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Save the Date: What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

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What to Wear to a Summer Wedding
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Summertime is almost upon us, and that means the start of wedding season! Whether you’re a hopeless romantic who cried watching 27 Dresses, a distant relative of the bride, the maid of honor, or are just there for the food, it’s always fun to be a wedding guest.

After you’ve sent in your RSVP though, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out just what to wear! Appropriate wedding attire can differ vastly depending on the venue and time of day.

We’ve put together outfits suitable for some of the most common dress codes found at summer weddings as well as suggestions about where to purchase that perfect wedding guest outfit. It’s the bride’s day, of course, but it sure doesn’t hurt to be the second most well-dressed gal at the reception!

Before we get to the outfits though, read on for a few basic guidelines to follow when choosing wedding attire:

The Rules of Engagement

  • The Woman in White: It’s okay if your dress has a pattern with a white background, but it shouldn’t “read” as white from a distance. It’s still best to avoid ivory, cream, and even very pale peach or pink shades.
  • Skip the Clubwear: What works for Saturday night doesn’t necessarily work for a wedding. Keep in mind that the bride and groom’s grandparents and other older relatives will likely be in attendance, so skip the bandage dresses and micro-mini skirts. The same goes for daring cut-outs or exposed backs. A good rule of thumb: your hemline shouldn’t be above your fingertips when your arms are at your sides.
  • Cold Shoulder: Many houses of worship require shoulders to be covered, so make sure to bring along some sort of outerwear if you’re planning on wearing a sleeveless dress.

The Attire

Garden Party

Garden
Product Information: Pink Dress, Yellow Dress, Floral Dress, Flats, Wedges, Purse, Cardigan, Earrings

If you’re attending a daytime and/or outdoor wedding, chances are the dress code won’t be super formal, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring your fashion A-game! Whether you try out a lemon-hued shift dress or a floral fit-and-flare frock, you can’t go wrong with bright colors or pastels in a ladylike cut. If you choose a sleeveless dress, make sure to bring along a cardigan or shawl.

Since you’ll probably be walking on a lawn, skip the heels and go for comfy wedges or flats that won’t sink into soft dirt. (I can vouch for these rose gold Seychelles wedges. They aren’t cheap, but they’re amazingly comfortable. I recently wore them at a wedding and my feet were happy – even after six hours of standing and dancing!) A chain strap purse and chic drop earrings complete the look.

Suggested Retailers: ModCloth, Ruche, Threadsence, Forever 21 (try the Love 21 line, which usually has a more modest fit), Zara

Beach Wedding

What to wear to a beach wedding
Product Information: Maxi Dress, Tie-waist Dress, Stripe Dress, Denim Jacket, Sandals, Clutch, Necklace, Sunglasses

Beach weddings are typically on the casual side: after all, four-inch stilettos aren’t very functional in the sand! A fun, graphic print sundress is a great choice for this sunny soiree. Bring along a cardigan or cropped denim jacket to cover your shoulders during the ceremony or to stay warm if it’s a particularly breezy day. Keep the look polished with a pair of sleek sandals and a bright clutch. Don’t forget the sunglasses and SPF!

Suggested Retailers: Forever 21, J. Crew, Zara, H&M

Cocktail Hour

Cocktail wedding attire
Product Information: Black Dress, Navy Dress, Pink Dress, Clutch, Heels, Earrings, Wrap 

For a fancier evening reception, cocktail dresses are usually the way to go (unless, of course, the invitation specifically requests black tie.) Luxe fabrics, like lace and chiffon, make even the simplest sheath look like a million bucks. If you don’t want to shell out for a new dress, nice shoes and jewelry will breathe new life into a basic LBD. Slip a gauzy shawl in a rich charcoal color over your shoulders and prepare to dance the night away!

Suggested Retailers: Zara, ASOS, BCBG Max Azria

Wild Card Picks

Untraditional wedding attire
Product Information: Jumpsuit, Striped Dress, One-shoulder Dress, Clutch, Ring, Lipstick, Heels

I included this section because not all weddings are totally traditional when it comes to dress code! Weddings aren’t always the best time to try out trends, but if the bride is cool with it, why not have some fun with your outfit?

Fancy jumpsuits have been popular with the celebrity set for a while now, but you need not be a Hollywood starlet to pull off the look: with the right fit and a drapey fabric, a jumpsuit can look just as glamorous as a gown. Other less-conventional options include a satin striped sheath and a bold neon one-shoulder dress. Accessorize with unique pieces, like a scarab ring, two-toned clutch, and a swipe of tomato-red lipstick!

Suggested Retailers: Zara, Topshop, H&M

What did you think?

Would you wear these outfits? Are you attending any weddings this summer? What are you planning to wear? Tell us in the comments!

Posted on on June 12, 2014 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , ,

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3 Responses to “Save the Date: What to Wear to a Summer Wedding”

  1. 1
    June 12th, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    This has been extremely helpful! I must say, Shannon, your articles have been by far my favorites on this site. You have great taste! Hope you bring back Closet VIP as well!

  2. 2
    June 12th, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    Wow perfect timing I have a wedding this weekend. Thanks for all the info both the I didn’t know that about shoulders in churches although I do have to admit it does turn me off to the idea of wearing sandals or strappy shoes but they look so perfect with those outfits I think it’s a good idea to bring them to the reception.

  3. 3
    June 13th, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Thank you so much, Elle! And don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about Closet VIP! (In the process of moving right now and my apartment is not in any state to be photographed haha.)

    @Casey: I don’t think there are usually any footwear restrictions in churches, but it’s always good to check with the couple getting married. Have fun at the wedding!

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