What to Wear to a Summer Wedding | You’ll be the Best Dressed Guest!

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell
woman wearing Chelsea28 Eyelet Floral Ruffle Minidress standing on steps

This post is sponsored by Nordstrom. I only highlight and share products that I use and truly love. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Empty Nest Blessed!

It’s wedding season, and sometimes it can be tricky to decipher the dress codes and know what to wear to a summer wedding! You need a dress that is appropriate for the time of day, venue, and formality of the occasion. You also need a dress that will make you feel terrific and will have the compliments rolling your way! Today, I’m sharing wedding guest dresses, along with accessories to match from Nordstrom Made Brands!

As usual, you can assume everything runs TTS unless indicated. Click any pink link or image for details or to shop. Please know that I’ve done my best to pull dress options that are fully in stock, but things move fast these days, so you never know! My advice is to act fast if you see something you like!

Why You Should Consider Nordstrom Made Brands

As I told you in my recent post, The Best Nordstrom Made Brands for Women Over 50, I think these brands are ideal for women over 50! When you shop Nordstrom Made Brands, you get the added value of shopping at Nordstrom — with their exceptional customer service, convenient free shipping and returns, and the option to order online and pick up curbside or in-store.

Not to mention, Nordstrom’s (freeNordy Club is among the best loyalty programs in the nation, offering the opportunity to shop and earn points toward Nordstrom Notes (which spend like cash), along with other exclusive sales and events. It may be hard to believe, but we’re only one month away from the epic deals at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale! Now is a great time to bank those Nordstrom Notes, which you can use for some gorgeous fall style in that upcoming sale!

What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

Rachel Parcell Smocked Puff Sleeve Midi Dress
(Sleeves ran large over the shoulders on me.)

Common Dress Styles

First of all, let me clarify the current terms for women’s dress styles. (Don’t worry, it’s not you, it is confusing!)

  • Floor Length Dress – Formal. Only the tips of shoes should show.
  • Maxi Dress – Hits ankle-length or top of shoes. Not floor-skimming. This makes your shoes important!
  • Tea Length – In between maxi and midi dress. (You don’t hear this term used much anymore, so if you use it with your daughter, be prepared for her to say “Okay, Boomer!” 😂 and maybe even roll her eyes 🙄!)
  • Midi Dress – Below the knee to mid-calf.
  • Knee Length – Typically means just above the knee. This length is more typically found in straight or pencil-style skirts. It can look dowdy with the wrong shoes, so proceed with caution!
  • Mini – Mid-thigh. You can wear this if you have good legs and a lot of confidence!
  • Micro-Mini – I don’t even want to tell you! Don’t wear this length or your kids might die 🤣.

Common Wedding Dress Codes

It can be challenging to decipher some of the dress codes on wedding invitations these days! Amirite or amirite? 😂

An easy place to start is to do some research on the venue. Consider the venue as the backdrop, which likely sets the tone for the event. If you Google the venue and click on “images” underneath the search box, you might even see photos of past events at the location, which can be especially helpful.

Let’s run down the wedding dress codes you’ll hear most frequently.

White-Tie

This is the most formal (and rare) of all the dress codes! Men should wear tuxes with tails, a white shirt, and a bow tie. The attire for women would be a floor-length evening gown, jewelry, heels, and an elegant clutch.

Black-Tie

Typically an evening event. Wear a floor-length gown or a dressy pantsuit. Men should wear a tuxedo. A white dinner jacket and black tuxedo trousers will work in the summer.

Formal or Black-Tie Optional

Take this as your cue that something less than a tuxedo will work for men. Men can still wear a tuxedo or opt for a formal dark suit, white shirt, and conservative tie. (No sports coats!) For women, the attire would be about the same as the category above. Think floor-length gown, a fancy cocktail dress, or a dressy pantsuit. In today’s climate, an ankle-length dress with some amazing shoes (not just a conservative pump) would also suffice.

Cocktail

Chelsea28 Faux Wrap Camisole Dress

This wedding dress code is increasingly popular! It means it’s an elegant event, but there will probably be dancing, so you want to be dressy but comfortable. Men still need to wear a suit and tie. Rather than a floor-length dress, women should opt for a sleek jumpsuit, maxi dress, knee-length, midi dress, or even a breath-taking slip dress. Look for a dress with an embroidered or lace overlay!

Semi-Formal or Dressy Casual

Chelsea28 Ruffle Midi Dress 

These two terms can leave you wondering! 🤷‍♀️ Consider the time of the wedding when making your selection! Men should wear a dress shirt and slacks, dark or light depending on the time of day, with the option to wear a tie.

For an evening wedding, women should opt for more formal, darker colors. For a summer daytime wedding, choose lighter fabrics and colors. (Even if you feel like black is a slimming color, it’s inappropriate for a summer daytime wedding.) A dressy skirt and top can work in place of a dress, as well as an elegant pantsuit or a chic jumpsuit.

When it comes to shoes, again, consider the venue. For example, if the wedding is outside, don’t wear heels that could get stuck in the grass! Instead, try a modern, rectangular heel, a block heel, or a dressy, embellished flat.

Festive

Halogen® Wrap Front Halter Dress | Plus Size Halogen® Wrap Front Halter Maxi Dress

This is a newer term, and it’s another head-scratcher! It’s basically permission to have a little fun with your attire! Men should wear a suit with a bright tie or pocket square. For women, think cocktail party attire with bold colors, playful accessories, and heels or dressy flats. This one-shoulder mini dress is a perfect example!

Casual

Open Edit Sleeveless Reversible Maxi Dress

Again, take your cue from the venue! For a casual dress code, you’re probably talking about a relaxed, outdoor venue. It will be casual, but that doesn’t mean you can wear jeans, shorts, or a tank top!

NORDSTROM Moonlight Dress
The absolute softest dress you’ve ever worn! I promise!

Men should wear dress pants or khakis with a collared shirt. A tie or sports coat is optional. No t-shirts or tennis shoes! For women, think about a summer sundress or the popular “nap dress” style, paired with wedges or dressy sandals.

Tropical or Destination

Chelsea28 Eyelet Floral Ruffle Minidress

Think outdoors and probably hot and humid! For men, a linen short sleeve dress shirt and slacks are ideal. For you, dress accordingly, but remember to opt for dressier, rather than more casual. Consider a halter neck dress or cotton sundress and nice sandals or wedges, and maybe even a sun hat if you’re outside at midday.

Summer Wedding Shoes

Open Edit Kendall Ornament Pointed Toe Slingback Flat

When you’re trying to decide what to wear to a summer wedding, I don’t need to tell you that shoes can make or break your look! Look for fashion-forward shoes that are venue-appropriate. The embellished flats above were probably my favorite find as I was putting together this post!

Summer Wedding Accessories

Wraps

It can be a dilemma! You want to look seasonally appropriate, but if the wedding is indoors, you may freeze! 🥶 (We’ve all been there!) Consider a pretty wrap that complements your outfit rather than detracts from it. (Yes! These are all from Nordstrom Made Brands.)

Jewelry

If you’re more comfortable in a simple, solid dress, consider adding some statement-making jewelry. Nordstrom Made Brands make it easy, with a wide, well-priced selection!

Summer Wedding Guest Dresses

I hope this post has helped you figure out what to wear to a summer wedding! It can be challenging to navigate the ever-changing dress codes and dress styles! If you’re still not sure what’s appropriate for your event, you can use my no-fail rule of thumb: It’s always more respectful to be overdressed than underdressed, so if you’re not sure, opt up.

Now that you’ve (hopefully) figured out what type of dress you need, browse the boutique below to check out the beautiful dresses from Nordstrom Made Brands that I’ve pulled for you!

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Suzy Mighell

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