Wedding Guest Outfits for 2024: What to Wear for Every Dress Code

It’s wedding season, which means you’re once again faced with the dreaded question: What on earth should I wear to this wedding?

Whether attending a lavish black-tie affair or a laidback rustic reception, dressing appropriately shows respect for the marrying couple and makes you feel more comfortable.

In this guide, we break down the standard wedding dress codes you’ll run into and offer expert advice from our in-house designers about choosing the perfect looks for every wedding you’re attending this year. 

Dress codes 101  

There are many nuances to wedding dress codes, and each code carries its own expectations. Below are the most common dress codes you’ll run into and some outfit inspiration for each.


Black-tie weddings are the most formal dress code. Men usually wear tuxedos, and women should wear floor-length gowns.

black tie wedding dress code

To ensure you fit the dress code, look for dresses that come in a high-quality fabric like silk, chiffon, or taffeta. Cotton, linen, and other lighter fabrics often appear too casual for black-tie.

black tie wedding dress code 2024

Black-tie doesn’t mean you need to wear a black dress. But when it comes to color, you should opt for a more subdued or evening-appropriate color like navy, burgundy, or emerald tones, as most black-tie affairs take place in the evening.

black tie wedding dress code

If the invitation says “black-tie creative/colorful,” you have some wiggle room to try out a more colorful or vibrant dress. 

wedding dress code black tie

If dresses aren’t your style, consider a luxury designer jumpsuit. A jumpsuit will work beautifully if it still fits the above criteria in terms of fabric, color, and length.

black tie dress code for weddings

For shoes, consider heels, dressy flats, or high-end loafers. This is a chance to break out those fancy heels you never get the chance to wear. Accessories are a great place to add personality and whimsy to a black-tie look. You can opt for something dainty and elegant like teardrop earrings and a pendant necklace or bold and dazzling like chandelier earrings and a diamond belt.

black tie 2024 wedding dress code

You can never go wrong with a sparkly clutch that adds glamor to your outfit. Something small and classic that fits your essentials is perfect without detracting from the elegance of your outfit. Check out our in-stock clutches to elevate your style without breaking the budget.

black tie jumpsuit 2024

Black-tie optional

Black-tie optional can be confusing. You’re not sure if the couple wants you to dress up or down, and you don’t want to be the odd one out. If you see black-tie optional on the wedding invitation, the bride and groom likely prefer the formality of black tie but don’t want to force their guests to invest in expensive dresses and tuxes. Basically, they’re giving their guests leeway to avoid undue financial stress. If your wallet allows, we recommend dressing in black tie when you see black tie optional dress codes.

black tie optional wedding dress code

Black tie doesn’t have to be a budget breaker. You can find gorgeous evening gowns on consignment for a fraction of their original ticket price.

  • Search local or online consignors like Current Boutique for high-quality, well-cared-for dresses that fit within your price range.
  • Check out Facebook Marketplace or other reselling retailers for low-cost evening gowns. However, these dresses may be worn, dirty, or stained as these resellers don’t have the quality standards and protection measures that consignment stores do.
  • Consider renting an evening dress from a retailer like Rent the Runway. Rented dresses can be a great wallet-saver, especially if you don’t think you’ll rewear your new gown. However, these dresses can’t be altered or tailored, so they might not look as clean, fitted, and polished as those dresses you own and tailor to your body.


“Formal” is a broader dress code than black-tie. The rules are similar in terms, but you may have more flexibility regarding colors, styles, and silhouettes. You can play around with hues, prints, hem lengths, and embellishments.

formal wedding dress code

For formal wear, it doesn’t have to be a full-length gown. You can also consider dressy separates or tea-length dresses.

formal wedding dress code 2024

You want to wear a dress that fits the venue and season. For a summer garden wedding, you could wear an ankle-length dress in a bright color or floral print.

wedding dress codes for 2024


And for a winter wedding, you’d want a gown in a darker shade and thicker fabric.

what to wear to a wedding 2024


If you’re unsure, err on the side of more formal versus less.


Semi-formal wear can be a challenge because you don’t want to show up underdressed or overdressed. You’ll likely feel overdressed in a floor-length gown but underdressed in casual sundresses. Consider a mid- to knee-length skirt in soft, muted colors or minimalistic patterns.

semi-formal wedding dress code 2024

You’ll also feel underdressed in a cocktail dress that sits above the knee or in bright colors and playful patterns. Stick instead to cocktail-style dresses in formal fabrics like satin, silk, or chiffon.

what to wear to semi-formal wedding 2024


Pants and jumpsuits are appropriate for a semi-formal wedding if made of quality fabric and a structured silhouette.

semi-formal wedding dress code ideas


For accessories and shoes, opt for simple, minimalistic pieces. Block wedges or pumps are practical and cute, and petite gold or silver jewelry is the perfect accent.

semi-formal wedding guest outfit


However, if you’re wearing a plainer dress, you may want to jazz up the look with statement accessories. With a semi-formal dress code, the key is to feel formal but balanced.

semi-formal 2024 wedding dress code

Along with the season and venue, consider the time of day when dressing for semi-formal. Daytime and outdoor events will lean more cocktail-style, while nighttime indoor weddings will feel a little dressier.

wedding dress code ideas 2024


When in doubt, dress up. You’re less likely to regret being overdressed than underdressed for a wedding.


Cocktail attire is less formal but should still be polished and elegant. You shouldn’t show up in a floor-length gown, but you also don’t want to wear a mini skirt or casual attire. Consider a knee-length, midi, or tea-length dress in a stylish silhouette.

cocktail wedding dress code 2024

You have more freedom with color, but still consider the time of day and season. For spring or summer daytime weddings, opt for lighter colors and floral patterns.

cocktail wedding guest inspiration


For fall and winter weddings, consider darker hues in thicker laces or velvet. 

cocktail attire wedding dress code


You can also have more creativity in terms of necklines, sleeve lengths, and embellishments, like sequins and feathers.

what to wear to a wedding in 2024


When in doubt, you’ll never go wrong with a little black dress.

cocktail wedding dress code 2024


Your favorite dance-able heels or dressy flats will work perfecty. Add clean, minimalist earrings and a classy clutch for an easy go-to look for any cocktail wedding.

cocktail wedding dress outfits 2024


Cocktail attire means you should dress up for the occasion. To get a good idea of what to wear, take cues from the venue, season, time of day, and formality of the invitation suite.

Beach attire

A beach venue can make things even more confusing. Generally, the invitation will say beach plus the formality, like “beach formal” or “beach cocktail.” This means you’ll want to follow the formality criteria first and make a few changes that make your outfit seaside-worthy.

beach wedding guest dress

The biggest differences lie in the colors, patterns, and fabrics. Even if the event is formal, you’re not going to show up to the beach in dark colors or heavy fabrics. You want to focus more on light colors, fun prints, and breathable matrials like lace or tulle for an effortless beach vibe that still feels elevated.

beach attire wedding dress code 2024


For beach attire, you can get away with a maxi dress. Although it’s technically floor-length, it can work well for less formal events if the material is light, breathable, and flowy.

what to wear to a beach wedding


Steer clear of stilettos, which can sink into the sand. Instead, opt for chunky heels or wedge sandals. This is also a great opportunity for a fun, beachy bag. Stay away from beach totes, but consider fun clutches or handbags with a more summery or Mediterranean vibe.

beach wedding guest dress ideas



Festive dress codes are becoming more popular. These are all about fun and funk, so you have more wiggle room to add personality into your look. Try out different fabrics, patterns, silhouettes, or styles that fit the theme or venue of the wedding.

festive wedding guest dresses

For example, a formal festive event at an art museum might call for a patterned dress, one-of-a-kind stilettos, and whimsical hat.

festive wedding dress code


A festive garden party might call for cute tea-party hats and gloves.

fun and festive wedding guest dresses


If the couple getting married is having a themed wedding, “festive” is a way to ask their guests to dress in accordance with the theme. For example, a Lord of the Rings-themed wedding might have “festive” attire that calls for emerald gowns and elven accessories.

themed wedding dress outfits


“Festive” can also refer to holiday-festive for weddings around the holidays. This encourages guests to dress up in formal holiday wear. Think velvet or lace fabrics, reds and greens, gold accents, and shimmery fabrics.

holiday festive wedding wear


Festive dress code gives you room to play, but ensure you’re still aligned with the formality request, venue, and invitation style.


A casual dress code usually doesn’t mean showing up in shorts and a t-shirt. Think business casual attire, like a pretty sundress, elevated jumpsuit, or a two-piece matching set. If you’re unsure what to wear, consider what you would wear to a fancy dinner with friends and family. The outfit doesn’t have to be formal, but you should still show respect for the couple by dressing appropriately and sophisticatedly.

casual wedding guest attire

If you’re uncertain, you can wear a cocktail dress and dress it down with less formal shoes.

casual wedding wear for 2024


A sundress with elevated accessories, like fancy stilettos and a cute clutch, can also strike a good balance between formal and casual.

what to wear to a casual wedding


Take context clues from the invitation. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask the marrying couple for hints and ideas. 

What NOT to wear to a wedding


  • Steer clear of white, ivory, cream, champagne, nude, or light pastels that look like white. Although some brides won’t mind, you don’t want to wear the same color as the bride.
  • If the bride is wearing a color other than white, you might want to avoid that color. For example, many brides in different cultures wear red, so you may not want to wear a similar shade of red.
  • If you know the color palette of the bridesmaids’ dresses, avoid wearing that tone as well. You don’t want to look like you’re trying to be a bridesmaid if you’re not.
  • Avoid neon colors or anything too bright, loud, or dramatic unless otherwise stated on the invitation.
  • All-black outfits are sometimes considered too somber for a wedding. If you’re wearing a black dress for a black tie dress code, consider making it more festive with sparkly or colorful accessories and shoes.


  • Stay away from anything overly revealing, even if that’s your go-to style. Low-cut necklines, short hems, and sheer cut-outs are generally not formal enough for most weddings.
  • Unless otherwise specified, don’t wear denim, including jeans, denim skirts, or denim jackets. Some rustic or informal weddings may allow denim but avoid it unless otherwise specified on the invitation or by the couple.
  • Even casual weddings don’t call for super casual wear. Don’t wear gym clothes, athleticwear, clubwear, tank tops, sneakers, or flip-flops.

Getting ready for wedding season

Ultimately, you should wear what makes you feel comfortable. These “dress code rules” exist to help you show respect for your hosts, feel comfortable, and dress for the occasion.

Let Current Boutique be your go-to source for all your wedding guest needs this season. We stock luxury designers so you can find gorgeous, high-quality formal and cocktail pieces without breaking the budget. You’re sure to find impeccable styles for any dress code. Start shopping for dresses here to find the perfect ensemble for every wedding on your calendar.


Photo Sources

Carmen Lopez, President & CEO


Hello Fashion Lovers! I've been in the fashion industry for over 15 years. I started Current Boutique with the desire to recycle amazing pre-loved designer gems for others to enjoy! I value quality, unique craftsmanship, sustainability & saving money. I am a fashion lover who is energized by the challenges and rewards of being an entrepreneur. I'm here to share tips on fashion, style, bargain shopping and business. I hope you enjoy!
XOXO, Carmen