What to Wear As a Wedding Guest

wedding guest outfit ideas
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When you are attending a wedding, the question of “what to wear?” will always make an appearance at some point. The tricky part is ensuring that you not only don’t arrive underdressed but you also don’t want to overshadow the event in any way.

However, there are a few simple tips to remember that will ensure you are appropriately dressed and even add to the occasion in some way.

1. Dress Code

how to dress for white tie wedding
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The first thing you need to know is the different dress codes, as well as what each means and what it means for your outfit choice.


A white-tie event is the most formal you can be. While not common nowadays, the dress code is very strict; men must wear a black tailcoat, white shirt, a pair of Julius Marlow shoes, and white bow tie, while women are expected to wear a long, formal dress.

Black Tie

Black tie is easily the most common formal dress code and also gives people a few more options. For men, black tie means a suit with a tie and formal shoes. For women, a cocktail, evening, or formal dress is appropriate, or a pantsuit if you so choose.


Semi-formal is another common dress code, especially in the Summer. For men, semi-formal would include trousers, a button-down shirt, and a blazer. For women, think about something you would wear on a date or to a cocktail party that often checks the “semi-formal” box.


When it comes to weddings, unless explicitly stated, casual does not mean t-shirts and joggers. For men, you can possibly wear chino shorts in Summer and a button-down shirt with a blazer. For women, once again, a cocktail dress or something you would wear to work will suffice.


For a traditional wedding, it is important to know if you are expected to dress in full traditional attire or simply have a piece or two. For both men and women, you will either have to wear a full traditional outfit or simply match the theme using a particular pattern or color.


Finally, a custom dress code is simply the bride and chrome specifying what you should be “inspired” by. This can be the venue, a particular color palette, or something similar. For example, if the wedding is forest-themed, greens, browns, and some oranges are perfect.

2. Color

wedding party bridesmaids
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Unless otherwise stated, when it comes to choosing the color of your outfit, try to remain fairly neutral. Not neutral in the sense of wearing only beige, neutral as in not wearing a dress or suit that is that silver and gold striped and reflects.

Black is also a color that causes some confusion. For men, you don’t always have to wear a black suit for formal events; blues, greens, and browns are all great alternatives. For women, don’t be scared to wear a black dress either; it is super sleek and elegant, and slightly unusual.

It is always important to remember that a wedding day is about the bride and groom, and not about the extravagant outfit you are wearing.

3. Season

traditional wedding couple
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The season in which the wedding happens will have a massive influence on what you will wear. For warmer months, men should stick to light cotton shirts and linen blazers, while women should opt for super-lightweight and breathable dresses or pantsuits.

For Winter, you want to dress in a way that doesn’t require you to have a coat or jacket on constantly; therefore, wearing layers, wool blazers for men, and stockings for women will keep you warm.

4. Venue

wedding venue
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The venue will often have an influence on what you will wear, even if it isn’t stated in the invitation. For example, if you are attending a beach wedding, then a bright red or pink suit or dress wouldn’t fit in well.

On the other hand, you can wear all shades of white and blue, as well as a few shades of brown too. Once again, guests should always try and be reserved in a way with what they wear and the colors they choose.

5. What Will You Be Doing?

wedding guests
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Another factor you need to consider is what will you be doing. Are you attending a small wedding where there will be a sit-down dinner, a little bit of dancing, but mainly a lot of socializing? Or will you be attending a wedding that will have a lot of activities, dancing, etc.

Considering you won’t have much time to get changed quickly, and you also don’t want to bring two bags filled with alternative clothes, think smart instead. Men shouldn’t wear a vest underneath their shirt in case they get too warm, and women should pack a pair of flats in case their heels get too uncomfortable. These are simple examples, but it shows that having alternatives will help.

6. Keep it Simple

couple dressed up
credit: Juan Vargas

Finally, don’t overthink what you are going to wear, and always keep it as simple as possible. In the grand scheme of things, dress codes are added to a wedding so that the bride and groom can have an event and photos that show that everyone made an effort.
Because of this, there is no need to overthink what you are going to wear; as long as you are within the dress code or theme, what you are wearing will always be sufficient.