SPECIAL OCCASION

What To Wear To A Wedding Reception Over 40

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 find the right dress.

Wedding Guest Dress fuschia

1. Wear Something Special

Our is a very casual world, but a wedding a very important event. 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 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!

Wedding guest Dress- gold floral

2. Consider the Venue and Time of Day

What to wear to a wedding reception depends on many things, including where the wedding is being held and when.  A beach wedding taking place 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 it comes to 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 the majority of weddings, a dress is a perfect choice.

3. Avoid Wearing White

While there are no formal rules, it’s common sense to forgo wearing a white dress. White should be 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.

Wedding guest dress - Navy Lace

4. Don’t Reveal 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.

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.

Lace Dress

6. Wear Elegant Jewelry

A wedding is the 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.

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.

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.

Here are some more wedding guest dresses in stores now.

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

Join the Conversation

34 thoughts on “What To Wear To A Wedding Reception Over 40

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

  2. How timely! Prior to 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!

  3. Thanks for the tip to consider 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 right dress.

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

  5. Does a wedding that is “black tie preferred” require a long gown or is a dressy cocktail dress appropriate?

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

  6. 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 very cold day in New York I want you to know how much I love this blog! Thank you!!!

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

  8. Just gotta 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.