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Best Wedding Guest Dresses

10th January 2018 |By | 3 Comments

When it comes to deciding what to wear to a wedding, there’s more to it than choosing a hat. You’ll find your ideal outfit in this latest colourful collection of the most beautiful wedding guest dresses. Stunning formal and informal styles by Boden, Ted Baker, Hobbs and more, plus up-to-date etiquette on what to wear for a wedding, dress codes and how to accessorise your outfit.

Best wedding guest dresses |

Wild flowers dress by Finery at John Lewis

Wedding Dress Codes

A stated dress code in your invitation makes it easy but when there is no dress code stated, you should assume it’s formal occasion wear, unless you’re sure the wedding will be an informal celebration. If you’re unsure then check with the bride or groom. ‘Black tie’ means a formal gown for ladies and a dinner suit for gentlemen. A fancy cocktail dress is perfectly acceptable, as is a summer dress for a summer wedding.

Boned Bardot dress by Karen Millen at John Lewis |

Boned Bardot dress by Karen Millen

Can I Wear Black to a Wedding?

You can wear black to a wedding but you should bear in mind that in doing so you risk offending the bride and families if they are superstitious. It’s always best to either team black with another lighter or brighter shade so it doesn’t look funereal, or to check with the bride first – just in case! A black and multi-coloured patterned dress can look stunning at a wedding and you’ll be able to wear it again and again. If you want to wear only very dark colours to a wedding then consider wearing deep purple or navy blue rather than black. And if you’re the bride, here’s how to wear black at your wedding.

Laura dress by Hobbs at John Lewis |

Laura dress by Hobbs

Sariah Spot Dress by Damsel in a Dress at John Lewis |

Sariah Spot Dress at John Lewis

Sotto dress by Ralph Lauren at John Lewis |

Sotto dress by Ralph Lauren

Accessories for Wedding Guest Dresses

While you don’t have to wear a hat, you might choose to wear a smaller fascinator to accessorise your outfit for the day. A pretty cardigan, jacket or wrap will be useful when standing outside for wedding photos and will look more attractive than your usual coat. Choose a small clutch bag or shoulder bag in place of your usual handbag, and jewellery and shoes to complement your outfit. If you’re planning to wear heels all day consider taking some comfortable dancing shoes for the reception. These pocket shoes are perfect as they can be hidden away in your bag until you need them.

Foldable flat pocket shoes |

Foldable flat pocket shoes in a choice of colours

Freda dress by Finery at John Lewis |

Freda dress by Finery at John Lewis

What to Wear to a Winter Wedding

Winter weddings need more layers than a summer celebration to keep you warm, so long sleeves, longer hemlines and a stylish dress coat and hat are ideal. Fake fur stoles and capes are usually a bridal accessory but a fake fur muffler can be a lovely way to keep your hands warm in style. Wrap a soft pashmina around your shoulders for a less formal look. Heavier, warmer fabrics, such as velvet, are ideal for a winter wedding and layering is the key to feeling comfortable throughout the day. You could be coming in from snowy outdoor temperatures to a warm indoor reception with an open fire so make sure you can take layers off when you need to.

Can I Wear White to a Wedding?

Wearing white to a wedding when you’re not the bride is even more controversial than wearing black, but it can be done. The best way to wear a white wedding guest dress is to choose a patterned outfit which incorporates other colours. Avoid formal full-length, white or ivory gowns at all costs – you don’t want to be mistaken for the bride, and you certainly don’t want the bride to feel upstaged! Team white with colour and pattern for an acceptable wedding guest look.

Cocktail Attire

If the wedding invitation states that the dress code is ‘cocktail attire’, this is slightly less formal than ‘black tie’ but more formal than a ‘smart’ dress code. Cocktail attire generally means you can go wild with colour and style as long as it’s fairly formal, although a below-the-knee hemline is generally advised. Cocktail attire also means you can go for a dressy jumpsuit or fitted trouser suit instead of a gown.

Wedding Guest Style

Floral patterns and fluted sleeves are very much the style this season, with navy being the most popular colour and hemlines ranging from mini to maxi with plenty of midi and tea length styles in between to choose from, depending on your own personal style. Go for a colour that will flatter your skin tone rather than what’s in fashion so you can look back on photos with a smile in years to come.

Kate Tie printed wrap dress at House of Fraser |

Kate Tie printed wrap dress at House of Fraser

Floral print dress by Ralph Lauren at John Lewis |

Floral print dress by Ralph Lauren

Your Wedding Guest Dress

Choosing what to wear for a wedding is a lot of fun and it’s another valid excuse for a stunning new outit. As there is no dedicated wedding guest dress section to most shops it’s up to you to interpret what’s appropriate for the occasion and every wedding is different.

The beauty of these wedding guest dresses is that they can be worn again and again. They could also be options for bridesmaids, mothers of the bride or groom, or even the bride, depending on your style.

For more fashion inspiration, including accessories, please go to Wedding Guest Outfits.

Kate Thompson
Written by

Kate Thompson is the features editor and wedding expert at Confetti. A widely published lifestyle writer, she has worked in the wedding industry for 15 years and has made BBC television and radio appearances discussing wedding trends in the UK.

3 Replies to “Best Wedding Guest Dresses”

  1. NadinHumphrey

    Wow, really so beautiful! But i am not as slim as the models, maybe i need a
    plus-size prom dress?

    Reply· Dec 17, 2015 3:45am
  2. Em

    I like number 6!

    Reply· Jul 22, 2016 6:14am
  3. Sue harrison

    Love number1 which area is the stockist for this dress and fasinater

    Reply· Oct 8, 2017 9:25pm

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