Weddings

Invited to a summer wedding? RSVP to these trendy, affordable dresses

June 25, 2014 at 5:28 PM ET

Save-the-dates and invites stacking up? Time to go dress shopping. "Weddings are beautiful affairs, but can seem like tricky business when it comes to dress code," says Fashion.Style.Beauty editor Kristin Booker. "But with a few simple tips and rules of thumb, you'll dress flawlessly every time." Read on for her smart advice about what to wear for any type of nuptials. 

For a beach wedding
“This is a great time to think ‘breezy,’ so go with a beautiful maxidress in chiffon or a pretty-but-dressy sundress that hits right at the knee or a little below,” says Booker. “Lighter, brighter colors are always great. Skip beading and embellishment: they're a magnet for sand and are super-uncomfortable in wooden chairs!”

Float away

wedding guest dresses
Vince Camuto

The ornate print on this chiffon dress is fit for a modern mermaid. And the column silhouette is just perfect — not too voluminous but not at all clingy. (Vince Camuto chain detail dress, $148, nordstrom.com)

Feel the romance

wedding guest dresses
Oh My Love

This sexy maxi dress would look stunning on any isle, bluff, beach or seaside. Just choose your bra — or sticky tape — carefully, and bring along a pastel wrap for unexpected breezes. (Oh My Love ‘Tripping Daisies’ dress, $78, nastygal.com)

Goddess dressing

wedding guest dresses
Oasis

A skinny self-belt adds structure and formality to this free-spirited pleated dress from Oasis. Add a pair of Grecian sandals to complete the ensemble. (Oasis cami maxi dress, $120, oasis.andotherbrands.com

Tip: Accessorize it right! “Don't wear noisy jewelry or dresses that have loud embellishment to an outdoor wedding,” warns Booker. “Nothing screams ‘look at me’ more than accessories or clothing that make noise every time you move during a quiet ceremony. Also, be sure to add a wrap or a cardigan in case there's a cool wind from the water. As far as shoes, unless the wedding party specifies a barefoot wedding, this is where you'll want to wear embellished flat sandals or wedges so your feet don't sink into the sand.”

Dye job

wedding guest dresses
Ark & Co.

You’ll feel utterly beautiful in this flowing tie-dye print maxi dress. Add a pop of color with gemstone jewelry—or play up the neutral appeal with gunmetal accessories. (Ark & Co. tie neck maxi dress, $98, piperlime.com)

For a daytime wedding

“For country club, garden party and elegant daytime weddings, you want to err on the side of caution and go a bit conservative,” recommends Booker. “Be sure to keep cleavage under wraps and make sure your hemline is either knee-length or mid-calf length. Floral prints always work for these occasions. Skip black in favor of lighter colors or jewel tones, and keep jewelry and accessories simple and lovely.”  

In full bloom

wedding guest dresses
Old Navy

A dress that can pass muster with the family matriarch but costs less than $20? Yep, this Old Navy sheath is a true find. Add a pair of jewel-toned heels and a classic strand of pearls for the full former-debutante effect. (Old Navy strapless dress, $19.97, oldnavy.com)

Fade into floral

wedding guest dresses
Maggy London

You can’t get more all-American adorable than this sweet frock — and the crinoline-lined skirt will be so fun to spin on the dance floor. (Maggy London fit & flare dress, $138, nordstrom.com)

Spot on

wedding guest dresses
Eliza J

Too cute! Dots are always darling—and the ombre-effect of this design keeps the motif fresh and modern. (Eliza J dot print dress, $118, nordstrom.com)

Tip: That's right, never wear white: You might be confused by all the celebrities having all-white nuptials or the trend of bridesmaids wearing white. But unless the bride specifically requests it, “never wear white to a wedding,” insists Booker. “There should only be one woman in white in the room, and she's the star of the show today.” Same goes for ivory, eggshell and the like: “If you think it looks somewhere in the family of white, skip it.”

Tie one on

wedding guest dress
Eliza J

Stand out — while still feeling solidly appropriate — in this dramatic scarf print maxi. It reminds us of vintage Hermes, and would look amazing with a sleek gold cuff. (Eliza J scarf print maxi, $158, nordstrom.com)

For a formal affair
“This is where your dressy side can come out to play!” says Booker. “If you have a longer gown that's mid-calf, ankle or floor length, you can wear it (especially if the invite specifies ‘white tie’), but in general, a cocktail dress that hits around the knee in a formal fabric with dazzling jewelry and killer shoes is always perfect. No matter what time of year, deeper colors always look amazing at a wedding, and there isn't a woman alive who doesn't look stunning in navy blue.” 

Peachy keen

wedding guest dresses
Dorothy Perkins

The bride might just be jealous of this sweeping peach gown, trimmed in the darkest black lace. (Dorothy Perkins maxi dress, $75, dorothyperkins.com)

Glitz and glam

wedding guest dresses
BR Monogram

Catch the light in this sequin sheath, knowing that the diagonal design is both slimming and modern. Choose from this rosy gold or high-watt silver. (BR Monogram sheath, $150, bananarepublic.com)

Party on

wedding guest dresses
After Six

Formalwear doesn’t have to be mature or fussy. This gorgeous dress—combining satin, lace and beading — is as fun to wear as the most whimsical sundress. (After Six embellished dress, $120, nordstrom.com)

Tip: Thinking of wearing a pantsuit? “If it's a progressive couple, you can wear a woman's tuxedo, but leave the workplace-style pantsuit at home,” says Booker. “If you have a question, ask the bride.”

Pitch perfect

Wedding guest dresses
Adrianna Papell

Post-wedding, you’ll be looking for excuses to wear this panel-trimmed lace sheath again and again. (Adrianna Papell lace dress, $118, nordstrom.com

Tip: When in doubt, think of Grandma! No matter what type of affair you’re attending, make sure your outfit passes the nana test. “Always be considerate of the bride and don't sex it up,” says Booker. “This isn't the time to try low-cut necklines, backless dresses or a minidress. If the bride's grandmother would be offended, respectfully choose something else."

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