08 July 2017
By Kristen Daly
So, your bestie's getting hitched!
Or maybe it’s your brother, cousin, great aunt, colleague, partner’s colleague, or next door neighbour’s psychic…. you get the idea. Point is, you’re goin’ to a wedding.
If you’re wondering what to wear as a wedding guest, scroll on for our ultimate guide below. Based on occasion, season and more, there are a range of dress codes it’s best to watch out for.
Keep in mind, sometimes they can be restrictive. As long as you think the wedding couple would be cool with it (make sure to ask if you’re in any doubt), feel free to challenge the norm a little, if you want to. The spotlight isn’t yours but that doesn’t mean you can’t be adventurous.
Also brides and grooms: hello. You’re welcome here too, as is your wedding party.
While the suggestions below are tailored for wedding guests, there are some bridal looks right at the end, too. Many of the semi-formal dresses will also suit bridesmaids just fine.
So go forth and shine, dear guest - after first reading our guide!
Let’s start with two of the most lowkey dress codes: casual and smart casual. Weddings that fit the bill are often smaller, less-traditional affairs; think afternoon drinks in a backyard or park, or perhaps a laid-back beach ceremony.
For casual weddings, especially outdoor ones, we recommend a relaxed but pretty sundress - minis generally welcome! - paired with low heels or elegant flats. For smart-casual or dressy-casual weddings, try a flowy tiered midi dress or a simple co-ord set.
If you’re stuck, let the time of the event guide you; pale colours work well for the day, dark colours for the night. But there’s no need to stress over these finer details. The main rule is to keep the stilettos and ball gown at home - ditto ripped jeans, grungy tees and thongs.
Nikka Shirred Off Shoulder Puff Sleeve Midi Dress in Oxy Fire
Gibson Crop Top and Knot Front Midi Skirt Two Piece Set in Lilac
Hadley Puff Sleeve Cut Out Mini Dress in Yellow
Onwards to the cocktail dress code! It tends to be a level up, glam-wise, from smart casual. It’s also pretty interchangeable with semi-formal, beach-formal and some dressy-casual codes.
This is your moment to wear that cute frock that sits just above, at or just below the knee. Or if you’re not vibing a dress, go for an elevated two piece set, or even dark pants with a glam top.
Adelaide Two Piece Wide Leg Set in Baby Blue
Amalie The Label - Amabel Linen Crop Top and Midi Skirt Two Piece Set in Black Floral
How Will I Know Dress in Navy
Ooh la la, congrats babe! Whether it’s white tie, black tie, formal or ‘black tie optional’, you’ve been invited to a capital-F Fancy Wedding.
For all of these aside from white tie, a full-length dress or very swish cocktail number should suffice. We say go for an ankle-length number in a luxe satin fabric or with glitzy embellishments like sequins.
If it’s a white tie wedding (or black tie at a very extra location), it’s probably taking place in the evening, and probably designed for bougie types. This is the fanciest dress code, so definitely play it safe with elegant heels and a floor-length formal gown (or, for the suit fans, a proper tux).
Whimsical Dream Multi Tie Maxi Dress in Blush
Jowellen High Split One Shoulder Maxi Dress in Multi Sequin
Eek, there’s no dress code on the invite - and you’re not close enough with the wedding couple to feel comfortable asking for advice. Without a clear guide provided, you must consider contextual clues. Where is the wedding located? What time of day is it taking place?
If, say, it’s at a fancy hotel in the evening, a longer gown is a safe bet. If it’s in someone’s backyard at 2pm, you can get away with a more casual dress or set with low (or no) heels.
Our advice? Pick a chic black dress! It's not the most traditional wedding shade but in 2022 it's all the rage. Go for an LBD with a midi or cocktail hem, and a classic silhouette like the one-shoulder look - or even something a little more unexpected (hello cut outs). If it’s feeling too business chick, add some elevated jewellery.
Got Me Looking One Shoulder Bodycon Midi Dress in Black
Dionyza Dress in Black
Let’s move on to seasonal dress codes… starting with our fave, summer! This blissful three-month stretch of the year is probably the most popular time for weddings.
This is your chance to wear less fabric, meaning shorter hems, side splits and cut outs are on the agenda, baby. Keep in mind it can get really hot, especially if the wedding is outdoors. Lightweight, non-clingy fabrics like cotton or chiffon are ideal, especially when paired with summery prints.
We recommend a flowy midi or two piece, with waist cut outs, splits and maybe a deeper neckline. The longer length says dressy, but the overall vibe is cool and comfy.
Myeshia Cut Out One Shoulder Midi Dress in Lavender Fields
Lille Halter Lurex Chiffon Cocktail Dress in Powder Blue
Meghan One Shoulder Two Piece Set with Maxi Skirt in Shadow Floral
At Showpo we love a fancy event in spring or autumn (or fall, if you please). With the milder temperatures of these in-between seasons, you won’t be sweating, or shivering.
But you still have to keep in mind weather limitations - not to mention what other guests might be wearing. If you don’t wish to stand out too much, strike a perfect balance between summer and winter with a long-sleeve mini dress or relaxed maxi.
Kiss Me Now Dress in Black Lace
December Empire Waist Maxi Dress in Emerald
Sophia Plunge Neck Bat Wing Sleeve Maxi Dress in Multi Floral
Winter weddings are probably the least common of the bunch - which tbh almost makes them more exciting. It may feel like a challenge to meet the right code (goodbye anything above the knee!), but this is your chance to try something different, and create a look to remember.
Your main goal with the weather is to cover more skin, so you’re not spending a full day and night at the event freezing. This is where full-length hems and longer sleeves are your best friends. Consider a sweeping ball gown (coat optional), or for less formal events, a gorgeous long-sleeve lace number.
For those wishing to be a little more daring, why not try a satin midi dress paired with knee-length heeled boots and a faux-fur coat? We're also into a satin jumpsuit with open-toe heels and a cropped coat or jacket. These styles will look incredible in wintery jewel tones like copper, wine, emerald or navy.
Abellita Plunge Neck Bishop Sleeve Broderie Trim Maxi Dress in Navy
Nicholla Ruched Front Angel Sleeve Midi Slip Dress in Copper
Zarina Plunge Neck Twist Back Jumpsuit in Maroon
…meaning you won’t be at the ceremony. Whether you missed out on an invite or something else got in the way, this happens sometimes - and it’s not always clear how to dress accordingly.
We say stick to the dress code, but give special consideration to all the dancing, eating and general merriment you’ll be around for. We love a tulle dress that’s fun to twirl around in, or a sparkly metallic number to catch those disco lights.
Rheannon Split Mesh Maxi Dress in Copper Lurex
Agatha Sleeveless V-Neck Organza Midi Dress in Red
A wedding really is a circus, with a lot more to it than just a ceremony and reception. Some couples also hold an intimate rehearsal dinner or gathering on the eve of their big day.
If you’re invited to one of these, and unsure of the etiquette, the trick is to go a little less formal than the actual wedding’s dress code. Think a dress you’d wear to an after-hours work event.
Perrie Mesh Corset Maxi Dress in Black
Caro Dress in Multi Floral
Geneve Ring Cut Out Long Sleeve Midi Dress in Blue Floral
You can’t dress for a wedding without a little frosting!
If you’re looking for jewellery or extra bits and pieces, why not try diamante earrings (these ones double as a ear cuff!), elevated hair accessories or a fancy metallic clutch.
Paulita Earrings in Diamante
Billini x Natalie Anne - Emily Star Hair Pin Pack in Silver
Georcelle Bag in Gold
We know this is a commonly googled question, but there’s no strict answer to it - aside from steering clear of any shade of white or ivory. (I mean, you could do it, but is it really worth it? Most likely, you’ll end up feeling guilty or stressed - even if the bride says they don’t mind.)
Nowadays, with so many outfit options and trends readily available, taste feels increasingly subjective; one person’s version of fancy might be another’s casual. Thankfully, tired old notions of what should or shouldn’t be worn based on one’s gender are also on the way out.
Our favourite rules are simple common sense: be respectful, especially of the couple, and observe a sense of occasion. A lot of work and care goes into these events and it’s cool to dress the part.
We promised this section for brides (and grooms), and here it is! Queen, we know you’ll love these gorgeous princess gowns and figure-skimming stunners.
We even have a glitzy mini or midi in case you want a second outfit for the day (very 2022).
For more current trends, including bows, sequins and sets, view our article on 10 Big Trends From Our New Bridal Range.
Desire Me One Shoulder Thigh Split Gown in Ivory Satin
Petunia Tie Shoulder Plunge Neck Lace Gown in Ivory
Madrina Strappy Cross Back Sequin Slip Midi Dress in Iridescent Ivory
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