Winter Wedding Guest Outfit Dos, Don’ts, & How to Style

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The holidays are here, and so is cooler weather! I’ve recently shared some winter fashion posts including turtleneck outfit ideas and holiday party looks. However, there’s another seasonal event that I haven’t yet touched on…winter weddings! While I love a winter wedding, I find that dressing for one can be quite tricky at times. It is often a challenge to remain formal, while also staying warm. Today I am walking through some of my favorite winter wedding guest outfit ideas. I’m also going to share tips on how to style them so that you can stay both warm and fashionable for upcoming celebrations!

Winter Wedding Guest Outfit Dos and Don’ts

I usually say “There are no rules” when it comes to dressing. However, for weddings and a few other events, I make an exception. As a guest, the day isn’t about you. Therefore, you want to ensure that you are being courteous and respectful of the bride and other guests. Here are a few of the general rules I follow when putting together a wedding guest outfit.

1. Choose your color wisely

First and foremost, when it comes to color, it is a commonly known fact not to wear white to a wedding. But, I would also recommend staying away from anything that could be construed as white. This includes very light pastels and even white dresses with floral prints. Some argue that you should not wear black to a wedding. But personally, I feel that this is an outdated rule. Unless, of course, it is deemed culturally disrespectful or the invitation specifically requests that you not wear black. Black is actually such a great color for a winter wedding guest outfit, so I certainly wouldn’t rule it out!

2. Be mindful of the dress code

When it comes to selecting a cut, shape, and length of dress, I first take into account the dress code that is provided on the wedding invite. I know that dress codes can oftentimes be confusing. So if you are feeling even slightly unsure, I recommend checking out this article. The Knot breaks down wedding dress codes in a clear and easy-to-understand way.

3. Plan for activities

When selecting a shoe for a winter wedding guest outfit, I like to think about the location and planned activities for the day. Will the ceremony or reception be taking place on grass? Will there be walking required from one portion of the day to the next? As much as I want to be stylish, I also want to be comfortable.

4. Err on the side of caution

I put a lot of thought into what’s appropriate when deciding what type of dress I want to wear to a wedding. Personally, I always want to ensure that I am able to sit, bend down, and walk upstairs without having any inappropriate moments in front of someone’s grandmother.

Winter Wedding Guest Outfit Ideas

Okay, now on to the fun part…a roundup of my current favorite winter wedding guest outfit ideas! As I previously mentioned, I tend to err on the side of caution and try to blend in rather than stand out at weddings. However, this doesn’t mean a beautiful and unique dress or set isn’t an option! Here are some of my current favorites broken down into two main categories – formal attire and cocktail styles.

Formal Winter Wedding Guest Dresses

First, let’s take a look at some formal styles. If you have a black-tie, white-tie, or formal wedding on the horizon, this section is for you!

Dresses from The RealReal

Want to know a little secret for finding designer dresses on sale? Shop at the RealReal! This is one of the first places I check when searching for a winter wedding guest outfit. Why? Formal dresses are typically one-and-done pieces. So many women buy a dress for an event and then sell it, knowing they won’t have another chance to wear it in the near future – hence, resale!

Something a lot of people don’t realize is that you can return dresses from the RealReal. If a piece doesn’t fit or if you just don’t love it, it’s returnable! The only items you can’t return are bags, final sale merchandise, etc. Be sure to read the return policy on each page before clicking “purchase”.

Even while just browsing the site super quickly today I saw this dress, this dress, this dress, and this dress. How beautiful would each of these pieces be for a winter wedding!? And at a fraction of the retail price!

Long Sleeve Maxi Dresses

One of my favorite silhouettes for a formal winter wedding is a long-sleeved maxi dress. This style instantly feels elegant. Plus, it’s so practical in cooler temps! This stunning black and blue dress would be at the top of my list to wear this season. It feels interesting and elegant, without being over the top.

One-Shoulder Maxi Dresses

I also love a one-shoulder maxi dress for a winter wedding. The elegant bow shoulder details on this one and this one are beautiful. This red maxi dress is equally as stunning and a lower price point. It would also be perfect for a formal holiday event! Simply add an elegant earring to complete the look.

“Wow” Factor Dresses

There are many ways for a dress to have a “wow” factor, one of those being a unique or beautiful color. For a winter wedding, this dress caught my eye. This color is absolutely stunning. Plus, it’s one of the ‘it’ colors for the season!

Cape Maxi Dresses

Last but not least, a cape maxi dress makes for a timeless winter wedding guest outfit. The hand-embroidered sequins and beads on this maxi dress make it even more beautiful. And I love the touches of gold on this cape dress. Personally, I would opt for this one in navy or green, but not light pink, out of respect for the bride.

Cocktail Winter Wedding Guest Outfit Ideas

If the invite says cocktail, you have endless options when it comes to a winter wedding guest outfit. It doesn’t even have to be a dress. A dressy jumpsuit or a stunning set works as well! However, if you do go with a dress, I typically opt for something shorter for cocktail events, such as a midi length. A bonus to shopping for these pieces in the wintertime? Many women are shopping for festive cocktail attire for holiday parties this time of the year. Therefore, retailers have an abundance of options!

Midi Dresses

I’ve had a few cocktail dresses on my radar this year, and I actually just clicked purchase on this pretty pink midi. This black lace dress is now on sale and would be a gorgeous option as well. And this midi dress has the perfect touches that just scream “winter” – feathers, velvet, and a beautiful rich color.

Winter Jumpsuits

In addition to dresses, a chic jumpsuit makes an excellent winter wedding guest outfit when the dress code is cocktail. This burgundy jumpsuit is such a great color for the season. And the flowy cape detail on this brown jumpsuit takes the piece to a whole new level!

Black Mini Dresses

While I tend to opt for midi or maxi-length dresses for winter weddings, a black mini dress is always a great option as well! If you like fun and unique details, you’ll enjoy this bow shoulder dress and this puff sleeve off-the-shoulder piece. For a more traditional look, this black mini dress is a truly timeless style. Simply add black tights and black pumps to complete all of these looks!

How to Style a Winter Wedding Guest Outfit

Dressing for winter weddings can be a bit tricky because you want to look fashionable and put together, while also staying warm. My go-to pieces for achieving this are tights and outerwear.

During the cooler months, I will typically wear tights with any maxi dress I wear, as long as it doesn’t have a slit. I’ll also pair them with shorter dresses if I think they look chic together. And as I mentioned above, if I’m wearing a true mini dress during the wintertime, I will always opt for tights! This pairing instantly creates a classic look, plus you’ll be happy to have a light layer on your legs.

For outerwear, there are a few options. First, you can try to find a style that mimics the dress you’re wearing. For example, you could pair this long black coat with a long black dress. However, this isn’t always possible and it doesn’t work as well with shorter dresses. For these circumstances, I’d recommend pairing your dress with a cape coat or a shorter, more formal coat. Cape coats are wonderful because they are so easy to toss over your shoulders. This black cape is timeless and I love this fur collar swing coat. Lastly, while they’re a little harder to find, a cropped faux fur coat is a great piece to complete a winter wedding guest outfit. This one and this one are my two favorites at the moment.

Winter Wedding Guest Style

If you have an upcoming winter wedding, I hope you’re feeling confident and inspired to create a chic (and warm!) look. For additional winter styling ideas, be sure to check out my holiday party season looks, turtleneck outfit ideas, and J. McLaughlin holiday picks.