Summer Wedding Style Cheat Sheet

Jahna PeloquinThere’s often at least one summer wedding to attend each year—especially if you’re like me and have no fewer than 30 cousins. And for many of us, it’s one of the few times we have good reason to get really dressed up. But the perfect summer wedding outfit depends on a number of factors, including the location and time of day, and selecting the perfect outfit can be tricky.

I speak from personal experience: Two summers ago, I attended my cousin’s country-themed wedding. As someone who knows next to nothing about country music (unless you count Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn), I initially panicked. How can I be dressed-up enough for a wedding and stay true to my style while dressing for the down-home theme? I eventually landed on a gauzy, vintage dress dotted with a periwinkle-blue floral print and lace trim, paired with my mother’s 1970s cherry-red, high-heeled cowboy boots. It goes down as one of my most memorable wedding looks.

But when attending a wedding as someone’s date, a bit more guesswork comes into play. If you could use a little guidance, here are a few more wedding-attire tips I’ve learned over the years:

At all costs, avoid white. This is fairly self-explanatory, but it’s possible to get so excited about your new, white-eyelet sundress from Anthropologie that you overlook the obvious.

Refer to the invitation for hints, such as the location and whether there is a stated dress code.

An evening wedding may call for slightly more formal attire than daytime. Think rich, sumptuous colors set off with metallic tones—and don’t forget a chic jacket or wrap for cool summer nights.

Embrace color and ditch anything black—that is, unless you’re attending an evening wedding, in which case black is perfectly acceptable. (Just be sure to add some summery accessories.)

Be mindful of the couple you’re celebrating. If they’re fashion-forward, approach dressing for their wedding as you would a cocktail party. And depending on whether they’re more laidback (see: a farmhouse reception) or traditional (i.e., they’re getting married in a church), follow suit and dress appropriately.

Consider the location of the party. Will you be walking on grass? Then ditch the heels in favor of wedges or platform sandals. Beachside reception? Don a flowing maxi dress and a pair of chic, flat sandals.

Think twice about wearing a short skirt or a low-cut top—you don’t want to give grandma an eyeful when you’re out on the dance floor.

Don’t call the bride the day before the wedding for advice on what to wear. She has too much to wrangle. Ask another guest if you must.

At the end of the day, no one really cares how you dress as long as you put some effort in (i.e., no ball caps ever, guys).

And finally, don’t be afraid of showing a little personality. Just because it’s not your “special day” doesn’t mean you can’t stand out—especially if you plan to make a play for the bride’s tossed bouquet.

Photo by 2nd Truth Photography

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