I love attending events where I get to dress up. And weddings are totally up my alley. Hey, I can’t help it! I’m from a large family of seven girls.
Sadly, I don’t get to attend a lot of weddings. So sometimes it can be difficult knowing or deciding what to wear to such a unique life function. My friends need to hurry up and tie the knot. I’m sure they know who they are. Anyways, a couple of weeks ago, I was honored to be at a beautiful outdoor summer wedding.
It was a daytime summer wedding done in an open tent overlooking Lake Washington. Here’s a picture of the exact location they used (not actual wedding photo).
Over the years, I’ve gotten requests to share some wedding guest outfits. I live in interior Alaska with limited shopping destinations. As someone who breathes and lives shopping online, I’m happy to help :)
So, this begs the question of what to wear to a summer wedding. Really, what exactly do you wear to a wedding? Let’s dig in.
WEDDING GUEST DRESS CODE: HOW TO DECIDE WHAT TO WEAR TO A SUMMER WEDDING
The dress is only the first, and probably the most important piece, of your outfit. The first place you should check is the formal invitation you received for the wedding for the dress code. If the couple created an online wedding website, you might be able to get more information from there.
If you did not receive a dress code along with your invite for the summer wedding all hope is not lost.
Click on image to shop my look
Still with me? Good :)
You have to also pay attention to the location of the wedding. For example, a church wedding calls for a more conservative look. A beach wedding suggests a floral, flowy summer dress.
A backyard wedding suggests a more relaxed outfit. A country club wedding might call for an outfit suitable for the location (but not trashy). And a barn wedding? A look appropriate for the occasion like a lace dress and casual chic hues might suffice.
And if all else fails, ask the bride or wedding planner. This was precisely what I did to clarify that the bride really wanted floor-length gowns.
Here is a special selection of dresses that you can wear to a summer wedding. You might be able to shop your wardrobe and restyle a dress you already own. This shoppable selection is just a guidance filled with foolproof dresses you can wear.
And if your up for statement summer dresses and don’t mind the fitted, bodycon style of dresses, here are a few scuba dresses from the same retailer I bought my dress.
CAN YOU WEAR A BLACK DRESS TO A WEDDING?
So for this particular wedding, the bride and groom had explicitly requested that invited guests stick to a “Black and White” theme for their special day.
I already know what you’re thinking: “Can you wear black to a wedding? Can you wear white to a wedding? I thought wearing black or white to a wedding was an absolute no-no?!
Yes. Contrary to popular believe you actually can wear a black dress to a wedding. Now, the jury is still out on the appropriateness of wearing a white dress to a wedding. The last thing you want to do is to compete with the bride on her special day.
While I will not personally wear white to a wedding, it might be a good idea to wear a midi length off-white floral dress or champagne colored dress if you must wear a color close to white.
Also, I recommend you wear a floor-length gown with caution because it might be seen as a close competition to the bride’s wedding gown. Now, if the couple requests a solid white color, then, by all means, rock a white dress to the wedding.
CHEAP WEDDING GUESTS DRESSES ON AMAZON
The key here is to follow the couples request and dress etiquette. For this wedding I attended, here’s what the bride and groom wanted:
“Our wedding will have a “Black & White” theme. Requesting formal attire to include Only black or white gown for Woman and black or white suit or tuxedo for Men.”
You read that right! BLACK. WHITE. GOWN. Even the bridesmaids were donned in breathtaking gowns. The bride and the groom still took home the trophy on their special day. Frilancy gave me special permission to share this photo from her wedding.
She’ll have a detailed recap with many more photos on her blog, Friscloset shortly. Check out her traditional bridal shower. Now that we’ve figured out what dress to wear to a wedding (or at least have a better idea), let’s talk about shoes and accessories.
What shoes and accessories should I wear to a summer wedding?
I believe that open toe sandals are more flattering and visually appealing for summer weddings. I opted for a d’Orsay style closed-toe shoe mostly for comfort and because I knew that my shoes were not going to show.
I pulled up my dress to show you the pair of low-heeled pumps I wore to the wedding. I figured that if the heels somehow showed, then the details of the textured bow would be a nice reveal. Am I right?
To play it safe, a pair of open-toe dress sandals (like this one) is a good bet. It goes well with any often. Be sure to consider the height of the heels and how much walking or standing you will be doing.
The last thing you want is to ruin a perfectly gorgeous outfit by trading your heels for flats, flip-flops or barefoot because you’re dying from blisters.
Going back to the location of the summer wedding, consider what kind of floor you’ll be walking on. Heeled sandals will be a pain on grass (backyard wedding) and loose sand (beach wedding).
What bag and earrings should you wear with your wedding guest outfit?
100% of the time, a nice clutch purse is the way to go! Clutch purses are easy to haul around, and they add flavor to your outfit. All you need is your phone, key, a few cards, lipstick, and a couple tissue paper. That.is.all.
I suggest pairing your clutch to be similar or complementary color to your shoes. And if you’re worried that your hand is going to be tied up, opt for a clutch with a removable chain strap.
The embellished clutch (similar) I am holding has a detachable chain strap that folds into the clutch without taking too much space.
As for earrings, necklace, and bracelets, the style of wedding guest dress and location of the event will determine the type of jewelry to wear. Again, the bride is the focus, but that does not mean you should not put some effort into your outfit.
For my look, the dress has a high neck. I could have chosen to wear a metallic choker. But since I already have a pair of statement earrings and an embellished clutch, I skipped wearing a necklace.
As per usual, I’m wearing a pair of Amrita Singh chandelier earrings (on sale). It is surprisingly lightweight and did not bother me throughout the ceremony and reception. Amrita Singh, a New York-based brand is my go-to destination for affordable statement fashion jewelry that lasts a long time.
This brand’s jewelry last a long time and don’t peel or change color. I’ve had one of their signature reversible necklace (styled with this African print dress) for more five years now. Amrita Singh offers discount often.
So if there’s any piece you have your eyes on, add it to your wishlist and shopping cart. Chances are that there’ll be a sale within 2 weeks ;)
Lastly, be sure you are wearing appropriate underwear.
VPL (visible panty lines) cheapens your outfit. Seamless and no-show panties are a great idea any time. And if you’re up for it, a no-show v-string panty is an alternative. I get most of mine from Victoria’s Secret.
And for your bra, wear a pair that will hold your boobs in place, do not dig into your skin, and that fit with the cut of your dress. Again I get most of mine from Victoria’s Secret bombshell line. Nordstrom carries a great selection of the highly praised Natori bras, which are worth checking out.
I am wearing a pair of NuBra stick-on bra with this black gown. The bra is expensive, but it is worth every penny. Believe me, I’ve tried cheaper options and was left clingy to my boobs when I started sweating. And I have small boobs! Don’t risk it.
They say you can wear the NuBra up to 50 times, but I’m sure I’ve worn mine more than that.
I’m not wearing shapewear with this dress. I’m lucky to still be in great shape. I went through a phase with my body and bought two shapewear that I never wear. I couldn’t see a difference with and without shapewear. And the shapewear rolled up every damn time!
It is true what they say about Spanx shapewear. I tried a pair of SPANX Higher Power mid-thigh shaping shorts from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Not only was it lightweight, but it also did not roll up! However, I ended up returning it because I really don’t need one.
I hope this comprehensive guide helps you decode what to wear to a summer wedding this season.
Your turn! As a wedding guest, what would you wear to a summer wedding? Feel free to chime in if I missed anything :)
Photos by SNH Photos
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