Wedding guest dressing dos and don’ts

These are the rules to follow this wedding season.

Wedding guest dressing need not be stressful
Wedding guest dressing need not be stressful (Alamy Stock Photo)

Navigating what to wear to a wedding can be one of the trickiest parts of the occasion. There are countless rules about what you should and shouldn’t wear to different types of occasions, which can leave us feeling flustered.

It is especially difficult if you find yourself attending several different weddings in a short space of time that all have slightly different dress codes or themes.

Although what you choose to wear to a wedding will entirely depend on the preference of the couple and the theme they have chosen, there are a few do’s and don’ts you can follow to ensure that you don’t make any major faux pas.

Don’t wear white

(Alamy Stock Photo)

Although fewer and fewer weddings today have a bride in traditional white, this is probably the biggest rule to follow – unless you are specifically told otherwise. Even at weddings where a white wedding gown isn’t being worn, you’re still likely to attract the wrong kinds of attention if you show up in a formal white dress.

Avoid black

Whilst black always looks smart and put together, it is generally best to avoid it for a wedding. Black clothes can have negative connotations that don’t fit in with the mood of a wedding, so it’s always safest to steer clear.

Black and white colour-palette themes are becoming increasingly popular at modern weddings, so there is a chance that you may attend a wedding that specifically permits black. In that case, you can feel confident in opting for the darker hue.

Don’t wear anything too revealing

E3NCYE Wedding guests cross a stone bridge in the village of Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire UK
E3NCYE Wedding guests cross a stone bridge in the village of Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire UK (Alamy Stock Photo)

Any advice not to wear a revealing outfit can feel quite outdated, but when it comes to a wedding, it is advice to follow. You never want to upstage the couple or cause conversation to centre around you, as a guest, for any reason. So, it’s best to avoid any outfit that could cause any controversy.

Always follow the theme

If you have been given a colour scheme or dress code, always follow it exactly. There is nothing worse than someone showing up to a wedding having totally ignored the couple’s wishes for the day, and it can have a bigger impact than you might think. It doesn’t matter if you have the perfect dress at home but it’s just the wrong colour – don’t wear it.

If in doubt, overdress

It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed, particularly when it comes to an occasion like a wedding. There is nothing worse than feeling like you majorly missed the memo with your outfit, and the easiest way to avoid that feeling is by dressing up as much as you feel comfortable. It also sends a signal to the special couple that you genuinely care about their day, whilst a casual ensemble can have the opposite effect.

Don’t shy away from prints and patterns

(Alamy Stock Photo)

Although it can be tempting to stick to something plain and sleek for formal occasions like weddings, they are actually a brilliant opportunity to experiment with your style and wear a more statement occasion outfit that you may not get the chance to wear otherwise.

Florals will always fit in perfectly at summer weddings, and as Kate Middleton often proves, patterns like polka dots look endlessly sophisticated and chic when styled up.

It may feel overwhelming when faced with countless do’s and don’ts about what to wear as a wedding guest, but it really is very simple to dress perfectly for all manner of weddings. As long as you stick to the theme or dress code and wear something formal, you’re unlikely to go wrong.

Fool-proof wedding guest dresses to invest in

Monsoon Wendy pleated maxi dress blue, £130

Elliatt Inseparable Floral Print Billow Sleeves Ruffle Maxi Dress, Pink, £285, John Lewis


New Look Blue Floral Foil V Neck Long Sleeve Maxi Dress, £65.99

Barbour Sandgate Floral Maxi Dress, £99.95

Monsoon Elizabeth embellished maxi dress mink, £175