What to wear to a summer wedding

Sara Schlueter

Receiving a fancy wedding invitation in the mail can be exciting, and how you dress for the big day is important. Following a few simple guidelines will keep you classy, chic and out of the fashion faux pas zone.

When rummaging through your closet in search of the perfect outfit, it may be a good idea to reference the invitation to get a feel for the wedding and the potential theme.  

“Use the invitation as a cue for the formality of the wedding. Also consider the personality of the bride and groom and what they would think would be appropriate,” said Allie Woizeschke, Iowa State alumnae who planned her own summer wedding in 2011.  

If you are getting a feeling that the wedding is more casual or laid back, a simple sheath dress paired with accessories and a belt could be the perfect solution. Keep the colors on trend with the season, and make sure they are tasteful.

“For women I love sundresses. Pantsuits also work, but I think a nice spring or summer dress works every time. Definitely go for color,” said Stephanie Andrews, an Iowa State alumnae who was a bridesmaid in the past and has been a guest to various weddings.

When picking what colors are appropriate to wear, remember to keep white out of the range of possibilities. Generally, brides are the only ones to wear white on their big day, so choose something with color instead.

“Unless specifically told to in the wedding invitation, never wear white to a wedding. Even if the bride is relaxed and might not care, it is disrespectful. Let the bride stand out on her wedding day,” Andrews said.

Questioning if your Saturday night bar dress with the deep V-neck and sequins will work? Probably not — Grandma will be there.

“Do not wear anything too short or revealing. This is supposed to be a classy event, and the bride and groom are the ones in the spotlight. Keep your outfit cute but simple and don’t wear anything with too much bling,” Woizeschke said.

On some occasions, brides will specify on the invitations if the event is black tie, has a theme or if the ceremony is taking place in a destination location.

“I went to a wedding once where we were required to wear only black and white. It was stunning. Everyone looked incredible and the event had a real theme to it,” Andrews said.

“However, there were two people who didn’t fully read the invitation and wore colors and I know they were uncomfortable all day. Make sure to read the entire invitation. A lot of times the wedding invite can clue you in to the wedding colors if you pay attention.” 

For black tie events, men will be wearing suits and tuxedos, which means that wearing a formal cocktail dress or long formal dress will be appropriate to the occasion.

If a bride has specified such a dress code, stick to it and don’t push the envelope.

“I think that guests’ attire is very important to the wedding day. Every bride had a vision as to what her wedding day is going to look and feel like and that vision is going to include the guests. Wearing the right outfit to the wedding will help complete the vision and create the perfect day,” Woizeschke said.