Wedding guest outfits for women: a bride and her bridesmaids in pink dresses letting go of some balloons.

Wedding guest outfits and dress etiquette

As soon as you receive a lovingly designed wedding invitation, you will need to start looking for the perfect wedding gift and guest outfit. When invited to a wedding it isn’t always easy to work out what you should and should not wear. After all, you want to dress smartly for the occasion, but you don't want to steal the show from the bride and groom. We will explain the most common wedding dress codes so that you can find the perfect outfit.

Wedding dress codes explained

Lots of couples give a hint on the invitation about the appropriate wedding attire. Understanding this dress etiquette and interpreting it correctly will help you avoid any fashion faux pas.


The most important rule to follow is never wear white! This includes cream, ivory, champagne or other shades of white. On this special day, only the bride can wear this colour. Even if the bride herself is not wearing white but a different coloured wedding dress, you should still avoid wearing something white. If you are not sure it is always better to ask. The only exception would be if the bride and groom are celebrating an "all-white" themed wedding, then the guests may dress in white.

White Tie - the most glamorous dress code for a wedding

This is the most formal dress code and it usually applies to very posh events such as balls, exclusive galas, soirées, banquet or for going to the opera. If "white tie" is the wedding dress code, you will need something very classy. A tailcoat and bow tie are generally recommended for gentlemen, whereas ladies should wear a floor length evening dress.

Black Tie – this is a classic smart dress code for a wedding

This wedding dress code focuses on smart and nothing too flashy. You will need to wear something smart and classy, but a black tie dress code is not as strict or formal as a white tie dress code. Gentlemen wear a smart suit or dinner jacket with a bow tie or tie and ladies have the choice between a long evening dress or a stylish knee length cocktail dress.

Smart & elegant formal wear

Smart casual dress code

This dress code is a more relaxed version of the black tie dress code. Ladies can wearknee or tea length cocktail dresses. Men should wear a smart, stylish suit. A tie is optional, but advisable for a more elegant wedding guest outfit. You can also wear items of clothing with patterns and bright colours.

Stylish cocktail dresses

Smart casual dress code

This dress code is a bit more informal. Ladies can wear chic summer dresses, but also blouses and skirts or trousers. Men, on the other hand, can wear a shirt and jacket over smart trousers. Even though this dress code is less formal in comparison to some of the other ones, you still need to make sure you look smart. Frayed materials, faded colours, a baggy look or busy patterns are not suitable for this type of occasion.

Stylish outfits for your wedding

What should the bride’s and groom’s parents wear to a wedding? Stylish but understated is the keyword here. You should go for plain colours and timeless, elegant cuts because the happy couple should be the only ones who stand out and shine on this special day.

Women’s wedding guest dresses: a group of women toasting with the bride.

The perfect guest outfit

If the bride and groom do not have a proper wedding dress code, you can follow some of the general dress rules below.

A wedding guest outfit that matches the location

You will need to wear an elegant dress for a church service. Even though the dress etiquette for the church is not as strict nowadays, you should still look smart. You can wear something smart casual if you are attending a wedding at a registry office.

For a wedding ceremony at the beach or in the countryside, you can wear summer dresses made out of chiffon or silk. Having the right shoes is very important, therefore, make sure you don’t wear stilettos as they will be difficult to walk in on grass. For outdoor wedding venues, opt for platform heels, block heels or even ballerinas. Men should also dress smart casual. A jacket with matching trousers or a plain suit is usually enough.

The best colours and accessories for guest outfits

When it comes to colour, white is the most obvious faux pas, but other colours are also sometimes frowned upon. You should therefore not attend a wedding dressed from head to toe in black, as such outfits will make you look like you are going to a funeral. You should also be careful with some bright colours such as cherry red, therefore, it is a good idea to ask the bride and groom if you are unsure.

Tip: Make sure you and your companion have matching colours, as this will look great on photos.

When it comes to jewellery and accessories the wedding guests should not stand out more than the bride. A fresh, natural make-up look and plain jewellery will complete your wedding guest outfit. The best handbag to go for is a small clutch, ideally with a small strap. Men should not wear a watch or jewellery if they are attending a wedding with a "White Tie" or "Black Tie" dress code, instead, you can wear a bow tie, pocket square and cufflinks as stylish accessories to finish off your outfit. Otherwise, you should make sure that your belt and shoes are colour coordinated.

Women’s wedding guest outfits

Women should wear something elegant, but nothing that could steal the show. Unless the dress code says otherwise, you should always choose an elegant outfit that isn’t too flashy.

The most important tips for women’s wedding guest outfits:

  • Even if there is not a set dress code, there are certain colours that are always deemed as being a safe choice such as pastel colours that are great for summer weddings. For winter weddings you can wear something in darker jewel tones.

  • Understated but smart outfits are always a good choice. Clothes and accessories such as cut out dresses, big necklaces or short skirts that make a statement should be avoided or discussed with the bride and groom beforehand.

  • White, black and bright red are usually not appropriate choices for wedding guests. The only exception is if the dress code explicitly requires all white, or black and white outfits.

  • If you are attending a wedding at a church don’t forget a jacket or a stole if you would like to wear an off-the-shoulder dress.

Men’s wedding guest outfits

The same also applies to men, you shouldn’t outdress the groom. If there isn’t a dress code a suit with a waistcoat, bow tie and pocket square or even a tailcoat is a bit too formal.

The most important tips for men’s wedding guest outfits:

  • If the dress code does indicate that you should wear a black suit, it is advisable to choose a different muted colour. You can wear suits in blue or grey if there is a formal dress code. These colours will make you look smart.

  • Don't wear a short-sleeved shirt to a wedding, even in summer. To be perfectly prepared for a summer wedding, you should choose breathable linen and cotton fabrics for your shirt and jacket.

  • High-quality shoes will finish off your smart wedding outfit. Even if there is a casual dress code do not wear trainers and make sure your shoes are spotlessly clean.

  • Added details such as flowers on the lapel are usually only for the groom and for other people, for example, the best man and the father of the bride and groom.

Wedding guest outfits for your closest confidants: bridesmaids and groomsmen wearing matching outfits.

Wedding outfits for bridesmaids and groomsmen

The wedding witnesses play an important role at most weddings (whether civil or religious), as they support the couple on the most special day in their lives. They also support the bride and groom in preparation for the wedding and usually help them with the preparation and organisation of the wedding reception. There are often several bridesmaids for the bride and groomsmen for the groom and they support the couple throughout the day.

Discover our bridesmaid dresses

Stylish maid of honour dresses

The dress code for groomsmen and bridesmaids can vary. In most cases, at least the colours of the outfits are coordinated with each other and also with the wedding dress code. For a particularly impressive look (especially in photos), the bridesmaids all wear the same type of dress and the bridesmen wear a suit in the same colour and style.

  • If the bridesmaids and maids of honour are not wearing the same dress they could wear something in the same colour and made out of a similar material for a uniform look.

  • It looks always looks very chic if the bridesmaids’ dresses are colour coordinated with the bridal bouquet. This guarantees that the bride will always stand out in the photos.

  • As a general rule, the bridesmaids should not steal the show with flashy dresses and the groomsmen should not outdress the groom.

Conclusion: wedding guest outfits for a stylish look

This guide will help you to find the right outfit if you are going to be attending a wedding and there is a dress code. However, if no specific dress code is stated on the invitation or if you are unsure about what you should wear, you can always ask the bride and groom or the wedding witnesses. As a general rule, however, your wedding outfit as a guest should be smart and elegant, but you shouldn’t outdress the bride and groom. If you stick to the general dress code (e.g. don't wear white), you are guaranteed to find a stylish outfit.

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