Modern Weddings 

Wedding Fashion for 2023 and Beyond

If you are part of the Wedding party, you are told what you will be wearing.  Bridesmaid dresses are chosen for you, groomsmen as well are assigned a uniform look, but guests are left to figure out what will be appropriate for the season, the venue, the time of day and comfort.

Weddings we attended recently included an Indian multi-day event in Chicago and a family member’s destination wedding in New Orleans held in a historic building in Jackson Square. Though very different, they were both joyous occasions.  I must admit I was agonizing over what to wear to the Indian wedding. I wanted to blend in but thought I would not be comfortable in a sari. I considered  many choices before deciding on a tailored coral dress and jacket with high sheen. I paired the dress with a multi-strand pearl and gold necklace from an Indian costume jewelry shop in New York. 

Today, weddings are about the bride’s and groom’s taste and style more than their parents’ preferences. The bride and groom may even be paying for the entire event. We see a wide range of bridal and bridesmaid dresses and fashion for the groom. Couples are creative in choosing locations, themes, and making cultural statements through the event decor, entertainment, fashion, and menu.

back view of a woman in a green floral silk brocade dress. Full A-line skirt. Exposed back in a V shape

Start Planning Now

Now that it’s wedding season again, it is time to start planning what to wear to those upcoming nuptials. With so many different dress codes and venues, it may be difficult to decide what to wear. Start early with plenty of time to try on outfits and look for well-priced, quality clothes. Whether you’re attending a black-tie event or a casual beach wedding, here is advice on how to dress for different types of weddings. If you plan to buy online and want to try before you buy, Amazon has a try for 7 days free program. If you are not sure of sizing, this allows you to order the same dress in multiple sizes. Or pick several styles to ensure you have one that works.

What Photographs Well

At weddings it is likely that guests will be captured in photos and perhaps on video. First, wear something that fits well and is flattering to you. Photographs show stretching and wrinkling of fabric, so clothes that glide over your curves are more flattering. Avoid tight tops or necklines. They should lay flat against the body. 

Any color that looks good on you will look good in the photograph. Avoid large scale prints. Couples should wear items complimentary in their colorways.  For example, the man can wear a blue tie that compliments your blue dress. 

Not every photograph is posed, so consider whether the length and fit of your dress or skirt works for dancing. Sequins and shiny fabrics can add festive fun to your outfit, however its reflective surface can be less flattering on camera. 

two sisters close up at a wedding

Sister Sarah and me at a wedding. We wear very different colors.

Back in the 80’s when I started dressing for success, seasonal color analysis like this recent article was big. A coach did my colors and pronounced me a Spring. Ice cream colors like peach and light pink, soft blues and greens, and neutrals like beige, camel, brown, and navy worked best with complexion. I learned most people look good in coral and turquoise. Black washed me out, white made my face look red, and bright colors like saturated yellow and red were very off on me. Knowing this has saved me money and time. If you're not sure if a color or fit looks flattering on you, ask others whose style sense you trust.

woman in red evening dress, man in a tux posing for picture at a formal wedding

Black Tie

Black-tie weddings

When it comes to black-tie weddings, it’s all about dressing to impress. Think floor-length gowns, intricate beading, and statement jewelry. This is the time to break out your most glamorous attire, so don’t be afraid to go all out. Men wear tuxedos for black tie. If you attend many black tie or semi-formal weddings it might be worth investing in a black tux. 

For the 2023 wedding season, there is a trend towards classic, timeless pieces that will last many years to come. It’s best to go with something classic because even the wedding guests are captured for posterity. Think elegant ball gowns in shades of gold, navy, or emerald, paired with chandelier earrings and a sleek updo with a hair ornament.  Here are a few examples of what is available now.

A-line Empire Waist Embroidered Gown

Adrianna Papell Column Gown

Adrianna Papell All Over Sequined Gown

Adrianna Papell Beaded Gown

Alex Evenings Two Piece Dress with Lace Jacket 

Alex Evenings Plus Size A-line Rosette Gown

Evening Bags for a Formal Wedding

Rhinestone Evening Bag with Chain

Jessica McClintock Satin Evening Bag with Chain

Pearl Evening Bag

Shoes for a Formal Wedding

Badgley Mischka Kitten Heeled Embellished Pumps

High Heeled Embellished Pointed Toe Shoes with Bow

Sling back Kitten Heel Pointed Toe Evening Shoes

Nina Strappy Sandal with Crystal Accents Lower Heel 

Nina Ganice Dress Sandal Low Heel

Formal Occasion Jewelry

Swarovski Crystal Earrings

Swarovski Trilogy Drop Earrings

Rhinestone Leaf Drop Earrings 

Byzantine Beaded Bracelet

wedding reception. bride and bridesmaids dancing. Brid has a veil, bridesmaids wearing taupe silk taffeta full length gowns


bride and groom kidding in outdoor wedding with guests dressed for a semi formal wedding applaud. Bride is wearing a long white dress, groom a brown suit
Silver dressy sandal with 2 inch heel and ankle straps is perfect for a semi-formal wedding

Semi-formal weddings

Semi-formal weddings are a bit more relaxed than black-tie events, but still require a certain level of elegance. Men wear a nicely tailored suit with a dress shirt and silk tie or can break out the tux. A cocktail dress or skirt and blouse combo is a safe bet, but you can also opt for evening pants and top.

This season we’re seeing a trend towards bold prints and bright colors. For a daytime wedding think floral patterns in shades of pink and purple, paired with strappy heels and Betsy Johnson statement earrings. For a more understated look, try a classic cocktail dress with simple jewelry and a clutch. Accessories are a great place to show your fun side so look for pieces that make you happy. You may want to bring a second pair of shoes for the reception.

Dress the Population Long Sleeved Sequined Dress

Dress the Population Solid Sleeveless Fit and Flare

Vintage Boat Neck Cocktail Dress - many options 

Tulle Tea Length Formal 

Sparkly Tulle Tea Length Gown for Evening

Semi-Formal Evening Bags

Floral Fun Evening Bag

Bead and Sequin Peacock Evening Bag

Gold Clutch with chain

Semi-Formal Jewelry

Multi Strand Baroque Cultured Pearl Necklace

Swarovski Pendant Necklace

Crystal Teardrop Statement Necklace and Earrings

Austrian Crystal Teardrop Earrings

Swarovski Attract Crystal Necklace and Earrings Collection

Semi-Formal Shoes

Close Toed High Heel Party Pumps 

Badgley Mischka High Ankle Strap with Pearls

Jessica Simpson High Heel Pumps

London Fog Demi Wedge Dress Sandal

Foldable Ballet Slippers

People on beach dancing to live musicians at a wedding.
Friends on the beach taking a selfie in bathing suits. Beach wedding story

Beach Weddings

Beach weddings are a great opportunity to showcase your effortless style. Lightweight fabrics like chiffon and cotton are perfect for the beach, and you can never go wrong with a flowy maxi dress.

Some beach weddings are dressier than others, so check the dress code and ask what others are wearing. Look at the fashions for Semi-formal if dressy, and casual if not. If the beach wedding involves swimming or sitting on the sand, bring a change of clothes, sunscreen, water shoes, and a beach towel.

For the 2023 wedding season, we’re seeing a trend towards bohemian-inspired looks. Think a bright printed dress paired with a woven bag and sandals. For a more polished look, try a midi dress in a neutral color like beige or cream, paired with delicate jewelry and espadrilles.

Sleeveless Maxi Dress with Pleated Skirt

Chiffon Wrap Knee Length Dress

Plus Size Empire Waist Flowy Flower Print Dress

Bags for a Beach Wedding

Straw Shoulder Bag

The Sac Three-Way Hand Crocheted Bag

Foldover Straw Clutch

Vegan Leather Clutch with Chain many colors

Shoes for a Beach Wedding

Dressy Rhinestone Summer Beach Flat Sandals

Skechers High Tea Wedge Sandals

Naturalizer Low-heel Dress Sandals

Jewelry for a Beach Wedding

Murano Glass Necklace

Beach Themed Dressy Earrings 

Sea Glass Earrings

Sterling Silver Necklace

Man and woman, both dressed in white for a casual wedding. Woman's hair is in a bun
men and women on a boat toasting. Table of food on the deck for guests
oman in pink sundress, straw hat, straw bag, sandals with low heels. Dressed for a casual wedding
ballet slipper with bow
woman with red hair, bright blue short sleeved dress, and dangling earrings holds hands with a taller man dressed in a dark vest and and a white shirt

Casual Wedding

Casual Weddings

Casual weddings are becoming more and more popular, and offer the opportunity to dress down while still looking chic. A sundress or dressy separates like a flowing pleated swing skirt or pants with blouse are great options for a casual wedding.

For the 2023 wedding season, we’re seeing a trend towards bright, bold colors and playful prints (plus sized dress) paired with fun accessories like a colorful clutch. For a more relaxed look, try gaucho pants and a top in a comfortable fabric like linen, paired with flat sandals and minimal jewelry.

A-line Sleeveless Summer Cocktail Dress

V-neck A-line flutter sleeve Lace Knee Length Dress 

Plus Size Vintage Swing Dress with ¾ Sleeves

Bags for a Casual Wedding

Patent Faux Leather Envelope Clutch Bight Colors

Crock Embossed Vegan Leather Structured Bag

Patent Faux Leather Bag in many colors 

Foldover Metallic Clutch

Hand Painted Leather Clutch Wallet

Kiss Lock Vintage Purse many prints

Casual and Fun Jewelry

When it comes to casual accessories, the 2023 wedding season is all about making a statement. Bold earrings, layered necklaces, and stacked bracelets are all on-trend this year. Don’t be afraid to mix and match metals, textures, and colors to create a unique look.

Bib Collar Choker

Sorelli Antique Look Drop Earrings with Large Crystals

Stackable Gold and Crystal Bracelets

Betsey Johnson Multi-Tiered Heart Necklace with Beads

Wedding Casual and Comfort Shoes

For shoes, the key is to strike a balance between style and comfort. Stilettos may look great, but if you’re going to be dancing all night, you’ll want to opt for something more practical. Block heels, wedges, and kitten heels are all great options for wedding guests. Metallic shoes are more versatile, giving you more pairing options, important when you are traveling. 

Naturalizer Low-heel Dress Sandals

Naturalizer Slingback Pump Low Heel

London Fog Demi Wedge Dress Sandal

Foldable Ballet Slippers to dance the night away!

three real women in undergarments posing with dignity - Laura Tancredi photographer


Having the right foundation is important to your wedding guest look. What you choose depends on the dress and your specific requirements. Being comfortable as well as put together are key to enjoying the wedding.

Bra straps can be problematic with evening wear. If your dress has shoulder seams, consider having a tailor add bra snaps and dress shields. As an alternative there are products you can use to prevent bra straps showing. For strapless gowns, buy a good quality strapless bra or stick-on bra. For sundresses, consider changing your bra straps out for invisible straps

 Whether you choose to wear control top panties, Spanks, a girdle, or full body shapewear, be sure to do a dry run before the day of the event to ensure you can quickly get in and out of it yourself. If you are wearing panty hose take an extra pair in your evening bag just in case you get a run in your stockings. Remember, it’s hard to smile if your feet or body hurts. The dry run in your full outfit can prevent a night of misery. (This is some of that wisdom we wanted to pass on.)

Makeup and Hair

As for makeup and hair, the 2023 wedding season is all about embracing your natural beauty. Soft, natural makeup looks are on-trend, with a focus on dewy skin, flushed cheeks, and neutral lips. When it comes to hair, loose waves and braids are popular, along with sleek updos for a more formal event. Makeup is hard to recommend for others, and it is best if you can try it on. For the links below, be sure to look for the shades that look best for you. If you have a great department store nearby, ask them to help you find the right shade. Be sure to check the return policy if you plan to purchase makeup online. For those daytime outdoor weddings, be sure to apply non-greasy sunscreen in advance to all exposed skin, including under makeup and on feet.

Bobbi Brown Extra Lip Tint

NARS Satin Lip Stick 

NYX Butter Gloss

NARS Blush

NYX Sweet Cheeks Blush

NARS Concealer

Tattoo, Scar, Blemish Concealer

How We Selected the Featured Fashion

When we searched for outfits for this article we saw many great options for bridesmaids and mothers-of-the- bride. We’ve looked for clothes and accessories appropriate for guests, mainly women, that are great options for different types of weddings. Typically we share our experience about specific products we use and recommend. For this article, we looked for highly rated items from designers we like and wear that are on trend for weddings. The prices on many of these items are amazing and we looked for clothes and accessories that were both affordable and good quality. We hope you like what you see. 

Final Thoughts

No matter what type of wedding you’re attending, there are a few general social norms to follow when it comes to dressing as a wedding guest.

First and foremost, avoid wearing white. This color is reserved for the bride, and wearing it as a guest is a major fashion faux pas. Instead, opt for bright, bold colors or soft pastels. If you know the bridesmaid dress colors, avoid those if possible.

Second, pay attention to the dress code. If the invitation specifies black tie, you’ll want to dress accordingly. If it’s a more casual affair, you can dress down a bit.

Finally, don’t forget about the venue. If the wedding is outdoors, you’ll want to wear shoes that can handle grass or sand. If it’s a church wedding, you may want to bring a shawl or jacket to cover your shoulders during the ceremony.

If your budget doesn’t allow for a whole new outfit, consider borrowing, shopping at resale stores, or renting. Many if the fashion featured in this article are highly affordable and may be in the same price range as a resale store. I have found friends often have an evening bag or jewelry to loan. When you buy something new, look for outfits and accessories that suit multiple occasions, like a dress suitable for the office that can be dressed up with accessories for a cocktail party look. 

Dressing for a wedding is all about finding the right balance between style, comfort, and appropriateness. Whether you’re attending a black-tie event, a casual beach wedding, or something in between, there are endless options to choose from. Using these ideas, you’re sure to be the best-dressed and most considerate guest at weddings this season.

Susan and Laurie Kook

P.S. If you are not sure what to get the bride and groom, take a look at our article on Kitchen Workhorse Small Appliances on our website.