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Guest star: What to wear to a wedding

When you reach that certain age, wedding invites come flooding in the mail. In some cases, you'll proudly stand beside the couple and for others you fret over the perfect outfit for that single Instagram-worthy snapshot with your plus-one. Luckil...

Florals and pastels are the go-to for 2017 summer wedding guest fashion. Photo courtesy of Proper / Special to The Forum
Florals and pastels are the go-to for 2017 summer wedding guest fashion. Photo courtesy of Proper / Special to The Forum
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When you reach that certain age, wedding invites come flooding in the mail. In some cases, you'll proudly stand beside the couple and for others you fret over the perfect outfit for that single Instagram-worthy snapshot with your plus-one.

Luckily, today there's much less pressure to get dressed to the nines for the big day. Wedding guest attire has become much more casual.

"I don't have people come in that need super formal dresses for weddings anymore," says Emily Goetsch, manager at Lot 2029 in Fargo. "People are having the more outdoor-style weddings which makes for more casual dress."

Colors and patterns

When it comes to colors and patterns, florals and pastels rule.


"Florals are huge and that's been a trend all year. It'll go into next season, too," Goetsch says. "Then will come the deeper colors like the navy blues and charcoal gray."

Pastels have been popular not only for their appropriateness for the season but because they're subtle. "You don't want super bold because, at a wedding, guests really don't want to stand out," Goetsch says.

Aside from blush or nude pinks, baby blues and light greens, lavender and marigold have also been a hit.

"We've had a lot more purples, like lavender than we've ever had before," says Teresa O'Day, owner of Proper, a downtown Fargo boutique.. "Yellows are sometimes really hard for people, but that (marigold) tone looks really nice."

Textures and embellishment like lace and embroidery are also popular. Found on dress necklines or on jackets, "embroidery can be really formal or very casual," Goetsch says. Colored lace is recommended - white should be avoided at all costs.

As far as fabrics go, lighter choices are ideal. "In the summer, people really like the sheer, chiffon fabric; it feels good on the skin when it's hot and humid," Goetsch says.


"I think a no-fail for girls is a nice dress that can feel dressy or casual," O'Day says.


In 2017, several new styles are emerging.

With more coverage in the front, high-neck or mock-neck dresses reveal an open back that can be covered with a jacket for a formal ceremony.

Midi, or shin-length, dresses are also gaining popularity across all ages. "I think it's just that classy look - a nice length. You can wear it to anything," O'Day says.

Off-the-shoulder or cold shoulder (shoulder cutouts) dresses can be seen in nearly every store window and add detail and interest to the arms.

Rompers and jumpsuits

Rompers have gained popularity in casual clothing over the last couple years and spilled into wedding guest fashion.

"As long as it's still dressed up. I think it's perfect," O'Day says. "They can look just as chic as a dress."

The best part about a romper or jumpsuit is that it's one piece. "You put it on and you've got your outfit," O'Day says. "You don't have to think about what bottom matches this, what top would go good with this skirt."


Goetsch cautions wedding guests that if they do go with a romper, make sure it's slightly dressy and appropriate. "Rompers tend to be really short on the bottoms," she said.

Two-piece outfits

Two-piece outfits with bold patterns are a fun, wedding option.

"Some people get a little afraid when they hear 'crop top' but a lot of these (two-piece outfits) are so high-waisted. They meet in the middle so it's not like you're showing your whole stomach," O'Day says. "They meet and create one piece but they're two pieces, which is fun because you get two pieces to break up after the wedding and wear differently. It's especially nice if you're traveling to a wedding because you can pack that and after you could wear the top with jeans and the skirt or bottom with just a T-shirt to dress it down."

Shoes and accessories

For summer weddings, open-toe shoes are key. "People want to go get their toes done and feel all dolled up for the wedding," Goetsch says. "Cutout booties are still popular for summer."

Chunky or block heels preside over thin, stilettos. "If the wedding is outdoors, do a block heel or wedge, not a stiletto or otherwise you'll be sticking into the grass constantly," O'Day says.

Goetsch says modest heel height is not only more comfortable but trending. "People only go maybe 2 inches at the max," she says.

Last year statement necklaces took the show, but in 2017 jewelry trends look a little different. "You don't need anything big and glitzy," O'Day says.

"This year it's very dainty. The chokers are still extremely popular," Goetsch echoes.

With high neck dresses and pantsuits, O'Day says there's no need for necklaces and guests can instead focus on bracelets or earrings.

Versatile items

For those with multiple weddings in a year, O'Day and Goetsch offer simple ways to change it up.

"A big thing I suggest are belts. Belts are a great way - even the subtle skinny belts - to adds a little extra and can change a look completely," Goetsch says. "Shoes, too, can be a big factor. If (the wedding) is super casual, stick with some basic flats. Or - if it's more dressy - then put some heels with it."

Swapping out jewelry from bright, bold colors to more subtle, dainty pieces can also change a look significantly.

During colder months, guests can use the same dress, adding layers with jackets, shawls and blazers. "I think matte black tights look great with a nice, crisp dress - a really good look for a winter or fall wedding when it's a little bit cooler," O'Day says. "Dress weather-appropriate or you're going to be uncomfortable."

Wedding don'ts

When it comes to wedding guest fashion, Goetsch and O'Day offer some advice.

• Avoid white at all costs. "White is really great for summer for a crisp look, but you obviously don't want to wear white to a wedding,"Goetsch says. "You just can't wear that at all, any version of it - cream, eggshell, a crisp white or ivory."

• Dress appropriately. "If you feel really unsure about something maybe it's best to pass on that super low cut or really, really short (dress)," O'Day says. "If you're feeling unsure, once you get there, you might be feeling uncomfortable."

• Be conscious of wedding theme colors. Sometimes, guests can assume colors from save-the-dates or invitations. O'Day says avoid crazy, bright colors or anything that makes you stand out. "You don't want to clash with that but you also don't want to blend in," Goetsch says.

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