Dresses for the Wedding Guest

Dresses for the Wedding GuestWedding guest dresses & wedding party dresses come in many flavors. So, what should a wedding guest wear or not wear to a wedding? One of your first clues will come from the wedding invitation wording, as it usually mentions the style of dress or the time of the ceremony and reception.

If that invitation itself is informal, then a less formal style of clothing may be required. For a cocktail wedding party, the invitation itself may look more casual, as this is often a less formal style of reception.

If you’re not sure and you know who the best man will be, you may wish to ask him for advice on what style of clothing will be expected.  Of course, you can also ask the bride or groom, whichever invited you.

Finding a dress as a wedding guest: What To Wear?

Traditional wedding guest attire is simple – pretty wedding guest dresses teamed with a smart jacket or wrap.

The classic A-line, shift or tea length wedding dresses look great at any time of year, and especially for spring and summer weddings. Other suitable wedding party dresses for guests are smart pants or formal clothing.

For fall or winter weddings, a formal suit or jacket and skirt may be worn though they are more traditional.

If you’ve been invited to attend a party or reception by the bride and groom, you’ll want to consider how comfortable or appropriate your clothing will be for dancing, eating and sitting down.

Remember that some wedding hairstyles may not look so great after an hour or so of dancing or on a windy day, so either plan an appropriate hair style or use hairspray.

If you’re just attending the actual ceremony itself, you’ll probably not want to spend too much time or money shopping for perfect wedding guest dresses. It may be a good idea to wear a dress that you’ve already got in your closet and just team it with a smart jacket. This can avoid unnecessary expense in shopping for new clothing, when you’re on a tight budget.

Who’s Who in the Bridal Party & What They Wear

The bridal party includes the bride and groom and those who have a specific role to play on their wedding
day.  In particular, the best man and ushers, the mother and father of both the bride and groom, the
bridesmaids, matron of honor, maid of honor and any flower girls and page boys.

The best man, father of the bride and ushers will often wear a formal suit or tuxedo, similar to the groom’s tailored outfit.

The bridesmaids and matrons or maids of honour and flower girls will often have their dresses or evening gowns chosen and bought for them by the bride.

Both mother of the bride and groom are free to choose their own dresses, and there is a certain etiquette and expectation as to the sort of outfit that is appropriate.

As a member of the bridal party you play a key role throughout the day, as well as being featured in many of the wedding photographs and at top table at the reception.  You are there to support the bride and groom – helping them plan and prepare for their special day.

You may be expected to help with some of the behind the scenes preparations and clearing away after the newly married couple have left on their honeymoon.  After all, usually someone has to take the hired suits back to the store.

If you’re not sure about what’s expected in your role, or what kind of wedding party dresses or suits to shop for, pick up one of the many books on etiquette to know what your duties will be and how you can perform them best.  This will help you give your best support to friends at this special time in their

Recommended Resources

Wedding Etiquette  – gift ideas, tips on wedding guest dresses & outfits, and what’s expected at the


  1. This was a very nice post. Whenever I’m going to a wedding I never know what the proper wedding guest attire is. I procrastinate alot which is my problem when it comes to this stuff. Maybe **some day** I’ll get it!

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