What To Wear To A Wedding Reception Over 40, 50

The wedding invitation has arrived. Now the big question is, “What will I wear?”

Naturally, it’s all about the bride on her wedding day, but that doesn’t mean that you, as a guest, shouldn’t look fabulous, too. There aren’t very many occasions to dress up these days, so if you’re going to a wedding, seize the chance to wear something unique and shine.

Here are some things to think about when trying to decide what to wear to a wedding reception when you are over 40, 50+.

pink wedding guest dress


1. Wear Something Special

Our is a very casual world, but a wedding is important. A lot of time and effort has gone into planning to make everything beautiful, so it’s important you recognize the need to dress up. Don’t think you can just throw on a nice work dress and be done with it. You’ll want to wear something dressier and more glamorous.

Follow the dress code on the wedding invitation, and don’t be afraid to ask if there isn’t one written. At a wedding, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed!


dress | sandals | clutch | earrings

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2. Consider the Venue and Time of Day

What to wear to a wedding reception depends on several things. For example, where the wedding is being held and when. A beach wedding at 1 pm will be far more casual than a church wedding at 4 pm, followed by a country club reception at 6 pm. Regardless of the time or place, all wedding receptions require a certain degree of decorum.

Women have more flexibility when dressing for a wedding reception than men. At some weddings, even a skirt and blouse or dressy evening pants worn with a dressy top are acceptable options.

A dressy jumpsuit can be appropriate too. However, for most weddings, a dress is a perfect choice.


Wedding Guest - Blue One Shoulder

dress | sandals | bag | earrings

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3. Avoid Wearing White

While there are no formal rules, it’s common sense not to wear a white dress. White is reserved for the bride. Even if the bride is not wearing white, white makes one think of a bride, so stay clear out of respect. If you prefer a lighter color, opt for a pretty pastel like this one in blush pink.



Silver Illusion Neckline Dress



4. Don’t Flash Too Much Skin

The length of your dress matters. A ladylike length would be no shorter than about an inch or two above the knee. Also, avoid low-cut dresses or dresses that are too loud, bright, or busy. You want to stand out, but not in a negative way. You’re not going to a nightclub. A great way for an over-40 gal to show a little skin but not look trashy is to opt for an off-the-shoulder dress or dress with some sheer fabric. It’s subtly sexy but still looks classy.

Wedding guest dress - Navy Lace
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5. Slip-On some Dressy Shoes

Chunky, heavy, serious business shoes aren’t dressy enough for a wedding. Your shoes should be delicate, dressier, and a little sexy too. For example, metallic heels add a touch of glam. You’ll want to hit the dance floor, so be sure you can move comfortably in whatever shoes you choose.


dress | sandals | clutch | earrings


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6. Wear Elegant Jewelry

A wedding is a perfect time to bring out your fine jewelry. A gold bangle and pair of gold and pearl dangle earring are the perfect complement to your dress and shoes. Keep earrings to a reasonable length- no more than 2″ below your earlobe would make sense.


dress | sandals | clutch | earrings

shop the look


7. Carry an Evening Bag

Leave your heavy, everyday bag at home and opt for something more evening-like. A clutch or small chain handbag is a perfect choice for the occasion.


Wedding guest Dress- gold floral

cocktail dress

8. Don’t Forget a Wrap

You will likely need something to cover your arms because many cocktail dresses are sleeveless. A wrap will come in handy at the church, in an air-conditioned reception hall, or on a patio if the reception is outside. Make sure your wrap is delicate and ladylike.

Did you look fabulous recently at a wedding or semi-formal party? Please send me a photo. I would love to post it.

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44 thoughts on “What To Wear To A Wedding Reception Over 40, 50

  1. Help, please!

    Who: 55-year-old, size 22 with all the curves, must wear flats with orthotics
    Wedding: October 27, northern Ohio, ceremony and reception in the same location with BOWLING

    I am helping the bride and mother of the bride on the day. What I wear needs to handle set up, event, and cleanup after. The venue has very limited time for decorating and tearing down, so I will not have time to change.

    I also want to look fabulous! I would love your suggestions – thank you!

    1. Hi Lisa, A pair of lovely black dress pants and a cocktail top sounds good to me. You can move around in pants, and you don’t have to worry about spilling anything on black. Black bottoms are also very slimming. Then on top, wear something more glam like a sparkly top or top with some pretty detail. Check out – their separates section for a wide range of pants in plus sizes and beautiful tops to go with them. Best wishes!

  2. My niece is getting married in March; it’s an evening wedding in Missouri. I am 45 yrs old and don’t like to show my legs. I don’t dress up at all, so a little lost on what to wear for this formal event.

  3. Hi Deborah,

    This is Jin. I have a wedding at the end of August. I want to ask you’re advice for my outfit. I am size 12, and I am a Chinese woman.

    Many thanks.


  4. Hi, I have a wedding in July but nothing to wear. I’m a size 16, But I would require a size or two larger. Please could you help?

  5. Hi, can anyone help? I Am 55, and my best friend is getting married in November. I know it’s a bit away, but I don’t know what to buy. I am a large-framed lady, and I need help.

  6. Thank you for this post! I’m 73, and a great-niece is marrying on May 7 in the Dallas area. I started looking a couple of weeks ago and ordered some items from Nordstrom to try.

  7. How timely! Before receiving your post today, I‘d ordered the Kay Unger dress for an end-of-May wedding in Atlanta. Thank you for all you do!

  8. Thanks for the tip about considering the venue and time of day when deciding what to wear. I want to find a cute chiffon dress for my friend’s wedding. Your tips should simplify the process of shopping for the proper clothing.

  9. Nice post. It is a very informative post. Thanks for sharing this information with us. Keep posting and keep sharing like this.

    1. Hi Hira, the shopping links are at the bottom of the post under shop the center. Do you see all the tiny photos? Click on those to go directly to the store and buy.

  10. I love your advice and styling tips! I have a wedding coming up in the Fall, and I am already looking for my outfit. On this freezing day in New York, I want you to know how much I love this blog! Thank you!!!

  11. Can you do an article on wraps to go with these dresses? That’s another hard thing to come up with, I think!

    1. Hi Sony, You can wear a full-length dress to any wedding. It depends on the formality of the wedding and the dress. For example, a beachy maxi would look lovely at a destination wedding:
      You could wear a floral chiffon dress to a garden wedding:
      and even a full formal gown for an evening wedding. There’s a maxi for every wedding.

  12. Just have to say . . . If I spent this much money on an outfit, the happy couple would be very disappointed in their wedding gift. I’d have no money left over to spend on it.

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