Special Occasion

What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

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’s what to wear to a Summer Wedding, no matter what type it is or where it’s held.

What to Wear to a Formal Summer Wedding- a cocktail dress or dressy pantsuit.

What to Wear to a Casual Summer Wedding – a casual summer dress, skirt and top or jumpsuit.

Wedding guest attire city wedding




What to Wear to a 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 a 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.

wedding guest attire country wedding

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.

Wedding guest attire destination wedding

What to Wear to a Summer Beach Wedding or Wedding on the Water

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).

Wedding guest attire destination pink dress

More Tips for 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 of 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!

Need to know what to wear to a Garden Wedding? Here are some suggestions.


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14 thoughts on “What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

    1. Hi Linda, For a black-tie wedding you can wear a long or short cocktail dress in an elegant dark colour like black or navy. If it is a city black tie wedding then that means more dramatic so a floor-length gown that moves with you is quite appropriate.

  1. My son is getting married in Hawaii this May on the beach, of course. I’m 60 and I don’t have a waist anymore. Any suggestions for the mother of the groom? Thanks so much.

  2. I absolutely love the dress for the countryside wedding! What’s the label called and where can I buy it? Please help!

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Wedges are more casual than pumps and of course much more comfortable if you are walking outside so they’re a great choice for a more rustic style wedding. Cheers, Deborah

  3. This was great. I’d love to see a similar post for fall weddings when it’s too cool for bare legs.

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