Wedding Guest Dresses – The Dos & Don’ts

by Sunna Naseer
Wedding Guest Dresses Dos Don'ts

Choosing what to wear as a guest to a wedding can be one of the hardest decisions to make. You need something extra special for the big day, but equally, something that won’t upstage the bride. In this ultimate guide to wedding guest dos and don’ts, we’ve got all your concerns covered, including the biggest question of all – can you wear cream to a wedding?

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Wedding Guest Etiquette

Everyone knows that they need to be on their best behaviour at a wedding. Etiquette for guests includes not assuming you can bring a date, not forgetting to turn your phone off for the ceremony, and not getting too drunk – at least not until the reception… But what about your outfit? Wedding attire etiquette is slightly less straightforward than wedding day etiquette. Follow our wedding protocol guide for clothing to ensure that what you wear stands out for the right reasons.

Wedding Attire: The Dos and Don’ts

Don’t Risk Upsetting the Bride

Let’s start by addressing the big question: is it ok to wear cream to a wedding? Although white is strictly off limits, you can technically get away with off-white shades such as cream, but you are treading a very fine line.

To avoid causing the bride and her loved ones any upset, you must make sure that your cream dress is significantly different. For example, it’s probably best that your cream dress isn’t floor length.

Try to avoid completely plain or lace cream dresses for a wedding guest – instead go for one with a print to be on the safe side. As long as you’re smart about it and it’s very clear that you’re not the bride, wearing a cream dress to a wedding can be a great look, especially in the summer. But if there’s even a hint of doubt, it’s best to stick to the safe option on this occasion.


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Don’t Be Afraid of Standing Out

Just because it’s the happy couple’s big day, it doesn’t mean you have to disappear into the background. A wedding is the perfect time to enjoy dressing up and to look your absolute best. Don’t be afraid to express yourself. If you love bold colour, wear it! It’s great for a summer wedding or an evening affair.

But can you wear red to a wedding? In short: yes. Wearing a red dress to a wedding is absolutely fine. As long as you stick to the more formal styles rather than something you’d wear out to a club, you’ll be looking super stylish.

Jessica Alba Red Dress Silver Heels Wedding Guest Dresses Alexie

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Do Keep Your Modesty

There’s a time and a place to flash the flesh, and a wedding most certainly isn’t it. If you’re wearing a short dress, make sure it’s no higher than mid-thigh. Avoid plunging necklines and cut-outs, and make sure any sheer fabric doesn’t reveal what you’re wearing underneath.

Holly Willoughby Floral Dress Wedding Guest Dresses Alexie

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Do Branch Out

It’s not all about dresses and skirts. As seen by forward-thinking celebrities on red carpets, we’ve finally embraced modern times and brought out the trousers for big occasions too. Sophisticated trousers or even a jumpsuit is perfectly acceptable wedding attire for guests.

Not a fan of heels? No one’s forcing you to wear them. Sandals or beautiful ballet flats can look just as good, and are particularly suitable for summer or daytime weddings.


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Don’t Wear All Black

Almost as sinful as wearing white, going for all-black-everything is a big no-no for weddings for obvious reasons. Black and cream dresses for weddings have similar rules: choose a dress with a print or pair with colourful accessories to lighten the look.

Emmy Rossum Blue Skirt Wedding Guest Dresses Alexie

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Our Edit of Wedding Guest Dresses

As if picking out appropriate dresses to attend a wedding wasn’t hard enough, the type of attire you go for also depends on the type of wedding. Will it be a formal affair in a traditional church or a laidback do at the beach? Whatever the style, we’ve got a few ideas to get you started.


Wedding Guest Dresses Dos Don'ts Casual

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Don’t get too comfortable with a casual occasion; it’s still a wedding after all. Combine elements of casual dress with a few formal pieces for the perfect balance. You don’t want to look like you didn’t make an effort!


Wedding Guest Dresses Dos Don'ts Beach

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A sandy beach wedding calls for a light and breezy style paired with pretty sandals. For this type of wedding, you can get away with flashing a little more flesh than usual. But keep it classy.


Wedding Guest Dresses Dos Don'ts Formal

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One of the most popular styles of wedding, a formal event means you should follow our guide of dos and don’ts a bit more carefully. But it’s not all rules and regulations. A wedding gives you a great excuse to have fun dressing up. An easy way to make sure you look formal is to go for sophisticated fabrics such as silk, satin, crepe and wool.


Wedding Guest Dresses Dos Don'ts Cocktail

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Cocktail style weddings call for a little more glamour but with an element of party. This type of event is likely to be held in the evening so you can ditch the cover up.

Evening Do

Wedding Guest Dresses Dos Don'ts Evening

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For an evening wedding guest outfit, you could go for a beautiful, floor-length dress or jumpsuit. Another glamorous look.

What Do You Wear To An Evening Wedding Reception?

Wedding reception dresses for guests don’t need to be as formal as when you’re attending the ceremony. The reception is one big party so wear what you’d wear to a particularly special celebration. Here are a few ideas on reception attire for evening weddings.

Wedding Guest Dresses Blue Missguided
Missguided £50
Wedding Guest Dresses Lace & Beads
Lace & Beads £84.99
Wedding Guest Dresses Lace & Beads ASOS ruffle
Asos £38
Wedding Guest Dresses Reiss
Reiss £225
Wedding Guest Dresses Maje Red
Maje £199.20
Wedding Guest Dresses Revolve Green
Revolve £99.79

Tips On Wedding Attire For Guests

Follow these tips when choosing what dress to wear to a wedding:

  • Don’t forget that wedding rules for guests apply not only to how you behave, but also to what you wear. Proper wedding attire will help you stand out for the right reasons.
  • If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Can I wear cream to a wedding?”, technically the answer is yes. Wearing cream to a wedding is ok as long as it’s distinguished from the bride’s dress. Stick to prints to be safe.
  • Is it inappropriate to wear red to a wedding? Not if you make sure you look smart over looking like you’re going out with the girls. Wearing red to a wedding is a great way to make a fashion statement.
  • Wedding guest dress etiquette calls for a certain level of modesty. Try to keep dresses no higher than just above the knee and go for a cover up for the day that you can take off to smoothly transition to evening wedding attire for the reception.
  • For a beach or casual wedding, go for a light and breezy style but don’t get too comfortable – mix in a few formal pieces to ensure you still look like you’re celebrating a special occasion.
  • For a formal wedding, keep things smart and choose sophisticated fabrics like silk, satin, crepe or wool.
  • Cocktail style or evening wedding guest dresses call for a bit more glamour.
  • Been invited to the evening do only? Dresses for wedding reception guests need not be quite as formal as when you’re attending the ceremony. Add an element of party to your style to celebrate the big day.

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Last reviewed and updated on August 30, 2017

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