These 25 Wedding Guest Cocktail Dresses Are Cute AND Elegant

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Three wedding guest cocktail dresses
Photos, left to right: Show Me Your Mumu, Nordstrom, Petal + Pup
Sofia Deeb
by Sofia Deeb
Updated May 03, 2024
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Our must-have for wedding season? A stylish wedding guest cocktail dress. With a midi length and stylish silhouette, they offer the perfect balance between formal and semi-formal, and frankly, we're big fans.

If your mailbox is full of save-the-dates, chances are you're in need of some cocktail wedding attire, and we're here to help you dress the part. To put it simply, a cocktail dress is any semi-formal dress designed to be worn for special occasions. They can easily be dressed up or down, depending on the shoes and accessories you pair them with. What sets cocktail dresses apart from other styles is their length. While formal gowns are typically floor-length, cocktail dresses are shorter, falling anywhere from around the knee to the mid- or lower calf.

Below, we've gathered a variety of the best cocktail dresses for weddings, organized by season (you're welcome). We've even included some designer rentals that you can wear and return on the cheap. Now that you know what a cocktail dress looks like, it's time to shop!

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When it comes to cocktail dresses for weddings, you have plenty of options. Most colors and patterns are acceptable (just steer clear of white. . .but you already knew that). Of course, accessories are always encouraged; fine jewelry, dressy shoes and elegant clutches are all great ways to enhance your cocktail outfit. And, as always, consider the season and venue while you're shopping for your look. Below, we're breaking down a few of the most popular dresses for cocktail weddings.

  • Midi Cocktail Dress: Cocktail attire wedding guest dresses are often midi in length, making them perfect for striking a balance between casual and dressy.
  • Satin Cocktail Dress: A satin slip dress is a popular choice for a cocktail dress code wedding. Not only are they ultra-versatile, but they're also timeless and can be easily accessorized.
  • Wrap Cocktail Dress: A wrap silhouette is as comfortable as it is classic. When it comes to cocktail weddings, opt for a wrap dress in fabrics such as satin, velvet or crepe.
  • Floral Cocktail Dress: Floral cocktail dresses are the perfect choice for spring (and all year round TBH). Pair one with nude-colored block heels and a rattan bag for the next cocktail dress code wedding on your calendar.
  • Long-Sleeve Cocktail Dress: It's true—cocktail dresses don't have to be sleeveless! Long-sleeved cocktail dresses are an excellent choice for the fall and winter months when you don't feel like lugging around a coat all night.

Seasonless Cocktail Dresses for Wedding Guests

Cocktail dress styles vary from season to season. While strapless and sleeveless styles are certainly popular in the spring and summer months, there are plenty of options with sleeves to rock in the winter and fall as well. However, you'll find that there are lots of classic options to choose from that can work for any time of year. If you're looking for a style you can always count on, start with these five seasonless faves.

Sleeveless Little Black Dress

Square-neckline sleeveless black dress
Photo: Lulus

Here's an example of a timeless cocktail dress you'll never go wrong with—no matter the season. With its on-trend square neckline, tasteful slit and comfortable fabric, this one will keep you cool in the spring and summer but pair perfectly with a jacket or faux-fur wrap in the fall and winter.

Teal Asymmetric Midi Dress

Asymmetrical neckline teal maxi dress
Photo: Petal + Pup

We can always count on Petal + Pup for cute cocktail dresses for weddings, and this pick is no exception. Simple yet statement-making thanks to the asymmetric neckline, it's a no-brainer for any time of year. The teal shade can easily work for warmer or cooler weather depending on your accessories. But if you're going for a different vibe, it's available in nine other colors.

Bold Kimono-Sleeve Maxi Dress

Bright pink kimono sleeve maxi dress
Photo: ELOQUII

A short kimono sleeve and bold pink shade make this dress a total standout—and appealing throughout the seasons. Available in sizes up to 32, you can't go wrong with this plus-size pick.

Simple Blue Slip Dress

Blue crinkle spaghetti strap slip dress
Photo: Reformation

A satin slip dress is a classic option for weddings of all seasons. This light blue option features a square neckline, crinkled fabric and side slits for extra movement. One thing is for sure: You'll definitely rewear this look.

Classic Wrap Cocktail Dress

Mauve short-sleeve wrap dress from Lulus
Photo: Lulus

A wrap dress is a timeless, flattering pick you'll turn to again and again for cocktail weddings, especially in a seasonless shade like mauve. Pair it with a sleek jacket and pointed-toe pumps or a summery bag and metallic sandals—you've got options.

Spring Cocktail Dresses for Wedding Guests

Spring is a wonderful season for weddings and wedding attire. We've pulled a variety of spring cocktail dress styles—from puff-sleeve designs to dreamy floral prints. Plan for a surprise spring shower—pack a jacket or shawl and an extra pair of shoes, just in case.

3D Floral Midi Dress

Pink 3D floral sleeveless midi cocktail dress
Photo: Lulus

At the intersection of sweet and sexy, you'll find this floral midi dress. 3D floral appliqués and a bright pink shade are just a few of its standout features. Pair it with a neutral bag and heeled sandals for a spring wedding.

Ruffled Green Midi Dress

Light green square-neckline ruffled midi cocktail dress
Photo: Show Me Your Mumu

Whimsical ruffle detailing gives this sheath midi dress a distinctive spring look. Go with Moss Green for a garden wedding, a Barbiecore vibe with the Pink Lilac, or choose from one of the multiple other color options.

Short-Sleeve Blue Jacquard Dress

Short-sleeve V-neck jacquard floral midi dress in light blue
Photo: ASTR The Label

There's nothing like a little texture to make a dress look more formal. A classic with a twist, strut your way into the season in this short-sleeve jacquard midi dress and a comfortable pair of block sandals.

Tie-Sleeve Floral Midi Dress

Tie-strap dark floral spring cocktail dress
Photo: Reformation

Florals were practically made for spring, so you'll fit right in with this lovely midi dress. It has a fitted bodice, tie straps and tasteful leg slit. Plus, it's available in both standard and plus sizes.

Short Printed Wedding Guest Dress

Short balloon sleeve floral print yellow dress
Photo: Tuckernuck

Just because it's spring doesn't mean you can't sport a fun sleeve. With a structured shift silhouette, chic covered buttons and a bright floral pattern, this pick is sure to shine at your next garden party wedding.

Summer Cocktail Dresses for Wedding Guests

It's important to consider the wedding location and venue when choosing your summer cocktail dress. For example, if you're looking for a cocktail dress for a beach wedding, a lightweight fabric or something sleeveless might make sense. Keep scrolling to find some of the best summer cocktail dresses for wedding receptions, no matter your style.

Pleated Yellow Trapeze Dress

Pleated yellow one-shoulder trapeze midi dress
Photo: Petal + Pup

How about a dress to match the summer sun? With a one-shoulder neckline, stunning pleats and a trapeze silhouette, this vibrant yellow cocktail dress is guaranteed to turn heads for all the right reasons.

Off-The-Shoulder Floral Maxi Dress

Off-the-shoulder puff sleeve pink and red floral maxi dress
Photo: Anthropologie

This printed maxi dress has summer written all over it. With an off-the-shoulder neckline and graphic floral print, it will keep you cool and comfortable as you're sipping cocktails under the sun at a tropical destination wedding.

Strapless Floral Ruched Dress

Strapless ruched floral print plus-size maxi dress
Photo: Nordstrom

Looking to beat the heat? This lightweight floral dress, available in sizes 1X to 4X, will have you feeling just as cool as you look thanks to its strapless silhouette and breezy tiered hem.

Fitted One-Shoulder Cocktail Dress

Brown one-shoulder fitted cocktail dress
Photo: REVOLVE

Attending a destination wedding this summer? Here's a cocktail dress you'll want to add to your packing list. With a one-shoulder silhouette and trendy brown shade, it will look perfect with a straw clutch and strappy sandals.

Simple Strapless Silk Dress

Strapless silk dress in bright pink
Photo: Reformation

Get ready to show off your summer glow in this strapless number. Its streamlined silhouette makes it a classic choice for any event on your calendar. Plus, it's available in a range of vibrant colors, if pink isn't quite your vibe.

Fall Cocktail Dresses for Wedding Guests

Fall is the perfect time to embrace warm colors and rich, earthy tones. Plus, you have lots of fun fabric options—hello, buttery soft velvet. Check out our favorite fall wedding cocktail dresses that are both stylish and cozy.

Copper Flutter-Sleeve Slip Dress

Cinnamon wedding guest cocktail dress from Showpo
Photo: Showpo

Like sugar and spice, this cinnamon color is oh-so-nice. This silky cocktail dress has a classic and comfortable silhouette. Short flutter sleeves and a ruched bodice add even more timeless elegance. Don't forget your gold hoops!

Asymmetric Pleated Black Dress

Asymmetrical black pleated midi dress
Photo: Petal + Pup

This midi cocktail wedding guest dress is one of our favorites for the fall. We're loving everything about this pretty midi: the one long sleeve, the pretty pleats and the classic black color. Make sure to bring a light jacket to face the autumn chill!

Moody Floral Slip Dress

Slip dress with blue and brown floral print
Photo: HelloMolly

We simply can't get enough of the rich, fall-ready florals on this slip dress. To say we're *falling* in love would be an understatement. Fine jewelry, strappy heels and a small clutch would perfectly complement this seasonal look.

Metallic Fitted Wedding Guest Dress

Metallic midi dress from ASTR The Label
Photo: ASTR The Label

'Tis the season of pumpkin spice—we had to throw in this clove-colored cocktail dress. Its square neckline and dramatic side leg slit make for a fun fall silhouette. Plus, its long sleeves will keep you warm if you're attending an outdoor event.

Navy off-the-shoulder high-low dress
Photo: Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway has so many elegant cocktail dresses for wedding guests, and this is a classic yet eye-catching option that's guaranteed to turn heads. We're obsessed with its off-the-shoulder silhouette featuring roomy sleeves, a high-low hem and a flattering faux wrap effect. And how pretty is this deep blue hue for fall?

Winter Cocktail Dresses for Wedding Guests

Real talk: Winter is one of our favorite seasons for cocktail dresses. Enter: long sleeves, luxurious fabrics and deep, alluring hues (think: navy, black and burgundy). Here are our favorite fancy cocktail dresses for weddings, curated exclusively for the cooler weather. Don't forget to add tights and a cozy faux-fur wrap or coat.

Brown Cutout Wedding Cocktail Dress

Brown long sleeve high-neck dress
Photo: Anthropologie

Sophisticated and simple, this satin cocktail dress is a foolproof choice for your winter event. It has a twist-front bodice and long balloon sleeves that are oh-so chic for the season. Plus, it's available in six different color options.

Emerald Green High-Neck Dress

Emerald green sleeveless ruffle midi cocktail dress
Photo: Lulus

Here's a sleeveless option for when the weather hasn't quite gotten the memo that it's winter yet. The emerald green shade makes it a fitting choice for the holidays. And let's be real, there's never a bad time to rock ruffles.

Black Long-Sleeve Floral Dress

Long sleeve black dress with red floral print
Photo: Reformation

Who says you can't rock florals in the wintertime? Certainly not us. We love this long-sleeved option, featuring comfy knit fabric and a stunning red print, for looking cute and cozy throughout the season. Bonus: It's available in standard, petite and plus sizes.

Designer Velvet Pleated Dress

Plunge neckline sleeveless pleated navy dress
Photo: Rent the Runway

Found: the perfect winter wedding cocktail dress. Its deep V-neckline, sleeveless silhouette and gorgeous pleats offer a holiday-ready look you're sure to love. For accessories, try silver jewelry and embellished heels.

Feather-Sleeve Black Midi Dress

Feather-sleeve black midi dress
Photo: Tuckernuck

This festive feathered pick will seamlessly take you from wedding season to holiday season and beyond. With its breezy silhouette, soft fabric and longer sleeves, it's as cute as it is cozy.

Kate Ferris contributed to the reporting of this article.

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