The Wedding Guest

What do I wear to a wedding as a guest? After the past two years of mainly dressing casually, it may be challenging to dress appropriately for a special event. So today, I am sharing a few dress ideas and tips for those times you need something more elevated than the casual summer dresses I shared here.

A similar dress is here.

Sometimes you can use a dress you already have and get creative with your accessories. For example, pearls, a dressier belt, and a silver clutch elevate a relatively casual self-belted dress in the photo above.

For a wedding at a casual venue such as an event barn or on a terrace, I will wear a similar look to the photo above from the archives. The dress was from Talbots last year. Look for fabrics such as viscose, crepe, or rayon for smooth flow and movement.

This dress is here.

If the wedding were on the beach, in a garden, or another casual daytime venue, a lightweight dress with flat or wedge sandals and a small handbag would be appropriate. You may be walking on sand or grass, so when choosing your footwear, keep that in mind. Look for the color and dress style that complements your shape and your coloring so that you may wear it again for other such events. Colors like plum, lavender, gray, taupe, and navy are always appropriate. Avoid wearing red, black, or white to a wedding.

This dress is here.

If the ceremony is in a chapel, a more conservative dress might be more appropriate. Look for styles such as the dresses above and below. Adding accessories such as a prettier belt and earrings can elevate the dresses and personalize your look. Nude or metallic shoes are usually the best choice with navy. Remember to carry a small clutch instead of a sometimes bulky everyday bag.

This navy dress is here.
This dress is here.

The petite woman with a small frame will look best in small prints or solid colors and less voluminous or knee-length dresses. (Petite means less than 5’4″ in the fashion industry.)

The pant set is here.

If you are more comfortable and confident in pants, options like the one above can be lovely and appropriate.

This dress is here.

An evening wedding calls for more formal attire, such as the dresses above and below. The invitation may give you guidelines for the dress code. If possible, also consult with the bride or members of the bridal party since they can provide tips for what will be appropriate for the ceremony.

This dress is here.

My posts are never sponsored, but they are created to give you some ideas in response to the questions I often get. In addition, shopping links on this website may allow me to earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

  1. I know you should not wear white to a wedding, and I guess black would be too somber. But why no red? I enjoy your blogs and have picked up so many ideas from you! Take care!

  2. You were reading my mind. I am looking for an age appropriate dress to wear to church for Easter and look what you did, helped me shorten my search by hours. Thank you. I’m excited to try the one like you are wearing. Thanks again for this post and your blogsite.

  3. Where can I find the lovely belt you are showing with the first dress? Thank you for this very helpful post!

  4. My son is getting married in April and I’ve purchased a jacket dress similar to the Dillard’s dress with the rhinestone neckline. Mine is plum but I needed plus-size and found it at Nordstrom’s. Per your very helpful suggestions I’ve paired it with metallic sandals and clutch. Thank you for all you do!!

  5. Thank you for mixing the dress choices. This allows for different tastes and preferences as well as for different body shapes.

  6. Thank you those wedding options Susan! I’m attending my Grandsons Charleston SC wedding in May. It’s a rustic venue and formal dress has been requested. I’m 70 and not comfortable wearing a long formal dress so I’m opting for a blousy, navy jumpsuit! I’m thinking it’s almost formal and I’ll feel more comfortable.

  7. Oh thank you, Susan. I never know what to wear to weddings as a guest. Your guidelines and dress examples are very helpful. Another bookmarked page from SusanAfter60! I had two children that got married two years apart. recently. I found a lovely dress at Nordstroms for a very reasonable price. It was solid navy, long sleeves and full length with a boatneck. I purchased some Sam Edelman low heeled, gray suede pumps and found a clutch to match. It was perfect since both were formal weddings in upscale, casual venues. It was so perfect in every way that I wore it to both weddings. Raised the sleeves for the second one and added some beading in navy at the neckline and waist.

  8. Thank you very much for your excellent guidance. I am a retired teacher and I am adjusting my wardrobe with your suggestions.

  9. I wondered if you gave ever gotten to wear the beautiful lace designer dress your friend had given you. You looked absolutely stunning in it.

  10. Thank you, Susan, for this very helpful guidance on selecting appropriate outfits for different wedding venues! I know this will come in handy!

  11. Beautiful dress options! Thank you for researching them for us and describing the difference of dressing for an outdoor and or daytime event versus a night time event. It is reassuring to hear guidelines even if we knew them because our social lives were disrupted for a while.

  12. Thanks again Susan! I bought the first dress from Talbots and I can’t wait to wear it. Do you have any suggestions for packing for a week in Italy in the early summer??? Thank you in advance.

  13. Good morning. I’m not sure if you have ever done a post about cruise dressing. If so, would you be able to reference the date for me please? I find it difficult to pack for 10 to 14 days including two to three formal nights and a few excursions without taking two suitcases. There has to be a way for a warm weather cruise and winter weather cruise. If anyone can devise a plan, it’s you!

    1. My friend, Donna Hull, helped me out with guest posts on packing for cruises here. I haven’t had the pleasure of going on a cruise in many years, so I knew her information would be more helpful than mine.

  14. Thank you Susan,
    This post came at a right time. I am going to my nephews wedding and I am having a hard time figuring what is appropriate for a evening wedding where it is cold. I am always cold (health issue) so warmth is a must. I decided on black velvet pants and gold color blouse. My jacket is black with gold color scroll. I also have black palazzo pants what would you think would be the best?
    I will wear a pearl neckless ,and earrings. I decided to not wear the bracelet And a small purse.

    I don’t want to look blah! So any suggestion will be appreciated.
    Thank you so much for any suggestions.

    1. The palazzo pants will look good if your jacket is cropped and close-fitting. However, if the jacket is a longer tailored style and your velvet pants are cut slimmer, that combo would be better. I hope you have a delightful evening.

  15. Good morning Susan! I could also use some suggestions about what to wear to a college graduation and a party the following day. It’s in the Midwest in June, so the weather could be hot or humid. I haven’t worn dresses for nearly 10 years since that’s when I retired. I would be grateful for any ideas that you have. Thanks so much! Jodi

    1. Wear something similar to the dress I wore in the first photo. You can also wear slacks and a dressy blouse with sandals if the party is more casual. I vote for always wearing what makes you feel confident and pretty if it will be appropriate for the event you are attending.

  16. Thank you Susan. I might go with linen slacks and a couple of pretty tops. I’m going to have to break down and buy a dress someday! Jodi

  17. Susan,
    Your suggestions are perfect. The plum pantsuit is beautiful and wish I had a wedding to go to! It’s a good alternative for a dark color and could be worn as separates. I’m always looking to get the most use out of my purchases.

    Your friend Donna is a wealth of information for cruises. It’s been years since my last cruise and I recall overpacking.

    Thank you,

  18. Great ideas for being a lovely wedding guest Susan! I am delighted that I bought the first dress you pictured last spring. It is exactly what I was planning on wearing! Thank you for your suggestions on how to make it dressier.

  19. Would you make suggestions for a reunion of sorts with an male friend from dating days. we’re both single…and its been many experiences and years. So naturally I want to look really nice without going overboard. Can you suggest both casual and dressier if plans change. Thank you for your help!

  20. Susan, I’ll be wearing a sheath, slightly below the knee dress with closed-toed pumps for a wedding. Not wearing pantyhose is out of the question for me. I read your “Unmentionables” post from 2020 in which you recommended Donna Karan’s “The Nudes” control top pantyhose. Unfortunately, these are no longer available. Can you suggest another brand in a control top and light skintone color?

  21. Hi Susan ~
    Hoping you can give me some guidance. I found a knee-length, light pink dress to wear to a wedding in a few weeks. What brand/color of pantyhose would you suggest I wear with it? I know it’s summer but I don’t feel comfortable going stockingless. I am fair-skinned, not tanned.

    1. Look for the hose that are sheer and as close as possible to the color of your skin. I’ve worn Hanes Silk Reflections for years, which are relatively easy to find.

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.