Exactly What to Wear to a Summer Wedding in 2022

Style experts weigh in on how to put together a look you love *without* breaking the bank.
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
by
Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Associate Editor
  • Sarah is an Associate Digital Editor for The Knot, with special focuses in fashion, pop culture and wedding trends.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Apr 13, 2022
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If your mailbox is full of save-the-dates and wedding invitations for this summer, you certainly aren't alone. By now, you probably know that 2022 is the year of the wedding boom; Our data indicates that over 2.6 million couples will get married this year, proving that weddings are back and better than ever. Of course, a majority of those nuptials will take place in the summer, because our insights also show that 80% of all weddings tend to fall between May and October. So, if you find yourself grappling with what to wear to a summer wedding, we're here to help.

Navigating what to wear to a wedding as a guest can be a challenge in itself—you might find yourself trying to decipher a confusing dress code, or struggling to find outfit options that don't break the bank. Add in the unpredictable weather patterns that accompany the summer season, and picking an outfit can feel like an impossible task. Not to worry: As your go-to source for all things wedding guest attire, we've created this ultimate guide that breaks down what to wear to a summer wedding.

We tapped a handful of style experts to share everything you need to know about summer wedding attire. Read up on the best styles, fabrics and silhouettes for the season, along with expert tips on how to understand the most creative summer wedding guest dress codes. And to make your shopping experience even easier, we've also rounded up the best retailers to buy summer wedding guest attire for men and women. Then, once you're an expert on what to wear to a summer wedding, head over to our roundup of the best summer wedding guest dresses of this year to nail your outfit picks and earn yourself the title of "best dressed guest."

In this guide:

    What to Wear to a Summer Wedding, According to Stylists

    First things first: Where do you even start when figuring out what to wear to a summer wedding? You might assume that wedding guest attire is synonymous with dark colors and rich fabrics, like silk or velvet—but those are the last things you'd want to wear on a balmy July afternoon. To avoid an unwanted fashion faux pas, here are five things to look for when it comes to picking an outfit for summer nuptials.

    Airy Dresses & Skirts

    Lightweight, breathable fabrics will be your saving grace when choosing what to wear to a summer wedding, especially when you're attending a high-end affair in a hot—and potentially humid—climate. "Keep the heat in mind when it comes to dressing for a summer wedding," suggests Rent the Runway's Style Director Blaire Walsh. "Wear styles that allow for a bit of a breeze and are lighter in fabric such as printed charmeuse, jersey, crepe, and viscose or polyesters that give off a satin look."

    The formality of the event will typically indicate what silhouette you should opt for. (Think: long skirts and dresses for a formal wedding, or midi and mini skirts for casual and cocktail gatherings.) Beyond that, additional elements like patterns, unique colors and design details will help make your outfit summer-appropriate too. "Wedding guests are leaning into the summer heat by wearing strappy necklines, cutout details, unexpected hemlines, and bold florals," Walsh adds.

    Blended Suit Fabrics

    If you're in the market for formal summer wedding attire, you may need a new suit. To avoid getting too hot in your ensemble, look out for styles that have blended fabrics for added breathability. "Lightweight wool will provide the all-season wear that so many clients are looking for when investing in a suit," explains Dean Handspiker, Vice President of Retail at Indochino. He notes that, while 100% wool is a reliable choice, a variety of blends are ideal for the summer season. "Wool-linen is a popular choice for our clients because it has the strength and durability of wool, but is blended with linen for a slightly lighter weight and a summer feel without wrinkled creases that may come with a 100% linen option. A wool-silk blend is also a great option, as the softness of silk is ideal for warmer destinations."

    Cutouts

    Remember the "hot girl summer" phenomenon of 2021? Well, we have great news: It's not going away any time soon. In fact, this mentality that centers around confident dressing is going to carry over into summer 2022 as well, especially when it comes to wedding guest attire. "All signs point to 2022 being even sexier than last year, the year of 'hot girl summer' that turned into 'hot girl fall,'" Walsh tells us. "Sexy styles with mini hemlines, deep v-necklines, and fancy cropped sets continue to dominate trends."

    Metallic Accents

    Summer will always be synonymous with bright colors and patterns—but this year, Walsh says that more shoppers are gravitating toward a different color palette. "While color is always on-trend during these months, basic black styles have dropped in popularity, with high shine metallics like gold and silver topping the charts as 2022's most sought-after shades."

    Although you might assume a shiny dress is better for a winter wedding, consider shaking up tradition this summer. As guests prepare for a return to weddings, opting for an outfit outside of your traditional repertoire will put the fun back in fashion. "A 'more is more' attitude prevails when getting dressed up this season," Walsh adds.

    Floral Prints

    You can't go wrong with florals when crafting your go-to wedding outfit formula. When choosing what to wear to a summer wedding, consider something like a maxi chiffon dress with a mini floral print for a look that's fun and flirty. Or, if you tend to take more risks with your style, keep an eye out for oversized or abstract floral prints to make your outfit stand out in a crowd. The same is true of suiting too—look for button-up shirts or pocket squares with vibrant floral motifs to put together an outfit that's seasonally appropriate.

    Earth Tones

    Perhaps you're shopping for a suit and don't want to don a traditional black-and-white look this summer. Instead, Suitsupply Style Expert Marc Harmeling recommends trying something a little more neutral. "Earth tones like beige, light gray and greens are go-to seasonal colors," he explains. "A natural color palette with beige and brown tones paired with a crisp white shirt freshens up any look."

    For guests looking to push the envelope a little more, Harmeling shares that brighter shades are also going to be big this year. "We're seeing that pop colors like lilac, green and sky blue are doing really well among our clients."

    How to Decipher Summer Wedding Guest Dress Codes

    While rising temps may have you in a more laid-back state of mind, summer wedding attire still has a sense of formality. Key factors such as the location, venue and dress code all indicate exactly what you should wear. But, what happens when the invite says something out of the ordinary, like tropical beach formal or whimsical garden party?

    Deciphering summer wedding guest dress codes isn't for the faint of heart. And, as it turns out, more events are likely going to skew formal in 2022. "After two years of waiting, weddings are back and guests are using events as their time to shine to look and feel their best," Walsh says of Rent the Runway's clientele. "With this excitement, the season's wedding boom has brought on unprecedented demand for our most formal inventory. Utilization of black tie-formality items is up 150% from 2021, the highest it's been since the 2018 holiday season, clearly indicating that guests want to go all out in show-stopping, high-formality pieces."

    It's always best to check the couple's wedding website for dress code details—and if you're still confused, check out photos of the venue for a better understanding of what the vibe is. (What you wear to an afternoon backyard wedding will be quite different than what you wear to an evening fête at a luxury country club, for example.) For even more help, read up on the most common summer wedding guest attire dress codes below, and follow our style tips to find a great outfit for any occasion.

    Formal Summer Wedding Attire

    Formal summer wedding attire can encompass both white tie and black tie dress codes. Generally, you can never go wrong with a well-tailored tuxedo or glamorous long gown in material like chiffon or crepe. These days, though, the term "formal attire" can also mean a dress code that's slightly less formal than black tie or black tie optional. This means that a tuxedo or floor-length gown might not be required, but the event is still formal enough for one to be appropriate. (Pro tip: If you aren't sure how formal to dress, always choose the more formal option.)

    Elements like a high-neckline, one-shoulder sleeve or a printed pocket square can all make your formal outfit great for summer. Elevate your ensemble with accessories like statement earrings, a bold headpiece, or luxe loafers (sans socks!) to complete the look.

    Beach Formal Summer Wedding Attire

    Choosing what to wear to a summer wedding at the beach or a seaside venue comes with even more factors to consider. Opt for garments made of breathable fabrics and unfussy accessories like flat sandals, sturdy block heels or boat shoes that will stand up to warm weather and uneven terrain. This summer wedding attire also opens up the door to a world of possibilities when it comes to prints; palm patterns, color blocking, oversized florals and rattan textures are all ideal elements of beach formal summer wedding attire. You might even consider wearing white bottoms with a contrasting blazer for the ultimate coastal look, "White pants embody summer and add an elegant touch to any look," Harmeling suggests. "Pair them with a darker jacket for contrast or a lighter jacket for true beach vibes."

    Cocktail & Semi-Formal Summer Wedding Attire

    Depending on the time of the event, you'll want to dress somewhere between formal and casual for a semi-formal summer wedding. Wear darker, more formal hues for an evening soiree; opt for light colors and fabrics for daytime nuptials. Keep in mind that semi-formal still has the word "formal" in the description, so you'll still want to look elegant and put together. Sure, you can keep your ball gown or tuxedo at home, but avoid dressing like you're going to a low-key family barbeque. Breezy midi dresses and suits in alternative colors like dusty blue or forest green are all great options for a summer wedding with this summer dress code.

    Casual Summer Wedding Attire

    Generally, casual wedding attire means just about anything goes—but denim, shorts and tank tops are probably not appropriate unless they're specifically noted as acceptable. Regardless of how casual the summer wedding may be, it's still best to skip the jeans and flip-flops to be sure you're appropriately dressed for the occasion. For the purposes of wedding wear, assume this dress code means business casual to be on the safe side. Consider something like a jersey mini dress, or chinos and a polo shirt.

    Where to Buy Summer Wedding Guest Attire for Men

    Ready to shop? Here are five retailers to start your search for summer wedding guest attire for men.

    Bonobos

    In addition to suits and tuxedos, menswear brand Bonobos also offers a variety of outfit selections for less-formal weddings too, like blazers, chinos, button-ups, and colorful printed dress shirts. You'll even find outfit accessories too, like ties, pocket squares and belts to complete your look.

    Indochino

    Given that 2022 is the year of the wedding boom, it may be time to invest in a custom suit you can wear for years—especially if you're going to be a frequent guest. "This year, the wedding season is going to be bigger than it has ever been, so it's a great idea to invest in a custom suit for multiple occasions," Handspiker says. Indochino does just that: The brand, which is accessible online or at select Nordstrom stores across the US, specializes in made-to-measure formal wear at great prices. "In customizing a suit, you get to select all of the details, large and small, such as lapel sizes, personalized lining, monograms, and even button and thread colors," he adds. "These elements make the suit your own—you won't see it on anyone else at the event because it was made just for you."

    Nordstrom

    When you aren't sure what to wear to a summer wedding, you can't go wrong with a trip to Nordstrom. The big-box retailer has over 300 locations across the country, which means you're never too far from a psychical location. But even if shopping online is more your style, you'll find tons of wedding-worthy outfits for summer weddings, from black tie suits to botanical dress shirts.

    SuitShop

    Fact: Suits aren't just for men. This philosophy is at the forefront of SuitShop, a brand that offers accessibly-priced suits and tuxedos for everyone starting at $194. Their styles come in a variety of trendy colors for guests who like to be a little more adventurous with fashion, from dusty blue to burnt orange and rich green. (Psst: They're also the brand that suited Netflix's Love Is Blind Season 2 couples on their wedding days!)

    Suitsupply

    Need a wedding suit, pronto? Check out Suitsupply's diverse collection of both classic and contemporary styles that are simply perfect for guests. And if you're feeling creative, try taking advantage of the brand's unique customization program to make your guest attire uniquely your own. "A great option for personalizing is our Custom Made Program, through which you can design your own suit from scratch," Harmeling explains. "Ultimately, the best advice is tailored to the individual, so, when needed, you can also book an appointment with one of our style advisors in your nearest Suitsupply store."

    Where to Buy Summer Wedding Guest Attire for Women

    Instead of frantically Googling "what to wear to a summer wedding" days before your event, try browsing these five retailers ahead of time to find the trendiest summer wedding guest attire for women.

    Abercrombie & Fitch

    If it seems like everyone online is raving about the renaissance of Abercrombie & Fitch, we're here to say the hype is justified. The buzzy retailer is no longer what it once was back in your middle school days. Now, A&F is proving to be a go-to destination for wedding guests looking for great attire without breaking the bank. (There is a reason we collaborated with them on a Best Dressed Guest collection, after all.)

    Lulus

    When you need an outfit that's trendy, affordable, and fun, consider a Lulus wedding guest dress. With most options under $100, you can't go wrong with the brand's expansive collection of maxis, midis, two-piece sets and accessories that are just perfect for frequent guests.

    Rent the Runway

    Amid the year of the wedding boom, it just might not be feasible to buy all of your wedding guest outfits—and that's exactly why Rent the Runway will be your best friend. "Fashion shouldn't come at the expense of your entire wallet, especially when attending back-to-back weddings," Walsh says. "Not only is renting budget-friendly but it's also a more sustainable approach to getting dressed. With nearly 800 designers, renters gain access to the ultimate shared designer closet with endless options to choose from starting at $30 for a 4-day rental."

    Plus, just this year the brand launched "Something Borrowed," a new styling service that allows shoppers to email stylists directly for personalized outfit help. (Simple email your questions to somethingborrowed@renttherunway.com to get started.) "We'll work directly with members to navigate this year's wedding boom and help meet their fashion styling needs," she adds. "Each stylist will curate style suggestions through dedicated shortlists of rental recommendations, provide fit advice, and share tips on renting for the events leading up to the big day."

    REVOLVE

    Willing to splurge on your formal summer wedding guest attire? Turn to REVOLVE, the internet's favorite place to buy high-end luxury styles. You'll find plenty of fresh, of-the-moment styles from trending designer brands like Bronx and Banco, For Love & Lemons, Solace London, LoveShackFancy, and so many more.

    Petal & Pup

    Need a whimsical maxi or a floral midi that embodies the playful vibe of summertime? You'll love the airy and romantic styles at Petal & Pup, which are perfect for all the garden parties and tropical soirées on your calendar.

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