It may seem like black tie or formal weddings have the toughest dress codes to stick to, but sometimes, the more fashion rules, the easier it is to meet wedding guest outfit attire requirements — and vice versa. Outfits for casual weddings (arguably the loosest of wedding dress code styles) can be tricky to nail down, so paying careful attention to the season, location, and potential wedding theme can be the key to landing on the best dressed and the best guest list.
The good news is, a lot of how you already love to dress is at play when it comes to casual wedding attire, so separates, pants, short dresses, florals, and other patterns are all totally valid options, to say nothing of the bevy of materials to be considered. You also have the option of trading those formal stilettos for a flatter and more comfortable shoe, which is all the better for dancing the night away or chasing a cater waiter for more crab cakes.
To help you narrow down your choices, here are our favorite ideas for what to wear to a casual wedding.
Try a Twist on a Suit
Suits come in many shapes, colors, and styles, so have some fun. A version with slacks, a skirt (or both!), and even a matching dress can work if you stay away from a super formal cut, like anything reminiscent of a tuxedo. Earthy, pastel, and bright tones will immediately bring a more casual feel to a suit, so go in that direction over something dark.
Try a Blouse and Trousers
If you have your heart set on pants, go for a pair of tailored trousers. If you’re especially drawn to suiting, a pantsuit is a great casual wedding guest outfit, but also keep the event’s location in mind. While a suit may work for a courthouse wedding, it would obviously not be the best choice for beachy nuptials.
Jump Into a Jumpsuit
If you want the comfort of pants with a bit more fashion energy, try a chic jumpsuit for a casual wedding outfit. Avoid materials like denim or anything too utilitarian so your look doesn’t veer too casual, and opt for a luxe fabric or pattern and keep accessories sleek and minimal.
Cutouts aren’t off-limits at casual weddings, but it’s best to keep them low-key. If you’re on the fence about how much skin to show, think about what you would wear to brunch, a bridal party, a nice picnic, or vacation dinner. An island or water-side wedding locale is usually a signal that cutouts are okay.
Go for Florals
Spring and summer dresses are great options for a casual wedding, but choose the color carefully. Since many floral summer dresses have a white, cream, or light pink base, it’s best to avoid these because they can come across as white in photos. Opting for blue, green, or lavender bases can help avoid any mishaps.
Play with Prints
If florals aren’t your thing, consider other fun and bright prints. Gingham, abstract, and plaid patterns are all fair game at a casual wedding. Like with florals, avoid any print featuring mostly white, buttery yellow, or pale pink, but otherwise, have fun.
Try a Skirt Set
Another non-dress option to consider is a colorful skirt set. You can still show some (but not a ton) skin and have plenty of hemline options to choose from. Plus, you can still embrace texture like ruffles or sequins without looking overly formal.
Dressing in one color immediately dresses up any ensemble and brings thoughtful intentionality. Whether you go with separates in the same color or one item with coordinated accessories, make sure everything together looks elevated and location appropriate.
Dress Down a Ball Skirt
A beloved ball skirt can absolutely work for a casual wedding, even if it has some sparkle. Pair is with a more casual top like a sweater, button-down, or silk blouse and a colorful pair of pumps or sling backs for a put-together but dressed-down effect.
Go Breezy, Not Beachy
While lightweight fabrics, twirly skirts, and ruffles are all fair game at casual weddings, it’s good practice to avoid anything that reads as a beach cover-up, even if you’re celebrating with your toes in the sand. For a warm-weather casual wedding, opt for a looser fitting silhouette or ensemble in breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, or silk.
Skip the Sneakers
Sneakers, even your fanciest designer pair, are another no-no for casual weddings, but you don’t have to teeter on uncomfortable high heels. A low, comfortable sandal is a great wedding option and perfect for dancing. Sling backs, kitten heels, and tidy ballet flats are all great options.
Keep Hemlines More Midi Than Mini
Whether you’re wearing a skirt or a dress, keep in mind the hemline. You’re not limited to maxis or even midi lengths, but keeping hemlines at the knee or fingertip length when you’re standing up straight is a good rule of thumb. Balancing out a shorter hemline with covered up sleeves or a cover-up like a blazer or cardigan is also helpful.