These Are the Dresses Every Wedding Guest Needs

You need more than just a reception outfit

Updated 06/04/18

Courtesy of ASOS

Traveling for a wedding means you have to pack for a few days away whether it’s across the country or to a far-flung destination. While you’ve likely been brainstorming options to wear to the wedding itself—perhaps a bright color, an asymmetrical silhouette, or a statement print—several events revolve around a wedding that you need to plan outfits for.

When you arrive, the first item on the weekend wedding itinerary is often a cocktail hour for the bride and groom to welcome their guests and let everyone get to know each other. For this, you'll want a dress that is festive but not over the top—reserve the most impressive details for the wedding. An insouciant number like a slip dress or a style made from a relaxed fabric works well depending on where the welcome drinks are being hosted. Neutral accessories are a safe bet (this includes metallic shades)—a versatile sandal, heel, or flat with a coordinating bag is perfection.

Next up is the rehearsal dinner. For some weddings, the welcome cocktail hour will take place just before the rehearsal dinner. In that case, your work is done. Also, not all wedding guests are invited to the rehearsal dinner. But if the two events are spread out over two days and you’re attending both, you’ll need two different looks. This is an opportunity to wear another fun frock that’s suitable for a lovely dinner, but not overly formal. A mini or midi silhouette will feel right. If you go for a maxi dress, make sure you choose a simpler style that’s not overly embellished or dramatic.

Then comes the outfit you’ve traveled for—the official wedding-guest dress. This is the moment in which you pull out all the stops (though not so much to upstage the bride, of course). A vivid print, unique silhouette, or splashy color is f-u-n. Again, it will all depend on the type of wedding and whether it's black tie. A cocktail dress in a midi length is an all-around winner, while minis and maxis are gorgeous depending on the style of dress and how to accessorize it.

The final affair of the weekend will be the post-wedding brunch, another event that not all brides and grooms choose to host, and if they do, it may just involve family and the wedding party. If you’re invited, plan for a laissez-faire look like a sundress. With sandals, block heels, or wedges, the effect will be easy breezy with a mimosa in hand.

If you’re planning to travel for a weekend wedding this summer, scroll through our edit ahead to help you pack like a pro and look incredible at every event.

01 of 20

Rehearsal Dinner

Courtesy of Ganni Beacon

Cotton and Silk Dress

SHOP NOW: Ganni Beacon, $270

02 of 20

Rehearsal Dinner

Courtesy of Club Monaco

Zorbina Dress

SHOP NOW: Club Monaco, $268

03 of 20

Rehearsal Dinner

Printed Long Dress

SHOP NOW: Mango, $100

04 of 20

Rehearsal Dinner

Courtesy of Zara

Floral Print Tunic

SHOP NOW: Zara, $70

05 of 20

Rehearsal Dinner

Courtesy of Rebecca Taylor

Embroidered Dress

SHOP NOW: Rebecca Taylor, $595

06 of 20

Welcome Drinks

Courtesy of Réalisation Par

The Amelia in Poison Ivy

SHOP NOW: Réalisation Par, $210

07 of 20

Welcome Drinks

Courtesy of Sorets

Sam Floral Dress Robe

SHOP NOW: Sorets, $74

08 of 20

Welcome Drinks

Courtesy of Reformation

Sally Dress

SHOP NOW: The Reformation, $198

09 of 20

Welcome Drinks

Courtesy of Wilfred

Effet Dress

SHOP NOW: Wilfred, $175

10 of 20

Welcome Drinks

Courtesy of Cinq à Sept

Ainsley Floral-Print Dress

SHOP NOW: Cinq à Sept, $695

11 of 20

The Wedding

Courtesy of ASOS

Bardot Printed Mesh Midi Dress With Shelf Belt

SHOP NOW: ASOS, $76

12 of 20

The Wedding

Courtesy of Amanda Uprichard

Sunrise Maxi Dress

SHOP NOW: Amanda Uprichard, $260

13 of 20

The Wedding

Courtesy of Express

Floral High Slit Maxi Dress

SHOP NOW: Express, $80

14 of 20

The Wedding

Courtesy of Intermix Online

Self-Portrait Cold Shoulder Asymmetric Floral Dress

SHOP NOW: Intermix Online, $580

15 of 20

The Wedding

Courtesy of Shopbop

Valencia & Vine Gabriela One Shoulder Gown

SHOP NOW: Shopbop, $268

16 of 20

Post-Wedding Brunch

Courtesy of LOFT

Plus Mixed Floral Tie Flutter Dress

SHOP NOW: LOFT, $90

17 of 20

Post-Wedding Brunch

Courtesy of Target

Ava & Viv Plus Size Floral Print Midi Shift Dress

SHOP NOW: Target, $28

18 of 20

Post-Wedding Brunch

Courtesy of Topshop

Broderie Maxi Dress

SHOP NOW: Topshop, $95

19 of 20

Post-Wedding Brunch

Courtesy of Shopbop

Young Fabulous & Broke Costa Maxi Dress

SHOP NOW: Shopbop, $242

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Post-Wedding Brunch

Courtesy of N12H

Positano Dress

SHOP NOW: N12H, $210

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