In a way, weddings are like the everyday person’s award show. (It’s awards season as we write this, and we’ve got Oscars and Golden Globes on the mind.)
We go to weddings to see and be seen. We’ll be photographed on Instagram, by the wedding photographer, and even by the random Polaroid cameras scattered around the dining tables.
Plus, a wedding is the time to dress up. This is your chance to look stunning and beautiful, and be prepared to share the name of your designer (even if it’s just a dress you found on Amazon).
We say all this to emphasize that looking good at a wedding is pretty important. But you already know that. That’s why you’re here!
Read on. We’ve got style ideas for every type of wedding. Follow these for glamorous wedding attire that oohs and aahs, without taking away (too) much attention from the bride.
Use the Wedding Type as Style Inspiration
Here’s the big secret about wedding outfits. You can use the type of wedding to inspire what you wear. The invite itself will usually state what the expected attire is, but if it doesn’t, you can get a pretty good idea from looking at the style of the wedding invitation, engagement photos, and website design.
What to Wear to a Destination Wedding
Destination weddings are the best! Love is in the air, whether you’re at a snowy ski resort or a beachy seaside town.
Use the destination as your style guide. If it’s somewhere hot, like Mexico or Hawaii, opt for island-wear. Bright colors, flowy skirts, and sandals are all in. You don’t want to wear a beach coverup or casual dress, though (unless the invite specifically calls for uber casual). Instead, dress things up with longer maxi dresses made from luxe fabrics.
What to Wear to a Black Tie Wedding
For many of us, the black tie wedding may be the closest we get to attending an awards show! If a wedding calls for “black tie,” they really mean it. Make sure your plus-one makes like JT and wears a suit and tie.
For you, a long dress is more appropriate, ideally one to your ankles. Go for solid, expensive-looking colors like black, red, gold, silver, or dark blue. You can add some glam with fine jewelry, or some shiny pieces (just keep it classy).
Keep your makeup classy, too. Let your inner beauty shine through with a fierce shade of red lipstick, and minimal eye shadow.
What to Wear to a Cocktail Attire Wedding
While black tie weddings are about looking beautiful, cocktail attire weddings are about being fun and flirty. A true cocktail dress (shorter, with a cut-off above the knee) is perfect.
You can have more fun with colors and style, too. You can either go more demure, with a classic off-the-shoulder dress in a single color. Or, you can have a bit more fun with something lacy or sparkly. You have the full rainbow of colors at your disposal.
Just keep things fancier than you would for a destination wedding. Dress up your look with a pair of high heels or strappy evening sandals.
What To Wear to a Black Tie Optional Wedding
Ugh, this is the one type of wedding that can cause a lot of outfit anxiety. How optional is black tie, really? You’ll never know until you arrive, so we say it’s always better to be overdressed than under.
Technically, “black tie optional” means you can get away with wearing either cocktail attire or black tie. But, if you’re unsure, lean towards black tie. If you choose to wear a shorter dress, make sure it would fit in at a charity gala vs. a Vegas nightclub.
Better yet, opt for a longer dress. This can be less expensive than something you’d wear to an official black tie wedding, but still fits the bill on length and color. Think solids, but feel free to introduce less formal colors like pinks, blues, and even green.
Style Tips to Follow for Any Wedding
No matter what type of wedding you’re attending, there are a few best practices any good guest should follow. Here are our tips for staying stylish until the last bottle of champagne gets popped:
- Never, ever wear white, beige, or off-white. Did we mention you should never wear white? That color is reserved for the bride.
- Bring a cardigan, light jacket, or bolero to stay warm. Whether it’s the weather or the A/C, churches, ballrooms, and outdoor venues can all get chilly.
- Pack a pair of flats for the dance floor. Your high heels are great for when you arrive, but not so good for boogie-ing down. Skinny strap flip-flops with low soles are our favorite. They look stylish enough and are thin enough to throw in your purse.
- Bring something to hold your jewelry. Speaking of the dance floor, you’ll be throwing up your hands when they play “Shout!” Make sure you don’t lose any of your fine jewelry by storing it in a travel jewelry case after dinner’s over.
- Don’t forget the essentials. In your purse, pack a first aid kit with the following: makeup for reapplying (lipstick or lipgloss for an instant brightener, coverup to blot out the sweat, and mascara for the drama); deodorant or a small perfume spritzer (it’s a long day); and mints or gum (who said the bride’s the only one who gets to kiss someone?).
For more wedding looks, check out our Pinterest board on what to wear to a wedding!
Roam often, stay stylish.