In addition to celebrating our own wedding this summer, Jordan and I are excited to attend the weddings of a few of our best friends. And of course, half the fun of any event is deciding what to wear. I like to decide on an outfit for a big event like a wedding as far in advance as possible. By choosing my dress and shoes a month or two in ahead of time I can spend the week leading up to the event collecting the perfect accessories. I always try to keep in mind that dressing for a wedding takes a bit of consideration; one must consider the venue, formality and of course, the couple. A semi-formal wedding in a garden calls for a radically different look than a semi-formal wedding at a rooftop bar or in a ballroom.
What to Wear to a Black Tie Wedding
Formal events are my favorite to dress for. Seattle is a VERY casual city, so I cherish any reason to blow out my hair and throw on a pair of heels. I’ve professed my love of Rent the Runway countless times, and I think a black tie wedding is a perfect occasion to rent a stunning frock if you don’t want to buy something you won’t re-wear. Use my link for $30 off your first Rent the Runway order if you choose to rent this wedding season.
I recently ordered the most beautiful gown from Fame and Partners for a wedding we are attending at the end of August. I love that you can customize every gown by tweaking the design in little ways, for instance raising the neckline, closing a slit, adding additional back coverage or removing a train. I didn’t change anything on the dress I ordered because I loved the lemony yellow hue and perfectly placed slits. I can’t wait to dance the night away in this gown at one of Jordan’s oldest friend’s wedding later this summer.
Tulip Dress| This pink off the shoulder gown would look elegant for a black tie wedding at an outdoor venue like a golf club or winery.
Chantelle Dress| Float elegantly through any ballroom in this whimsical black-tie ready gown.
Entice Strapless Gown| Perfect for summer, this happy yellow number looks stunning with gold heels and accessories.
Gucci Sandals| I love that these gold foil sandals have a bit of a vintage vibe with a thick enough heel to dance all night long.
Pink Bow Sandals| Girly-girl perfection the bows on these rose gold heels add the perfect feminine touch.
Feather Fefe Sandals| Carrie Bradshaw herself would be jealous of these glam statement heels.
What to Wear to a Cocktail Attire Wedding
Cocktail attire is a happy medium between “black tie” and “casual” that couples often choose as it suits a wide range of venue choices. A little black dress is always a safe choice for a cocktail party but feel free to be a little more adventurous if you wish. The dresses I picked are quite feminine, but cocktail attire doesn’t mean dressing super girly if it doesn’t fit your personality. There are plenty of edgy, sexy cocktail dresses that work perfectly well for a semi-formal wedding. Or, if you prefer you can pick something a bit more polished and sophisticated.
Embroidered Fit & Flare Dress| While this ballerina-esque dress is a a bit of a splurge it ensures you will receive compliment after compliment with its delicate embroidery and soft feminine skirt.
Gal Meets Glam Tyler (On Sale!)| This fitted cocktail dress is currently 40% off, snatch it in your size before it sells out.
Ferrara Flare Hem Dress (On Sale!)| Lace and embroidered flowers look lovely for a daytime wedding and pairs nicely in the evening with a flute of champagne.
Sky Lace High Low Dress| This unexpected light blue cocktail dress is sure to turn heads at any social gathering.
Izzie Heels| I’m personally in love with these navy satin heels, wear them all summer long with your favorite fit and flare sundresses.
Jewel Wedge (On Sale!)| These pastel wedges feel formal enough for cocktail dress code without sabotaging your ability to dance after an open bar.
Rose Gold Ankle Strap Sandal| These sandals come in every color and have a thick heel that keeps your feet happy all night long.
What to Wear to a Casual Wedding
Sometimes a couple ditches the traditional wedding fuss for a laid-back vibe, other times the venue dictates a casual dress code. Wedding casual and day to day casual should not be misconstrued as the same thing. I once attended a wedding where guests showed up in hoodies and jeans which would have been fine, I guess, had the couple intended their casual wedding to be that sort of casual. However, I dare to venture that MOST couples don’t mean you should wear your old ratty gym clothes when they ditch the formal dress code.
Even if a wedding requires I sit on a bale hay and do the chicken dance on the dirt floor of a barn, you will never catch me in jeans at a wedding. Granted, you shouldn’t wear your best pair of Manolos either…a casual wedding is a balancing act. Since many casual weddings take place outdoors it is important to choose appropriate footwear. A sturdy pair of wedges or cute flats work well for grassy, uneven turf. Since I would rather be overdressed than underdressed (any day) I generally prefer to wear a flowy maxi dress or sophisticated sundress for a casual daytime wedding. A nice jumpsuit is a great fashion-forward twist as well.
Gal Meets Glam Sarah | The sweet pink floral pattern on this Gal Meets Glam sundress is perfect with wedges for a casual backyard wedding, as an added bonus you’ll rewear it with a denim jacket for a casual everyday look all summer long.
Tie Neck Flounce Dress| How sweet is the bow on this punchy mini dress?
Rhodes Floral Dress| This sexy sundress is definitely on my summer wish list.
Pink Scalloped A-Line Dress(Also comes in Black)| Something about scallops always makes me swoon. This scalloped mini dress is perfect on its own or is a great blank slate for any number of accessories.
Lavender Off the Shoulder Mini Dress (On Sale!)| I picked up this dress last summer and can vouch it is prettier in person than in the photos. I like to pair it with heels and dangly earrings for an evening out.
Floral Maxi Dress| A breezy maxi works well for warm outdoor weddings in the summer sun.
Sadia Sandals| These sandals would look just as cute with a flowy sundress as they would with jean shorts. The floral detailing makes them appropriate for an occasion like a wedding provided it isn’t too formal.
Metallic Wedge Sandals| I think metallic spruces up a simple wedge for a more pulled together look.
Tatiana Pearl Slides (On Sale!)| These pearl slides are quite the statement, pair them with a dress that isn’t too busy for a perfectly polished look.
A Few Tips for Dressing for a Wedding:
- Keep in mind the crowd, if the affair takes place in a religious setting or you know either family dresses conservatively, respectfully cover up (or bring along a shawl/cardigan).
- Dress for the climate! If you’re attending an outdoor wedding be sure to check the forecast ahead of time and bring something to throw on halfway through the evening when the sun sets.
- So often when you look for wedding attire online you find dresses that are so clearly bridesmaid gowns. Please, don’t wear a bridesmaid dress unless you really are a bridesmaid. It’s not that bridesmaid gowns aren’t pretty they’re just so…”bridesmaid-y”. There are so many beautiful options for wedding attire, you’ll find plenty of gorgeous formal, semi-formal and casual pieces.
- Everyone knows not to wear white as a wedding guest, however, if the wedding forums have taught me anything it’s that there is a massive gray area when it comes to what constitutes a white dress. Does an ivory floral dress count as white? What about a blush dress with white lace overlay? Is a champagne nude too close to white? Every bride seems to have a different opinion. If you’re close to the bride feel free to ask what she considers “white”. I personally could care less if guests wear white-floral or faint blush but some brides seem to disagree. When in doubt opt for a look that doesn’t include white and could not be mistaken for white.
- I’d be lying if I pretended I regularly tailor my clothing. I wear most pieces off the rack even if minor adjustments would improve the overall fit. When it comes to wedding attire, especially black tie, give yourself time for alterations. Most women aren’t the exact same size on top as on bottom, meaning a trip to the seamstress/tailor will massively improve the appearance.
- Keep the occasion in mind. A wedding is all about celebrating the love and unity of two people. Weddings have come a long way and today many couples ditch traditions that don’t have meaning to them (Can I get a HALLELUJAH!). Glancing at the wedding blogs you’ll find Harry Potter inspired weddings, festival-like weddings and even circus themed affairs. If the wedding has a specific theme feel free to dress accordingly, otherwise stick to safer clothing options. I love trends, flamboyant colors and bold fashion statements but another person’s wedding isn’t the time to draw tons of attention to me. Choose your outfit wisely by picking something flattering that doesn’t scream “I wish this were my day“.
Do you have any weddings to attend this summer? Where is your favorite place to shop for wedding guest attire?