What to Wear to a Wedding: Wedding Outfits for Men and Women

Invited to a wedding and not sure what to wear? We've got you covered with a few fashion dos and don'ts.
by Amanda Elser
  1. The most important thing to remember when shopping for a wedding is you want to look cool and stylish, but you don't want to distract from the bride or draw attention for the wrong reasons. That's why we recommend you use the wording on the invitation or the time of year to determine your wedding attire. But first, let us tell you the ground rules for dressing for a wedding. Rule number one: Don't ever, ever wear white to a wedding. You should also avoid wearing white to prewedding festivities, like the engagement party, shower or rehearsal dinner. The only exception to this rule is if there's an all-white dress code for one of the celebrations. Rule number two: Always be respectful to religious affiliations. If you know the wedding is going to be held in a Catholic church, it might not be a bad idea to cover bare arms with a sweater and avoid showing too much leg or cleavage. Rule number three: You can wear black to a wedding—it's not off-limits. It used to be taboo to wear black to weddings, but now a little black dress is totally appropriate for an evening affair. Rule number four: It's better to be overdressed than underdressed. If an invite says "black tie optional," err on the side of caution and wear a long dress or dark suit or tux. Like your mom always said, it's better to be safe than sorry.

  2. What to Wear to a Winter Wedding

    For women, a winter wedding is the perfect excuse to wear your most fun, festive dress. When shopping for winter wedding outfits, keep an eye out for head-to-toe sequins or luxe, jewel-toned fabrics like emerald green, ruby and royal blue. These colors work on almost every skin tone and you'll definitely find an excuse to re-wear them during the holiday season (office parties, anyone?). You'll also want to keep fabrics in mind. Wedding guest dresses made of heavy fabrics, like tweed or velvet, will keep you warm during a chilly evening celebration. Pair a shorter dress with opaque black tights and closed-toe pumps. Avoid wearing boots (even if they're heeled), as they can appear too casual. But in case of a freak snowstorm, it's definitely okay to wear your boots to the ceremony and change into your heels once you're inside. Men should follow similar guidelines and shop for a dark-colored wool suit to keep warm and stylish. Also try dressing in layers: Throw a zip-up sweater over your shirt and tie and under your jacket for extra insulation and warmth. But the most important thing men need to remember is to manscape. Beards and moustaches are okay, as long as you clean up stray hairs and shave the back of your neck—you want to look lumber sexy.

  3. Women’s Winter Wedding Attire

    Women's winter weddingc guest attire

    1. This mini is totally winter appropriate with its long sleeves and heavier fabric. Plus, we love the lace-up style.

    Balmain Lace-up knitted mini dress, $2,935, Net-a-Porter.com

    2. Floor length gowns are a perfect match for a winter wedding, as is this this royal blue hue.

    Marbella Long dress in silk chiffon, $298, JCcrew.com

    3. A body-hugging burgundy dress with long sleeves is the perfect combination of sexy and festive for a winter wedding.

    Donna Mizani Knot front midi dress, $60, RevolveClothing.com

    4. A two-tones jacquard dress with a dropped wait is a sophisticated and classy choice for any winter wedding.

    Alice and Olivia Liv chevron jacquard dress, $198, SaksFifthAvenue.com

    5. The beauty of the black jumpsuit is it's really suitable for any season. This one is no exception, and is great for a winter celebration.

    Hallogen Tie neck jumpsuit, $98, Nordstrom.com

  4. Men’s Winter Wedding Attire

    Men's winter wedding guest attire

    1. A classic trim-fit wool suit is the ideal choice for any type of wedding. Dress it up with a slim tie or dress it down with a simple button down.

    Z Zegna Trim fit wool suit, $1,395, , nordstrom.com

    2. It's a winter wedding, so why not go all out in a velvet suit jacket?

    Richard James Slim-fit satin-trimmed tuxedo jacket, $975, mrporter.com

    3. This dark grey blazer is best for a more casual winter wedding, and the ultra soft wool will definitely keep you warm.

    Boglioli Grey K-Jacket, $995, mrporter.com

    4. This silky-smooth trim-fit navy jacket with black lapels is the perfect option for a man with stylish but sensible tastes.

    Ted Baker 'Josh' trim fit tuxedo, $1,095, nordstrom.com

    5. No closet is complete without a slim-fit gray suit. Mix and match it with your black suit for limitless wardrobe options.

    ASOS Skinny suit, $283, asos.com

  5. What to Wear to a Fall Wedding

    Fall weddings can be hard to dress for since the weather can be so unpredictable, that's why the most important thing to remember is to dress in layers. Fall is finally the time you can break out your favorite little black dress and suede heels, but you really should wait until closer to the date to finalize accessories. Since fall tones tend to be dark and muted, try adding a pop of bright color with a bold statement necklace, scarf or lipstick. Pick a dress you could wear with or without tights for that unexpected September heat, and it's probably a good idea to throw a sweater in your bag in case the temperature drops at night. And since you could be wearing open-toed shoes, it's always a smart to have a pedicure scheduled just to be safe—chipped nails at a wedding is a definite no-no. For men, try mixing and matching textures and patterns for a cozy look that doesn't look shabby or grungy. Pair a wool coat with a silk tie, and don't be afraid to wear some color! Just look at the invitation for hints of the couple's wedding colors so you don't end up looking like a member of the bridal party.

  6. Women’s Fall Wedding Attire

    Women's fall wedding guest attire

    1. Rock some fun fall florals in this trendy, and super flattering off-the-shoulder mini.

    Keepsake, Stand Still dress, $175, shopbop.com

    2. Nothing says fall quite like brown suede. Glam up this modern midi with some strappy sandals.

    Halston Heritage Strapless suede dress, $595, revolve.com

    3. The autumnal colors on this drapey midi make it perfect for a fall wedding.

    ASOS Drape front midi dress in brown floral, $94, asos.com

    4. All eyes will be on you in this classy flared shirtdress. Although eyelets are typically reserved for summer, the dress' navy blue color and short sleeves make it fall appropriate as well.

    Ann Taylor Eyelet flare shirtdress, $149, anntaylor.com

    5. A perfect LBD, this simple yet elegant sheath can be worn all year round.

    Banana Republic Bi-Stretch crew sheath, $98, bananarepublic.gap.com

  7. Men’s Fall Wedding Attire

    Men's Fall Wedding Guest Attire

    1. The rumors are true: charcoal is the new black. What's more; this rental option is a budget friendly way to enjoy a high quality suit.

    The Black Tux Charcoal suit, $95, theblacktux.com

    2. A stylish man can't go wrong with a sophisticated wool suit. This sleek number will get you through any wedding on the bride's best-dressed list.

    J. Crew Crosby suit jacket with italian wool, $425, jcrew.com

    3. A good suit is worth a little bit of a splurge. Investing in an everyday style will save you money in the long run.

    Corneliani Super 120's super fine suit, $1,943, luisaviaroma.com

    4. This suit's windowpane checks mark a timeless look, while its trim fit style keeps it hip.

    Boss 'Johnstons/Lenon' trim fit windowpane suit, $533, nordstrom.com

    5. This snazzy vest features just the right amount of stretch for your awesome dance moves, and the satin back panel adds some glam to your wedding ensemble.

    Theory Tailored vest, $225, saksfifthavenue.com

  8. What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

    Dressing for a summer wedding is all about looking elegant, while keeping it cool. Focus on wearing breathable fabrics so you don't overheat during an outdoor wedding. Fight off heat and humidity and still look put together when you wear a longer dress made with light and airy fabrics like silk, chiffon, cotton or linen. Those made with vibrant colors and unexpected textures will add a summery twist to a floor-length gown. Dress up a cute sundress with chic heels or wedges. Keep a lightweight pashmina on hand, since the AC will most likely be on full blast. Dressing in light layers is even more important for men, who tend to get overheated (read: sweat) more easily. In the summertime it's definitely okay for guys to ditch the tie and keep it casual with a loose button-down—just make sure to wear a jacket. And for outdoor beach ceremonies, it's totally acceptable for men to forgo socks and just wear loafers or boat shoes with their slacks. But before you make any wardrobe decisions, pay attention to the dress code on the invitations. Even if it's taking place in the middle of July, if a wedding invite says "black tie," you're going to have respect the dress code and wear a bow tie and tux. Our tips: Stay hydrated and get there early to claim a seat in the shade!

  9. Women’s Summer Wedding Attire

    Women's summer wedding guest attire

    1. A plunging deep V can make an elegant statement when paired with a high-waist silhouette. Pair that with a modern floral pattern and you've got a perfect summer mini.

    NDB Lightning dress, $178, revolve.com

    2. Go simple with this summery shift dress that can be worn time and time again.

    Felicity & Coco Crepe shift dress, $88, nordstrom.com

    3. The self-tie halter neckline of this dress is the perfect solution for when you want to dress sweet, but still want to keep cool out in the heat.

    Polo Ralph Lauren Printed silk halter neck dress, $465, stylebop.com

    4. This bright coral maxi adds a fun pop of color. Additionally, the unlined plissé georgette feels light and airy, making this dress a no-brainer for any summer occasion.

    Self-Portrait Ruffled printed plissé-georgette maxi dress, $465, net-a-porter.com

    5. Look pretty in pink with this feminine lacy bodycon.

    Topshop Floral lace bodycon dress, $190, topshop.com

  10. Men’s Summer Wedding Attire

    Men's summer wedding guest attire

    1. When you think summer you probably don't immediately think wool, however, this sophisticated suit is surprisingly lightweight for formal summer get togethers

    Z Zenga Tropical summer 110's wool suit, $957, luisaviaroma.com

    2. Not for the faint of heart, a red sport coat makes a serious statement. But a chambray fabric keeps it fashionable and not costume-y, and when paired with blue pants it gives a nice nautical vibe.

    Tommy Hilfiger Chambray classic-fit sport coat, $129, macys.com

    3. Super slim is super in. This beige suit screams summer due to its light color and lightweight material.

    Manuel Ritz Super slim fit stretch suit, $428, luisaviaroma.com

    4. If the invitation says "casual," consider that your ticket to freedom! Ditch the tie and roll up your sleeves for a look that won't make you sweat.

    James Perse Canvas linen shirt, $175, jamesperse.com

    5. This water and wrinkle resistant suit comes in Isaia's signature aquaspider wool and is perfect for a hot summer day.

    Isaia 'Gregory' tartan plaid aquaspider wool suit, $2,280, lanecrawford.com

  11. What to Wear to a Spring Wedding

    Springtime affairs are beautiful with all of the fresh blooms and green grass, but dressing for a spring wedding can be a challenge. Be wary of outdoor weddings when spring rain showers can cause wet grass and mud that your heels will undoubtedly sink into. We suggest shopping for outfits you know can survive an indoor or outdoor wedding, and plan ahead. Think of any problems that could arise. For instance, avoid long dresses that could drag in potential mud, always keep a pair of closed-toed flats on hands for unexpected outdoor cocktail hours and bring an umbrella for impromptu rain showers. And don't forget that along with the rising temperatures comes a rising humidity that can wreak havoc on your perfectly coiffed tresses. Keeping a mini bottle of hair spray and bobby pins in your bag will not only make you the most popular girl in the bathroom line but will keep your hair looking on point. For men, spring is the perfect time to subtly experiment with color—not too hot for dark hues and not too cold for pastels and neons. Layer brightly colored shirts under lightweight suit jackets and accessories with slim ties or bold patterned socks. There are so many subtle ways for men to add color to their looks, so there's no excuse for a straight black-and-white ensemble.

  12. Women’s Spring Wedding Attire

    Women's spring wedding attire

    1. The intricate flower pattern on this dress is to die for, and its length and shoulder coverage are ideal for early spring.

    Lela Rose floral print flared dress, $1,195, farfetch.com

    2. This chiffon maxi dress is easy, breezy, and totally customizable with a removable waist sash and adjustable straps.

    Joanna August Dani maxi dress, $285, shopbop.com

    3. If there was ever a time for you to wear a fancy neon mini, it's a spring wedding. Splurge on this fun yellow dress that is sure to turn heads.

    Oscar de la Renta Tiered skirt mini dress, $2190, modaoperandi.com

    4. This blue jumpsuit is definitely not your average wedding guest dress. Not only is it totally unique; it's slouchy crossover style and short sash flatter your waistline.

    Diane von Furstenberg Cordia jumpsuit, $468, shopbop.com

    5. Adorned with delicate lace applique, this cornflower blue dress is perfect for a spring affair. Its open back and thin halterneck straps allow you to (appropriately) show some skin.

    Topshop Cross strap halter midi dress, $130, topshop.com

  13. Men’s Spring Wedding Attire

    Men's spring wedding guest attire

    1. While we love color, you can never go wrong with a sophisticated monochromatic look. Match a charcoal tie with your charcoal suit for a casual and cool style.

    Z Zegna Trim fit wool suit, $1,395, nordstrom.com

    2. This streamlined slim-fit grey ensemble from J Crew pairs nicely brightly colored tie.

    J. Crew Ludlow suit jacket in italian wool, $425, jcrew.com

    3. We go mad for plaid, and this sophisticated trim fit plaid suit is fit for any spring wedding.

    BOSS, 'Huge/Genuis' trim fit plaid suit, $498, nordstrom.com

    4. Pair a classic navy suit with a checkered shirt and purple tie for a sophisticated mix of colors and patterns.

    Ted Baker Trim-fit navy suit, $695, nordstrom.com

    5. Chances are, your suit jacket is going to come off—as soon as you sit down to eat—and spend the rest of the night on the back of the chair. So pick a classic freshly cleaned and pressed button-down, so you'll still look put together.

    Kiton Poplin button-front shirt, $895, barneys.com

  14. What to Wear to a Beach Wedding

    Hopefully the wedding invitation will specify whether the dress is "beach casual" or "beach formal," but a good rule of thumb for beach wedding attire is to wear something that you would wear to a nice restaurant on a sunny day. Be mindful of the elements—sun, sand, wind and water—when you're shopping for something to wear to a beach wedding. It tends to be windy on the beach, so avoid short skirts and dresses that can blow up revealing (ahem) more than you wanted. A slightly more dressy midi sundress is the perfect option; pair it with flat sandals and a wide-brim sun hat. Rubber flip-flops are not okay unless provided to you by the bride and groom, so stick to leather sandals or T-strap flats. Most beach ceremonies actually encourage guests to take off their shoes, so make sure you'll be okay with showing off your toes. The sun and sand can be uncomfortable for a man in a full three-piece suit, so linen and lightweight cotton are your best options for keeping cool. For some midday beach weddings, it may even be appropriate for men to wear shorts and a jacket. As long as it's not the week before the wedding, feel free to ask the bride and groom about any specific dress codes or look on their website for more information.

  15. Women’s Beach Wedding Attire

    Women's beach wedding guest attire

    1. This dress' combo of a classy cutout, and sweetheart neckline is uber-feminine. Dig your toes in the sand with this flowing floral midi.

    Zimmerman Eden cutout broderie anglaise-trimmed printed cotton dress, $530, net-a-porter.com

    2. This playful patterned romper is made for fun in the sun at a more casual beach soiree.

    **Girls on Film Paisley playsuit, $69, dorothyperkins.com

    3. We love the flirty watercolor florals that make up this totally tropical mini.

    Aqua Brush floral high neck dress, $88, bloomingdales.com

    4. Missoni is consistently making crochet cool, and here they do it again with this beachy modern maxi.

    Missoni Crochet-knit halterneck maxi dress, $2,160, net-a-porter.com

    5. The whimsical patterns on this dress are totally beach wedding ready. Plus, this neckline is practically designed to show off sun-kissed shoulders.

    Rebecca Taylor Off the shoulder Amanda dress, $595, rebeccataylor.com

  16. Men’s Beach Wedding Attire

    Men's beach wedding attire

    1. When guys think of a beach wedding, most immediately think of a tan suit. That's because it's classic and stylish!

    Express Khaki cotton sateen innovator suit jacket, $119, express.com

    2. If your invite says "semiformal," a lightweight vest under your suit jacket will keep your look on point even after the jacket comes off.

    Joseph Abboud Light tan modern fit linen vest, $50, menswearhouse.com

    3. This jacket's subtle blue hue is perfect for any season, beach season included.

    Calvin Klein Blue extreme slim fit suit, $700, menswearhouse.com

    4. Seersucker is really the go-to warm weather suit style. This one features a lining that balances your body temperature to keep you cool.

    Jos. A. Bank Stays Cool seersucker trousers, $199, josbank.com

    5. This neutral colored linen jacket is lighweight and totally beachy.

    Brooks Brothers Tic brown linen suit jacket, $249, brooksbrothers.com

  17. What to Wear to a Casual Wedding

    When an invitation says "casual dress," it usually means anything goes. That being said, jeans, shorts, tank tops and flip-flops are probably not appropriate unless they're specifically noted as acceptable on the invitation or wedding website. It's hard to wrap your head around casual wedding attire, but take cues from the location on the invite. For example, if it's on a farm somewhere in the middle of a field, it's a good idea to wear flats and bring bug spray. But if the location sounds like it could be indoors or outdoors, it's always better to dress a little bit more on the fancy side. When looking in your closet for something to wear, think business casual—otherwise known as "something you wouldn't be embarrassed to wear at work." A knee-length sundress and wedges are great options for women, while a pair of slacks and a sports coat are perfectly acceptable for men.

  18. Women’s Casual Wedding Attire

    Women's casual wedding guest attire

    1. This modern striped frock can be dressed up with fun accessories and heels for a laid-back wedding look.

    Three Eighty Two Nina off shoulder mini dress, $143, revolve.com

    2. The versatile black jumpsuit is perfect for a casual wedding and this one features a curve enhancing draped silhouette.

    Polo Ralph Lauren Faux-Wrap jumpsuit, $399, stylebop.com

    3. The ruched off the shoulder neckline on this dress evokes a casual feel, while the stylish floral prints and delicate fabric make it wedding appropriate.

    Anna Sui Silk woodblock print dress, $491, stylebop.com

    4. This fun and flirty patterned Tory Burch mini is perfect for a casual wedding.

    Tory Burch Ashlee dress, $295, toryburch.com

    5. For a chic and easy casual option, go with a simple shirtdress. The cinched waist on this one is super flattering.

    Gap Pintuck shirtdress, $70, gap.com

  19. Men’s Casual Wedding Attire

    Men's casual wedding guest attire

    1. In simple terms, a casual wedding dress code means no tie for all you lucky guys! Wear a shirt with a simple pattern for a little added style.

    Target Merona button down shirt blue plaid broadcloth, $25, target.com

    2. Prints are a great way to keep your look simple but still stylish. A Tattersall pattern is perfect for a casual summer wedding!

    Peter Millar 'Nanoluxe' Tattersall twill sport shirt, $125, nordstrom.com

    3. Do something different and breakout this fashion-forward olive suit at your next casual wedding.

    Combat Gentlemen Olive slim fit chino suit, $140, combatgent.com

    4. This casual tweed blazer pairs well with a cashmere sweater or a crisp white button-down.

    ASOS Slim blazer in Harris tweed, $122, asos.com

    5. For a casual summer wedding, this lightweight short sleeve shirt is sure to keep you cool.

    Baldwin Denim Miles short sleeve shirt, $165, eastdane.com

  20. What to Wear to a Formal Wedding

    The word "formal" on an invitation can be stressful, but don't sweat it! The wording suggests something slightly less fancy than black tie. This means a tuxedo isn't required, but the event is still formal enough for one to be appropriate. Don't feel pressured into buying a brand-new dress for a formal wedding; an elegant cocktail dress and statement accessories will work just as well as a floor-length gown. But if you think the venue and setting call for something extra-special, then consider saving some money and renting a gown or tux from retail sites like Rent the Runway or The Black Tux. Both sites offer entire wardrobes for rent and usually have great customer service that works with you to get the size and outfit you need. For women, statement heels and a fancy clutch are the perfect accessories for a formal occasion, while men should consider investing in a pair of cuff links and a good shoeshine. A black tux or evening jacket with matching trousers should be the go-to for men at a black-tie or formal event. The most conservative option is a black tie, black vest, or cummerbund and suspenders, but during the summer months a white dinner jacket and black tuxedo pants are also acceptable. You could also probably get away with wearing a conservative black suit as a substitute for the tux.

  21. Women’s Formal Wedding Attire

    Women's formal wedding guest attire

    1. Look red carpet ready with this retro-glam gown that's adequately elegant for a formal evening.

    Preen by Thornton Bregazzi Finella pleated stretch-crepe midi dress, $1,715, net-a-porter.com

    2. A no-frill black gown is timeless. What's better, this gown's stretch-crepe fabric is cut to skim your curves.

    Narcisco Rodriguez Textured stretch-crepe gown, $2,695, net-a-porter.com

    3. Simple yet stylish, this popover crepe dress is easy formal attire that you will definitely wear more than once.

    Halston Heritage Strapless popover crepe dress, $325, lordandtaylor.com

    4. This dreamy taffeta seafoam silhouette is totally black tie ready.

    Monique Lhuillier Strapless bird-print fit-&-flare dress, $1,995, neimanmarcus.com

    5. A trendy twist on formalwear, this dress features slim grosgrain straps that cross over the shoulders and a funky zipper on the back.

    Maison Rabih Kayrouz Zip-through charmeuse dress, $2,809, matchesfasion.com

  22. Men’s Formal Wedding Attire

    Men's formal wedding guest attire

    1. Look sophisticated and on point with this slim-fit tuxedo with satin details.

    Theory Wellar wool tuxedo jacket, $695, theory.com

    2. While renting may save you some bucks, buying and tailoring a tuxedo jacket is a good idea if you know you're going to have multiple formal weddings to attend.

    Tommy Hilfiger Peak lapel tuxedo jacket, $400, macys.com

    3. Nothing is more handsome than a man in a fitted white tuxedo jacket. For fancier occasions, wear it with a black silk bow tie.

    Duchamp Slim fit tuxedo jacket, $360, bloomingdales.com

    4. If you're looking for timeless as opposed to trendy, you really can't go wrong with a classic fit black tux.

    David Donahue Classic fit Loro Piana notch lapel tuxedo, $895, nordstrom.com

    5. A classic and conservative option for a formal or black-tie affair, this satin-finished collar and one-button closure are stately and elegant additions.

    Strong Suit 'Morgan' trim fit solid wool tuxedo, $625, nordstrom.com

  23. What Not to Wear to a Wedding

    No matter what the dress code on the invitation, there are a few things you should never wear to a wedding. We've already covered the obvious ground rules (no white, duh!), but there are some other pieces in your closet you should probably stay away from unless specified in your invite.

    Sneakers: Keep your tennis shoes on the court and wear a pretty pair of flats if comfort is your first priority. Sneakers send a very casual message, and even if your wedding invite says "casual dress" it doesn't mean you can look like you just came from the gym.

    Shorts: If your invitation states that rompers and cute shorts are acceptable, make sure you give your length a check. If your fingertips extend past the hemline on your shorts, they are too short for a wedding. And keep in mind: Cutoffs are always a no-no.

    Short-sleeve shirts: Big caveat for this one: If you're planning on wearing a short-sleeve button-down, make sure the wedding is super-casual and you're dressing it up with a bow tie or a suit jacket with a pocket square.

    Flip-flops: Rubber footwear is never okay for a special event like a wedding ceremony. That being said, no one would blame you if after a few hours of dancing in heels, you want to swap them out for something more comfortable.

    Distressed clothing: Clothing with holes, rips, tears or bleach stains is off-limits for a wedding. Even if it's a designer gown with an intentional tear down the side, it's not an appropriate sartorial choice for a wedding guest.

    Want more wedding guest inspiration? Right here!

    Not sure where to begin with your wedding planning? Take our Style Quiz and we'll pull together a custom wedding vision and vendors to match, just for you.

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