25 Elegant Formal Wedding Guest Dresses For a Black-Tie Wedding

Dial up the glitz and glamour

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wedding guests

PHOTO BY LEO PATRONE

Receiving an invitation to a black-tie wedding can be exciting but also a little daunting. After all, a black-tie dress code is one of the fanciest out of the bunch and requires guests to wear their swankiest attire. But fret not! With so many gorgeous formal outfits on offer, there's a black-tie gown out there to suit every style and budget.

What Is Black-Tie Attire?

A black-tie dress code is reserved for formal weddings and events. Guests typically wear floor-length gowns and tuxedos when attending a black-tie wedding.

For fall and winter weddings, formal attire feels all the more appropriate—especially for nuptials timed to the holidays or New Year’s Eve. Full-length gowns are perfect for such occasions whether you’re into a seasonal long-sleeve style, textured velvet number, or sparkling sequins. If you’re one to follow trends, consider puff sleeves, allover florals, and bold styles in statement-making hues. For subdued tastes, you can’t go wrong with a gorgeous black gown whether that means a one-shoulder silhouette, plunging V-neck, or asymmetrical shape.

Ahead, the best wedding guest dresses for a black-tie wedding for every style, budget, and season.

01
of 25

Best Investment: Alexander McQueen One-Sleeve Lace and Crepe Gown

black tie dress

Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

Attending a wedding is an investment so invest in a dress that you'll wear again and again. This elegant gown crafted from exquisite crepe and hand-cut eyelash lace would make a timeless addition to any formal wardrobe.

02
of 25

For a Fall Wedding: Markarian Velvet-Trimmed Brocade Gown

floral dress

 Courtesy of Moda Operandi

Moody florals are always a sophisticated choice for a fall or winter black-tie wedding. This exquisite gown from Markarian is trimmed with sumptuous and warm velvet making it appropriate for any cold-weather event.

03
of 25

Most Classic: BHLDN Navy One-Shoulder Dress

Brixen Dress

 Courtesy of BHLDN

This one-shoulder dress is divinely chic and for the guest who seeks a classic silhouette with an updated twist. Cut from soft and comfortable jersey, you'll have no problem making your way around the dancefloor.

04
of 25

Best Pastel Style: Maria Lucia Hohan Crinkled Silk Chiffon

blush dress

Courtesy of Shopbop

While pastel tones can sometimes feel more casual, this soft blush gown is crafted from crinkled silk chiffon and finished with a luminous metallic finish making it undeniably black-tie-worthy.

05
of 25

For a Spring Wedding: Monique Lhuillier Long Sleeves Silk-Chiffon Gown

Silk-Chiffon Gown

 Courtesy of Moda Operandi

This soft blue dress with a flattering pleated bodice and light as air silk-chiffon skirt is positively dreamy. Wear yours to a spring black-tie wedding and style with delicate personal jewelry.

06
of 25

Best Tea-Length: Marchesa Notte Draped Corseted Sequin-Embellished Gown

black tie dress

Courtesy of Farfetch 

If you're petite and a floor-sweeping gown is not really your vibe, a tea-length option might but more your speed. This exquisitely draped and corseted dress in deep navy and allover sequin embellishments is equally fit for a black-tie wedding as a maxi gown.

07
of 25

For a Garden Wedding: Erdem Floral Gown

floral gown

 Courtesy of Matchesfashion

For a spring black-tie wedding, florals are forever classic. We're picturing this floor-length beauty at a gorgeous garden wedding surrounded by rich greenery.

08
of 25

Best Budget: ASOS DESIGN Cami Maxi Slip Dress

black tie dress

 Courtesy of ASOS

The not-so-simple slip dress has made a major comeback. This high shine satin slip dress features a crisscross back and a gentle cowl neckline for a look that is at once formal and effortless.

09
of 25

For the Glamorous Guest: Solace London Gold Slip Dress

gold dress

 Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

Gold will always be a fitting choice for a black-tie wedding around the holidays. This dazzling number features a sexy open back and an elegant bias-cut silhouette.

10
of 25

Best Subtle Sparkle: Rebecca Vallance Puff Sleeve Gown

black tie gown

Courtesy of MyTheresa

We love a good puff sleeve moment and this stunning gown from Rebecca Vallance is no exception. Wear yours with chic kitten heels, modern jewelry, and a bold red lip.

11
of 25

Best Gold Style: Sabina Musayev Metallic Dress

Sparkle Dress

 Courtesy of Sabina Musayev

A wedding around the holidays calls for a festive dress. Bring on the sparkle and bring on the bows. Keep accessories simple–this dress does all the talking!

12
of 25

For the Minimalist: BHLDN High Neck Slip Dress

slip dress

Courtesy of BHLDN

For the minimalist guest, this fitted slip is a supremely sophisticated and flattering choice. Complete the look with statement earrings and dewy makeup.

13
of 25

For the Fashion-Forward Bride: Mango Velvet Jumpsuit

jumpsuit

Courtesy of Mango

Not picturing yourself in a floor-length gown? No problem! Jumpsuits are a stylish alternative to traditional black-tie attire. This velvet jumpsuit from Mango is an impossibly chic choice for a formal winter wedding.

14
of 25

For a New Year's Eve Wedding: For a Jenny Packham Sequined Chiffon Wrap Gown

black tie dress

 Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

Give them glitz and glam in head to toe sequins. This statement-making gown is perfect for a New Year's Eve black-tie wedding. Keep accessories minimal–this dress does all the talking.

15
of 25

Most Timeless: Badgley Mischka Off-the-Shoulder Gown

black tie dress

 Courtesy of 11 Honoré

This off-the-shoulder gown is the epitome of old Hollywood glamour and could easily be worn to a black-tie wedding or on the red carpet.

16
of 25

Most Elegant: Silvia Tcherassi Cold-Shoulder Cutout Satin Gown

black tie dress

 Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

For a summer black-tie wedding, opt for a sleeveless or cold shoulder style. This gown featuring a flattering knitted sweetheart neckline and cutout back would be right at home at spring or summer wedding.

17
of 25

For a Summer Wedding: LoveShackFancy High/Low Dress

high/low dress

Courtesy of LoveShackFancy 

If you're headed to a summer or destination wedding, this unique LoveShackFancy high/low dress is a no brainer. Dressy enough to adhere to a black-tie dress code and playful enough to complement a destination wedding venue – this dress is the best of both worlds.

18
of 25

Most Romantic: Monique Lhuillier One-Shoulder Glittered Tulle Gown

black tie dress

Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

For those attending a black-tie wedding around the holidays, a dress featuring a little sparkle is a no brainer. This dreamy tea-length dress is crafted from glittered tulle giving it just the right amount of subtle shimmer.

19
of 25

For a Destination Wedding: Alexis Floral Pleated Gown

floral dress

 Courtesy of Farfetch

Headed to a destination wedding or a tropical-themed backyard wedding? Then you need this whimsical yet sophisticated floral pleated gown. Complete the look with a grass friendly wedges and a woven clutch.

20
of 25

For a Winter Wedding: Jenny Yoo Velvet Flutter Sleeve Dress

black tie dress

 Courtesy of BHLDN

A black-tie wedding in the winter calls for a gown in rich textured fabrics like luxurious velvet. This elegant flutter sleeve dress comes in 5 sophisticated colors to complement every style and skin tone.

21
of 25

Most Unexpected: Prabal Gurung Long Sleeve Wrap Front Combo Dress

Prabal wrap dress

 Courtesy of 11 Honore

A contrast of bronze sequins and black jersey make this plus size dress flattering and eyecatching. The faux wrap design cinches you at the waist while the sexy high slit elongates your legs.

22
of 25

Most Versatile: BCBGMAXAZRIA Pleated Georgette Gown

black tie dress

Courtesy of Bloomingdale's 

Looking for a dress that will take you from the ceremony to the afterparty? This dress features a flouncy pleated skirt guaranteed to stun in photos and move with you on the dancefloor.

23
of 25

Best Neckline: ASOS EDITION Ruched Halter Neck Maxi Dress

black tie dress

Courtesy of ASOS 

You don't have to break the bank to get a black-tie worthy outfit. Look like a million dollars in this slinky halter neck maxi dress. Add your go-to fancy earrings or your favorite statement shoes to kick it up a notch.

24
of 25

For a Beach Wedding: Zimmermann Ruffle Gown

black tie dress

 Courtesy of Zimmermann

A ballgown might seem like the last thing you'd want to wear to a summer wedding but this dreamy ruffle gown is crafted from supremely light silk linen organza making it the perfect choice for a warm-weather formal affair.

25
of 25

For the Expecting Guest: ASOS Maternity Pleated Dress

green dress

 Courtesy of ASOS

Deep jewel tones like emerald green are a supremely sophisticated alternative to wearing black to a formal wedding. This versatile green maternity dress could easily be worn to a winter wedding in a ballroom or a spring wedding in a garden.

Shopping FAQs

Attending a black-tie wedding? We've answered three common questions wedding guests have when shopping for a black-tie outfit.

  • What is a black-tie dress code? A black-tie dress code is reserved for formal weddings and requires that you wear a formal outfit like a floor-length gown and tuxedo.
  • What should a wedding guest wear to a black-tie wedding? Guests attending a black-tie wedding typically wear floor-length evening gowns. Formal dresses in black and navy are also a popular choice for black-tie weddings as are gowns with allover embellishments.
  • Can I wear a short dress to a black-tie wedding? Unless otherwise stated on the invite, guests can also wear short cocktail dresses to a black-tie wedding.

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