A Woman’s Summer Wedding Style Guide


Deciding what to wear to a summer wedding can be both fun and a little bit daunting. Unless the wedding invitation specifically states a dress code, it can be difficult to work out how formal or casual your attire should be… and of course, you want to be staying cool and not sweating all your beautiful make-up off.

But never fear: we’ve got the answers you need, with our quick guide to what to wear to every type of summer wedding.

Adhering to dress codes

Formal dress code

If a summer wedding is held indoors to keep cool, the dress code is likely to be formal. Chic, stylish dresses that finish anywhere between just above the knee and the ankle are the best choice. Choose something a little more structured and fitted, perhaps in a lighter colour than you would normally wear for this dress code, and add classic pumps or sandals in a neutral colour, together with a clutch bag. Depending on how formal the wedding is, you may want to add a hat or fascinator to complete your outfit.

Black tie optional

What does ‘black tie optional’ really mean? Does it require you to wear a long formal gown, or can you get away with a cocktail dress? Both are acceptable. If you choose to wear a cocktail dress, choose one with beading to make it stand out. If you prefer to go with a long dress, avoid wearing white, cream, or the same colour as the bridesmaids (if you know what they’re wearing).

If the happy couple are getting married in a church, you may not feel comfortable wearing a strapless evening gown, so either choose a dress with covered shoulders, or one with a matching jacket that can be removed once the partying starts.

Cocktail dress

For cocktail weddings, wear a formal knee-length dress, perhaps with beading or sequins to befit the occasion. You can also opt for a longer length or maxi dress, but make sure that it’s smarter than the type of dress you’d wear on the beach; materials such as silk and chiffon are the way to go.

Themed weddings

If the happy couple have chosen a themed wedding, it’s only right to dress according to the theme. Remember that a lot of time and effort has gone into planning their special day, so keep that in mind when you choose your wedding outfit. Whether it’s a beach themed wedding or a country-style affair, you’ll feel more comfortable and less out of place if you go with the vibe.

A summer garden wedding

If the wedding is taking place in a garden setting, choose an outfit that’s elegant and not too casual. Garden weddings will usually have a ‘smart casual’ dress code, and beading and sequins are overkill, so choose something simple and understated. Flowery or pastel coloured dresses will work well, as will plain or patterned jumpsuits. Remember to think about your choice of footwear. Unless there’s going to be a marquee with a wood floor, heels aren’t the best choice. Try wearing wedges or dressy flat sandals to complete your summer garden wedding outfit, and ensure that you can walk safely on grass.

A beach wedding

Most beach weddings call for casual but smart attire. While some brides and grooms will be happy for you to turn up in shorts and thongs, most couples will probably expect you to adopt a more formal dress code. Keep your dress cool but classy, maybe opting for an elegantly draped shift dress made from a light flowing fabric or a dress with a halter neckline. Maxi dresses are also the perfect choice for beach weddings, although you may find that a kaftan is a little too casual.

Trying to walk on sand in heels is not easy, so opt for a pair of flat sandals. If you can’t do without your heels, choose a wedge heel instead of a slim heel. Both styles will take you from day through to night and keep your feet looking and feeling comfortable but smart when the dancing starts. Add a pair of sunglasses and a clutch bag, and you’re ready to go.

A vintage wedding

If your invitation calls for vintage attire, it doesn’t mean that you must dress in authentic vintage clothes. Look for traditional shaping and styles, choosing feminine dresses, midi-length skirts and nipped-in waists to create that traditional hourglass silhouette.

Whatever the dress code, choose an outfit that reflects you

A wedding is a time of celebration. Whatever the dress code, always choose an outfit that fits with that, but that’s also a reflection of you. There’s no point dressing formally in an outfit that makes you suck in your stomach all day; you won’t enjoy the occasion at all. So, use this guide to point you in the right direction, but choose a summer wedding outfit that’s comfortable, and will allow you to really immerse yourself in the occasion.