How to Dress for a Summer Wedding

by Michelle Powell-Smith

Summer is wedding season, and often means looking your best on a hot day, whether you're wearing a sundress or a suit. Dressing for a summer wedding needs to be both weather-appropriate and suitable for the wedding you're attending. Formal, semi-formal and casual weddings all require a different summer style for both men and women.

Cool and Casual

Casual summer weddings, whether on the beach or in the backyard, still require you look smart and festive. Women can wear a light and casual cotton sundress or maxi dress, paired with flats or wedges for easy walking on sand or grass. Skip the white -- that's still reserved for the bride -- but look for lighter and brighter colors. Add chunky jewelry to finish your look. For a casual wedding, there's no need for a jacket for the guys. A pair of loose-fitting linen slacks and a short-sleeved button-up shirt works very well for a beachy or backyard wedding.

Elegant Afternoons

While some summer weddings are quite casual, others require more polish. This may be called dressy casual or polished casual if the invitation includes a dress code. A classic dress in a bright or light color or a floral print is ideal for an afternoon wedding, either in a park or church. Add accessories and flats or low-heeled pumps, as well as a wrap or cardigan if you expect the wedding to last into the evening or you will be indoors. Men can skip the suit, but opt for a lightweight dress shirt and sports coat with khakis.

Semi-Formal Evenings

Evening weddings require more formal styles for both men and women. You might see this listed as semi-formal or festive attire. While more casual summer weddings merit color for women's dresses, in the evening cocktail attire is required. You can wear black, but lighten it up with more colorful accessories, like a shawl or wrap, or opt for a more colorful cocktail dress. Skip the gowns, but do add sparkly jewelry. For men, this is a suit-and-tie occasion in the color of your choosing. Light colors are more comfortable for summer; however, a dark suit will not be out of place.

Summer Black Tie

Black-tie weddings, held in the evening at a formal venue, traditionally require a gown for women and a tuxedo for men. If you've been invited to a black-tie optional wedding, you can wear a gown or tuxedo or a cocktail dress or dark suit. For a wedding with a set black-tie dress code, you need a very formal dress that is knee-length or longer, suitable shoes and jewelry. Men can wear a tux with a black or white jacket in the summer, or a very conservative dark suit. While they're relatively uncommon, if you have a white-tie invitation, it's ball gowns for the women and tuxedos with tails for the men.

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About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.