What to Wear to a Wedding: 9 Outfit Ideas That Never Fail to Look Good

·7-min read

There's no denying that the wedding industry has been turned on its head over the past year. Plenty of nuptials have been cancelled, re-scheduled or made incredibly low-key over the last 18 months due to the ever-changing rules. But finally, as restrictions are eased even further, weddings appear to be full steam ahead and perhaps more of a big deal than ever. This also means, of course, that we'll have an excuse to dress up once again (hurrah!), but seeing as we haven't done much of that of late, we all could do with a few reminders of how to actually get dressed for big events such as this. And this is how we're here to help.

We all have to walk that fine line when it comes to deciding what to wear to a wedding: You want to look striking, somewhat fun, but still appropriate. You want to be remembered for the right reasons, even if it isn't your day whatsoever. Well, there are some basic ground rules worth referencing before rushing to the big day in a floral-print panic. We've covered the official dressing dos and don'ts of formalwear so that you can be the best-dressed guest at all manner of nuptials and high-society soirées – with zero wardrobe stresses.

From the 'wow' dresses that are guaranteed to make a big impact – without outshining the bride – to the heels that'll see you through the ceremony to the after-party. We've also cracked the code and found the wedding guest 'rules' that are actually worth breaking (including black dresses) and now, with our help, you'll be in good stead to say yes to all those upcoming invites. Consider this your guide on how to dress for weddings, no matter how big or small.

So whether you have a city wedding to attend, a religious ceremony to consider carefully or you just don't want to have a miffed bride on your hands (no white lace, okay?), this is a good place to start. We can all lose our heads when a swanky event comes a-knocking, but it's really just a case of being fully prepared for every eventuality—and learning from some of our own fashion faux pas. Those strappy stilettos looked great online, yes, but were they really cut out for a marquee reception in a field? Not so much. Click through to read the nine rules for what to wear to a wedding when you're just not sure.

#1: A dress is a safe go-to

If you're struggling to compile the perfect trousers, top and jacket combination with ease, then simply reach for one of your trusty statement dresses. Add heels or fancy flats, a few choice accessories and the makeup that makes you feel good. Perfection.

Rixo Ada Lace-Trimmed Floral-Print Crepe Midi Dress (£137.50)

Sea Gina Ruffled-Collar Gingham Cotton Midi Dress (£390)

H&M Lyocell-Blend V-Neck Dress (£30)

& Other Stories Voluminous Open Back Midi Dress (£73)

#2: Avoid short hemlines

While we would never want to be prescriptive when it comes to dress styles, we would say that it's worth bearing in mind that you end up sitting down for long periods of time at weddings, and sometimes mini dresses aren't ideal for this purpose. A midi will not only look supremely elegant, but it will also end up being more practical and comfortable in the long run.

Derek Lam 10 Crosby Finley One-Shoulder Midi Dress (£365)

Asos Design Curve Frill Strap Tiered Midi Dress in Black and White Gingham Print With Matching Hair Scrunchie (£32)

Zimmermann Aliane Tie-Back Cutout Floral-Print Voile Dress (£685)

Aje Mimosa Puff-Sleeve Linen-Blend Midi Dress (£520)

#3: Dress for the theme or vibe

If you're at a city wedding it's likely you'll wear something different from a countryside do. Same goes for destination nuptials (whenever we're allowed to travel again) or something low-key that's designed to be more of a party.

River Island White Short Sleeve Puff Dress (£50)

Eugenia Kim Cassidy Straw Hat (£310)

Missoma Baya Hoop Earrings (£115)

Castañer Carina 90 Black Canvas Espadrille Pumps (£80)

#4: It's okay to wear black

The modern world has ushered in many wonderful changes: iPhones, Headspace, cronuts, oh and the acceptance of wearing black at weddings and baptisms. Black once was the mark of doom and gloom, but now it's a tone for the chic urbanites. Wear it to weddings, and wear it with aplomb!

16Arlington Odessa Cutout Feather-Trim Crepe Dress (£895)

H&M Back-Laced Dress (£25)

Zara Midi Dress With Draped Detail (£30)

& Other Stories Criss Cross Linen Blend Midi Dress (£75)

#5: Always carry a small bag for your essentials

Large tote bags and cumbersome shoulder bags don't really say "special occasion." Rather, they make it look like you're going on a daylong trek across the urban jungle. Go minimal and head out to the wedding with a micro or clutch bag, cutting loose from your heavy accessories for a day. Think of it as a handbag detox.

& Other Stories Croc Embossed Mini Leather Bag (£69)

Rosantica Cuoricino Embellished Gold-Tone and Voile Tote (£580)

Cult Gaia Fai Acrylic and Gold-Tone Tote (£168)

Arket Straw Clutch (£30)

#6: Wear heels you can walk in ALL day

There's nothing worse than climbing into a pair of heels only to find that you are limping across the dance floor a mere few hours later. Find the comfy elevated shoes that will party harder than all your other footwear.

By Far Lana 65 Black Leather Mules (£340)

Prada Metallic Textured-Leather Platform Sandals (£515)

& Other Stories Heeled Leather Square Toe Sandal (£85)

Gucci GG Marmont Block-Heel Leather Sandals (£575)

#7: Wear sleeves or bring a cover-up for religious ceremonies

There are lots of religious wedding ceremonies that may take place in sacred spaces that require a respectful covered-up dress code. Think royal enclosure at Ascot and wear thick straps and take a generous silk scarf to drape across your décolletage or wear sleeves to nail the issue in one.

Jacquemus Novio Woven Blazer (£513)

Frankie Shop Isla Crepe Blazer (£260)

& Other Stories Belted Tailored Blazer Jacket (£95)

H&M Double-Breasted Jacket (£35)

#8. Check with the bride if you're not sure.

If you're not sure about your outfit and there isn't a clear dress code, it's always a good idea to check with the bride. Pro tip: Make sure it's at least a couple weeks before the big day, as the bride will most likely have bigger things on her mind the days running up to the wedding and will not appreciate a text hours before she's about to walk down the aisle. And if you're still not sure, stick with a suit, jumpsuit or classic wedding-guest dress.

H&M Voluminous Linen-Blend Dress (£25)

Ghost Poet Dress (£95)

Queens of Archive Chrissie Nyc (£290)

Mango Frill Cotton Dress (£20)

#9: Try Experimenting With Outfit Rental

The rental market has massive grown over the last year or two and it's perfectly set-up for occasions such as these. If you want to wear a different look to every wedding you attend then consider renting something from a platforms such as Rotaro or Hurr. You'll get all the newness thrill without the expense and fear that you won't wear it more than once. Plus, because it's just for one event you can usually afford to rent a designer piece that would usually be out of your budget.

Harmur Velvet Jumpsuit (£58)

Rejina Pyo Blue Celia Midi Dress (£35)

Stine Goya Mint Davina Midi Dress (£29)

The Vampire’s Wife Festival Ruffled Tier Dress (£133)

Next up, the biggest autumn/winter 2021 fashion trends to know.

This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

This article originally appeared on Who What Wear

Read More from Who What Wear

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting