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Outfits Under $100: 4 Perfect Dresses for Summer Weddings


Bride on the beach throwing the bouquet

It’s wedding season! Time to get out your party dress, pack some tissues, and celebrate love with friends and family. As a wedding guest, you want to look chic (you wouldn’t be reading CF if you didn’t!) but you never want to steal the bride’s spotlight.

Here are some budget-friendly summer wedding outfits that will have you looking great as you tear up at the ceremony, dance at the reception, or catch the bouquet!

Tips for Classy Wedding Wear

  • Steer clear of white! It’s a wedding faux pas to wear the same color as the bride. It’s her day, so let her be the only gal rocking a white dress.
  • Look grandparent-appropriate. (Read: weddings aren’t the time for plunging necklines, “Hello there!” cleavage, and oodles of bare skin.) Many weddings are religious ceremonies, so you want to wear something that’s a touch more conservative and respectful than maybe what you’re used to. If the ceremony is in a conservative place of worship, you may want to bring a shawl or cardigan along.
  • Don’t be afraid of color! Bright colors and romantic florals are perfect for summer weddings.
  • If you think you’ll be one of the girls dancing with her heels off later, just wear flats! Cute flats and sandals can be just as dressy as heels.
  • Pack a small purse or clutch with only the essentials. Consider leaving your cell and camera in the car. Camera flashes can be very distracting (especially during the ceremony — the couple will have a photographer to capture the memories) and you shouldn’t need to text or call anyone.
  • Above all, you want to look classy. Save the skin-tight and booty-grazing frocks for the club.
  • Some weddings are very casual and people show up in jeans and t-shirts. Out of respect for the affair, I suggest not being one of those people. Who cares if you’re the most dressed up guest in the crowd? You’ll stand out in a good way and look elegant.

Outfit #1: Flirty Floral

Outfits Under $100: Flirty Floral Wedding Wear

Product Information: Dress – ModCloth, Necklace – Forever 21, Ring – Forever 21, Shoes – Forever 21

This look is a standard outfit for any summer wedding: a combination of a floral sundress, heeled sandals, and sweet accessories. The nude heels will elongate your legs and won’t compete with the patterned frock, while the dainty “Love” necklace and glittery cocktail ring add touches of glam and romance.

Outfit #2: Black-Tie Beautiful

Fancy black tie outfit to wear to a summer wedding

Product Information: Dress – Target, Clutch – Target, Earrings – Forever 21, Bracelet – Forever 21, Shoes – Ami Clubwear

Some weddings call for black-tie attire and you’ll need to zip into something more formal than your average party dress. This is a fun opportunity to get glamorous! You’ll look like an old Hollywood bombshell in this Zac Posen for Target dress, paired with glittery accessories.

Outfit #3: Sweet & Summery

Casual and pretty outfit for a summer wedding

Product Information: Dress – Lulu*s, Necklace – Forever 21, Clutch – Walmart, Sandals – Urban Outfitters

Unlike a black-tie affair, some weddings are much more laid-back and casual. If you’re attending a beach ceremony or backyard bash, swap out heels for comfortable flats and don a sweet and summery party dress like the Lulu*s frock in this outfit. The shell pendant plays off the beach locale and the neutral clutch lets your colorful dress stand out.

Outfit #4: Edgy Retro

Outfits Under $100 - Edgy Retro for a Wedding

Product Information: Dress – ModCloth, Earrings – Forever 21, Clutch – Target, Shoes – Ami Clubwear

This retro-inspired look is a cute compromise for the lady that’s not a floral-and-pastels girly girl. The pink patterned dress is definitely feminine, but the black brushstroke pattern is more modern and edgy than your usual floral print. The sweet studs play off the dress’ vintage cut and the spiked stilettos add a sexy and fierce finish to the ensemble.

What do you think?

Which of these dresses do you like best? Are you attending any upcoming weddings? Have you already rocked some adorable frocks at a wedding this summer? Leave a comment with your opinion on this post or share your own experiences with dressing up for weddings. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted on on July 14, 2010 / Filed Under: Shopping / Tags: , , , , ,

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41 Responses to “Outfits Under $100: 4 Perfect Dresses for Summer Weddings”

  1. 1
    July 14th, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    A lot of summer weddings are outdoors so I’d avoid all of the heels listed here. Go with wedges or flats, unless you want your heels to be sinking into the ground all night. Love the retro look!

  2. 2
    July 14th, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I really like the first dress – has a vintage vibe to it! Love the shoes in the second look! The third look is maybe a little too casual even for a casual wedding… Maybe if paired with some other shoes – a little heel goes a long way :)

  3. 3
    July 14th, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    LOVE the first dress!!! Sooo cute, sophisticated, chic, and appropriate! :)

  4. 4
    July 14th, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    I love the shoes from Ami Clubwear on Outfit #2!
    Love every outfit especially #1. : )

  5. 5
    July 14th, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Ah! These are all so adorable. I personally wouldn’t wear outfit #2 but it’s still cute. I could have used this post a month ago. I had a wedding every weekend of June!

  6. 6
    July 14th, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    That’s not black tie appropriate, that’s for cocktail attire.

  7. 7
    July 14th, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Hmmm…these are all really pretty outfits…and cute dresses…but if we’re supposed to dress slightly more conservatively out of respect for the event, then why are they all so teeny tiny in length? Those would definitely ride up when sitting down…I don’t know if these are an appropriate length, especially that first one. I can imagine yanking it down all day/night to maintain my modesty! ;-)

  8. 8
    July 14th, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Great post Ali!! I especially love that Zac Posen for Target dress–ahh I feel like every time a great target collaboration comes out I’m unfortunately broke!!

  9. 9
    July 14th, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    @L – Though a lot of weddings are outside during the summer, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be stomping through grass or sand. Most weddings will have paths or floors put down. If you’re worried about wearing heels, just swap them out for cute flats!

    @Kristen – You could definitely wear that to black tie — black tie doesn’t mean floor-length ESPECIALLY when you’re young! It’s totally appropriate for a girl in her teens or twenties to wear a frilly cocktail-length dress to a black-tie event.

    @Tara – I mentioned in the post that if you’re worried about being conservative, bring along a shawl or cardigan! The last dress is also a good option, or another like it, because it’s not strapless or revealing. But all these dresses are standard length for party dresses these days: unless you go full-length, fashionable dresses are usually just above the knee or mid-thigh. When you’re young, it’s totally acceptable to wear this length without looking tarty.

    Thanks everyone for commenting!

  10. 10
    July 14th, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    WTF is up with these heels? Hasn’t anyone read Vogue from last month? Kitten heels are back :) Gladiator monster heels are out and cute, 1950’s-like heels are sooo cute! They look way better and are better for you. Plus: you CAN actually DANCE in them! Isn’t dancing and fun what makes weddings fun?

  11. 11
    July 14th, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    @AnnaZ – If you just saw a new trend in Vogue, then it will be a while before that look gains popularity and trickles down to inexpensive retail outlets. This post is Outfits Under $100! I would have done a lot more if I could have hit up designer boutiques :)

    And personally, I hate kitten heels! They don’t do anything for your legs – high heels are much more flattering. Plus stilettos (especially black pumps) are never really out!!

    Thanks for commenting!

  12. 12
    July 14th, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Ali, my name is not Kristen. And where I’m from, your knees should be covered if it’s a black tie affair. A relative of mine just got married and it was black tie, so we had to figure everything out and make sure we were all on the same page. Cocktail attire is more like what you posted.

  13. 13
    July 14th, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    And I thought I should add that black tie occasions are always in the evening, so before say 6pm, then cocktail attire would be totally appropriate. :)

  14. 14
    July 14th, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    great tips! i thought they were all spot on! :)

  15. 15
    July 14th, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    this is amazing i was just asking someone what i should wear for a summer wedding.

  16. 16
    July 14th, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    I liked all of the outfits except number 3, that way more like a barbecue outfit instead of something to wear to a wedding. I think the shoes in outfits 2 and 4 are a little stripperish, and that is because they are from a website that sells club wear. I agree that black heels go with everything, but those are not classy looking.

    I also agree that dresses should hit just above your knee or at your knee for weddings. Save the short frocks for a Friday or Saturday at a bar

  17. 17
    July 14th, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    @Kirsten, SO sorry I misspelled your name, I was typing fast earlier! Personally, I really don’t think black tie = a dress beneath your knees. But I generally don’t like following rules! :)

    The term “black tie” refers only to men’s apparel (tuxedos) so in my experience, women’s attire at black tie events is often based on local custom or current fashions.

    How was your relative’s wedding? What did you end up wearing?

    Thanks for commenting! :)

  18. 18
    July 14th, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Some weddings are very casual — like a short ceremony on a beach or a backyard BBQ — which is why I included Outfit #3. I wanted to span different dress codes because not all weddings are fancy. Since l moved to Missouri, I’ve noticed lots of weddings here are more casual than back at home in Chicago. It’s interesting how things different around the country!

  19. 19
    July 15th, 2010 at 12:22 am

    The wedding was good! I ended up wearing a strapless navy tea length dress and played it up with some fun accessories. I guess the safest bet is to ask what exactly they mean when they say black tie to avoid any confusion. :)

  20. 20
    July 15th, 2010 at 12:41 am


    I wasn’t trying to be rude earlier and thanks so much for replying to my comment :)

  21. 21
    July 15th, 2010 at 12:44 am

    @AnnaZ I didn’t think you were rude! I love hearing everyone’s opinion and input! I really appreciate comments. …And if kitten heels are truly making a comeback, I better prepare myself — I love my high heels too much!!

  22. 22
    July 15th, 2010 at 12:58 am

    Ali, I love this post! You did a great job :) I have to admit that the 3rd outfit is my favorite! It’s such a wonderful idea for those casual summer weddings!

    Great job!

  23. 23
    July 15th, 2010 at 2:11 am

    I LOVE the black tie outfit and retro outfit! Super cute picks!

  24. 24
    July 15th, 2010 at 4:11 am

    ahhh thank you!!
    i have a wedding on saturday (fortunately I’m already ready for that!!) but I have another one at the end of August and trying to find yet another wedding dress is a total nightmare!!
    I love your advice- but regarding shoes I’m taking flats with my heels!!
    love the second outfit!!

    Charlotte xxx

  25. 25
    July 15th, 2010 at 8:42 am

    A good rule of thumb for the length of your dress/skirt for a religious or conservative event is that when you are sitting down, the hemline should either cover your knees or hit right above them. Mid-thigh length is simply not appropriate if you wish to be respectful.

    One more rule I would have added: If you can, try to find out the wedding colors beforehand and steer clear of them, especially if you want to wear a solid-colored dress. Wearing the same color as the bridesmaids isn’t necessarily wrong, but it tends to look odd, like you didn’t do your homework.

    Love the shoes on outfits 1, 3, and 4, though I would go with a lower heel in general to reflect the often more conservative feeling of weddings.

    There seems to be some controversy surrounding the “black tie” dress. While yes, a cocktail dress is appropriate for a black-tie event (although a good general rule of thumb is that the later the event, the more formal, so a black tie wedding that starts at 7 or 8pm is more likely to call for a long gown than a 5pm black tie wedding), I would avoid wearing something like you posted to a wedding for the same reason I wouldn’t wear white…the dress just screams “look at me” too much and would make me feel like I was trying to upstage the bride.

    Outfits 1 and 4 are my favorites. Both seem really pretty without being overly attention-getting.

  26. 26
    July 15th, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Wow love the outfits! Especially the first one, really love how the heels complement the dress! :)

    Yup I’m attending a wedding at the end of this month, and usually I’m not a color person but I’m taking your advice to play with colors! I think I’m going to wear a turquoise Grecian-wrap dress that hits dress above my knee, with a black waist band thingy.

    I really don’t know what kind of shoes and accessories to match the turquoise and black though, since this is the first time I’m wearing such a bold color (to me)!

  27. 27
    July 15th, 2010 at 10:27 am

    I lurk daily but rarely comment but I LOVE this blog! Even though I’m not in college, I LOVE it. Cute stuff.

  28. 28
    July 15th, 2010 at 10:42 am

    ditto shaney – a dress that hits mid-thigh is definitely NOT appropriate for a wedding, unless maybe the wedding’s in vegas! that’s definitely showing too much leg.

    & while the dress for outfit #2 is pretty, it’s loud and an attention-getter, just by nature of the color & something to avoid so as not to upstage the bride.

  29. 29
    July 15th, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I think the styling depends more on the specific wedding than anything else.

    For example, at my aunt’s wedding, guests had to dress more conservatively because it took place in a Catholic church. Also, the majority of the guests were older (and therefore more conservative). There was only one girl who wore a dress that hit mid-thigh, rather than knee-length or just-above-the-knee length, and she stuck out like a sore thumb. Some of the guests were distracted by her attire!

    Conversely, at a friend’s wedding, the venue wasn’t conservative and the general guest list was younger. Therefore, it didn’t look out of place to wear a shorter dress and it fit the dance-club atmosphere the couple was going for.

    Its all about doing your homework and finding out what is expected. However, I think its always better to dress more conservatively if you are unsure. Nobody is going to bat an eye if you wear a longer dress than most others. But if you wear one that’s way too short, you’re going to steal the spotlight from the bride!

    Not every party dress hits mid-thigh. If you look around, you can definitely find a more conservative dress. Personally, I wouldn’t wear a short dress to most weddings, unless it was super super casual.

  30. 30
    July 15th, 2010 at 11:50 am

    @Jec – SInce your dress sounds like it’s a bold color, I would suggest parred down jewelry. You can’t go wrong with silver!

    Thanks for commenting!

  31. 31
    July 15th, 2010 at 12:24 pm


    I have a weird situation and I’m wondering if a certain dress that I had in mind would be appropriate, Two of my friends are getting married next weekend at the courthouse. They’re not having an actual wedding, but they are having a party after the courthouse. It’s an outdoor party taking place at night. I have a white maxi dress with gray and black flower print on it. I was planning on wearing it with black shoes and a black cardigan. Do you think that would be okay?

    Thanks! Great post by the way.

  32. 32
    July 15th, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    @Shannon – Is the gray and black floral print large? Does it cover most of the dress or is the dress noticeably white? Wearing white is frowned upon at a wedding — especially in a maxi dress, which could invoke a bridal gown look — but if the dress is printed and you’re also wearing a cardigan, I think it will be OK. You may be hot in a maxi dress though!

    In terms of dressing for a courthouse wedding, just wear something you would wear to court or work — professional and respectful. You could definitely wear the outfit you described :)

    Thanks for commenting! I hope you have fun at your friend’s wedding!!

  33. 33
    July 15th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I love the Edgy Retro dress. I’ve hardly seen any dresses from Modcloth that I wouldn’t wear!

  34. 34
    July 15th, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Great post, keep it coming ! :-)
    I totally agree about the research thing. I went to my cousin’s wedding recently and only the groom’s friends wear wearing really short dresses and high heels, not exactly appropriate…
    Not wearing white is quite obvious but some people seem to forget it. I also have a problem with people wearing black to a wedding (if ever you want to come to mine, keep this in mind. ;-)).

  35. 35
    July 16th, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    The edgy retro outfit is so cute! Love the dress!

  36. 36
    July 18th, 2010 at 6:24 am

    love the 1st n 2nd dress

  37. 37
    July 28th, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Love all of the dresses but the first dress is just my speed. It has a sophisticated yet summer type fun look to it.!! Good job on this post….and the shoes are cute!!

  38. 38
    July 31st, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    not a fan of this one at all! :/

  39. 39
    June 22nd, 2012 at 5:06 am

    I Absoultly love #2 in my opinion that’s definantly the best in this catagory

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