The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Guest Dresses // How to Find the Perfect Dress

Wedding season is well underway, and especially with a lot of restrictions being lifted there’s sure to be more and more weddings over the next year. Finding the perfect dress to wear to a wedding can be so tricky. What do I wear to a Spring wedding? What about Summer? What about if it’s during the day? At night? Is it okay to wear black to a wedding? There are many factors to consider when picking out your wedding guest dress. I’ve created this ultimate guide to help you along the way and give you some ideas.

Seasonality

One of the first things to consider when picking out a wedding guest outfit is the season. A good rule of thumb is to go with seasonal colors.

Spring: pastels, muted colors like baby blue, pale pink or a muted yellow

Summer: More vibrant blues, reds or yellows

Fall: Toned down or jeweled colors like burnt orange or burgundy

Winter: Deep tones like navy or emerald green

Also keep in mind your shoes when thinking about seasonality – open toe in spring/summer closed toe in the fall/winter. No toes or white after Labor Day!


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Time of Day

Typically a good rule is this: short in the day, long at night. On top of length, you should also consider color when picking out your wedding guest dress. Lighter colors for the day, deeper tones for night.

Formality

The last thing to consider when looking for a wedding guest dress is formality of the event. If the wedding is considered formal, the invitation should say so. Look for terms like “evening reception,” “formal event,” and “black tie” on the invitation to note whether or not the attire will be formal. Typically formal weddings are also held later in the evening and at fancier venues – a wedding on a farm at sunset is probably not going to be formal, while an evening wedding at, say, a downtown winery will likely call for a more formal attire.


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Weather

This may seem pretty obvious but that’s because it is. Although, just as important. When picking out your dress consider what the weather will be like in the time of year at the location of the wedding. For example, if you’re going to a wedding that’s in a southern state anywhere from August-September, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s going to be very hot. So even though we might consider this time period fall, I wouldn’t choose anything thick, clingy or particularly dark in color. Match your colors with the season, but keep in mind what season it FEELS like wherever you’re going.

Venue

Another aspect to take into consideration is the venue. This will mostly affect your choice in accessories and shoes. If the wedding and reception are indoors, maybe bring a shawl to cover up with if you get cold (chances are this would happen during the ceremony and not so much the reception.) If the wedding is outside on a beautiful farm, skinny heels are definitely not a good option. Opt for a wedge or a thicker heel that won’t get stuck in the dirt as you walk.

Is it okay to wear black?

I feel this is a controversial topic (as controversial as selecting a dress can be.) When it comes to wearing black to a wedding my stance is that it should only be done in the evening for a formal event, OR if the bride and groom have established that everyone should wear black/black and white/etc. I’m a hard no on wearing black for any other occasion.

Some of my favorite places to shop for wedding guest dresses:

  • Lulu’s

  • Nordstrom

  • Rent the Runway (or any kind of event!)

Okay, I know that’s a lot to take in! I hope this has helped you narrow down your dress options to find that perfect outfit. I’ve included a round up of dresses by season below. And remember, these are just my thoughts and how I would go about choosing a wedding dress. Fashion has no rules and you should wear what makes you feel incredible!

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