A Guide To Guest Attire For Every Type of Wedding

Photo: Kate Elizabeth Photography | Venue: Omni Houston Hotel

Invited and confused about what to wear to an upcoming wedding? We’ve got you covered. Whether it’s a black tie fete in the heart of the city or an intimate celebration nestled in a lush garden, you’ll want to be properly dressed for the occasion. Read on for our expert advice on guest attire for every type of wedding- from elegant black-tie affairs to romantic garden celebrations.


Two women wearing black tie gowns holding cocktails.
Photo: Erika Geier Photography | Guest Accommodations: Grand Galvez

When it comes to black tie affairs, floor-length gowns are a must. If you prefer a shorter hemline, ankle-length is also appropriate. You’ll want to follow the formal rules of black tie, but can still infuse personality through bold colors, fabrics and accessories. Go for decadent materials like satin, tulle and lace to channel that Hollywood glamour. And don’t shy away from black – it’s always a classy choice! Break out your most luxe dress and elevate the look with dazzling jewelry and a clutch for black tie perfection.

Black-Tie Optional/Formal

Wedding guests wearing formal gowns and suits.
Photo: Amy Maddox Photography | Venue: Bell Tower on 34th | Wedding Entertainment: Danny Ray and the Atlantic Street Band

Black-tie optional, also known as formal, still calls for dressy ensembles but gives you more options than true black-tie affairs. Take the chance to dazzle in a floor-length gown or keep it short and sweet with a knee-grazing cocktail number. Luxe fabrics like satin, chiffon and silk set the formal tone. Elevate your look by layering on pearls or sparkling diamond jewelry. While heels are recommended for that extra touch of glam, if they aren’t your thing, a dressy embellished flat will also do the trick.


Three girls posing for a picture wearing cocktail attire.
Photo: Erika Geier Photography

For cocktail dress code, you have more flexibility to show off your flair! Mini and midi lengths are perfect for flaunting those stems. Materials like silky satins, stretch jerseys and breezy chiffons inject that playful vibe. Have fun with vibrant colors, bold prints and daring details to display your unique style. Aim for an outfit nicer than daywear but less formal than black tie glam. And be sure to finish it off with fabulous shoes and accessories!

Dressy Casual

A bride posing with women wearing dressy casual dresses.
Photo: Marco Wang Photography – Mark Simmons | Wedding Venue: Royal Oaks Country Club | Cake: Susie’s Cakes

How do you toe the line between dressy and casual? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered on nailing the dressy casual code! This “relaxed” cocktail vibe calls for effortlessly chic jumpsuits and flirty mini dresses. The beauty of semi-formal is you can dress an outfit up or down with your choice of accessories, shoes and jewelry. Use embellished heels, bold baubles and a clutch to femme it up. Or keep it low-key with flats, minimal jewelry and a crossbody bag. With this versatile dress code, you’ve got free range to show off your personal style!

Garden Party

Two girls wearing green and blue dresses for a garden party wedding.
Photo: KT Merry | Designer + Coordinator: Tara Guerard Soiree | Venue: Kiawah River | Rentals: Snyder Events | Cake: Nine Cakes | Orchestra: The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra

To channel the garden party aesthetic, think pretty floral prints and flowy fabrics like chiffon or airy cottons and chintzes. Flat shoes or wedges allow you to safely navigate outdoor terrain. Carry a woven or straw handbag for a cute picnic vibe. And don’t forget a festive hat to complete your garden chic look!

Tropical Destination Wedding

A wedding on a lawn in Mexico.
Photo: Sara Richardson Photography | Bridal Gown: Belle Ame Bridal

For beachfront weddings, pack your vacation mindset. Vivid prints, breezy maxi dresses and easy two-pieces embody that beach babe aesthetic. Show off your casual-cool style by rocking a pantsuit if you dare! Add some tropical flair with shell jewelry or straw purses.

Hill Country Wedding

A woman wearing a long pink floral dress standing with a man in a sport coat and tie.
Photo: Kacie Q Photography | Venue: Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa

At Texas Hill Country weddings, go for flowy, lightweight dresses that can handle the heat. Breezy chiffon and linen fabrics will keep you cool outdoors. Length doesn’t matter – go short or long! For a western twist, pair your dress with cowboy boots or a hat. Get playful with southwestern patterns like cowhide prints or cacti.

No matter the dress code, let your personality shine through! See wedding guest dresses for every season.

“A Guide To Guest Attire For Every Type of Wedding” Spotlight WiH Partners- Photo: Kate Elizabeth PhotographyErika Geier Photography | Amy Maddox Photography | Venues: Omni Houston HotelBell Tower on 34th | Royal Oaks Country Club | Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa | Guest Accommodations: Grand Galvez | Cake: Susie’s Cakes | Bridal Gown: Belle Ame Bridal | Wedding Entertainment: Danny Ray and the Atlantic Street Band

Contributing Vendors- Photo: Mustard Seed Photography / Marco Wang Photography – Mark Simmons / KT Merry / Sara Richardson Photography / Kacie Q Photography / Tara Guerard Soiree / Kiawah River / Snyder Events / Nine Cakes / The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra

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