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Guide to Picking Wedding Reception Guest Attire

From dress code to best dressed, here’s your guide to suitable wedding reception guest attire

So you’ve been invited to a wedding reception. What do you wear? Unfortunately, there’s no straight answer to this question, but there are a few guidelines when it comes to wedding reception guest attire.


Broadly speaking, wedding reception guest attire is respectful to the couple and the theme or dress code they’ve specified. There are also, of course, a few general rules for dressing appropriately as a wedding reception guest. For starters, you must never upstage the bride or groom (this is their day, after all). Second of all, you must obey the dress code—there’s simply no reason or excuse not to. And third, you must remember to keep your attire appropriate: a dress that’s too short can be disastrous, as is an outfit that doesn’t fit you properly or that isn’t weather appropriate, and shoes that simply don’t work for the venue.


Now that we’ve established the ground rules, what are some wedding reception guest outfit ideas? This depends almost entirely on the type of wedding reception.

For formal wedding receptions

Like most formal occasions, formal wedding reception guest attire usually goes hand in hand with a black tie dress code—think a floor-length gown, heels and jewelry for women, and a tuxedo or a black, navy or grey suit for men.

For semi-formal wedding receptions

Appropriate guest attire for a semi-formal wedding reception includes cocktail dresses, jumpsuits and some skirt-and-blouse combinations. If in doubt, try and ensure at last one element of your outfit is formal: a beaded or sequined skirt can be paired with a button-down shirt, for instance, or consider teaming a plain cocktail dress with high heels and shining accessories.

For casual wedding receptions

Not surprisingly, casual wedding reception guest attire isn’t too difficult to figure out; the trick is keeping it smart enough to show your respect to the couple. Jeans and ratty sneakers are almost never acceptable; instead, appropriate casual wedding reception guest attire generally includes pressed chinos and a button-down shirt for guys, and a jersey dress, jumpsuit or short dress for women.

For outdoor wedding receptions

When it comes to an outdoor wedding reception, the key is to really examine the invitation for information (or clues) on the venue itself, as that will usually dictate what you wear. Beach bar bound? Be sure to wear flat sandals. Heading to a rustic farmhouse under the stars? A cotton or cotton-linen dress worn with block-heeled shoes is usually appropriate. Backyard garden party with a marquee? A jumpsuit or printed style should do the trick.


wedding reception guest ruffle dress
Shop our ruffle dresses!

Off the Shoulder Dress with Cascading Ruffle Detail in Dusty Emerald

Formal yet fashion forward, this long dress is elegant and contemporary, with its off-the-shoulder neckline and draped bodice with a cascading ruffle at the waist. Glamorous without going over the top, it also features a thigh-high slit to reveal your shoes. Add statement earrings and a metallic clutch to seal the deal on a fabulous attire.

wedding reception guest beaded dress
Shop our floral beaded dresses!

Long Floral Beaded Gown with Flutter Sleeves in Moonscape

This gown combines delicate beaded florals and sheer, pleated layers for a wedding reception guest attire for both formal and semi-formal dress codes. Pleated godets allow for easy dancing, while the short flutter sleeves and beaded floral motif mean you don’t need much by way of accessories.

wedding reception guest sheath dress
Shop our beaded sheath dresses!

Long-Sleeve Hand-Beaded Sheath Dress in Black

This dress has a sculptural, tuxedo-inspired silhouette and intricate beadwork that lend a formal feel, while its midi length and wrap-over collar make it suitable as semi-formal wedding reception guest attire, too. Opt for bold, jewel-toned shoes and accessories for a pop of fun.

Need help with your other wedding guest outfits and responsibilities? Check out our other wedding guest guides below:

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