near a John Lewis store, they offer a complimentary personal shopping service to help you find your dream wedding guest dress.

Next

Next is another retailer that carries a range of brands. The website is easy to navigate, and you can easily filter by price, size, colour, and occasion.

Over £100

Ted Baker

Ted Baker is another store known for its ultra-feminine styles. Although they’re a little on the pricey side, they have regular sales, and the quality is second to none.

Karen Millen

Karen Millen is known for its high-quality and beautiful wedding guest dresses. You’ll never be outdone in a Karen Millen gown. Their wide range of dresses will suit many different body types and personal styles.

Monsoon

Monsoon has been a staple of wedding guest dress shopping for years. Renowned for its bohemian-inspired designs, this brand effortlessly captures the essence of romantic and whimsical fashion.

Top tips for wedding guest attire

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Watch those shoes

We know they look fabulous, but wearing ultra-high heels or brand-new leather shoes on a wedding day is a recipe for disaster. Tall heels will tire your feet out and prevent you from dancing, and brand-new shoes are likely to rub and cause blisters.

Instead, opt for shoes you know you’ll be comfortable in. Try wearing a lower pair of heels that you can dance all night in or wearing an already broken-in pair of brogues.

If you’re adamant you want to wear high heels, consider bringing a lower heel to change into later on. Your feet will thank you in the morning.

Be mindful of culture

Weddings with a religious element may ask you to cover up before you enter the church, temple, or mosque. You generally need to have your knees and shoulders covered to enter a religious building, and may even be asked to remove your shoes or cover your hair. Although this may not be your preference, it’s important to respect the couple’s wishes.

Consider the weather

Check the weather on the morning of the wedding, and always have a backup outfit in mind. If there’s a chance of rain, consider bringing a foldable umbrella or a stylish raincoat that complements your outfit. For unexpected temperature changes, having a shawl or light jacket can make a significant difference.

If in doubt… double-check

If you’re not sure whether an outfit is in line with the couple’s requests — ask them.

It’s perfectly acceptable to reach out to the bride, groom, or someone close to them to clarify any questions you may have about the dress code. This not only ensures that you’re on the right track, but also demonstrates your consideration and respect for their wishes.

The bottom line on being the best dressed wedding guest

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Picking the perfect wedding guest outfit can be stressful. Between the cost, dress code considerations, and endless style options, the task may seem daunting. However, with a bit of planning and time spent internet shopping, you’ll be the belle of the ball.

We recommend you closely adhere to the wedding dress code, dress for comfort and not just style, and double-check with the couple if you’re unsure. Happy shopping!

FAQs

What to Wear to a Wedding as a Guest? Dos, Don’ts and Top Tips (8)

Do you have to wear heels to a wedding as a guest?

No, you don’t have to. The most important thing is that you’re comfortable.

While high heels add an air of elegance to any outfit, they are by no means mandatory.

What should you not wear as a wedding guest?

You shouldn’t wear T-shirts, vest tops, football shirts, jeans, dirty trainers, flip flops, or other casual clothes to a wedding unless specifically asked to. This is the most special day of the bride and groom’s lives — make an effort for them!

Can anyone attend a wedding as a guest?

Anyone can attend a wedding ceremony in a registry office or religious building. However, you shouldn’t attend a reception you’re not invited to. It’s impolite.

You Might Also Like…

  • The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Dress Codes
  • Introduction: Wedding Guest Dress Etiquette
  • The Best Winter Wedding Guest Outfits

Happy Planning!

What to Wear to a Wedding as a Guest? Dos, Don’ts and Top Tips (2024)
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