How to dress for a wedding: 13 Style Panel Tips for being the best dressed guest this summer
As the weather gets warmer and the hemlines get shorter, the wedding invitations start rolling in. That’s right: Summer wedding season is upon us once again. And while we love an excuse to go shopping, how to dress for a wedding is a question us bona fide wedding attendees are still having difficulty answering.
How does one find the perfect balance between demure and daring? A wedding, after all, is a multi-generational affair that demands a timeless, and semi-conservative look. No pressure. For the bride-to-be, the wedding day is her day to shine. So how do you, the guest, make a statement without stealing her spotlight?
Florals, one of spring’s most coveted trends, is a classic fail-proof print that guarantees a perfectly feminine look—without matching a member of the wedding party. Erdem showcased the dainty print in a variety of soft sorbet hues on his Spring 2013 runway. A bold floral à la Hawaiian Tropic is just as ideal and fitting for the scorching temperatures to come. Designer Antonio Berardi has proved he knows a thing or two about how to dress for a wedding with his selection of bold hued summery frocks as seen on the Spring 2013 runway.
For more advice on how to dress for a wedding, we turned to our Style Panel members. And advice we got! 13 of our panelists share their tips on how to look cool and comfortable all ceremony and reception long. Sharing our love for prints, Canadian Fashionista’s Amber Desilets recommends a perfectly feminine floral dress while Velvet & Vino’s Becky Kung likes to spice things up in bold vertical stripes. When it comes to colour, Suburban Faux-Pas’ Krystin Lee can’t say no to a classic LBD, but chooses metallic pumps to up the fun factor. On the opposite end of the rainbow, One Chic Mom’s Iva Grbesic chose a bold, off-the-shoulder red dress as her summer wedding frock of choice. If there is one thing all of our style panelists can agree on when it comes to how to dress for a wedding it’s that you should NEVER wear white!
Question 52: Now that summer’s wedding season is here, how do you dress for a wedding? Read the answers now! »
Or jump to: BARBARA ANN SOLOMON, TORONTO | BECKY KUNG, CALGARY | AMBER DESILETS, LONDON | KRYSTIN LEE, TORONTO | KAYLA SHORT, HALIFAX | LEAH GUST, TORONTO | KD FAUSTINO, CALGARY | CHRISTINA CRAVERO, TORONTO | NICOLE WILSON, TORONTO | AMY NELSON, CALGARY | DEANNE MACRAE, MISSISSAUGA | IVA GRBESIC, TORONTO | CARA MCLEAY, VANCOUVER
Krystin Lee, 26
Toronto | Suburban Faux-Pas
With the long weekend behind us, wedding season is officially here. While I tend to opt for frocks that feature fun pops of colours or patterns, this dress has won me over. The exaggerated bow on the waist makes this dress anything but ordinary. I also love the subtle texture and appropriate length. To have some fun, I paired it with metallic pumps and a peter pan collared necklace for a feminine touch.
Krystin’s wearing: Dress, Spiegel. Necklace, Forever 21. Shoes, Zara. Sunglasses, Karen Walker. Bracelets, Hello Fab, Stella & Dot and J.Crew. Watch, Micheal Kors.
Becky Kung, 30
Calgary | Velvet & Vino
I love dressing up for summer weddings, because it gives me the opportunity to wear the bright and flowy dresses from my closet that I don’t often get to wear. My first tip is to dress comfortably. Pick the heels that are not overly high and the hairstyle that is natural, yet with a touch of glamour. Wear a dress or top & skirt pairing that is sophisticated and feminine with a touch of conservative, especially since weddings have guests of all age-ranges and you don’t want to horrify the Grandmas that attend! The way to spice up the current style trends to your outfit is by wearing a dress that has the latest prints and patterns such as stripes, polka dots, pastels or neons. Another way is to accessorize, and I often like to do so with the unexpected, such a fun British-inspired hat!
Becky’s wearing: Dress, Tristan. Hat, Tristan. Heels, Enzo Angiolini. Crystal Bracelet, Swarovski. Clutch, Coach. Earrings, Sam Moon Houston.
Leah Gust, 31
Toronto | Leah Says
Dressing for a wedding can be a tricky affair and although the rules have changed (black is no longer taboo) I think it’s still best to wear something that defers the fashion crown to the bride. A classic black and white dress is elegant and will look great for a wedding any time of the day (or year!). Trendy, colourful accessories make the look fresh and a bright lip or nail colour will add a real pop! White shoes have been showing up everywhere lately and add a sophisticated element to this monochromatic look. You could also wear a metallic shoe or a simple, colourful pump. If you shop smart, you can incorporate all these bright accessories into your everyday wardrobe dropping the cost per wear, which is a real match made in heaven!
Leah’s Wearing: Bolero, H&M. Dress, vintage. Earrings, vintage. Bracelet, gifted. Shoes, Winners. Clutch, Gap.
Amber Desilets, 30
London | Canadian Fashionista
If I can only give you one tip for dressing for a summer wedding (besides its always best to over dress than under dress for special events) its to pick a print in your dress; this way you won’t end up looking like a bridesmaid. Most of the weddings I’ve been to the bride usually picks a solid colour for the girls in her wedding, heaven forbid you show up in the same colour and in a solid print, people will assume you’re a part of the wedding party. If you stick with a print, may that be stripes, polka dots or floral print and it ends up being in the same colour as the wedding party, you won’t look like you’re a part of it.
Amber’s wearing: Dress, Rickis. Necklace, Smart Set. Watch, Guess. Bracelet, Smart Set. Bracelet, Peppermint Lollipops. Shoes, Urban Originals.
KD Faustino, 28
Calgary | The Girl With The Messy Hair
When dressing for a wedding, you should always take into consideration the location and the dress code. For me, wearing white (if you’re not the bride) is still a wedding fashion faux pas. If the wedding is done in a garden without pavement, never ever wear stilettos unless you want it to sink down the soil. Your best bet is to wear some chunky heels or dressy wedges. I would also not recommend wearing a long dress in a garden wedding unless you would want your dress to be all dirty after the ceremony. If it is a church wedding, try to stick to a more conservative cut — knee-length and not overly plunging in the front and back. If it is a beach wedding, it would pretty cool if you can go barefoot but if not, try some dainty flats. In terms of the dress, choose a more flimsy easy fabric like chiffon and you can get away with a little sheer at a beach wedding.
KD’s wearing: Dress, e-Shakti. Heels, Zara. Clutch, vintage. Watch, Michael Kors. Arm Jewels, ILY Couture and Sewsephine. Sunnies, D&G. Lips, M.A.C. Nail Polish, Joe Fresh.
Barbara Ann Solomon, 25
Toronto | Barbara Ann’s Style Blog
Welcome to wedding season, within the next five months I will attend more of my friends and family weddings than ever before. My first tip for the upcoming season is start planning early. You should know approximately how many weddings you’ll be attending during the season, so try on some of the dresses you already have to see what you can wear again by changing the styling to make it more modern and how many dresses you are looking to purchase. Vintage shopping, early, will hopefully score you a super unique dress that can last seasons. My second tip is to wear colour, or better yet, a bold pattern. You can’t wear white, and almost everyone is usually wearing black, as it serves to be the easiest option, so stand out and be daring with some bright summer colours. Lastly, wear shoes you can stand and dance in. Anticipate a long night, so if you have a lot of events ahead, invest in some comfortable shoes, I like wedges especially for outdoor events.
Barbara Ann’s wearing: Dress, Magwood Vintage. Clutch, Thrifted. Wedges, Aldo.
Christina Cravero, 27
Toronto | The Style Mogul
Although I’ve only attended a handful of weddings (most of them were when I was a child) I know you would never want to outshine the bride, which means no wearing white, no cleavage, and nothing too short! Depending on the location of the wedding, make sure that you always wear something that you’ll be comfortable sitting & dancing in!
Christina’s wearing: Dress, vintage. Shoes, Aldo. Clutch, Steve Madden. Cuff, H&M. Sunglasses, Tom Ford.
Kayla Short, 26
Halifax | Short Presents
Dressing for weddings can be exciting, but they also can be very stressful! Especially stressful considering you know you are going to be photographed a dozen times over in whatever crazy frock you decide to wear, and so you’ll want to make it good for the sake of yourself, but also for the sake of the bride-to-be’s wedding photos.
For me I typically play it safe, I know I’m boring, but I don’t want to be too over done, but I also don’t want to look like I’m disrespecting the special event either. For me florals are always a win for summer weddings, classically playful with just enough femininity: I figure I can’t go wrong. Be sure to always consider the location of the wedding, and also of the bride and groom’s personal style, as this should help you gauge where you should tread style wise. Last but not least, I have to say that I’m still not gutsy enough to wear white on someone else’s wedding day. I figure there are so many beautiful colors out there in the world, that I can skip white/off-white/cream for a day.
Kayla is wearing: Dress, H&M. Pumps, Frank Sarto. Bag, Aldo. Sunnies, Roots.
Amy Nelson, 19
Calgary | Amy Flying a Kite
If you’ve been invited to a summer wedding and you think that means you’re obligated to buy a new fancy gown, think again. Weddings can be formal occasions where you should dress your best but that doesn’t mean your best needs to be bought. Why not wear one of your favourite summer dresses in a new way (with a shawl and your hair curled)? Or if you’re concerned about colors, wearing a romantic one like lavender will almost always suit the wedding’s atmosphere.
Wearing comfortable yet stylish shoes is often overlooked when getting dressed for weddings. Sometimes you’ll end up doing a lot of standing or maybe you want to head straight to the dance hall after the ceremony, a Mary Jane or t-strap with a small chunky heel in pastel colors is an ideal shoe. After all, you don’t want to miss out on the dancing because your feet hurt!
I don’t believe weddings should have strict rules on event attire. However, wearing white is too risky unless the bride has advised you to and opting for shorter-length dresses best suits the summer air. Assembling flowers into your hair or wearing a crown is a beautiful way to complement the season and blend into the romantic atmosphere.
Amy’s Wearing: Dress, Mod Cloth. Headband, Dolly Darling. Heels, Bait Footwear.
Nicole Wilson, 29
Toronto | Dainty Girl
Summer weddings are never a source of stress for me; I have an abundance of dresses in my wardrobe so it’s just a matter of choosing the right one for the occasion. For others, a summer wedding might mean an expensive trip to the mall and a stressful styling situation. Don’t sweat it! Just try to remember the three C’s:
COMFORT: There’s a good chance you’ll be outside and comfort is key in the heat especially when there’s dancing involved. Stick to lightweight fabrics and relaxed fits to avoid being a hot mess with photographers around!
CUT: Never wear anything too revealing to a wedding. This is a classy affair so avoid super low cuts and high hemlines for Grandpa’s sake!
COLOUR: Don’t wear white unless it’s your wedding. This is the bride’s special day and unless she requests a white party, don’t take the risk! It’s summer so wear something colourful and fun!
For my summer wedding look, I chose a playful blue frock in a lightweight (yet fully lined) fabric with delicate hand stitched rosettes along the V-neckline. It’s super feminine, appropriately flirty and perfect for dancing the night away! I finished off the look with vintage jewels and bold pops of pink – don’t forget your sunnies!
Nicole’s wearing: Dress, Modcloth. Shoes, Nine West. Clutch, Danier. Bracelets, Vintage. Ring, Rebekah Price. Sunglasses, EDIT by Jeanne Beker.
Deanne MacRae, 22
Mississauga | Threadbare
I’ve only ever been to one wedding and at 2am the morning of, I realized I had not a single thing to wear. So, I went searching through my mom’s old stash of fabric, found this flowery corduroy and whipped together something that would have to do. This dress is perfect for a summer wedding because it is relatively casual and church appropriate if need be. The floral pattern almost guarantees you avoid awkwardly blending in with the bridesmaids and most importantly, when paired with sensible shoes (I chose wedges) it’s very comfortable for a long day/night!
Deanne’s wearing: Dress, made by Deanne. Shoes, Madden Girl. Bracelets, Aldo.
Iva Grbesic, 31
Toronto | One Chic Mom
I’ve been to more weddings than I can remember. That’s what happens when you’re part of a tight knit Croatian community in Windsor. I’ve even stood up in 7 (which is on the low side for Croats). I enjoy going to weddings – watching the bride and groom as they begin the next chapter in their lives and being a witness to one of the best days of their lives. Plus, I look forward to dressing up and spending time with friends and family. Croatian weddings tend to be large (400 guests is average) and the dress code is more cocktail to full length gown depending on the trends. There are a few rules when dressing for any wedding. First, NEVER wear white unless the bride forces you to. Second, don’t let it all hang out. A dress should never be too low cut or too short. Weddings are about the bride and groom, not scantily clad guests. Third, love what you’re wearing. The third rule seems so easy to follow but ends up being the most difficult.
I love this red dress; red is my favourite colour and always puts me in a great mood. I also think the ruffle detail is feminine, special and unexpected. Plus the demure length and one shoulder detail will be easy to wear while I dance the night away with the other guests.
Iva’s wearing: Dress, La Petite Robe de Chiara Boni. Shoes, Jimmy Choo. Cuff, Cocoa Jewelry. Clutch, Sergio Feretti. Sunglasses, Jeanne Beker.
Cara McLeay, 28
Vancouver | A Fashion Love Affair
Wedding season is here, and choosing what to wear isn’t always easy…I believe wedding attire must be respectful while still being fashionable and most importantly, comfortable! My favourite pick for any wedding is a shift dress because they can be casual or dressy, depending on how formal the wedding, look great in a church, on a beach or in a garden setting, are the perfect length for sitting and standing and are not constricting so you can actually breathe and eat and dance the night away!
Cara’s wearing: Dress, BCBG Max Azria. Clutch, Clare Vivier. Sandals, Liam Fahy.