What to Wear to an Outdoor Wedding for Every Season and Dress Code

Hot tips for choosing the perfect outdoor wedding 'fit to slay the day
Outdoor wedding guest attire outfits
Photo, left to right: Reformation, Reformation, Indochino
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Elizabeth Kadar
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Elizabeth Kadar
The Knot Fashion Contributor
  • Elizabeth is a freelance fashion, beauty, lifestyle and commerce writer with more than 10 years of editorial experience writing for top tier publications, including The Knot, TIME, Forbes Vetted, Hearst, Brides, Today’s Parent and many more.
  • Elizabeth freelances as a copywriter, specializing in fashion, and has worked with major brands like Maisonette.
  • Prior to writing, Elizabeth worked in fashion PR in both New York a...
Updated Aug 31, 2023
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Romance is in the air, literally. With more and more couples choosing to tie the knot outside, figuring out what to wear to an outdoor wedding, so you're not only dressed appropriately for the weather but the venue too, is at the top of every guest's list. You don't want to freeze in your fall wedding guest dress as the sun goes down or sweat through your outdoor wedding oufit before dinner has even started. You also don't want to be over or underdressed either. Or, you know, break an ankle trying to walk in stilettos through grass or gravel.

Whether you've got a bohemian-themed spring garden party to attend or a formal fairytale wedding smack-dab in the middle of the day and are wondering WTF to wear, we've got you. From the venue and location to the dress code and season, we break down exactly what to wear for an outdoor wedding so you're comfortable, cool and dressed to impress, obvi.

In this article:

What to Wear to an Outdoor Wedding by Season

Whether the entire wedding is outdoors or the ceremony only, finding a stylish suit or dress (and shoes!) that can withstand the elements is key to your comfort as a guest. We spoke with Holly Katz, a personal stylist and host of Fashion Crimes podcast, to break down exactly what to wear to an outdoor wedding for each season.

Outdoor Summer Wedding Attire

According to Katz, the number one thing to keep in mind when selecting outdoor summer wedding attire is the temperature. "You have to know if you'll need an outer layer for warmth, or a thinner fabric for extreme heat," she says. For summer weddings, choosing lightweight, breathable fabrics to beat the heat is a no-brainer.

"Cotton, linen, or a cotton blend will keep you cool in the summer or spring months for an outdoor wedding," tells Katz. "If you're directly in the sun, make sure the fabric of the dress won't be something you can sweat through or show sweat," she warns. "A darker color would be best if you're going to be in extreme or unexpected heat or even rain."

For women, a sleeveless or strapless dress with cutouts or leg slits can be a chic way to keep cool. If the dress code allows, dresses with shorter hemlines and in flowy silhouettes are a smart choice too. We're also a sucker for a nice, tailored seersucker suit for the guys.

Fall Outdoor Wedding Attire

If you've been searching for what to wear to an outdoor fall wedding, knowing the average temps for that time of year is a good place to start. "An outdoor wedding in the south will have more flexibility to wear more summery options into the later months as it's still relatively warm," notes Katz. On the other hand, "If you live in the north where it's cooler sooner in the year, you'll want to choose something with a sleeve that isn't too bare or thin," she says.

Personally, we love an outdoor autumn wedding. The weather is typically beautiful, not too hot or cold, the leaves are changing colors and the fashion options are endless. You can opt for dresses or suits in rich jewel tones like emerald, navy and violet, or classic fall colors like orange, mustard and rust. Black is a timeless choice for a formal fall wedding too. And you can't go wrong with cozy velvet on a cool night.

"A wrap, shawl or dress coat will be your best friend if you're expected to be outdoors during any part of an outdoor fall event," says Katz. "Something in a neutral color will not distract from your dress and will be able to transition with other things in your wardrobe as well."

Outdoor Winter Wedding Attire

From whimsical woodsy ceremonies to majestic mountaintop receptions, when it comes to what to wear to an outdoor winter wedding, the most important thing to keep in mind is warmth. Think high necklines, long sleeves and hems, and thicker fabrics like velvet and wool to keep you toasty. Dark colors, jewel tones and sequins are a go too.

And you'll definitely want to dress in layers. For formal gowns, a dress coat is a stylish choice that's weather-appropriate too. "This is a long, trench-style coat that falls to the knee or below and usually has a matching belt, sash or buttons for closure," explains Katz. Look for wool dress coats for warmth and faux fur cuffs or hems for a touch of elegance. A fab fur or faux fur stole is a chic way to add some texture and much-needed warmth to a winter wedding guest dress as well.

If it's snowy out or the temps are frigid, consider adding tights underneath your dress, opting for closed-toe boots over heels and donning a wool hat, scarf and/or gloves.

For men, tuxes and suits in heavier, thicker fabrics and darker or rich colors are wise. Think flannel, tweed, wool and velvet. A wool overcoat (longer than your suit jacket) in a neutral navy will pair well with most anything.

Spring Outdoor Wedding Attire

From pretty pastels and fun floral prints to flowy fabrics and daring details, spring is a dream when it comes to outdoor wedding attire, giving both men and women the opportunity to experiment, especially with color and patterns. "For spring, you'll want to wear something slightly lighter in weight and definitely brighter in color," says Katz. "A dressier fabric like silk or a silk blend will be shimmery and work better for a wedding than a jersey or daytime dress." For men, think lightweight linen and cotton in cool pastels, classic creams and khakis, or go bold with a funky floral pattern suit.

Depending on the temperatures and dress code, you can get away with shorter hemlines, cool cutout details and asymmetrical styles, which are everywhere right now. Whatever you wear, Katz recommends showing off your best features. "If it's your legs, then opt for a shorter dress. If it's your shoulders, then a one-shoulder or strapless dress will draw the eye right to your best features and play them up," she notes.

For shoes, stick with strappy sandals, a dressy espadrille wedge or bedazzled flats in a neutral shade.

Outdoor Wedding Attire by Dress Code

Decoding the wedding dress code can often be the toughest part of picking the perfect outdoor wedding guest outfit to slay the day. Typically, weddings earlier in the day will call for casual, cocktail or semi-formal attire, while a wedding after 5pm may mean black tie or cocktail attire, notes Katz. Below, we dissect what to wear for the most common dress codes so you're not second-guessing yourself.

Casual Outdoor Wedding Attire

If your invite requests casual outdoor wedding attire for guests, googling the venue will give you a better idea of what to wear. For starters, athleisure, jeans and anything you'd rock on a regular day is a definite no. Weddings are still formal events after all. Think business casual attire, or pretend you're dressing up for a nice dinner and date night with your partner.

For women, this could mean a chic wrap dress and wedges or a flowy boho maxi dress with embellished sandals. For the guys, you can't go wrong with a pair of chinos or khakis and a button-down shirt with dress shoes. Sorry, athletic sneakers and flip-flops are off limits, boys.

Semi-Formal Outdoor Wedding Attire

Semi formal outdoor wedding attire really just means dress to impress, but no need to show up in your fanciest, full-length gown or a full-on tuxedo—actually, please don't. It's a fairly flexible dress code which gives guests the freedom to have a bit of fun with their fashion choices.

Shorter hemlines, popping prints and even dressy jumpsuits and separates are A-okay. Skip overly-embellished dresses with lots of beading, but feel free to dress up your ensemble with statement accessories.

As for shoes, a pair of chic flats or dressy sandals are perfectly acceptable, especially if the wedding is taking place on a beach. Guys can opt for dress pants with a matching suit jacket or blazer styled with simple black or brown leather shoes. Do keep comfort in mind when choosing your ensemble.

Outdoor Cocktail Wedding Attire

One of the most popular wedding dress codes, cocktail attire toes the line between black tie and semi formal. In general, think shorter hemlines as opposed to floor-length dresses, and elegant embellishments, like 3D florals, beading or sparkles and sequins.

For guys, skip the tux and go with a timeless, well-tailored black or blue suit with a crisp white button-up shirt and leather dress shoes. Depending on the venue and outdoor terrain, women can slip into high heels or fancy flats to complete the look. Do factor in the weather and temperature when selecting your outfit, choosing airier fabrics for spring/summer and thicker ones for fall/winter.

Outdoor Formal Wedding Attire

Oh, you fancy huh? Outdoor formal wedding attire can be anything from a silky floral slip dress with chunky heels to a glam midi dress with all-over embellishments and metallic sandals. It's slightly less formal than black tie, though you're free to wear an elegant evening gown if you'd like. Cocktail dresses are a definite do too.

For the guys, a dark suit is always on trend. Pair it with a tie in an unexpected print to add a playful touch. Bonus points if it ties in with the wedding theme or venue. We're loving well-tailored suits in bold colors too, like a bright blue for spring or a rich burgundy for Fall.

Outdoor Wedding Attire by Venue or Location

Your wedding venue can be a fantastic source of inspiration for your attire, and it's a fun way to coordinate your look with the overall theme, points out Personal Stylist Liz Wendler. Whether you're wondering what to wear to a backyard wedding with a botanical theme or are Googling rustic barn wedding outfits for Fall, you'll want to take into consideration the weather forecast and any specific elements related to the location and season to make sure you're dressed just right for the occasion, tells Wendler.

Here are some quick style tips and creative ideas to get your wheels turning:

  • A Garden Party: Not sure what to wear to a garden wedding? "If it's an urban garden setting, think about incorporating floral prints or earthy tones into your outfit," says Wendler. "Flowy dresses with botanical patterns or a touch of green can reflect the surroundings tastefully." For men, earth-tone suits for fall or pastels for spring are a fun way to dress for the theme.
  • A Vineyard Wedding: If you're searching for vineyard wedding attire, Wendler recommends aiming for a slightly rustic yet elegant look. "A flowy maxi dress or a chic midi dress in soft, wine-inspired hues like burgundy or deep purple could be fun." These hues work for the guys too! "Be sure to pair it with understated accessories," she advises.
  • A Beach Ceremony & Reception: "Beach weddings call for breezy and light attire," says Wendler. "Consider a flowy sundress, a maxi dress in pastel shades, or even a jumpsuit. Comfortable flat sandals or espadrilles are a great choice for the sand." For men's beach wedding attire, think a nice pair of chinos pants paired with a short-sleeve linen button-up shirt.
  • A Mountain Retreat: For mountain wedding attire, Wendler says to consider earthy and cozy colors like deep greens, rich browns, and rustic reds. "A tailored jacket can add a chic touch over a long-sleeved maxi dress or a slip dress."
  • A Hotel Rooftop: "Go for a more contemporary and chic look with a slip dress paired with statement jewelry and stylish heels," advises Wendler. "Comfort is so important when choosing an outfit that aligns with the occasion but also makes you feel confident."
  • A Barn Wedding: Cowboy boots? Yes, please! A barn wedding is the perfect time to channel your country side with flowy dresses in eclectic patterns, materials like lace and crochet, natural earthy shades and maybe even a cowboy hat. For the guys, a tweed suit would look killer too.

What to Look for in Men's Outdoor Wedding Attire

Whether you're on the hunt for men's casual outdoor wedding attire or don't want to die at an August wedding in the South, we've put together a foolproof guide for ensuring you're comfortable and perfectly put together, while still staying true to your style, for the big day.

1. A Classic Blue Suit Is Always on Trend

When in doubt, a well-tailored, two-piece suit in a medium blue is always dapper. This shade is great for earlier, daytime ceremonies or an outdoor spring/summer wedding. You also can't go wrong with a classic navy suit paired with a white button-up shirt and brown or black dress shoes for a more formal evening celebration. If the venue, theme or dress code is a bit more playful, "A patterned button-down can add some fun to the outfit," says Wendler.

Shop This Look:

Blue wedding suit for an outdoor ceremony
Photo: J. Crew Factory
Blue men's suit trousers for an outdoor wedding
Photo: J. Crew Factory

2. Keep It Light for Warm Weather and Cozy for the Cold

While darker colors will hide sweat better for an outdoor wedding in the dead of summer, you'll also want to invest in a suit or separates in lightweight, breathable materials, such as linen, cotton or a cotton blend. For fall and winter, thicker fabrics like flannel, wool, tweed and twill will keep you warm.

Shop This Look:

Neutral-toned men's suit jacket for an outdoor wedding
Photo: Tommy Bahama
Neutral-toned suit for outdoor wedding attire
Photo: Indochino
White button-down shirt for an outdoor wedding
Photo: Lorenzo Uomo

3. Don't Forget the Accessories

Though a tie isn't necessary for casual or even semi-formal weddings, for cocktail and black tie events you'll want to select a tie darker than your shirt but lighter than your jacket—or a bow tie to match your belt. We're also big fans of ties and bow ties in playful patterns to show off your personality.

"For an extra accessory, a pocket square is a nice option in lieu of a tie," says Katz. "A belt the same color as your dress shoe is a must as well.

Shop This Look:

Blue tie for the perfect outdoor wedding attire
Photo: Todd Snyder
Black bow tie for the perfect outdoor wedding attire
Photo: Tie Bar
A brown leather belt from Cole Haan for the best wedding attire
Photo: Cole Haan

4. Opt for Dress Shoes or Dressy Sneakers

"A dress shoe with a hard sole is always dressier than a rubber-sole shoe and looks more polished and put together," notes Katz. If the wedding is more casual or semi-formal, Wendler says men can wear dressy and elevated sneakers in brown, gray or black.

Shop This Look:

Brown leather shoes for the best outdoor wedding attire
Photo: Amberjack
White sneakers for the best guest wedding fashion
Photo: Nordstrom

What to Look for in Outdoor Wedding Attire for Female Guests

From the best fabrics to keep you cool at an outdoor summer wedding to the type of shoes you'll want to rock for rough terrain, we've curated our top tips for purchasing outdoor wedding guest attire so you can stop stressing and start getting excited for the festivities.

1. Select Fabrics and Styles for the Season

As a general rule, Katz recommends steering clear of fabrics, especially synthetics like polyester and nylon, that will be too warm in extreme heat or humidity or, alternatively, a dress that's too bare for cooler months. Think breezy, lightweight fabrics like chiffon, silk, cotton and linen for summer dresses. For winter, long-sleeve gowns in heavier, thicker fabrics like wool and velvet are best if you'll be outdoors for an extended time.

Shop This Look:

Pale blue and white floral dress from Reformation for an outdoor wedding
Photo: Reformation
Velvet dress from Anthropologie for the best guest wedding attire
Photo: Anthropologie

2. Choose Comfortable Shoes for the Terrain

Wedges, 2-3" chunky heels or dressy flat sandals are great go-to shoe choices for an outdoor wedding, according to Wendler. "They provide the stability you need to walk gracefully on grass or sand. Plus, they can still look super stylish," she says. "Consider strappy or embellished options for that extra touch of elegance."

Shop This Look:

Neutral-toned wedge heel for the best outdoor wedding shoes
Photo: DSW
Silver flats for the best women's outdoor wedding shoes
Photo: Anthropologie

3. Invest in Outerwear

This is particularly important for fall and winter weddings, as well as early spring or even summer when the temps can drastically cool down after the sun sets. From cashmere wraps, faux fur stoles and dress coats for cooler weather to a pashmina wrap for the warmer months, outerwear will be your BFF at an outdoor wedding because the last thing you want to do is freeze when you're supposed to be having fun. Depending on the dress code, a cool leather jacket over a sleek slip dress can look ultra-stylish too.

Shop This Look:

Long coat for the best outdoor wedding attire
Photo: Reformation
Pale blue scarf for the perfect layers at an outdoor wedding
Photo: Quince
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