31 Stunning Cocktail Dresses for Wedding Guests

Gorgeous silhouettes and pretty prints for any season.

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wedding guests

 Photo by Rachel Havel 

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.

01
of 31

Staud Printed Poplin Dress

cocktail dress

 Courtesy of Moda Operandi

Black may not seem festive for a wedding, that is until you’ve laid eyes on this polka-dot number by Staud. Crafted from tulle and poplin, it’s spot-on for an elegant warm-weather wedding. 

02
of 31

Reformation Kourtney Floral Dress

cocktail dress

Courtesy of Reformation

We love the ‘60s feel of this floral print, which is a big trend for 2020. To wit, the thin straps and show of leg make this dress feel sweet yet statement-making as a wedding guest. 

03
of 31

BHLDN Cowl Neck Slip Dress

cocktail dress

 Courtesy of BHLDN

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.

04
of 31

Self-Portrait Off-The-Shoulder Gown

cocktail dress

Courtesy of MyTheresa 

You’ll light up the dance floor in this off-the-shoulder fuchsia dress, complete with a flattering built-in bustier with a retro mood. This look is perfect for an evening wedding in late summer or early fall. 

05
of 31

Likely Lottie Dress

cocktail dress

Courtesy of Shopbop

A tiered midi dress is so romantic for a wedding, especially in a pretty pink hue. The square neckline and gently puffed sleeves are utterly modern with a touch of ‘90s nostalgia. 

06
of 31

Marchesa Notte Off-the-Shoulder Duchesse-Satin Midi Dress

cocktail dress

Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

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!

07
of 31

Faithfull the Brand Sidonie Mini Dress

cocktail dress

Courtesy of Neiman Marcus

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.

08
of 31

Aidan by Aidan Mattox One-Shoulder Puff-Sleeve Dress

cocktail dress

 Courtesy of Bloomingdale's

Not all LBD’s are equal. This one-shoulder style makes a glamorous statement with just enough influence from the ‘80s to feel party perfect.  

09
of 31

WAYF Dreamer Tiered Cutout Dress

cocktail dress
​Courtesy of Shopbop

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! 

10
of 31

Baacal Mirror Caftan

cocktail dress

 Courtesy of 11Honoré

Give them glamour in this sheer black caftan — a look we love for an evening wedding. It’s a clever way to make a simple slip dress feel super festive! 

11
of 31

Self-Portrait Lace Cutout Dress

cocktail dress

Courtesy of Farfetch

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.

12
of 31

Tanya Taylor Clementine Dress

cocktail dress

Courtesy of Tanya Taylor

With flutter sleeves and an asymmetrical hemline, this silk dress is nothing short of showstopping. The navy hue makes it ideal for a seaside wedding or winter ceremony. 

13
of 31

Camila Coelho Deep-V Dress

cocktail dress

Courtesy of Revolve

For the daring minimalist, this sleek and sexy dress is a lovely choice for an evening summer wedding. We like it with strappy metallic sandals and minimal jewels. 

14
of 31

Rat & Boa Stevie Floral-Print Satin Mini Dress

cocktail dress

 Courtesy of Matchesfashion

The perfect LBD for a summer wedding, this mini style is complete with a pretty floral print and voluminous sleeves. An excellent option for Petites, too! 

15
of 31

Needle & Thread x Jasmine Hemsley Harmony Ruffled Floral-Print Tulle Midi Dress

cocktail dress

Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

We can’t think of a more idyllic garden wedding-guest dress than this tiered number by Needle & Thread. Keep accessories neutral so the whimsical floral print can shine. 

16
of 31

Lulus Esther Burgundy Ruffled Sleeveless Maxi Dress

cocktail dress

 Courtesy of Lulus

For a fall or winter wedding, we love this burgundy colored maxi with a flowing hemline. You’re guaranteed to make a splash in this on the dance floor. 

17
of 31

Zimmermann Super Eight Floral Ruffle Linen Midi Dress

cocktail dress
Courtesy of Nordstrom

Feminine and sweet, we’re in love with this pastel floral-print midi dress. While it’s gorgeous from the front, the jaunty tie and back cutout is cute as ever. 

18
of 31

Manning Cartell Australia Surround Sound Dress

cocktail dress

 Courtesy of Shopbop

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. 

19
of 31

BCBGMAXAZRIA Matte Jersey Cutout Gown

cocktail dress

Courtesy of BCBG

If comfort is key, look no further than this sherbet green dress made from stretch jersey. We love it for an afternoon wedding in the summer. 

20
of 31

Johanna Ortiz Side Cutout Midi Dress

cocktail dress

 Courtesy of Nordstrom

For a sophisticated show of skin at a balmy summer wedding, this cut-out midi dress is perfect. Featuring a simple design in a crisp stretch-poplin, it’s simple yet eye-catching in a paprika red hue. 

21
of 31

Rebecca Taylor Mixed Print Off-the-Shoulder Dress

cocktail dress

Courtesy of Rebecca Taylor 

Florals may feel decidedly spring, but this mixed-print dress is a gorgeous interpretation for a fall or evening wedding. The black trim and detailing gives it an edge that feels just right for a moodier look. 

22
of 31

AMUR Hiyori Dress

cocktail dress

Courtesy of Shopbop

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.  

23
of 31

Norma Kamali Asymmetric Wrap-Effect Ruched Stretch-Velvet Dress

cocktail dress

 Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

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. 

24
of 31

Boohoo Boutique Lo Floral Satin Ruffle Dip Hem Dress

cocktail dress

Courtesy of Bohoo

If you’re looking for a romantic and affordable floral-print midi dress, look no further than this flowing number from Boohoo. It’s incredibly versatile for spring and summer weddings both in the day and night. 

25
of 31

Daniel Rainn Rosalita Sheer Maxi Dress

cocktail dress

Courtesy of Anthropologie 

This floor-sweeping dress is striking for an early fall wedding, complete with a tiered hemline and frilled detailing along the neckline and sleeves. Tonal accessories in red and tan help maintain an Autumnal feel.  

26
of 31

Brandon Maxwell Draped Silk-Satin Midi Dress

cocktail dress

 Courtesy of Moda Operandi

What’s fresher than a minty green slip dress for a springtime wedding? This minimal style is impeccably cut and hangs beautifully on any shape.   

27
of 31

Retrofête Tilly Sequin Tie-Sash Midi Dress

cocktail dress

 Courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue

Sparkle, but make it sophisticated in this high-neck midi dress from Retrofête. With clean lines, it’s a sleek way to boldly-colored sequins. 

28
of 31

Brock Collection Quadrella Floral Midi Dress

cocktail dress

 Courtesy of MyTheresa

Springtime florals don’t have to be pastels and bright hues — case in point, this ultra-chic sheath with a bustier-style bodice. 

29
of 31

Veronica Beard Vie Dress

cocktail dress

Courtesy of Shopbop

Make a splash at a summer wedding in this vibrant, one-shoulder dress. The print is playful and fresh on its own, and even better with colorful accessories.  

30
of 31

C/MEO Collective Lustre Midi Dress

cocktail dress

 Courtesy of Bloomingdale's

This sequin dress is how you do sequins for a cocktail dress code. We recommend this look for an evening wedding with minimal accessories. 

31
of 31

Michael Costello X Revolve Midi Dress

cocktail dress

 Courtesy of Revolve

Not only is periwinkle a universally flattering color, but the expertly placed ruching on this strapless gown makes for a flattering fit for almost every body type.

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