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If you’ve had a wedding save-the-date (or several!) prominently placed on your refrigerator, the chances are good that said nuptials have been postponed or rescheduled. As a wedding guest, that means you have a lot more time to search for the perfect outfit. If cocktail attire was the requested dress code for an upcoming wedding, that could leave a lot of room for interpretation as a wedding guest. So, you’ll want to consider a few things.
First, what season is the wedding? If it’s in the spring or summer, bright colors, playful prints, and pastel shades are idyllic while deep jewel tones and metallic fabrics are gorgeous in the fall and winter. Then, what type of venue is it? For an outdoor wedding, you can easily get away with lighter and floatier fabrics like cotton, eyelet lace, jersey, or chiffon. If the wedding is in a banquet hall or a historic building, elegant fabrics like satin, velvet, taffeta are perfectly polished. Beading and sequins can totally work for a cocktail look, too, in a shorter length. Another consideration is the time of day. If the ceremony is in the morning or early afternoon, a dress that skews more casual is entirely appropriate, while late afternoon and evening weddings call for more formal elegant styles. Finally, while cocktail dresses are generally a midi length or higher, you can still wear a maxi, but in this case, it’s best to opt for a more casual fabric.
Ahead, the best cocktail dresses for wedding guests, for every style, season and budget.
BHLDN Cowl Neck Slip Dress
A deep Bordeaux red is an utterly chic choice for a fall or winter wedding. Dress up this minimalist slip with a fun pair of shoes or a statement clutch.
Marchesa Notte Off-the-Shoulder Duchesse-Satin Midi Dress
This romantic off-the-shoulder number is the epitome of elegance. If you're looking for the perfect cocktail dress for a formal wedding that isn't black, your search stops here!
Faithfull the Brand Sidonie Mini Dress
A vintage-inspired floral print helps this mini dress feel romantic and sweet for a daytime wedding. We can picture it with pastel heels, optic white, or a woven raffia wedge.
WAYF Dreamer Tiered Cutout Dress
This floral-print dress is proof that you can wear a teensy bit of white to a wedding without looking inappropriate. We even love this dress for modern bridesmaids, too!
Self-Portrait Lace Cutout Dress
For a summer black-tie wedding, opt for a lace dress with cutouts. Not only will cutouts give your look some sexy edge, but you'll also appreciate the ventilation on a hot summer night.
Manning Cartell Australia Surround Sound Dress
For the fashion-forward wedding guest, this bright blue dress is gorgeous for a city wedding. With unique design details, we suggest clean and simple accessories so the dress can remain the focal point.
AMUR Hiyori Dress
Giving a new meaning to the term “flower girl,” this strapless dress is utterly sweet. The clean lines and pleated detailing give it a modern feel that’s so sophisticated with minimal sandals and delicate jewelry.
Norma Kamali Asymmetric Wrap-Effect Ruched Stretch-Velvet Dress
For an evening wedding, we love the '40s-inspired pin-up glamour that comes with this berry-colored dress. The wrap-effect silhouette with a sweetheart neckline is incredibly flattering — all you need it simple sandals and jewels to complete the look.
C/MEO Collective Lustre Midi Dress
This sequin dress is how you do sequins for a cocktail dress code. We recommend this look for an evening wedding with minimal accessories.