What to Wear to A Summer Wedding

It may not be your special day, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to look gorgeous. The problem is that what to wear to a summer wedding can be tricky. Because you shouldn’t have to stress out about a wedding that isn’t yours, we’ve put together some tips to ensure that you’ll turn heads while sticking to the dress code. Now all you’ve got to worry about is how to get that cute groomsman to dance with you.

What to Wear to a Summer Wedding: Basic Dos and Don’ts


  • Wear summer colors like turquoise, melon, strawberry, and kelly green.
  • Wear cute pumps and/or sandals for an inside wedding/reception.
  • Wear black (with color) to an evening wedding.
  • Wear something sexy- but tasteful.
  • Wear a linen pants suit.
  • Wear a cool straw hat.


  • Wear white, unless the bride requests it. People will talk about you (and not in a good way).
  • Wear black to an afternoon/morning wedding. Pick something colorful.
  • Wear heels for an outside wedding/reception (your heel with get stuck in the grass).
  • Wear ultra low cut dresses, short-short dresses, shorts. If you wouldn’t want your grandma to see you in it, then don’t wear it.

What to Wear to A Summer Wedding: Dressing Tips

Dress for the time and place

Afternoon ceremonies tend to be more casual than evening soirees, so first take into account what time the event is taking place. At noon, it’s perfectly appropriate to wear a summer sundress or pastel skirt, while at six, it’s more fitting to wear a satin or chiffon cocktail dress. Many weddings nowadays call for a wardrobe change between a low-key ceremony and fancy reception. Determine how much to dress up or down according to the time and venue of the event.


Have the Dance Floor Dress in Mint

Have the Dance Floor Dress in Mint, $119.99, Modcloth

floral maxi dress to wear to summer wedding

Calvin Klein Floral Maxi Dress, $74.99, 6pm.com

floral maxi dress to wear to summer wedding

Placement Floral Maxi Dress, $40 (on sale), MarksandSpencer.com

  • Sam

    Hello! I have a wedding in Malibu I’m attending in a couple of days, and I’m having second thoughts about the dress I purchased. I’m super worried that the dress is too dark or not appropriate for the “ambience” of the wedding. The venue is at a ranch with the ceremony starting at 5 PM with reception to follow. I am trying to get as much feedback as possible to help make the appropriate changes. Here’s the dress: http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/eliza-j-lace-fit-flare-dress/4431873?cm_mmc=email_tran-_-061017-_-order_confirm-_-proddescr2

    • Catherine Brock

      Thank you for dropping by. I don’t think it’s too dark for a 5pm wedding. How do you plan to accessorize it (shoes, jewelry)? Do you think the event is more on the casual side? (I’m thinking yes, because it’s a ranch, presumably outdoors?)

  • Kathy

    Summer wedding at an exclusive country club. Wedding at 5:30 outside and reception inside at 6 for cocktails, dinner (surf and turf) and dancing. I was thinking a Michael Kors black chiffon dress (short) but now I’m not sure. I need help.

    • Catherine Brock


      How short is the dress? Based on the venue and timing (early evening), it sounds like it should be OK, assuming the dress isn’t really short/ really tight and as long as the bride isn’t ultra conservative and/or sensitive.


      • Kathy

        Above my knee. https://slimages.macysassets.com/is/image/MCY/products/3/optimized/3454306_fpx.tif?op_sharpen=1&hei=434&$filterlrg$

        Or I am considering another dress. It pale pink with a small black print, cold shoulder dress. Short as well like the MK dress

        I can’t get the link to copy.

      • Catherine Brock

        The length of this dress is fine. It’s a beautiful dress and would wear nicely, especially if you pair it with pale-colored accessories. The pink one sounds nice as well, but may be too “daytime” for a formal evening event.

      • Kathy

        Thanks a bunch. Last thought….thinking about wearing a straw hat for the out door portion. Good idea?

      • Catherine Brock

        Hmmm, I’m not really seeing the straw hat with that dress. I’d picture something daintier like a fascinator.

      • ribbitgirl

        Catherine – thanks again for all the good info. I need to dress my husband who hates suits and anything uncomfortable…He has one dark suit that he wears to most of these occasions…Is this what he needs to wear? long sleeves, what color? – can he forego a tie? thoughts for him?

      • Catherine Brock

        A man can’t go wrong in a suit and tie. It’s a classic, elegant look that fits any special occasion (assuming the suit fits him appropriately). But, if you want him to have a little more pizazz, pick a nice shirt for him and skip the tie. I like a dark suit with a floral dress shirt that has some light blue or even a shade of lavender in it — something that’s a hair bolder than he’d normally go. Then, make sure his shoes are polished, as that look sort of falls apart if the shoes aren’t looking sharp. If he’s in the market for a pair of shoes, I saw a very dark grey pair of wingtips by Hush Puppies (of all things!) at DSW over the weekend. I think they were less than $50. My husband almost bought them!

      • ribbitgirl

        hey….do you think my husband can wear a grey suit? it’s a very subtle plaid – it’s light weight and I think it might be more comfortable going from the outdoor wedding to the indoor reception….wedding is in less than 2 weeks. It looks very nice on him, and not really casual…just not sure since he doesn’t were a suit everyday. Thanks again!

      • Catherine Brock

        Yes, absolutely. You’re welcome!

      • ribbitgirl

        also, If I wear the black dress (and prob will), I will carry this kate spade purse:http://www.ebay.com/itm/KATE-SPADE-gold-black-Lace-clutch-bag-chain-shoulder-strap-purse-evening-party-/182588800052?hash=item2a8323fc34:g:6S4AAOSwFqNZOfw~

        My jewelry was going to be a fake pearls, rhinestones and gold long necklace that I will probably double rather than wear loan, matching earrings (long) and matching bracelet. It looks better than that description…lol. They are kind of bigger – it sounds like I should wear something more sedate? The dress is pretty plain, so thinking I need a little more jewelry…

        You are really helpful….thanks!

      • Catherine Brock

        You’re welcome! Super cute bag. I can’t really picture the jewelry combo — I definitely lean towards a more understated style, but that doesn’t mean your jewelry picks won’t work for you. Honestly, if you just wear it all confidently, it will probably look amazing. 🙂


  • For a 5:30 wedding, should I wear a long sleeve dress or a short sleeve dress? Also, should I bring a bag with straps (https://www.lyst.com/bags/dkny-heavy-nappa-pink-small-flap-over-cross-body-bag-light20pink/) or should I bring a wristlet(http://m.target.com/p/women-s-zip-wristlet-pouch/-/A-50423441)? Thank you!

    • Catherine Brock


      Short-sleeved dresses tend to work better. If you’re worried about being cold, layer on a wrap or bolero. Cross-body bags are usually too casual for a wedding; I’d pick a clutch or wristlet.


  • beth johnson

    Can I wear pale pink lace short cocktail dress to a 4:30 Summer wedding ceremony, evening reception, outdoors?

    • Catherine Brock

      If it’s not too short or too tight or too lacey (you don’t want to compete with the bride after all), you should be OK.

  • Thank you so much! I’m going to wear the Ralph Lauren dress and my sister wants to wear to the jcpenney one. So what should she pair it with? Also, what color cardigans go well with both of the dresses?

    • Catherine Brock

      Hi there,

      The JCPenney dress has that lace detail, so she’ll want to stick with delicate jewelry to go with it. Same with the shoe — a simple, elegant pump would work, for example. I don’t think I’d pair either dress with a cardigan; it would probably be too casual. Try a wide scarf made of lightweight fabric and use it as a wrap. The brown dress would work with a soft ivory wrap. The deep purple of the Ralph Lauren dress would look stunning with a deep olive green. If that makes the ensemble too dark, try a soft shade of lavender.


      • Thank you again. Instead of an ivory wrap, is it ok if I wear a bolero? I don’t have any wraps.

      • Catherine Brock

        Yes, that would work too!

    • The attire is summer formal wear.

    • Catherine Brock

      I have mixed feelings about both. The JCPenney dress looks more formal, but doesn’t mention anything about being lined. Sometimes a polyester dress like that without lining can be a little clingy. The other dress is lovely (I like the deep purple color), and does mention lining, but could end up looking a little on the plain side. With these two choices, I would pick the Ralph Lauren dress and take care to pair it with a nice bracelet, earrings and some classy but slightly flashy shoes.
      I hope that helps!

  • Barbara Felton

    Hi there,
    I am going to a 6 pm wedding in Atlanta. I’m a Texas girl and tend to dress casual and fun but want to be appropriate. It is at a resort and sporting club. Don’t know if it is outside. Can I wear the shift dress with bell sleeves shown? I am 5’2. It is not too short on me. I will wear my hair up and nice big drop earrings and high heeled strappy sandals.http://dimg.dillards.com/is/image/DillardsZoom/04670579_zi_fuschia_floral?$ecom880x1020$

    • Catherine Brock

      With this dress, I’d worry about it being too casual. You do have a good sense of the danger areas, as you mentioned it isn’t too short and you’d wear your hair up with nice earrings. Take the extra step of muted, classy makeup too. It’s great to be fun, but you don’t want to attract more attention than the bride!

  • Sheri Geer

    Thank you so much for your advice on May 2. I bought the Nordstrom chiffon maxi dress in pink, and got sooo many compliments on it! It fit in perfectly with the outdoor garden wedding theme (although it rained a bit).

  • Liz

    I am going to a wedding in August. T.he ceremony is at 2:30 in a church with the reception outdoors at a home on the water. I love this dress and would like to wear it but worry that it is too dark for a summer wedding. However because the reception will go well into the night I might be ok. What are your thoughts?http://www.revolve.com/karina-grimaldi-negra-maxi-dress-in-green-rose/dp/KARI-WD255/?d=Womens

    • Liz

      Hi Catherine,
      I’m just wondering if you saw my post about the green dress in August and what your thoughts are…If I’m not going to wear that one I need to find something else. Thanks so much!

      • Catherine Brock


        I love that dress. It’s really beautiful. I don’t think it’s too dark, but I’m a little old school about church wear. I’d worry that it’s a tad too casual for the ceremony part. Maybe you could pair it with a lighter-colored, lightweight bolero? Then you could ditch the bolero and the dress would be great for the reception.

        Hope that helps!


      • Liz

        Thank you for getting back to me! I am the same way when it comes to church lol !! I always feel like the shoulders need to be covered and I have a beautiful black wrap and also an ivory wrap to wear in church. Either one will cover my whole upper half lol! I’m glad you think it’s ok to wear because I do love it!

        Thanks so much!

      • Catherine Brock

        You are welcome. Send me a picture of yourself in that dress! I’ll post it to our Instagram! 🙂 [email protected].

  • Sheri Geer


    A bit of a last minute emergency here: My daughter is getting married outdoors in June 5 at 5pm, with a reception to follow in a tent. She just told me on Saturday that she does not like the dress I chose to wear to the wedding because she thinks it is too close to the color of her gown (which is ivory- with a lace bodice, flowing chiffon skirt with a ribbon belt).

    Now I am searching for another gown. I am size 2, 5’8′.

    This is the one I originally chose:

    Would this one be a good alternative? Is it too casual?

    Thanks so much,
    Out of time mom

    • Catherine

      You have great taste. I love the chiffon maxi, and I think it’s a great option. You might have a challenge finding the right shoes — you’ll want to wear dressier shoes, but not tiny heels that will sink in the grass. Run it buy your daughter first also, as she’ll have a good sense of how formal she’d like you to be.

  • Cheryl

    hi Catherine,

    I’m going to a wedding in New York in June, at 5:30 pm, and the dress is “summer rooftop cocktail chic” – can you help explain this type of look in terms of color, fabric, and style? Not sure if black or gray would be appropriate or not….

    thank you so much,

    • Catherine


      Summer rooftop cocktail chic — that makes me laugh! It sounds like an occasion for a silky, spaghetti strap romper to me, but it also depends on how old the couple is and how old you are. A black or grey cocktail dress only works if you add color to it with your accessories. I suspect you might fit in better with a colorful, patterned print. Hope that helps!


  • Evely

    Hi… Can you help me… This is a outdoor Weeding begining at 3 pm. The recepcion is inside of barn. I’m a 27 years old, and close to the bride.

  • Cj

    Help please! I’m going to my fiancées mothers wedding in late July, it’s going to be by a waterfall and in a park area and then afterwards is the reception. I have no idea what to wear, is a long dress inappropriate? Maxi dress? I plan on buying wedges, also colors are purple and blue, Do I have I stay away from both those colors completely??

    • Catherine

      A maxi dress is a great option for an outdoor ceremony coupled with a reception, as long as the dress is not ultra casual and it fits you well.

      For example, this dress is way too casual, but this one is a better option.

      I would avoid wearing the wedding colors, but you can go with a darker or lighter shade of blue or purple.

  • Debi


    My Niece is getting married in mid May.
    It is an outside 2pm wedding.
    I was thinking of wearing a maxi-dress with a cap sleeve and flat matching sandals..
    The dress has floral print in soft teals, pinks, and turquoise.
    Should this be appropriate.
    Her colors are teal and grey..

  • I appreciated all of the tips you give on what to wear to a summer wedding. It can be hard to know what colors and styles to wear, so all of the suggestions were really helpful. Specifically, you talk about how you should wear black with some color to an evening wedding. Honestly, I never know if it’s okay or not to wear black to a wedding, however, I can see how wearing a little black dress with a pop of color can give a fun yet elegant appearance. I will definitely keep this in mind for my next wedding. Thank you for sharing!

  • Every Girl wants to feel her best at all times.. Yes Outfits should be comfortable. .

  • I think that first of all, outfit should be comfortable 🙂 Then you have to take care about fitted add-ons 🙂

  • Alli Mac

    is it ok to wear a formal long black chiffon dress to a summer wedding at 3 in the day?

    • Catherine

      Formal black chiffon might be overdoing it just a bit – please you run the risk of getting overheated.

  • suzi

    What do I wear to a 5pm wedding outside, and the wedding party will be in cowgirll boots with wine colored chiffon dresses? I am the groom’s former step mother as well!!

  • Priya

    Is a dark blue f21 dress good enough for a fall wedding? (Im thirteen) i think it might be too dark casual..,

  • Maria

    Going to my niece’s wedding on September 12 at 7 pm outside venue. Found a Katherine Kelly Embroidered Organza dress in mint green. Is this appropriate or should I go with a darker color for September 12 at 7 pm. Dress is gorgeous but light mint green knee length. I don’t want to wear wrong color.

    • Catherine

      Just make sure you aren’t wearing the same color as the bridesmaids and you should be OK.

      • Maria

        Thank you very much. The bridesmaids are wearing cobalt blue. I was just concerned about the light mint color at a 7 pm wedding in September, Thanks again for your help.

  • Cynthia

    Going to a 7pm summer wedding, is a light orange dress appropriate color or should I opt out for a blk dress with white polka dot fitted dress?

    • Catherine

      Light orange works for an evening wedding as long as it’s not a summer dress. Opt for lining!

  • Melissa

    I have a bit of a dress emergency…….so my mothers best friends’s friend invited us to her sons wedding even though were not exactly close. The wedding takes place this Sunday on the 28th of June. It begins at 5 and I guess there going to do the vow exchanging in the garden of the hotel and then head inside for cocktail hour and then have the reception. Me and my mother weren’t exactly planning to go all out for this wedding since we barely know the groom and are only familiar with the mother. Last minute we decided to hit up Macy’s and see what we could find.. My mother found a nice black calvin klein cocktail dress and I found this http://www.lordandtaylor.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/en/lord-and-taylor/jeweled-bodice-gown?site_refer=CSE_GGLPRADS001_LT&CAWELAID=120178030000148513&CAGPSPN=pla&catargetid=120178030000917751&cadevice=c&gclid=CMexuIykr8YCFYI7gQodGjgIPA
    I know it might seem like a prom dress and it probably is lol but the dress itself looked so good on me and fit well that I thought it would be appropriate for a summer evening wedding..Id never worn black to a wedding before so i thought why not this time? I’m 20 so i thought it would be appropriate. What I realized when i got home was that maybe this dress is way to flashy for a summer wedding and too dark. I’m out of options at this point since the wedding is tomorrow and I have no idea what to do. My mother was thinking of taking some of the beading off and trimming the bottom to sort of resemble this

    or even this


    That way it wouldn’t look like I’m heading to the club or being too flashy.
    What do you think? Please help

    • Catherine

      The Lord and Taylor link you posted doesn’t work, so I can’t see the original dress. The two options you posted do still look a shade flashy for a summer wedding. Make sure you pair it with flats and go light on jewelry and makeup.

  • Is red for a summer wedding appropriate?

    • Catherine


      The color red is acceptable if the dress is on the conservative side. The problem with red is that it can be way too flashy. You don’t want everyone to be staring at you and not the bride! If you love red, a safer bet would be a more muted dress color, paired with red shoes or a red bag.


  • Tomika

    I am going to an August wedding @11am.Can I wear a white linen pants suit.

  • Cait

    is it ok to wear a light grey flowy dress (knee length) with purple pumps and purple clutch to a summer beachy wedding? Her colors are purple!

  • Stacy

    Can I wear black to a wedding starting at 3 pm in Aug.? I’m thinking of a jumpsuit and would like to accessorize with pink, dark blue, or green. The reception is immediately following.

  • Marie

    Can I were a cream satan long tight dress with cleavage with gold shoes and gold hand bag ?

    • TBF

      If it is truly cream (closer to beige) and NOT white.. Go for it!

  • Angelia

    I’m clueless about what to wear to my brother n law 50th anniversary wedding. I’m not in the wedding but my husband is yet I have to sit at the head table with them. I never dress up because I feel over weight but I know I need to dress appropriate for this( husband has never seen me dresse me up either).

    • TBF

      Hey Angelia- Head to your local department store and ask them if they have a personal style/shopping department. This is a FREE service that many of the local department stores have that help you find items that look best on you. It’s like a free personal shopper. Before heading in, cut out photos of outfits/styles you like to bring in with you. Hopes this helps.

  • Meghan Ann

    What kind of shoe should I wear if the wedding is to be held on a yacht? Is that considered indoors or out? And since its evening should I opt towards a cocktail dress?

  • Sara

    What colors are recommended for a summer wedding? I was going to wear a turquoise dress but I just found out the bridesmaids are wearing that color.

  • scintilla

    I am the mother of the bride and need advice on what to wear. My daughter insists that she wants me to wear anything. She getting married at Cambridge at the beginning of August at 2pm and is wearing a dark pinky red Elizabethian costume, bridesmaids wear long pale grey with a pink red sash( Jane Austin style) There is a small reception in the garden outside with tea, cake and canapes and then we go to a restaurant for supper. I would say it is semi formal. I’m not sure what the weather will be like. Is it appropriate for to wear a satin, or taffeta dress in a deep colour like wine burgundy or chocolate brown? The other mother of the bride is not as modern in her taste. Length of dress – is tea length out of fashion? I look best in cold bright colours. What kind of shoes would be the best and colour? Would silver be ok or would it be best to wear the same colour of dress?

  • Brittany

    Are cowgirl boots ok for a wedding in may at five?

  • Kai



    Do you find this dress too short and appropriate for a spring/summer wedding? Also, would nude pumps go well with it?


  • Can the bridesmaids wear short dresses if it’s a night wedding??

  • Bridgette

    I am going to my brother’s wedding in April and I have no idea what to wear. The wedding is in Texas, but I don’t know any details on if it’s indoors or outdoors or what time the wedding is at. Do you have any suggestions for something that I could wear for any situation? I think the color the bride picked is blue. An suggestions?

    • TBF

      @Bridgette- Try a nice purple (lavender or lilac are nice purples for a wedding) sundress and purchase a matching scarf to wear around the dress (you can easily pick one up from your local Marshalls/TJ Maxx).

  • Theresa

    Can the bridesmaids wear short dresses if it’s a night wedding??

    • TBF

      Sure!!! Think cocktail dress (which is usually 2 inches above the knee to knee length)

  • Fransie D

    My son is getting married in the high summer at 16h00 – what kind of dress do I wear, a suit is not an option. The colours of the wedding is avocado green, chocolate brown and pink. They informed me semi-formal. The mother of the bride will wear a dress with the colours incorporated. I am short and about 30 pounds overweight (I will try to loose a few pounds before the wedding).

  • AnneMarie B

    Okay, so money is tight for me right now, and I have a wedding problem. My husbands cousin is getting married Saturday, 3pm, indoors. I have 2 dresses. A white cotton eyelet lace pattern dress from Torrid, and a black sweetheart dress from Lane Bryant. Both are solid colors. But I do have a white shawl, and a black shawl, that I can mix and match with them to mix the colors up, and some knee high black leather boots. Lots of colorful scarves, and lots of colorful jewelry and nail polish. I’m trying to figure out which would be the least offensive with tradition, since I can’t buy a new dress right now.

  • Mel

    What should I wear for outdoor wedding?
    Heels could be a very bad idea but I don’t have any wedges.
    Any suggestion?

  • Barbara Gates

    My granddaughter is having a 10:00 a.m. outdoor wedding on 9/17. I haven’t the faintest idea what to wear. I am 5′ tall and 30 lbs overweight. I don’t wear heels any more because they just hurt my feet too much. The bridal party is pretty formal in I say raspberry & gold colors, bride in white. I hate dresses and would feel mu ch more comfortable in some type of pant outfit, would that be appropriate and if so can you give me some idea as to fabric & color? I sew. Thank you

    • TBF

      Pants are totally fine! My suggestion would be a simple tailored blazer and pants suit with a pair of very cute dressy flats (try brands like Annie and Taryn Rose on the high end). In terms of colors try a complementary color like a violet purple so you’re complementary without being matchy, matchy. A nice all season weight fabric like gabardine or a light weight wool would be a good choice, so you can wear the outfit again.

  • Cristhys

    I have this veautiful short dress that is white background has big pink flowers with brown leaves and a big brown satin belt that is built in. I wanna wear it for a friends wedding but im concern that because the background is white then is not appropiate what you think please help the wedding is in 4 days thank you

    • TBF

      a dress with a white background is fine. You just want to avoid wearing a solid white dress

  • Crys

    What about a small white coverup/jacket over a navy blue dress? Does “no white” literally mean absolutely nothing white? I don’t know the bride, and the groom isn’t much help. It’s an afternoon beach wedding that goes straight into an evening reception at a Hilton, so I need something to coverup.

    • TBF

      you could go for a white jacket in a pinch, but again.. I’ve advise against white if you can.

  • Latha

    Thanks so much! Today is the wedding:)

  • Lise

    Is this dress too colorfull http://store.moodsofnorway.com/uploads/images/products/300/moods-of-norway-13657-daniella-blue-sunflower-satin.jpg ? I know you shouldn’t wear too outstanding colors, but it would be nice to get some advice!

  • Latha

    Sorry to bother you again. What kind of accessories? I am thinking of a pretty diamond on platinum bracelet and pinkish rhinestone chandelier earrings? It is pretty warm now and so I doubt I will need a stole.

    • TBF

      I think your accessories sound great- eye catching, but not overpowering.. I would recommend to bring a pashima/shawl just in case.

  • Latha

    Great! Thanks. What would you recommend for shoes? I am kind of both best man and maid of honor rolled into one:)

    • TBF

      A simple heel if you are inside or not walking on grass.

  • Latha

    Is this a good choice for a indoor, small, summer wedding?


    • TBF

      @Latha- that is a great choice and a very cute dress

  • Confused Mother

    Is it ok for the grandmother of the groom to wear the same color as the bridesmaids?

    • TBF

      Yes, you can wear the same color as the bridesmaids. Have fun!

      • Fran Mead

        Can I wear a black dress with red I’ the grand ma