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What Do I Wear There? Wedding Guest Attire


A couple weeks ago, CF reader Fai asked for help with her what-to-wear conundrum:

“Colleen, I have so many weddings that I’ve gone to this year and still some coming up. I’m running out of ideas and don’t want all the wedding photos from the different weddings to capture me in the same outfit! I need some more ideas appropriate for the occasion. Please help.”

Weddings are definitely tough events to dress for, as your outfit typically depends on your role in the wedding, your relationship with the couple, and just generally how fancy the event is going to be. Because of that reason—and since I know you guys are from all over and experience totally different weather—I have tried to simply make some base outfits that you can use for inspiration to help you find your perfect wedding outfit.

Generally, tights, cardigans, and coats can be added to these as needed, and shoes can be switched out for a similar style/color that may be more appropriate for the situation. Hopefully these sample outfits will help get you out of your wedding rut!

Wedding Guest Outfit #1

Wedding Outfit

Product Information: Dress: TopShop, Bow Clutch:, ‘Giana’ Pump: Nordstrom, Headband:, Cheek and Lip Tint:

There’s that old wedding adage that every bride needs “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” Therefore, you know that a blue dress will fit in at any wedding!

I love this dress for a slightly more conservative look, and the lace top and sleeves give it a really interesting vintage feel. To keep the focus on the dress’ great shape and detail, I chose simple, girly accessories like pale, blush-pink pumps and a deep blue clutch with a great bow design.

To complete the look, go for a sweeping, loose up-do held with a similarly blush-colored headband. Add a swipe of pink tint across your cheeks and lips, and you’ll definitely have the “new” look everyone’s talking about!

Wedding Guest Outfit #2

Sample outfit for what to wear to a wedding

Product Information: Dress: Debenhams, Pearl & Crystal Bracelet Set:, Moon Beam Complexion Highlighter:, Silver Flats:

This look is a bit bolder since the purple is so rich, but the cut and draping are definitely flattering and fun for a wedding atmosphere. The similarly draped black clutch and silver flats continue the flowing style of the dress, while the pearls add a classic touch.

Since the outfit is a statement in itself, try to go natural with your hair and makeup. Drop the eyeliner and lipstick in favor of faking your own in-love-newlywed glow (you know the look I’m talking about!) by blending a shimmery highlighter onto your cheekbones and brow bones.

Wedding Guest Outfit #3

What to wear to a wedding

Product Information: Dress:, Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler: Sephora, Jessica McClintock Satin Clutch: Nordstrom, Flower Earrings: Miss Selfridge, Nude Pumps: Cutseygirl

Typically, I would not suggest going for trendier pieces in a traditional setting like a wedding. However, I think this gorgeous one-shoulder dress is a perfect example of a “modern romantic” look that’s just as sophisticated as the tried-and-true classic dress shapes out there. The satin clutch and nude pumps (which Liza wrote a great post about last week!) keep the look fresh and new, while the flowery earrings are both adorable and elegant.

When it comes to hair, I once again suggest going as natural as possible with an easy up-do or some soft waves. For makeup, focus in on your eyelashes by using a lengthening mascara and eyelash curler (like the iconic Shu Uemura one above) to get a wide-eyed, Audrey Hepburn-type look.

What Do You Think?

Do you have any other advice for Fai on cute wedding outfits? Do you have any go-to wedding outfits for when you attend someone’s big day? Share in the comments!

And if you have any more “what do I wear there” questions, let me know! I may feature yours in next week’s article.

Posted on on September 25, 2009 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , ,

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36 Responses to “What Do I Wear There? Wedding Guest Attire”

  1. 1
    September 25th, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Great advice! I really love the third outfit. The pale purple + nude accessories = the perrrrfect combo. Well done ;)

  2. 2
    September 25th, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    wow , i love them all, especially the first and third ones! the modern romantic feel is wonderful!

  3. 3
    September 25th, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    I love the first dress!!!!!! (All of them are cute, but that one is my favorite!)

  4. 4
    September 25th, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Lovely outfits! I love the three looks you put together Colleen!

    I imagine it must be a hassle to come up with outfits for multiple weddings, not to mention a wee budget strain. But it’s the perfect excuse to fill out the more formal side of a wardrobe.

  5. 5
    September 25th, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    These are such lovely outfits! I love the third one especially, so classily beautiful and def something I would wear to a wedding! Thanks for this! xxx

  6. 6
    September 25th, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Cute outfits! Especially the first and second one. What about a beach wedding? I’m going to one in a few months, and I’m not sure what to wear!

  7. 7
    September 25th, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    The first outfit is mind blowing!! breath taking :)
    i love all three though*

  8. 8
    September 25th, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Absolutely LOVE the first dress! Fantastic outfit ideas!

  9. 9
    September 25th, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Great examples! I always wear the same things to weddings! As long as nobody who saw me in that dress is attending the one I’m going to, then I’m good haha.

  10. 10
    September 25th, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    I love these outfits.
    I also have trouble on what to wear at a wedding, now I got some ideas.

    Also I need a little help. I am going to a play this week, “Who is afraid of Virginia Wolf?” and I have no idea what to wear. I know you need to be dressy-ish but I can’t seem to find a good outfit..
    Can you help me please? Thank u

  11. 11
    September 26th, 2009 at 12:57 am

    I’m so thorn! I esp love 1 & 3 but I have to say #3 is my very favorite and this dress might be the MUST buy of this week.

  12. 12
    September 26th, 2009 at 2:06 am

    Third outfit is gorgeous!

  13. 13
    September 26th, 2009 at 3:48 am

    When I go to a wedding, I also think about what the reception’s going to be like. For example, next year my cousin is having a ceilidh (a dance party originally from Scotland and Ireland where everyone learns the same set routine), so I’m going to make sure that I wear comfortable shoes and a dress that moves nicely when I dance and that isn’t going to fall down easily! Being from the UK, I also think that it’s important to have a nice jacket and/or umbrella in case the weather is a bit rubbish :)

  14. 14
    September 26th, 2009 at 4:22 am

    I went to a wedding last night and when i was deciding what to wear I was wondering if it was appropriate to wear black or not. I ended up wearing an old fall back old and emerald green dress and when I got to the wedding about a quarter of the ladies were in black outfits.

  15. 15
    September 26th, 2009 at 6:18 am

    I absolutely adore the first look.

  16. 16
    September 26th, 2009 at 7:02 am

    I agree with Claire that in the UK (especially living near the coast) unexpected rain has to be considered. I always wear waterproof make-up (urban decay is great for this) to all occaisons where photos will be taken and try to add a cute umbrella. I have cute flowery summer umbrellas and darker autumn umbrellas but it is hard to know what umbrella to take to certain events like weddings :-S

  17. 17
    September 26th, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Wow this is perfect. I’m going today to pick out a dress suitable for a wedding and I had no idea what to buy! You read my mind.

    I love the first outfit a lot and the colors of the third are gorgeous too!


  18. 18
    September 26th, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    I’ve been to two weddings this year, one as a bridesmaid and the other as an adoring cousin :) I wore a great red dress to my cousin’s wedding and glammed it up by adding black stilletos and miniature pearls. I think it looked fab. So my tip- ditch the lbd and go for something more colorful…and then glam it up!

  19. 19
    September 26th, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    As an etiquette professional, I must say that you offer very good advice, especially since this is one of the most asked question. One problem with the third example might be that it could be too revealing. For most of us, it really isn’t an issue. But, for some more well endowed, well… And, this is where we get into the “rules” for women wedding guests–no red and nothing too revealing. Yes, that does mean that we aren’t supposed to wear strapless dresses, even if we have seen them at almost every wedding we’ve attended. The reason for this is simple. We should want to be good guests; so we don’t try to be the focus of the event. Too much flesh showing and bold colors will draw the eye (especially red). Red is really our only no-no color these days. Black is perfectly fine–yea. I love black.

    Bravo on offering such great advice!!

  20. 20
    September 26th, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    I love all three looks especially the 3rd one. That dress is so beautiful. I do disagree with Rebecca in saying this dress is too revealing. I think it is an appropriate length and no boobies will be popping out anywhere:) Colleen, I think this is the second time I noticed that you posted some items from a UK retailers website (and I LOVE both items) and I am wondering if you personally shop from these websites? I would love to try UK retailers/ designers, but I have never considered ordering from abroad. If you have, if you could share whether or not you have had a good experience doing so that would be great! Thanks for another fab post!

  21. 21
    September 27th, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks for all the positive words guys! I’m always glad to give advice.

    Lalalina: I have included many items from UK retailers because they are so cute and interesting. However, I personally have never ordered from them. One of my good friends has, though, and has not had any problems with the experience. She has told me the most important factors to consider when ordering from abroad are price (shipping is going to be expensive, and don’t forget to convert the price to American dollars in your mind!), time (since it will probably take a little longer to get to you), and fit (since you cannot try it on and will have a harder time returning it, make sure you are ordering your size–which you may also have to convert from European sizes).

    Have any of you guys ever ordered from European retailers? I’d love to hear more! Hope all of this helps!

  22. 22
    October 6th, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    I loveee the last outfit…i actually just ordered the dress! Im going to a wedding in a few weeks and this was perfect…Thanks for the advice!

  23. 23
    October 6th, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    This advice was great! i actually just ordered the dress! Im going to a wedding in a few weeks and this was perfect…Thanks for the advice!

  24. 24
    October 23rd, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    OMG!!! The next wedding is actually coming up tomorrow night, and of course I decided to look here for my inspiration. And I am soooooo happy you answered my “What Do I Wear There” question. I totally love the 3rd outfit. I know I can definatly put something together now.

    Thanks Colleen.

    Claire thanks for your umbrella tip. I live in Seattle, and I def will be needing that.

    Thanks Rebecca for your tip as well. def no red lipstick for me! (which i love to wear every chance I get) lol.


  25. 25
    May 18th, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    I loved your outfits! The problem to me is that I’m short (5’6″) and have BIG boobs (36DDD). Finding a nice dress is very difficult for me, because when they fit my boobs they are too long for me, and if they fit in the lenghtm they don’t fit my boobs. I have a wedding party on Saturday and I’m going nuts because I can’t find anything. Please, help me!

  26. 26
    September 29th, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Love the third dress…any ideas of where to find one like it or close to it?

  27. 27
    October 12th, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Tina I have the same problem. Try Bravissimo. Wonderful dresses at reasonable prices. I only wish more fashion outlets would understand our problem.


  28. 28
    November 11th, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    hiii i love the second outfit and im trying to find the dress you used but i cant find the dress on your sight or topshop where u said to to look i really need your help

  29. 29
    November 11th, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    oops sorry i mean the 1st one

  30. 30
    November 11th, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Asmaa, this post is from september. The dress is probably no longer available, sorry

  31. 31
    January 17th, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    wow i think i started purring when i saw that last dress.

  32. 32
    August 17th, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Ok, so I love these dresses, and I so know that this post was from 2009, but I know they have to have similar styles or fake look a likes somewhere out there… I love, love the 3rd dress (purple with nude shoes) and I have a wedding to go to in September, please, please help!!! I think it would work well with my figure and not look ghetto! I so stuck on this style, and now I have to have it! lol



  33. 33
    September 29th, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    really liked your suggestions,however, I would prefer to wear dress pants
    any ideas what to wear with them?
    thanx in advance

  34. 34
    August 10th, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Please let me know if you’re looking for a article author for your weblog. You have some really great posts and I think I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d absolutely love
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  35. 35
    April 2nd, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    This is years later but I LOVE the first dress and must have it! Topshop doesn’t have it anymore, clearly. Can you tell me who makes it and any other style # info. Thanks!!!

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