30 Perfect Dresses to Wear to a Wedding

dressing for wedding guests, day and night

31 photos
Valentino's floor-sweeping gown in rose silk is gorgeously feminine with just a hint of frill. A knot detail at the bust cascades in a gentle ruffle down the center, in concert with the concealed slit at the front. Add extra glamour with chandelier earrings of the same shade, and nude peau de soie platform sandals. ($5,590 at Net-a-Porter)
Dear Fieldbinder
This pretty, vintage-inspired and well-priced piece by Arabella Ramsay is done in a faded linen hibiscus print. The nipped in waist and short sleeves are very ladylike, but the mini length shows plenty of leg. Add a fascinator and heels. ($297 at Dear Fieldbinder)
Lace made a strong showing on spring runways and is proving a popular seller too. Pulling off the look can be tricky, as it’s crucial to avoid looking too sexy or too prim. This Alessandra Rich paneled nude silk and lace gown is the epitome of elegance; the black neoprene belt and pockets lend an air of edgy cool. ($3,540 at Net-a-Porter)
The epitome of a statement print, Roberto Cavalli’s fitted floral pencil dress with its oversize floral bow print at the waist is a sexy and sophisticated, doused with fun. Keep the accessories to a minimum, though we suspect you may be able to pull off a colored shoe or clutch (not both). ($816 at Farfetch)
You’ll look like a perfect (and very cheerful) lady in this Alice + Olivia ‘Josephine’ stretch cotton-poplin dress with peplum. Don’t worry, it’s not overly proper; the back features an exposed zipper and zigzag cutouts. Top off the look with a wide brimmed sunhat, heels, and a clutch. ($370 at Net-a-Porter)
Rachel Roy
Rachel Roy’s hot pink mineral print shift is made from double layered silk twill for extra body. Add a belt to give it shape, and contrasting color accessories for interest. It’s a great daytime wedding dress, especially when worn with a hat. ($595 at Rachel Roy)
This Valentino bobble-embellished knee-length dress is a prim party look of which even the royals would approve. The black trim, bow, and three quarter length sleeves with flared cuffs add a touch of fun. With sky-high heels, patent clutch and sleek chignon, you’ll be the most elegant woman in attendance. ($3,645 Farfetch)
Marc Jacobs Spring 2011 runway collection nailed it with hippie exotic floral details, like the oversize orchid belt on this rosy pink satin shift. The loose fit and three-quarter length sleeves gives lend an almost kimono-like feel. It’s a fun look for a not-too-fancy event, day or night. And, it’s got pockets. ($795 at Ssense)
D&G orange silk chiffon halter dress with contrasting black trimnThis silk-chiffon halter dress features contrast grosgrain banding at the high neck and at the waist. Ruffle trim at hem and hidden zip at open back. Tie closure behind neck.n($745 at Shopbop.com)
It’s easy to see why design wunderkind Henry Guillaume has managed to resuscitate Parisian fashion house, Carven. This taupe cotton-blend jacquard dress with charcoal almost ikat-like marbleized patterning has a double pouf skirt and completely cut out back. Pair with nude pumps and simple purse, plus diamond stud earrings. ($775 at Net-a-Porter)
Forthrightly sexy, but still so very proper, this Gucci dress with emerald satin skirt and plunging V-neck black top with ruched shoulders channels a bit of the naughty secretary look, especially around back with its dual tassel and gold suspender details. ($2,480 at Net-a-Porter)
This silk maxi dress is from Edun, a brand created by Ali Hewson and Bono, does not belie its label’s global ideals. The lacey print has a hint of tribal patterning, as does the ornamental brass ring neckline. The drapey cut swishes nicely, and can be dressed a little bit up, or down. We see it with an armful of brass bangles and towering wedges. ($898 at Oak)
The Kate Spade New York ‘Aubrey’ wrap dress printed with a Palm Beach-inspired coral trellis pattern is trimmed with soft, feminine ruffles. It’s a pretty daytime look for the spring season that can go proper with heels, a hat, and top-handle bag, or vintage-funk with a few over-the-top accessories, but please, save those for after the big day. ($375 at Nordstrom)
Bona Drag
With tiny silver hook and eye closures up the front, and a corset laced back, this ivory silk, scattered peony print dress with mullet hemline by The Reformation can be dressed up or punked out. We suggest the former for a wedding, but rock it with black leggings and even a corset over top next time you hit the clubs. ($300 at Bona Drag)
This watercolor garden flower print dress, the ‘Gathered Hemlock’ by Weston Wear, is an obvious, but most lovely choice for a spring or summer garden wedding. The draped skirt and ruching at the sides of the waist in front, and in the center on back, make it supremely flattering. And the price has us doing a little dance.n($148 at Anthropologie)
This strapless silk stunner from Liska by Thomas has ballet and toga influences, with it’s drapey layers, tie belt, and sheer, asymmetric hemline. The soft swirl of ombre color adds yet another dimension (a slightly ‘60s reference, we think), but somehow, it all works. ($1,800 at Farfetch)
Opening Ceremony
Leading Parisian fashion house Cacharel back to greatness since 2009, designer Cedric Charlier concocts a vibrant cobalt collared dress with tie waist and plenty of pleats. It’s a look that will work as well at the office as daytime nuptials, and can even be layered come winter. ($955 at Opening Ceremony )
Tibi designer Amy Smilovic is known for preppy leanings, which are always done with impeccable taste. This bias-cut sleeveless silk own with criss cross back, called the ‘Anick’ has lacy beading at the front, so no need for a necklace. ($748 at Tibi)
No roster of formal dresses is complete without a look by Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig, the design duo behind Marchesa. While the couture line has been worn on countless red carpets, this lavender concoction is from diffusion line Notte by Marchesa. It's in perfect keeping with the brand, with signature ruffle and one-shoulder silhouette. ($795 at Shopbop)
Bergdorf Goodman
Rosy corals are proving to be the season’s “it” color. This Jason Wu faille party dress pairs the color with a black scribble print, in a ladylike, ‘60s-inspired silhouette. ($2,600 at Bergdorf Goodman)
Alice + Olivia
This pretty pink and purple watercolor print dress by Alice + Olivia brings us right into a Monet garden. The ruffle at top and spaghetti straps give it a youthful feel, and the five percent spandex added to the silk give it a comfortable stretch and slinky cling. ($396 at Alice + Olivia)
Channel the Studio 54 set in this supremely sexy deep purple Halston Heritage maxi halter with V-neck and a sash at the gathered elastic waist. Keep your cleavage under control, but definitely flash some leg with that high-cut slit. Loose hair and platform shoes preferred. ($455 at Shopbop)
Sapphire may be the color of the British royals, but we can’t get enough of this gorgeous emerald green silk dress by Roberta Furlanetto. The pleated detailing in front is reminiscent of Fortuny, but the asymmetric placement at the shoulder and hem push it perfectly into the 21st century. ($1,283 at Farfetch)
The duo (and couple) behind British label Preen, Justin Thornton and Thea Bragazzi, are favorites of celebrity stylists, though they’re retail business is growing fast. This structured, sleeveless A-line dress with skinny belt is a ladylike look, complete with pockets. The beaded top dresses it up just enough for a formal affair; just add jewels. ($2,841 at Farfetch)
Bergdorf Goodman
A wedding is the perfect excuse for hot pink ruffled chiffon, especially one as expertly executed as this sleeveless piece by Jason Wu. In front there’s a sheer yoke with bateau neckline, and in back, a sexy, deep V. It’s a versatile, investment party piece that works day or night, for just about any occasion. ($1,650 at Bergdorf Goodman)
At first glance this seems a simple, though sexy, red slipdress. Look again, and you’ll see that this Helmut Lang crepe piece is slightly off-kilter, especially around back. The raw edges add to its vaguely downtown appeal. ($485 Net-a-Porter)
The signature Carven cutouts make this taffeta pouf a standout. The tiered skirt and oversize bow at the top are certainly feminine, but there’s nothing little girl about this sexy cocktail stunner. We see the wearer dripping in diamonds, and wearing stilettos. ($760 at Net-a-Porter)
La Garçonne
This easy cotton shift by Cacharel, with rolled short sleeves in a speckled ombre print reminiscent of a meadow landscape, works as easily on winter days with opaque tights, as in spring with bare legs. It’s understated vibe can be punched up by pinking up the specks of bubble gum pink if your accessories, if you dare. ($470 at La Garçonne)
La Garçonne
We love the unique spiky, fan-like print on this Viktor & Rolf silk shift with removable (and forgiving) elastic belt. The short sleeves are jauntily asymmetric (look carefully), with a cap sleeve at the left and a gathered one at right. ($895 at La Garçonne)
The color cobalt is enjoying a resurgence, thanks to Kate Middleton’s sapphire ring and the Issa dress in which she chose to announce her engagement. This shiny silk evening gown by Nicole Miller is a sophisticated look with a simple bias-cut, beaded strap detail, and cowl back. ($660 at eDressme)
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