If it’s been a long time since you attended a summer wedding, you’re probably feeling stressed about what to wear. What color dress should you buy, should it be a solid or print, long or short, what style? The questions go on and on.
To find your answer, look for clues in the place of the wedding/reception. A formal church wedding in the city followed by a large, swanky reception at a posh hotel calls for a very different dress than what you’d wear to a small, low-key ceremony outside in the country followed by a reception at the old mill wedding hall.
With weddings all over the place these days, it’s hard to decipher the dress code. So, here are three popular wedding settings, and the summer wedding guest dresses that would look lovely at each.
Dressy Summer Wedding in the City
Big City weddings are trendy cocktail affairs with a cosmopolitan vibe. They are usually held in a restaurant or club, on a rooftop, or at any other type of classy urban venue. Your goal should be to look modern and sophisticated. An elegant shift dress with a touch of drama like this hot pink one-shoulder dress is just what you need for a big city wedding. Choose a vivid summer hue or a cool, graphic print.
A pair of statement earrings or a statement necklace and high heels help create the chic look. As for your bag? Keep your look sleek with a ladylike structured clutch that looks like a piece of art.
Style Tip: The most sophisticated looks are minimalist and non-fussy. Keep your look long, lean, and clean.
Casual Summer Wedding in the Countryside
“Rustic Chic” is the theme du jour for many summer weddings, meaning more couples are tying the knot in barns, fields, orchards, and vineyards. When you are invited to one of these events, play into the relaxed, happy theme by choosing a sweet dress.
A proper length is one that hits the knee or just above it, but the popular “midi” length, which hits mid-calf, can work too. A floral print matches the homespun vibe, but if that’s not your thing, any other classic print from stripes to polka dots can work too. A pretty solid color can work too. Nothing dark or dreary.
Instead of heels, which will sink into the grass, opt for a pair of low wedges. Round out your look with some pretty, soft-looking jewelry.
Style Tip: If the ceremony is on a hot, sunny day, you might want to take along a feminine wide-brimmed hat. This can look very pretty at an outdoor country wedding.
Relaxed Summer Beach Wedding
More and more couples are skipping the church and opting for a seaside ceremony. In this case, your summer wedding guest attire would need to be more casual.
Maxi dresses are a fantastic option for a beach wedding. They’re relaxed but still glamorous and a bit boho. Pair a flowy tropical maxi like this one above with wedges to help you maneuver the sandy ground. Go for an ethereal look. Ocean-themed accessories or jewelry in beachy tones and textures are perfect outfit makers, but hippie-chic pieces work too. Don’t forget a shawl to wrap your shoulders in for when the sunsets!
Don’t forget a pair of sunglasses, and you may even need a shawl when the sun begins to set.
Style Tip: Keep your maxi fancy enough for a wedding by choosing one in a luxe fabric (think jersey, lined chiffon, basically anything but basic stretch cotton).
Other things to remember about How to Dress for a Summer Wedding
- Keep it classy. A wedding isn’t the time for looking sexy! Your body should be 2/3 covered to make sure you’re appropriate. Not sure how much skin is too much? Err on the side of caution with more conservative necklines and hems that hit just above the knee or longer.
- A wedding with a church or temple ceremony means you may need to pack a light wrap to cover your shoulders as a sign of respect. Not familiar with the religion? Ask a fellow guest if this or other forms of modesty, such as head coverings, are required.
- The earlier the wedding, the more casual it tends to be. This doesn’t give a green light to denim, but it does mean that a lower heel and more casual dress might be a better fit in the morning/early afternoon versus late afternoon/evening.
- If you’re unsure how fancy the wedding will be, you can also look at the invitation: Kraft paper invitations mean a more laid-back wedding while lots of Calligraphy means it might be time to think evening gowns.
- The golden rule for being an appropriately dressed wedding guest? Look pulled-together without standing out. After all, the bride is the one who’s supposed to stand out today!