The best wedding guest dresses and outfit ideas for 2022

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How many times have you received an invitation to a wedding and found yourself staring at the dress code of the wedding guests for five to seven agonizing minutes?

Between optional black tie, semi-formal or no dress code at all, the vague language and etiquette surrounding it is honestly rude! While there’s no universal guide to wedding guest dress codes, there are a ton of fashion cheat sheets out there, just like the one you’re reading right now.

To help you find the best wedding guest outfit, we’ve unraveled the mystery behind every wedding dress code. You can also find some of our favorite picks for the 27 best wedding guest dresses and outfits to buy right now. Ready to kill the wedding guest fashion game?

White Tie Wedding Guest Dresses

Let’s eliminate the big one first. White tie attire is the most formal dress code. Think of events like state dinners and royal banquets. Whether it’s a ball gown, a sheath or an A-line silhouette, a long evening dress is not a suggestion.

While this sounds super intimidating, consider this an opportunity to pretend you’re a royal or a maid who snuck into the party and found true love with a duke. Have fun and bring your A-game with accessories. How often are you lucky enough to wear lavish jewelry and elbow-length silk gloves?

Ieena for Mac Duggal Floral Print Chiffon Maxi Dress$458

ASOS DESIGN tulle maxi dress with plunging neckline and bow back detail in dusty blue$100

Credit: ASOS

Bronx and Banco x REVOLVE Maxi Dress$780

Credit: REVOLVE

Black Tie Wedding Guest Dresses

The second more formal dress code is probably the one you envision at a very formal, very chic wedding: formal dresses that skim the floor or the top of your shoes. However, you can always opt for a dressier midi dress. One way to elevate the midi dress is to add simple and elegant jewelry and accessories.

ASOS LUXE Curve Ruched Underwire Ruffle Midi Dress$84

Credit: ASOS

Lulus Keeper of My Heart Navy One Shoulder Maxi Dress$68

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Sabina Musayev Astrid Dress$490

Credit: REVOLVE

Black tie optional or formal wedding guest dresses

As for the optional black tie and formal wedding guest dresses, opt for midi or long dresses, such as a trendy and easy-to-wear satin dress. You can even get a little more adventurous with a more formal jumpsuit or colorful pantsuit.

There really isn’t much difference here between this dress code and black tie. When in doubt, remember that you’re not only allowed to dress more; it is encouraged. Since you have explicit permission to do so, why not make it up?

Elyse Bias Slip Dress Anthropologie$120

Credit: Anthropology

Miss Selfridge twist front tulle maxi dress in pink$87

Credit: ASOS

Eloquii Twist Detail Jumpsuit with Tie Waist$119.95

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Cocktail Wedding Guest Dresses

Everyone loves a good cocktail dress code. As the more fun black tie optional younger sister, you’re allowed to opt for things like a short dress or a two-piece set. You can even pull out your favorite little black dress or formal romper. If you don’t have formal mini dresses, consider looking for midi, midi, or knee-length styles.

The delicate blend of elegance, comfort and celebration leaves you with plenty of options. Remember to lean more dressed than not, as cocktail attire is definitely not the same as casual or semi-formal attire.

ASOS Never Fully Dressed Plus Puff Sleeve Maxi Dress$147

Credit: ASOS

Wayf Ruffled Midi Dress$103.95 (original $108)

Credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

Anthropologie Halter Mini Dress$160

Credit: Anthropology

Semi Formal Wedding Guest Dresses

Seeing “semi” appear on a wedding invitation is less than helpful. Like, is it dressed? Is it laid back? Are you supposed to wear sneakers with a party dress? (No.) What about strappy stilettos with a T-shirt dress? (Duplicate number)

As a rough guide, you should definitely look at cocktail dresses. If you’re planning on going for a sundress or jumpsuit, opt for something more formal. Essentially, you need to be more polite than not. At the very least, you have a little leeway – use your best judgement!

Reformation Sunnie Two-Piece Dress$298

Good American Always Fits Pleated Slip Dress$140

Credit: Good American

Hill House Home The Daphne Dress$150

Credit: Hill House Home

Casual Wedding Guest Dresses

A casual wedding isn’t exactly casual. While you can certainly dress more casually than any other dress code on the list, remember that you’re still going to a wedding. That means no flip flops, shorts, jeans, stains, dirty sneakers, etc., etc.

Think of it like dressing up for a first date at a nice restaurant; sundresses with sandals and cotton jersey fabrics are quite acceptable here, as well as nicer cuts. You just don’t want to be overdressed, so maybe ditch the silk maxi dress.

ASOS Annorlunda Color Block Tulle Dress In Blue And Lilac$83

Credit: ASOS

Topshop Long Sleeve Ruffle Off Shoulder Mini Dress$93

Shindig Universal Standard Satin Slip Dress$78 (original $158)

Credit: universal standard

Festive wedding guest dresses

Here’s the funniest thing: the festive dress code gives you full permission to do anything. We’re talking OTT bright colors, tons of textures and bold accessories to complete the look (like these incredibly fun platform heels).

You should definitely use the season to inform your outfit choice, like wearing bright sparkles, dark greens and burgundy during the holidays. And if the invitation specifies a theme like Bridgerton or the 1970s, it makes it even easier to stick to the dress code.

Long ruffled dress STAUD Rylie$495

Credit: Saks Fifth Avenue

Topshop Animal Print Slip Dress$25.20 (original $84)

Credit: Topshop

Selkie puff dress$295

Credit: REVOLVE

Tropical or destination wedding guest dresses

Yes, tropical or destination weddings are so much fun, but the key is to always consider the heat. The last thing you want to do is sweat through your long sleeve crepe maxi dress. Fortunately, destination weddings tend to be more casual unless they specify another dress code on the invitation.

Think linens, light and airy summer dresses, flowers and vacation vibes.

Kate Spade New York Summer Floral Ruffle Dress$299.60 (original $428)

Credits: kate spade new york

Eloquii sheer ruffled maxi dress$119

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ASOS DESIGN maxi dress in cotton with puff sleeve$58

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Wedding guest dresses without dress code

First of all, if you are planning a wedding without a dress code, please reconsider and spare your guests the frantic headaches and panicked text messages!

Second: If you attend a wedding without a specified dress code, I’m so sorry. However, it is much easier than you think! Just play it safe with cocktail or semi-formal attire and, if you can, discuss your outfit ideas with other guests – nothing too casual and nothing too formal or OTT. You have this; I believe in you!

J.Crew Painterly Floral Halter Dress$248

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ASOS Vila Mesh Smocked Mini Dress With Scoop Back And Bow In Green$55.25 (original $79)

Credit: ASOS

Dress ASTR the Label Gaia$98

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