The Ultimate Guide to Summer Wedding Dress Codes

The Ultimate Guide to Summer Wedding Dress Codes

Lydia Joy Photography Bride And Groom

Photographed by: Lydia Joy Photography

As summer wedding season quickly approaches, your inbox is sure to be full of save-the-dates. In fact, The Knot put together a guide to determine the most popular months to have your wedding. It reports that 15% of weddings happen in September, followed by 10% of weddings taking place in June, and July and August tied with 9% of weddings within each of these two months.

While it is an exciting time of the year to celebrate the nuptials of two friends joining as one, you may be thinking, “What is the appropriate ‘wedding guest dress code’”? The unpredictable summer weather provides another element to be concerned about when it comes to dressing as a wedding guest in the summer.

Luckily for you, we have compiled the ultimate guide for what to wear to a wedding as a guest in Summer 2023. In this guide we will break down:

  • What to wear as a summer wedding guest
  • How to interpret a summer wedding dress code
Chesapeake Charm Photography Bride and Maids Pic 2

What to Wear as a Summer Wedding Guest

When deciphering what to wear to a wedding, your first thoughts may be a long velvet dress or a classic black and white suit with the idea of a typical evening wedding in mind. However, these are the last things you’d want to wear during a summer wedding on a hot summer afternoon. Some things to keep in mind when deciding what to wear to a summer wedding are:

  • The fabric of your outfit
  • The colors that you wear.

Fabric Choices

When you think of summer, you probably think of the perfect summer day, warm enough for shorts and a T-shirt with a welcome wind every so often. However, summer can bring some pretty tough heat and humidity, so keep that in mind when thinking of what to wear as a wedding guest.

Although many summer weddings take place in the evening so that the heat is more comfortable, it is still important to consider the fabric choices you are making when planning your outfits as a summer wedding guest. Consider blended suit fabrics, lightweight and breathable fabrics, midi or open-back dresses, or a long skirt. Trust us, you’ll thank us later for this reminder.

Color Choices

The time of day is another component to consider when choosing your wedding guest outfit. A general rule is to wear darker colors for evening weddings and lighter colors for daytime or afternoon weddings. Although, since it is a summer wedding, bright colors, and floral patterns are almost always welcome if they abide by the dress code as well.

When dressing for a daytime summer wedding, consider lighter colors such as light blue or green dresses, colorful accents in your suit, a printed pocket square, or floral dresses.

When dressing for an evening summer wedding, consider darker tones that still have a lighter feeling to them than just black, such as Earth tones. Some colors to consider for an evening summer wedding would be rust, marigold, sage, or terracotta.

Tyler Boye Photography Wedding Invitation Pic 3

Photographed by: Tyler Boye Photography

How to Interpret a Summer Wedding Dress Code

Aside from fabric considerations and color choices, there are set guidelines specific to each wedding. These dress code guidelines range from casual to black tie and everything in between. For your convenience, we have broken down the meaning behind each of these dress codes and included a few outfit examples so that you don’t have to think twice about what to or not to wear.


Although a casual wedding dress code is fairly uncommon, you do still see it pop up every now and then. A casual wedding guest dress code indicates a low formality of the wedding, along with this comes more of an emphasis on the bride and groom and the celebration of their marriage, rather than an emphasis on the formality of tying the knot.

Now, before you go thinking that a casual summer wedding dress code means that shorts or flip flops may be acceptable, remember that it is still a wedding, and even in the ‘casual’ dress codes you should wear pants or a dress or skirt unless the invite states explicitly that shorts are acceptable.

When dressing for a casual wedding, think of it as business casual. You still want to look presentable. Consider wearing a light-colored button-down and dress pants, or a long skirt, blouse, and dressy sandals. Casual hair and makeup are ok for this dress code as well.

Semi-Formal/Cocktail Attire

A semi-formal wedding guest dress code is more common, this type of dress code may also be referred to as cocktail attire. For this type of dress code especially, start to pay attention to the time of day and the colors that you wear in accordance with that timing.

Although this dress code is more formal than a casual dress code, you still want to wear comfy clothes and shoes as you dance the night away with fellow wedding guests and the newlyweds, think about this when choosing your outfit.

Some ideas of what to wear to a semi-formal wedding would be a suit and tie paired with comfy dress shoes, a cocktail dress, or a blouse and a midi skirt. Don’t forget to bring hair accessories such as a claw clip or a hair tie to easily throw your hair up to keep it off your neck while dancing. Hair and makeup can also be casual for a cocktail attire dress code.

Beach Formal

While we don’t have beaches here in Springfield, PA, we didn’t want to leave you feeling lost if you’re heading to the beach for a formal beach wedding.

You should expect a formal beach wedding to be mostly, if not entirely outdoors, and for this reason, you need to dress accordingly. Specifically, make sure you wear the right shoes to be moving around outdoors whether that’s on a sandy beach or not.

While you may think that since the wedding is outside, that you can dress down a bit, but don’t forget that the word “formal” is still in the wedding guest dress code.

Keeping in mind the formality behind a wedding guest dress code, some ideas that you may want to consider when dressing for a beach wedding are wearing a light-colored suit, linen shirts or pants, or khakis paired with comfortable beach shoes. For this type of wedding, ties are not required. Other ideas would be wearing a formal summer wedding guest dress paired with beach sandals with natural makeup and hair. Beach waves make a great hairstyle for this wedding dress code!

Tyler Boye Photography Wedding Party Pic 4

Photographed by: Tyler Boye Photography

Formal or Black Tie Optional

The stakes get higher as the formality levels of wedding guest dress codes increase. Compared to other dress codes, a formal or black-tie optional dress code requires a more dressed-up look.

When dressing in black tie optional wedding guest outfits, remember that it is likely going to be an evening affair. This means that you should stick to darker colors when deciding on your suit or formal wedding guest dress.

Don’t let the formality of a black-tie optional event feel intimidating, it actually is fairly simple to pick an outfit since there is a stricter formality.

While a tuxedo is not required for formal weddings, it would still be completely appropriate to style a tuxedo for this event. Some other ideas of what to wear to a formal wedding would be a dark-colored suit and dress shoes or a long gown with heels or dressy flats. For a formal wedding, consider wearing your hair in an updo with more dramatic make-up.

Black Tie

A black-tie wedding is one of the highest formality levels that a wedding could have. As this tends to be a rare opportunity for most people to wear this formal outfit, remember to have fun with it and dress to the nines!

A black-tie wedding is a very formal event, and it will most likely be starting after 6:00 PM and a sit-down dinner is likely to be involved. With this in mind, sticking to dark colors is the best option. A dark-colored tuxedo, paired with a bow tie and dark dress shoes is the perfect outfit for this type of event. Another excellent option is a long evening gown paired with high heels and very formal hair and makeup.

Need help deciding the formality level of your wedding? Our team at the Springfield Country Club is happy to talk it through with you.

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