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What to Wear to a Summer Wedding?

Posted by Sheffield on May 15th 2014

It’s spring and summer wedding season, and inevitably you have a friend or relative that is getting married.  So what do you wear?  We asked our resident Wedding Planner Robin Dunlap to give us some advice.

Shop Dresses for Summer Weddings

David Meister Floral Strapless Cocktail Dress

This David Meister Floral Dress is a great choice for an outdoor or beach wedding.

Dress Style:

Find out what the bridesmaids are wearing and follow a similar style.  If they are wearing a long dress, then you should too.  Some faiths do not allow a woman’s shoulders to be exposed, so definitely look and see how the bridesmaid dresses are styled.

You can also let the setting of the wedding and the dress code on the invitation (if there is one) be your guide:

  1. Outdoor spring weddings tend to be a little more casual.  A vintage cocktail dress is usually good fit here. Some nicer casual dresses can also be appropriate.  In the case of a beach wedding, you’ll want to wear something that won’t blow up in the wind, Maxi Dresses are great for that.
  2. More sophisticated weddings, like those in an urban setting can be split between cocktail and longer evening gowns. Just be careful not to get too close to the same color as the wedding party.  You don’t want to be mistaken for a bridesmaid.
  3. Black tie affairs call for the full length evening gown.  Now black tie means formal, it doesn’t mean wear black.  Classically styled gowns will be elegant and not take too much attention away from the bride.

Tip:  If the invitation reads “Black tie optional” the bride would prefer it if you wore a long dress, and if your date wore a tuxedo.

Vintage 1960's Teal Chiffon Ruched Evening Dress

This Vintage 1960’s Teal Chiffon Ruched Evening Dress is a classic color and perfect for an elegant formal wedding affair.

Dress Color

Bold colors are totally in now, but pastels are still a good choice for summer weddings (they are softer and more romantic).  Pick colors, that make you smile.  Floral prints and 1960s retro prints like vintage Pucci are season appropriate, and jovial, adding some pizzaz to your look.  In the case of an urban setting, stick with sophisticated, classic colors.  For an evening wedding, metallic dresses like the Walter asymmetrical dress pictured below, are prefect, adding some sparkle and elegance, but without getting too bling-blingy.  While a wedding is a party, it isn’t mardi gras.  White, ivory, or cream are still completely off limits!  You don’t want to be mistaken for the bride.  Black is now considered acceptable, but we don’t recommend it.  It’s not a funeral.  It’s a celebration so dress in festive colors.

Tip: Floral prints are great at hiding body imperfections, so if you are feeling self conscious pick a large blooming floral print.

Walter Black and Gold Brocade Assymetrical Dress

An elegant cocktail dress that works well in an Urban Chic setting for a wedding.

Dress Fabric

This is spring/summer to stick with light weight fabrics like silk; chiffon, satin and jersey.  Chiffon is feminine and romantic, jersey is sexy, and flexible,  and satin is ladylike and refined.  Avoid looking dressed down in cotton, and never wear linen because you’ll always be wrinkled and look sloppy (no matter how starched you were at the beginning of the night).

Tip: For a destination wedding, choose a vintage jersey dress. It is the easiest to pack because it doesn’t take up much space, and quickly de-wrinkles when you hang it up.  If you are off your regular diet and exercise routine, a jersey dress is forgiving if your weight changes.


Shop Dresses for Summer Weddings



Be sure to consider the setting when planning your footwear.  Stiletto heels will sink through the ground in a barn or pasture wedding.  If you plan on dancing all night long, bringing along cute flats that are more comfy when you want to kick off your heels on the dance floor, because bare feet are not in fashion (unless it’s a beach wedding, and then, by all means, go barefoot!)

Tip: A few weeks before the wedding, wear your heels around, a few hours at a time, increasing the length of time each time to get your feet in shape.  If you normally wear flats, and then expect to wear feels for 6 hours straight, its like expecting to run a marathon when you’re used to a 5K.  You have to work up to it.

Last Tip!

Remember to bring a wrap.  Many places of worship still frown on bare shoulders.  And you’ll want it when the air conditioning is cranked up in the church or at the reception.

Guys can be fashionable too!

They will usually wear suits to a wedding but that doesn’t mean they can’t have fun with it.  Look at great standard linen or cotton suits that you can add a bit of color to.  A pocket square and vintage tie or vintage bow tie can really add some unique style and pull an outfit together.  A pop of color in the socks is always a fun surprise!

Now that you know what to wear, go to and start shopping in our new Vintage Dresses for Summer Weddings Category.  Have a look for more examples of vintage dresses for summer weddings to inspire you!

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