25 Formal Wedding Guest Dresses for Elegant Evening Events

Get ready to dress to impress.
Three formal wedding guest dresses
Photos, left to right: Reformation, Rent the Runway, Rent the Runway
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Sofia Deeb
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Sofia Deeb
Assistant Fashion Commerce Editor
  • Sofia writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide with a specialty in fashion and e-commerce.
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Sofia was a writer for Santa Barbara Life and Style Magazine.
  • Sofia studied cultural anthropology and journalism at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Updated Apr 02, 2024
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So, you've recently received a wedding invite with a formal, black-tie or black-tie optional dress code. Consider it your green light to break out a formal wedding guest dress.

We're firm believers in the idea that you can never be overdressed, but when it comes to formal weddings, that sentiment certainly holds true. Look, it's not every day that you get to put on a pretty dress and get all dolled up, so why not make the most of it? Whether you're attending a classic wedding at an upscale hotel or a regal garden party at a country estate, there are plenty of formal wedding guest dresses to help you show up in style. And if browsing through seemingly endless options online doesn't sound like your idea of fun, you're in luck. We've rounded up our top picks to help simplify your search. Keep reading to discover your dream wedding guest dress (plus, plenty of helpful advice for shopping).

In this article:

Our Favorite Formal Wedding Guest Dresses

Good news: Just a few quick clicks and you can have your elegant evening outfit squared away. Take a look at the formal wedding guest dresses we've hand-picked for you:

1. Reformation Veria Silk Gown

Floral halter-neck Reformation formal wedding guest dress
Photo: Reformation

No matter the season, our love for this floral gown continues to blossom. Available in standard, petite and plus sizes, it's a stunning option for an elegant wedding with a formal dress code.

Size range: 0P - 24

Price at time of publication: $448

2. Bardot Capri Diamonte Slip Dress

Pale yellow embellished-strap slip dress
Photo: REVOLVE

This pale yellow pick is reminiscent of Kate Hudson's iconic satin gown in "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," and we are here for it. The low neckline, dramatic V-shaped back and crystal-embellished straps make it feel a little more fun than your average slip dress.

Size range: 2 - 12

Price at time of publication: $139

3. Significant Other Demi Backless Long-Sleeve Column Gown

Bright pink long-sleeve high-neck gown
Photo: Anthropologie

"This dress is simply incredible," says one reviewer—and we'd have to agree. From the bell sleeves and backless silhouette to the bold pink shade, this dress is guaranteed to earn you compliments. It also comes in a range of colors (including black), so there's something to suit every wedding venue, vibe and season.

Size range: 2 - 12

Price at time of publication: $286

4. ASTR the Label Floral Flutter Sleeve Satin Maxi Dress

Pink floral flutter sleeve maxi dress with slit
Photo: Nordstrom

With flutter sleeves, a romantic floral print and a daring—but still appropriate—slit, this pink dress was practically made for a spring wedding. All you need are some neutral accessories and a pretty updo to top off the look.

Size range: XS - XL

Price at time of publication: $109

5. Lulus Feeling Elegant Slate Blue Floral Print Lace-Up Slit Maxi Dress

Blue floral spaghetti strap dress with slit
Photo: Lulus

Looking for a showstopping wedding guest dress that won't break the bank? Lulus has you covered with this stunning light blue option that rings up under $100. With its pretty floral print, delicate straps and thigh-high slit, this pick looks a lot more luxe than its price tag suggests.

Size range: XS - XL

Price at time of publication: $98

6. Adrianna Papell Sleeveless Open Back Jersey Gown

Sleeveless square-neck jersey gown
Photo: Nordstrom

One word: Showstopping. With its chic square neckline, open back and gently draped skirt, this affordable wedding guest dress will be a go-to when it comes to formal events. You can never go wrong with a classic black dress.

Size range: 14W - 24W

Price at time of publication: $179

7. B Darlin Trendy Plus Size Sequined V-Neck Sleeveless Gown

Plus size slip dress with silver sequin pattern
Photo: Macy's

If the couple's wedding vibe is Gatsby glam, this silver sequin dress is certain to show you understand the assignment. The neutral colorway and seasonless silhouette make it perfect for any time of year, but if you're shopping for a fall or winter soirée, you can't go wrong with the hunter green or black versions.

Size range: 14W - 24W

Price at time of publication: $149

8. Sachin & Babi One-Shoulder Bow Column Gown

Sachin & Babi one-shoulder bow navy gown
Photo: Neiman Marcus

Like all great packages, this gorgeous sheath silhouette is tied together with a bow. To say you'll look like a gift in it would be an understatement.

Size range: 0 - 14

Price at time of publication: $895

9. Petal & Pup Marietta Dress

One-shoulder orange floral print long dress
Photo: Petal & Pup

Found: the perfect dress for a formal wedding on the beach. A one-shoulder silhouette, whimsical tiered details and a pretty tropical print make this dress a no-brainer for destination celebrations.

Size range: 0 - 12

Price at time of publication: $89

10. ELOQUII Satin Maxi Dress

Plus-size long-sleeve black wrap dress
Photo: ELOQUII

Your classic LBD just got a major upgrade. With a flattering wrap silhouette and elegant blouson sleeves, this plus-size wedding guest dress is guaranteed to earn you plenty of compliments. Looking for something brighter? It also comes in magenta, mauve and periwinkle.

Size range: 14 - 32

Price at time of publication: $150

11. Milla Coral Spaghetti Strap Pleated Maxi Dress

Pleated coral gown with spaghetti straps
Photo: Milla

Heading somewhere tropical to celebrate the couple? With its coral shade, pleated mesh details and twirl-worthy layered skirt, this gown is perfect for the party. It also comes in pink, green and blue, or—if a fall wedding is on the horizon—the deep brown hue has you covered.

Size range: XXS - XXL

Price at time of publication: $690

12. Bronx and Banco Zoe Gown

Bronx and Banco navy V-neck formal wedding guest dress
Photo: Rent the Runway

Maybe you don't want to splurge on a dressy gown if you're only planning to wear it once. Trust us, we get it. Thankfully, there are plenty of options available to rent, like this navy blue stunner. The deep V-neckline and thigh-high slit are balanced by the billowing sleeves.

Size range: XS - XXL

Price at time of publication: Rent from $75

13. Mac Duggal Brocade Puff Sleeve High Low Gown

Floral puff-sleeve high-low gown
Photo: Mac Duggal

You'll feel like royalty in this regal ball gown. With a high-low hem and short puff sleeves, it's as fun as it is chic. Plus, take a look at that stunning floral pattern!

Size range: 2 - 18

Price at time of publication: $798

14. BHLDN Iris One-Shoulder Cut-Out Printed Chiffon Gown

Beige one-shoulder long-sleeve floral print gown
Photo: Anthropologie

How's this for a showstopping formal wedding guest dress? We love the flattering asymmetric silhouette of this chiffon gown almost as much as we love its charming floral print.

Size range: XS - XXL

Price at time of publication: $398

15. Reformation Barrow Silk Dress

Strapless blue reformation dress with slit
Photo: Reformation

This classic strapless dress can easily be dressed up or down (in other words, it'll be your new go-to for weddings). It also comes in a range of color options and floral prints, so there's something to suit every season.

Size range: 0 - 12

Price at time of publication: $398

16. Lulus Good Times Only Black One-Shoulder Maxi Dress

Lulus one shoulder black formal wedding guest maxi dress
Photo: Lulus

Real talk: We've never met a simple black dress we didn't love, and this sexy one-shoulder number is certainly no exception. If you need a foolproof dress for an evening wedding, this is it.

Size range: XXS - XL

Price at time of publication: $79

17. Ieena for Mac Duggal Ruched Tiered High Neck Bow A Line Gown

Mac Duggal red tiered halter dress
Photo: Macy's

High heels, red dress. There's a reason the Jonas Brothers love the iconic combo, and we think you will too once you get your hands on this gorgeous evening gown with a dressy bow neck.

Size range: 0 - 18

Price at time of publication: $398

18. SAU LEE x REVOLVE Heidi Gown

Black strapless A-line gown with slit
Photo: Revolve

Sometimes less is more, and this strapless gown is proof. The A-line silhouette and black shade make it an instant classic, but the thigh-high slit, boned bodice and side pockets (Yes, pockets!) make it such a showstopper.

Size range: 0 - 12

Price at time of publication: $550

19. Atsu Sally Bow Dress

One-shoulder peach gown with oversized bow
Photo: Anthropologie

For a gown that combines style with comfort, we love this elegant one-shoulder dress. The oversized bow and tiered hem give it such a fun look, while the flowy silhouette ensures comfortable dancing all night long. It comes in four bold colors and prints as well as standard, petite and plus sizes.

Size range: XXS Petite - 3X

Price at time of publication: $248

20. Dress The Population Ava Gown

Floral embroidered Dress The Population formal wedding guest maxi dress
Photo: Rent the Runway

In our books, a floral dress is always a good idea. This all-over embroidered look in particular is sure to turn heads at your next special occasion—especially if that happens to be a garden wedding.

Size range: XS - XL

Price at time of publication: Rent from $65

21. V. Chapman June Corset Front-Slit Gown

Strapless V. Chapman pink corset formal wedding guest dress
Photo: Anthropologie

Between its corset bodice and elegantly draped skirt, this strapless gown is giving major it-girl vibes. It's also available in five different color options.

Size range: 0 - 20

Price at time of publication: $415

22. Chiara Boni La Petite Robe Rhinestone-Embellished Illusion Column Gown

Navy embellished gown with sheer long sleeves
Photo: Neiman Marcus

We love this dress for mothers of the bride and guests alike. With a ruched illusion overlay and rhinestone embellishments, it's an elegant pick for any formal affair.

Size range: 2 - 16

Price at time of publication: $1,130

23. Mac Duggal Ruffle Tiered Floral Cut-Out Chiffon Gown

Blue Mac Duggal floral wedding guest maxi dress
Photo: Mac Duggal

Choosing this fashion-forward gown for your next formal wedding is a no-brainer. Deciding between the vast array of vibrant colors and floral prints, on the other hand, is where things get tough.

Size range: 0 - 16

Price at time of publication: $598

24. V. Chapman Veronica Corset Ruffle Side-Slit Dress

V. Chapman light green ruffle detail formal wedding guest dress
Photo: Anthropologie

This pastel hue will have you looking better then *mint* condition. A bustier bodice, belted waist and ruffle detailing are just a few of its charming details we can't get enough of.

Size range: 0 - 20

Price at time of publication: $575

25. Ieena for Mac Duggal One Shoulder Floral Gown

Ieena for Mac Duggal floral one-shoulder formal wedding guest dress
Photo: Rent the Runway

This floral one-shoulder gown has 'spring wedding' written all over it. Paired with statement heels, it'll certainly be a look to remember.

Size range: 0 - 14

Price at time of publication: Rent from $70

What Is a Formal Wedding Guest Dress?

A formal wedding guest dress is a long gown that you would wear to a formal or black-tie dress code event. They differ from cocktail dresses in that they're slightly more elevated in design. A formal dress for a wedding guest is typically made from high-quality materials such as crepe, silk or velvet. It may also feature eye-catching embellishments.

Midi and mini dresses are not considered to be formal. Only dresses that fall to the ankle or floor are considered to be a part of the dress code. Because of this, long dresses for weddings often require tailoring to be hemmed to your exact measurements.

When Should I Wear a Formal Dress to a Wedding?

Simply put, if the wedding's dress code is either black-tie or formal, you should consider wearing a full-length formal gown. However, there are a few distinctions to consider. All black-tie wedding guest dresses are considered formal, but not all formal dresses are considered to be black tie. (Confusing, right?) That's because black-tie dress codes are synonymous with black or dark-colored attire. Formal dress codes, on the other hand, are less strict when it comes to colors and patterns. No matter what, you should consider dressing up your look with accessories. And of course, steer clear of overly casual footwear, and instead opt for heels, wedges or dressy flats.

How to Find Formal Wedding Dresses for Guests

Whether you're shopping online or in-store, be sure to keep an eye out for these key features when choosing a formal dress to wear to a wedding:

  • Silhouette: A formal dress code is your sign to keep things classy (but hey, we know you always do). If possible, try to avoid bodycon dresses, as well as dresses that reveal too much skin. Insead, opt for classic silhouettes that provide adequate coverage. You can never go wrong with A-line or sheath dresses.

  • Length: As mentioned above, formal dresses for weddings should be floor-length. Save your mini and midi dresses for the pre-wedding events (they're perfect for the rehearsal dinner) and choose a long dress for a formal event.

  • Color: If the wedding you're attending has a black-tie dress code, choose a dress in a darker hue, such as emerald, sapphire or burgundy. You can never go wrong with black, either. If the invite just says "formal," choose the color or pattern that you feel most confident in. Of course, you should always avoid wearing white, or colors that could be mistaken for white in photos, unless otherwise instructed by the couple.

Where to Buy Formal Dresses for Wedding Guests

Haven't found what you're looking for yet? Not to worry. When it comes to fancy dresses for weddings, there are plenty of options for every style and budget. Here are five of our favorite places to shop for wedding guest dresses:

Reformation

When it comes to special occasion dresses for wedding guests, Reformation never misses. The retailer has a range of long dresses sure to make a statement, from of-the-moment styles to classic gowns you'll turn to again and again.

Size range: XSP - 3X | Prices from: $148

Anthropologie

Anthropologie is our go-to shop for all things wedding guest attire. Not only do they carry a wide variety of outfit options for every dress code, but they also have shoes, jewelry and other accessories, so you can seamlessly complete your look.

Size range: 00P - 26W | Prices from: $138

Mac Duggal

You can't go wrong with the classics, and Mac Duggal proves that. Their wide selection of elegant wedding guest dresses for formal weddings offers a little something for everyone to love. Oh, and if you're looking to shine bright, they've got plenty of options with sparkles.

Size range: 0 - 26W | Prices from: $298

Lulus

You don't have to break the bank to attend a formal wedding. Lulus has plenty of gorgeous evening wedding guest dresses that are under $100. With the money you'll be saving, you can even throw in a pair of shoes and some accessories as well—score!

Size range: XXS - 3XL | Prices from: $69

Rent the Runway

Maybe you don't anticipate attending too many formal weddings in the future (after all, semi-formal is the most common dress code for nuptials). In that case, you might not want to splurge on an expensive gown that you'll never wear again. Instead, consider renting from Rent the Runway. With one of their convenient packages, you can rent all the looks you'll need for the event, then send them back when you're done.

Size range: 0 - 22 | Rentals from: $30

Kate Ferris contributed to the reporting of this article.

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