What to Wear to A Wedding: Fashion Dos and Don’ts

Light pink lace cape cocktail dress


If you’re preparing to attend a wedding and have no idea what to wear – don’t worry! Finding the perfect wedding guest outfit doesn’t have to be complicated.

There are a few simple fashion rules you should observe when attending any kind of wedding, but many make logical sense.

To make sure you’re perfectly prepared with the right wedding guest dress, we’re outlining some of the biggest fashion dos and don’ts for those attending weddings. This includes answering some of the top questions about wedding attire.

The first step when deciding what to wear is to just look at the wedding invitation. This should provide the clues you need to figure out what kind of dress is most appropriate.

Some wedding invitations outline a dress code. If it isn’t written, instead take a look at the venue or any theme.

For example, a wedding set on a beach might have a low-key feel and only require a summery dress and sandals. A wedding taking place in a luxury hotel could call for a formal gown.



Here are a few fashion ‘Dos’ that will help you understand the dress code and what to wear for the changing seasons. This is essential for everyone attending to know, even mother of the bride.


Semi-Formal dress code calls for cocktail style attire. For women, this means a suitable cocktail style dress. The length can be above the knee, tea length or ankle length if desired. The style should look ‘dressed-up’ and not too casual. Think of the same dress style you would wear to a fancy dinner at an upscale restaurant. You should look polished with a small clutch or shoulder bag, styled hair, and makeup. Jumpsuits and rompers with the right ‘cocktail’ style look are also a great choice.

Black-Tie Weddings

A black-tie or formal wedding requires women to wear a long evening gown. The rules are a little more strict with black-tie attire – an evening dress should be floor-length with the right look (standard maxi-dresses are too casual for example). You can still pick from many silhouettes such as mermaid, A-line, and sheath. Popular fabrics include lace, satin, and chiffon.  You will need to pay closer attention to your beauty look, making sure your nails are done, shoes are appropriate and add some jewelry to complete the outfit.

Jovani fitted formal dress

Winter Wedding Guest Dresses

During the colder months, it’s natural that you’ll want to pick a dress that is warmer to wear or will need to include a coat or jacket in your outfit. One good option is to select a long-sleeve cocktail dress with a higher neck and slightly longer skirt. This will still look extremely elegant but will keep you warm during the wedding. Make sure any jacket or coat you wear over your dress will suit the theme – if in doubt, opt for a tailored blazer or jacket with suit-style lapels.

Summer Wedding Guest Dresses

The temperature may be soaring, but you still need to make sure your dress looks right for a wedding. Look out for light fabrics such as lace or chiffon. Pick a style with only one layer or light sheer layers that are breathable. Strapless and simple spaghetti strap dresses are both appropriate options. Opt for open sandals and don’t forget to add powder or blotting paper to your clutch, to keep your makeup looking fresh.

Emerald sweetheart short cocktail dress

What Not to Wear to a Wedding

There are only a few big fashion rules you really shouldn’t break when attending a wedding. The most important aspect is that you are dressed ‘formal’ enough. That means you should avoid anything that’s too casual or relaxed such as denim, sportswear including footwear, flip-flops, camouflage, clothing with text slogans, cartoons or crazy prints.

You should also make sure your outfit isn’t too revealing or sheer. If in doubt, make sure you have a set of nude underwear on underneath your dress to be completely safe that you’re covered. As well as selecting a dress that isn’t too casual, you also don’t want to make it look like you want to upstage the bride. Make sure you don’t show up in a very formal ballgown unless it’s outlined on the invitation as a formal event.

To help you figure out the biggest fashion faux pas or ‘don’ts’, here are your top questions answered.

Can you wear jeans to a wedding?

Don’t wear jeans to a wedding – make a little more effort to look dressed up. Denim is very casual and should never be a part of a wedding guest outfit unless the bride or groom has explicitly decided to make it a part of their theme.

Can you wear black to a wedding?

In the past, black was seen as a funeral color that’s not appropriate for weddings. It’s even been thought of as bad luck. Wearing a very gloomy black outfit isn’t a good idea. However, a black dress with floral embroidery, colorful accessories or bright jewelry is totally fine. Make sure your black outfit has some element of color or sparkle to make it appropriate.

Can you wear white to a wedding?

White is another tricky color that can throw people off. Even beige or grey can be mistaken for white. The main reason people are worried about wearing white is that it might look like you’re wearing a wedding dress. This could upset the bride. If you really want to wear white, the rule is that you are completely sure the dress can’t be mistaken for a wedding dress. It should include some other color, print or pattern somewhere on your outfit. If in doubt, it’s best not to wear white.

Can a wedding guest wear a long maxi dress?

Yes! Even if the event is semi-formal or a beach wedding, a long maxi dress can be a great style choice. You can pick a dress that features a high slit or opening to make it comfortable to walk and dance in. Just make sure the dress style is fancy enough for the event itself and doesn’t look too much like a beach cover-up or casual dress.

Can I wear a jumpsuit to a wedding?

Jumpsuits for wedding guests are hugely popular and an excellent style choice! Jumpsuits are a great option if you don’t enjoy wearing dresses or they just don’t match your style. Just follow the same rules as you would for a cocktail dress and make sure it’s the right look for the wedding itself. The only time a jumpsuit might not be right is if the wedding is very formal or black-tie.