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You’ve sent in your RSVPs, circled the fish or chicken entrée and fought to secure the perfect plate set from the registry. With summer wedding season fast approaching, next up is finding the best wedding guest dress for the occasion (and that you’ll maybe even want to wear again). According to a recent wedding report, there will be a spike in weddings this year, with over 2.5 million poised to take place.
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This season, summer dress trends have taken a playful and sultry spin, with high hemlines and daring cutouts dominating runways like Christopher Esber and Rosetta Getty. Although cutouts are sure to be a fit for many occasions, not every ceremony calls for such unique wedding guest dresses, so having a wide range of options available can help you to land on the style that’s right for you. “A great wedding dress to us is everything romantic and ethereal,” says Rebecca Hessel Cohen, founder of LoveShackFancy. When looking for a gorgeous dress to wear to a wedding you have coming up, kick things off by taking a few considerations into mind.
What to look for in a dress to wear to a summer wedding
Price: When it comes to nailing the price point that’s right for you, make sure to consider the versatility of the piece you choose. You’ll want a dress that hopefully can double as an option for other occasions, or could even make an appearance at another nuptial down the line. If you’re opting for something with a lower price point, you’ll want to pay special attention to the materials used as well as the fit. Some less expensive options may wrinkle or cling — issues you want to avoid when you’re attempting to focus on the big day.
Style: According to Joyah Takefala, junior creative director at Faithfull The Brand, “styles with an intricate or open backline are key this season.” While it’s important with a wedding guest dress to consider the dress code of the event you’ll be attending, you want to make sure to let your style shine through. If you’re partial to romantic items, try options with puff sleeves, floral prints and picnic-inspired patterns. If you tend toward an edgier aesthetic, opt for a sleek black option or something a bit more streamlined.
Comfort: Be sure to consider the location of your upcoming wedding when choosing the dress that is right for you. For a beach wedding, you’ll want a cute dress that’s lightweight and made of cotton that can risk getting sandy or wet. “Dressing for a more informal wedding, like a beach wedding, we think should be more fun and playful,” Cohen says.
For a city wedding, an elegant wedding guest dress that is sleek and silky may be more appropriate. “For a formal wedding, we gravitate towards a full-length maxi dress in a vibrant plain color or a classic black, complemented by statement accessories,” Takefala suggests. You’ll also want to plan ahead — if the wedding is outdoors, you may want to consider covering your shoulders to avoid a sunburn or for if it gets chilly at night.
Ahead, shop the best wedding guest dresses — from elevated and elegant to casual and cool silhouettes.
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Top Wedding Guest Dresses
Vince Floral Pleated Camisole Dress
Best Pleated Slip Wedding Guest Dress
L.A.- based brand Vince is known for its simple, elegant staples, and this floral camisole dress is no exception. If you’re looking for a cute dress to wear to a wedding that you could easily wear again for other occasions, try this style. Pair it with some block-heeled sandals and a light cardigan for an upcoming ceremony, then wear it with sneakers and a denim jacket for casual occasions. The adjustable straps allow for easy adjustment, and the pleated skirt moves with you. If you want a simple floral option, this is the one.
BB Dakota Puffer Than You Dress
Best Puff-Sleeve Mini Wedding Guest Dress
Mini dresses are in this year, so you may want to consider a dress with an above-the-knee hemline if the wedding dress code allows for it. This sweet puff-sleeve option embraces the prairie aesthetic without feeling too costumey. Based in Southern California, BB Dakota captures the easy going California aesthetic. So, if you’re headed to L.A. or San Diego for impending nuptials, this style will fit right in. Pair it with white sandals for a coordinated look.
Lost + Wander Cecilia Dress
Best Prairie Wedding Guest Dress
If you’re looking to fully lean into the prairie aesthetic, try this tiered style from Lost & Wander. The soft green floral and pink contrasting details are perfect for a casual daytime ceremony, especially if you can add a straw hat to the look. One small detail not to be overlooked: This dress also has pockets, which can be handy if you don’t want to carry a purse for the occasion. The relaxed silhouette offers coverage without leaving you overheated or stifled. So, embrace the prairie look and try this dress on for size.
For Love & Lemons Felicia Dress
Best Puff Sleeve Wedding Guest Dress
For Love & Lemons is a brand that’s become beloved for its celebratory, summer designs. This flirty dress in a red and pink floral print is a great option if you want something versatile for this wedding season. The floaty chiffon material will keep you comfortable and look elegant as it moves with a light breeze. From the front, the puff sleeves and ruffled neckline are distinctly romantic, but the lace-up back adds an extra edge to this style. Top off the look with some playful statement earrings.
Johanna Ortiz Una Concha En El Mar Dress
Best Beach Wedding Guest Dress
If you’ve RSVP’d to a wedding somewhere tropical, you need a dress that can handle a shoeless beach ceremony. This style from Johanna Ortiz can hold its own, no footwear needed. The Columbian designer drew inspiration from the ease of surf culture for her latest collection, and this design, with its bold seashell print, is ideal for a sandy celebration. Since it’s 100% cotton, you won’t have to be worried if you happen to get splashed by a wave or two, either. Plus, the style can be easily dressed up or down and double as a swimsuit coverup down the line.
Floret Studios Floral Satin Midi Dress
Best Floral Wedding Guest Dress
Floral prints are a natural fit for spring and summer wedding guest dresses. This muted option from Floret Studios is not only affordable at just over $100, but it’s also elegant and looks expensive. The silky polyester fabric sits comfortably against the skin, and the bustier silhouette will hug you snugly. Puff sleeves are a popular trend, and this iteration adds a touch of romance without feeling too over the top. Style this frock with a pair of nude or tan shoes, and you’re all set.
LoveShackFancy Norma Dress
Best Tie Dye Wedding Guest Dress
If you thought that tie-dye was too casual for a wedding, LoveShackFancy may just convince you to reconsider. The brand’s subtle pink style is hand dyed and feels both easy and sophisticated. The 100% cotton fabrication is light and comfortable. Plus, crochet panels allow an additional bit of breeze to blow through. Finish this look with a colorful necklace for a youthful spin.
Staud Milla Dress
Best Mini Wrap Wedding Guest Dress
Playful, colorful wardrobe staples that can easily be styled for day or nighttime wear are signature looks of L.A.-based label Staud. This mini dress is a perfect example. The sweet poppy print offers a subtle pop of color without being too eye-catching. The slightly flared skirt is flattering and won’t be constricting as you mill about throughout the celebration. To style the dress, consider a pair of heeled sandals or pumps in black or a red that matches the floral print. Finish with a bold lip and hoop earrings.
Likely Katerina Dress
Best Ruffled Cutout Wedding Guest Dress
Color: Olive Oil
If you’re eager to continue wearing the cutout trend this summer, this romantic number from Likely is a sweet option to consider. The waist cutouts are flattering, showing a touch of skin without fitting in a way that would require constant adjusting or fidgeting. The oversized floral print and ruffle details add feminine touches to the dress. To style, try keeping accessories simple so all eyes are on your dress.
Reformation Darby Dress
Best Gingham Wedding Guest Dress
Gingham isn’t just meant for picnic blankets. This sweet summer print is a playful option for an outdoor wedding. This yellow style from fashion-girl favorite label Reformation has a midi length that’s appropriate for both formal and casual ceremonies. The smocked waist and scooped neckline are flattering for the bust, while the flared skirt is comfortable. Bow details on the thin straps add an extra touch of sophistication. In this dress, you’ll be ready to twirl your way across the dance floor.
Julia Heuer Pola Ombre Plisse Dress
Best Ombre Wedding Guest Dress
Sizes: One Size
Calling all bold dressers! If you like to make a splash, you’ll want to try this colorful Julia Heuer ombré dress that’s delicately pleated. The front hits higher on the chest, offering ample coverage, but the thin straps leave your upper back exposed. The hemline hits just below the knee, and the material allows for ample stretch. The pastel color palette is appealing for outdoor weddings as the temperatures rise.
Meryll Rogge Wallpaper Mini Dress
Best Bright Wedding Guest Dress
Sizes: FR 34-44
Colors: Bright green
Emerging label Meryll Rogge is one to have on your radar right now. This lime green slip dress from the Belgian brand takes the return of the ‘90s slip to a fun, modern place. The silk-twill piece has constructed cups that stop the dress from hanging at the bust. The lace hem and leg slits add youthful energy that makes this style ideal for a nighttime dance party. For those headed to a wedding that will go all night long, this is the dress for you.
Stella McCartney DRS SLVLS Fungi Print Dress
Best Fungi Print Wedding Guest Dress
Love it or hate it, fungi prints are a popular choice for spring and summer as seen on runways that range from Brandon Maxwell to Rodarte. This dress from Stella McCartney is subtle, so even if you’re hesitant, it’s worth taking for a spin as a unique wedding guest dress option. The contrasting blue and yellow colors are summery and lighthearted without skewing too bold. In addition, fluttery sleeves and a bustier neckline make this dress feel especially Bridgerton-esque. If you’re one for sartorial romance, this is the dress for you.
& Other Stories Smocked Midi Dress
Best Affordable Wedding Guest Dress
If you’re looking for both affordability and versatility in your next wedding guest dress, look no further. This red style from & Other Stories is an ideal transitional piece that can just as easily be worn to brunch with friends as to a ceremony. The smocked waist offers both comfort and a flattering cinched silhouette. The square neckline and looser bust allow space for women with larger busts who may want a bit of extra coverage up top. Try matching the look with a bright red lip.
Rixo Effie Dress
Best Multi-Print Wedding Guest Dress
Sizes: UK 6-16
British label Rixo is beloved for its kooky-cool prints and flattering silhouettes. This ‘90s-inspired midi dress has contrasting sleeve ruffles for a little intrigue beyond your standard floral dress. The flattering neckline has a V-shape both in the front and back, making it an ideal style to showcase a statement necklace. If you’re embracing the ‘90s aesthetic full-on, add a pair of kitten heels and add a small baguette bag to finish things off. Sweep your hair back in a low bun, and you’re good to go.
Isabel Marant Albisd Dress
Best Long-Sleeve Wedding Guest Dress
Even in warm weather, sometimes long sleeves are the way to go. This lightweight crepe dress from Isabel Marant will cover your arms without leaving you feeling overheated. The elegant silhouette is modest, but the purple floral print adds a playful tone. The gathered waist also helps to highlight your shape without hugging too tight. So, if you’re looking for a dress that has a bit more coverage but doesn’t feel too frumpy, this is the one. Pair with an ankle boot to polish off the look.
Ba&sh Benja Dress
Best Boho Wedding Guest Dress
Colors: Blue, green
If you consider your style to skew a bit more boho, then this breezy dress from French label Ba&sh is a must. The paisley and floral motif is a bit bolder than your standard flower print but still feels elevated. The silhouette is loose and lightweight, which makes it ideal if you’ll be somewhere with limited air conditioning. The ‘70s-inspired piece is perfect to pair with platform sandals featuring a wooden sole or woven materials. Then, you can finish with layered jewelry for a final touch.
Halpern Mini Dress
Best Ruffled Wedding Guest Dress
Sizes: FR 34-42
If you want a dress that’s made for the dance floor, this eye-catching number from Halpern is the one. A long ruffle along the side will move with you as you fete the night away. The dress also features two non-traditional prints, a mix of oversized polka dots and a painterly mix of color splashes. There’s something nostalgic and whimsical about this number; it’s definitely not your average wedding guest option. Inspired by ‘70s-era glam, and most especially Cher, this is a dress destined for a night of disco.
Saloni Justine Dress
Best Maxi Wedding Guest Dress
Sizes: UK 4-1
More formal summer weddings often suggest a maxi silhouette, but if it’s somewhere warm, that can leave you sweating. This 100% silk dress by Saloni hugs elegantly and is a formal wedding guest dress option fitting for a black tie event, but will still allow you to keep cool and comfortable. The one-shoulder silhouette is a sleek alternative to your usual neckline. Also worth knowing is that the yellow floral print is inspired by the designer’s Indian heritage.
Bluemarine Ruffle-Trim Dress
Best ‘90s-Inspired Wedding Guest Dress
Sizes: IT 40-44
Blumarine’s spring ’22 runway collection set Milan abuzz with its playful ‘90s references. Now, you can finally shop the nostalgic designs. This ruffle-trim pink dress could have made an appearance in “Legally Blonde” or “27 Dresses.” It’s flirty and fun, but also appropriate for a dressy occasion. Try styling it with other nostalgic staples like a hair claw and strappy, metallic sandals. If you’re feeling particularly bold, finish with colorful eyeshadow.
City Chic Magnolia Dress
Best Wrap Wedding Guest Dress
Sizes: Plus XXS-XXL
If you’re one to focus on comfort when it comes to choosing a dress, you’ll want to consider a wrap style. This floral option from plus size brand City Chic is adjustable, with the ability to cinch the waist to your desired level of comfort. The V-neck is relatively modest, making it a great option for women of all bust sizes who prefer a little more coverage. The short sleeves hit just below the elbow and have a loose, floaty feel to them, adding to the overall easy vibe. Plus, the sage color is flattering on all skin colors.
Proenza Schouler White Label Sunflower Dress
Best Daytime Wedding Guest Dress
A daytime wedding requires a dress that can easily transition from a more casual ceremony to a nighttime party that might skew a bit more formal. This smocked cotton dress from New York-based label Proenza Schouler works for daytime with its shirring and pocket details, but its dark color palette is suitable for evenings, too. A mid-calf hemline also makes it feel a touch more formal than something shorter. And, the wide tank straps offer support, if that’s something you look for specifically. Even more good news is that the style is machine washable.
Ottolinger Maxi Dress
Best Black Cutout Wedding Guest Dress
If your personal style skews edgy, you may already know of Ottolinger, the deconstructionist brand that has made a splash at Paris Fashion Week with its boundary-pushing shows. That description may not immediately make you think of a wedding guest dress, but the label’s take on elevated cutouts is worth considering for a formal ceremony. This knit jersey dress has stretch to it, so it will be comfortable to wear through a long day of festivities. It’s also a simple take on the classic black dress that feels original and inspired. Pair it with black sandals for an elegant finish.
JW Anderson Floral Dress
Best Chiffon Wedding Guest Dress
Sizes: UK 4-14
Light chiffon has an elegant air to it, and this JW Anderson number has a particularly fancy feel. The silhouette is a nod to the ‘20s, with a straight body and a square neckline. Floral flocking adds a touch of intrigue, and leather straps add some edge. Since this dress is a subtle statement, try keeping your shoes minimal, but consider wearing a bag with a punch of color. The final effect will impress even the trendiest of guests.
Ganni Mesh Midi Dress
Best Plus-Size Wedding Guest Dress
Color: Sulfur spring
Ganni is a trendsetting Scandi brand that has earned a cult following among fashion insiders. It has a wide range of colorful dresses to consider as a wedding guest, but for a fresh feel, try the brand’s ruched midi dress. The long sleeves are appropriate for an evening celebration where things might cool off. The silhouette is made to cling tight to the body, highlighting your curves. The final effect is cool and wedding appropriate, without trying too hard.
Zimmermann Tropicana Dress
Best Cutout Linen Wedding Guest Dress
If you’re headed to a wedding that will include any time in the sun, you want a dress that will keep you cool. This 100% linen option from Zimmerman is lightweight but still packs a sartorial punch. The bright color and eye-catching print are sure to be party favorites. To style this dress, consider a fancy flat sandal that wraps around the ankle. For a daytime wedding, it will add a casual twist without feeling too informal.
Meet the author
Aemilia Madden is a writer, editor, and brand consultant who has worked in the fashion industry for over eight years. She’s an Oakland, California native and Brooklyn resident. When she’s not writing about the latest trends, Aemilia is running in prospect park, testing new recipes on her friends, and trying to keep up with her New Yorker subscription.
Meet the experts
Rebecca Hessel Cohen is a former fashion editor and founder and creative director of LoveShackFancy, a New York-based brand known for its colorful vintage-inspired dresses and knits.
Joyah Takefala is the junior creative director at sustainable, Instagram-famous label Faithfull The Brand. She was previously a fashion buyer at Australian womenswear brand Dissh.