Dress for a summer wedding

What’s the first thought that springs to your mind when you receive an invitation to a wedding? After the initial curiosity is satisfied over the date and the venue, for most women and some men, the immediate question is, "What am I going to wear?" No longer are venues restricted to hotels or reception halls. Being different is the norm and weddings can be held on a lawn, at a beach or even on a ranch.

If you’re going to a friend’s wedding and you’re not really going to be in the spotlight, you can probably find something in your existing wardrobe that will suit the occasion. But if you’re going to a family wedding and especially if it’s close family, then you can afford to splurge on a new outfit and treat yourself. After all, you’ll probably be featuring in quite a few photographs and you do want to look your best. Also if you’re single, you never know who might be there worth attracting!

A summer wedding is the perfect chance to let go of your inhibitions and let your carefree attitude reflect the beauty of the season. There are a few pointers to keep in mind, based on the time of day and the venue…

Time of day… Noon: Brunch, lunch

Venue… Outdoors: Garden party, beach wedding, etc.

Fabric and colors

Light fabrics are ideal for a summer wedding, especially one that is held during the morning hours. For women, chiffons, georgettes or even crisp cotton or linen blended with other fabrics like satin or rayon that offset the casualness of it, is a safe bet.

While you want to look good, keep comfort in mind as well - after all you do want to let down your hair and have a good time.

The color you choose is also of vital importance. For daytime weddings, black is generally considered too severe, unless relieved by a brighter color combined with it. Red is also too bright unless it is part of a vivid print that lends itself to the summer look. Whites look cool for a daytime do but the popular advice is not to upstage the bride, so either go in for a combination of colors to set yourself aside from looking like a vestal virgin or avoid white altogether. Pastel shades or neutral colors are ideal or even prints, though you should avoid looking too casual unless specifically mentioned in the invite.

For men, definitely avoid wool or thicker fabrics. Go in for cotton or stretch linen suits or if it’s a casual wedding, the classic white T-shirt with a cool jacket thrown over.


While dressing for a summer wedding, the overall idea and style is to be light and breezy. If you’ve been working out or have cultivated an enviable tan, this is the time to display it to the hilt.

Straps, halters, or even strapless outfits will do wonders for you.

As far as hemlines go, depending on what you’re comfortable with, you could either go short right from mid-thigh to knee length; or long, stopping at mid-calf. Preferably avoid full-length, especially for a beach wedding, as you don’t want to keep worrying about ruining your outfit.

For women, pants, are generally not the flavor of the day unless it’s a really classy linen pantsuit with flowing lines. Definitely avoid excessively tailored or pleated pants as they give too structured a look for this kind of affair. If you do want to wear pants team them with something ultra-feminine like a georgette or chiffon top, which softens the look. Dresses or skirts can either be slim-fitting or full and flowing with flirty hemlines. For those with good figures, willpower corsets with full skirts are in, this season. Halters or spaghetti strap summery dresses are also great in either bold prints or cool, summery shades.


Remember, your hairstyle must flatter your outfit and compliment it. If your choice is a semi-formal, summery outfit, a sleek ponytail might do the trick, or even cascading curls.

Alternatively if you’re sporting a halter or straps, upswept hair might display it to perfection. Again, the hairdo shouldn’t be too severe, or prim and proper. Let loose a few wisps or curls to soften the effect. Avoid elaborate buns and ornate clips.


As always, in the daytime, keep make-up to a bare minimum. If you’re blessed with a flawless complexion, avoid foundation altogether. If required, use a very light layer of foundation to conceal blemishes. Preferably choose earth tones or colors that compliment your skin tone. Make sure your blush is very subtly applied so as to look as natural as possible. Use lighter shades of lip color or even gloss, unless your outfit is a brighter one and demands a matching shade. Just ensure you don’t end up looking more eye-catching than you intended.


Open toed shoes or strappy sandals are perfect footwear for a daytime summer wedding. A matching pair of shoes adds the perfect touch to an already classy outfit. If it is a beach wedding, it’s a good idea to avoid wearing heels or you will have difficulty getting around. You will probably give a new meaning to the phrase ‘digging your heels in’!

Treat yourself to a pedicure and add the final finishing touch with a complimentary shade of nail color.


For a daytime summer wedding, it’s generally a good idea to keep jewelry simple and go in for a basic, uncluttered look. A simple gold chain with a delicate pendant or a string of pearls or even beads that match the basic color of your outfit, will add a nice touch. Earrings should compliment the chain and the outfit.

Avoid diamonds or something flashy that will catch the sunlight and make you dazzle too much, causing guests to shield their eyes from the glare.

Bags or purses can be funky, trendy and should ideally match the outfit or at least bring out a certain hue in it.

If it is an outdoor affair, announce your arrival with a great pair of shades that are not only functional but also add a touch of glamour to your overall appearance.

Time of day…Evening: Cocktails and dinner

Venue… Indoor: Swanky hotel, club, etc.

Fabric and colors

Summer is the ideal time to dare to bare and a posh evening wedding is the perfect time to cultivate that sexy look. Flowing fabrics that lend themselves to evening gowns and formal dresses are ideal. Silks, satins, beaded fabrics are ideal for the more formal do’s. Evening affairs are also the time to wear darker colors like black, midnight blue, maroon or brighter colors like turquoise, fuchsia pink or even crimson red. But if you’re unsure of carrying off too bright a color, stick to something more predictable. Again, white is generally reserved for the bride, but a gown in a classic white-and-black combination looks stunning. For men, the formal look demands heavier fabrics that look crisp and fall well. Black is the all-time favorite or even a white dinner jacket.


The formal evening wedding is the perfect occasion to feel like a modern-day version of Audrey Hepburn in ‘My Fair Lady’. Straps, willpower necklines, fitted bodices and backless outfits are perfect if you can carry it off. As far as hemlines go, anything from the shorter cocktail dress to mid-calf outfits or a full-length gown. Simpler outfits with stark lines can be offset with sequins to add a bit of sparkle. In two-piece outfits, avoid the shorter variety and go in for fitted tops with matching mid-calf or floor-length skirts in slimmer fits, slinky fabrics and a bold style so that it doesn’t look like a work suit.

For men, formal affairs demand a suit, or if it’s close family, a tuxedo. For semi-formal evening affairs, a shirt and tie will probably do, but preferably not one you use to the office, and dress it up a bit with a neat pair of cufflinks and a tie pin.


A messy hairdo can detract from a stunning gown, so ensure that the hairstyle, whether it is a chignon or a piled-up bun, is secured well and liberally sprayed with mousse to keep it in place. For men, the gelled or slicked-back look is popular and of course, a neatly trimmed moustache, French beard or a clean-shaven look.

Make up

This is the time to doll up and if it suits you, cultivate the exotic look, complete with mascara, liner and eye shadow.

Darker lip colors may also be used for an evening extravaganza.


This is the time to dig out your stilettos and wear your classiest pair of shoes. Ditch the boring old pumps and experiment with metallic silver or gold if it matches the sparkle or the stones that embellishes your outfit.


If your gown is a simple sheath or a little black cocktail number, accessorize, accessorize, accessorize.

Diamonds – either faux or real (if you can afford them) – add a touch of class. For a sexy halter, chandelier earrings and a chunky bracelet are perfect, no necklace required. Dress up a willpower neckline with a choker and dangling earrings. A clutch purse or beaded bag that adds to the overall look, is perfect. A short shrug or jacket for a cocktail dress or a wrap or stole in a sheer fabric can add a touch of class. Whether the summer wedding is a casual, semi-formal or black tie affair, irrespective what the trend is, choose something that flatters you, keeping in mind your height, figure and coloring. Ultimately feel good in what you wear and it will shine through, far more than even the jewelry that you accessorize it with.