The Perfect Dresses to Wear to A Fall Wedding–for a Guest

Have you received a wedding invitation to a fall wedding this year?  I have been thinking of weddings a lot lately and thought it would be fun to put together a few fall wedding guest outfits and talk a little about what you might expect if you get an invite this season. 

When I wrote about spring weddings a few years ago, I was surprised how much had changed in the way of wedding etiquette, as well as how lavish receptions had become- in just a few years time.  Back then, huge weddings were the rage, along with numerous pre-wedding gatherings leading up to the big day.  Destination weddings, and weddings held in interesting and unexpected locations were common.  

While all the stops were pulled for the reception, the ceremony was often small, intimate and fast.  Guests often skipped the ceremony in favor of the big bash.  Receptions were packed with activities, with classics like dancing to video game playing stations, lounges, live bands photo booths and lots of clothing changes for the bride.   Entertainment was not limited to live bands, many weddings had entertainers ranging from magicians to fire blowers.

For a wedding guests, of a certain age—like me—well, I never felt sure what to wear, and what to expect when I was invited to a wedding.  Some were so informal—guests in jeans, bride in a sun dress the quintessential beach wedding—to the complete opposite—formal black tie affair. Even the most lavish weddings of my youth didn’t hold a candle to modern weddings.

Well, friends, things have changed again!  

Most couples still create a wedding website with a registry allowing you to purchase and send the wedding gift, a calendar of events, dress codes (if you are lucky)  and directions to venues.  I love those customized wedding websites!  

Weddings are considerably smaller than before, with more emphasis on the ceremony.  Small weddings don’t necessarily mean less lavish, today’s weddings are often held at bed and breakfasts and small boutique hotels where family and friends are put up for what is often a long weekend worth of activities and theoretically kept together in a “pod” to prevent spread of illness.

Gone are buffets, and  carving stations.  More frequently, and hygienically, you will find table service along with beautiful  individual wedding cakes.  You may even find “pod” seating—tables set apart from one another so groups of people who know each other can stay together—you will also find place cards used more frequently to help keep family and friends in small groups.  We will be seeing more outdoor weddings in back yards, woodlands, beach and lakeside.

Don’t be surprised if you are invited to a wedding held during the week.  Wedding venues are booked—thus it is not uncommon for a bride to choose a weekday to have the location she wants.  

Live streaming weddings has become popular, allowing friends and family uncomfortable gathering in person, an opportunity to be a part of the event.   We attended a live stream wedding last year.  It was nice to be included and also be reminded that love endures even pandemics.  Also, because no one saw us, we were able to dress as we pleased.


Wedding ETIQUETTE highlights

  1. RSVP Quickly
  2. Don’t assume a plus-one unless the invitation says “plus one”
  3. Don’t be surprised if children aren’t invited
  4. Send a gift or card if you can’t make it
  5. Arrive early and make sure your phone is off during the ceremony.

Beautiful golden foliage is something to behold, making autumn the perfect time for a wedding.  Whether formal dress is requested or you’ve been invited to a casual do, weddings are one special occasion we all get excited about—and it’s a great time to get something new. Crisp temperatures can be challenging when dressing for  an outdoor fall wedding, but there are a wonderful range of fabrics and colors to consider when shopping for a dress to wear to autumnal nuptials.

Women over 50 can enjoy a large number of flattering and stylish options to wear to weddings in 2021.  Fall wedding guest attire is easy to pull together and there are a lot of options. Thanks to “modesty” trend, which has been making its way into mainstream for the past couple of years, you will find lots of midi  dresses and maxi dresses, longer sleeves and high necklines.  

Deep rich jewel tones, warm neutrals and moody floral prints take center stage in terms of color and pattern trends right now.  The best fabrics for cool evenings are thick and lush, such as a heavy crepe, taffeta, boucle, or plush velvets are a great choice in the cooler months.. Cooler temperatures in the evening  can be remedied with  an elegant shawl, or for a casual outdoor fall wedding, a cute denim jacket  or a leather jacket over a satin slip dress  can be a great look and perfect for cool chilly temperatures. Look for dresses with long sleeves or puffed sleeves, but avoid flutter sleeves or sleeveless numbers unless the wedding is held in doors.  

Outdoor weddings are great for shorter hemlines—midi or knee length, so your dress doesn’t get soiled.  Floor-length dresses and maxi’s are perfect for indoor events. Luckily, there are plenty of fall wedding guest dresses to choose from.

Many of the trending dresses have a single dramatic feature, an open back, one shoulder or a  deep v-neck.  Black and other dark colors are no longer forbidden though don’t wear a color too close to the bride’s dress.  The wedding website or invitation will often give more detail on the bride’s color palette—some are quite specific so be sure to check.  I saw one invite requesting guests wear vintage golf attire—it’s important to read the invitation and website carefully!

Naturally, the type of wedding —its level of formality plays a role in what to wear.  Backyard nuptials, beach weddings and woodland venues can be very casual.  You can even consider cocktail attire, a black dress, or a lovely halter gown.  

If you are going to a very informal wedding but still want to look chic—I’ve got you.  Mainly though, I will share the best dresses for a wedding guest—a mature—but not frumpy wedding guest, so you will look amazing for the fall wedding season.

Where to shop:

I have found beautiful wedding guest worthy dresses in a variety of places—we were just at Nordstrom Rack where I saw several stunning cocktail dresses marked down significantly.  Consignment shops—especially those specializing in special occasion clothing are another great option.  Rent the Runway is also a possibility if you don’t want to add a new dress to your collection.  If you end up falling in love with the dress, you can buy it.  To have the full experience, try Neiman Marcus or Saks—and to shop on line, Net-a-porter or My Theresa are good spots to try.

Outdoor Venue

When choosing an outfit for an outdoor venue, clearly the weather and the terrain are very important. Since outdoor weddings tend to be a bit more casual we chose this beautiful floral sleeveless dress, to be worn with a cute denim jacket over the shoulders. The shoes have a strong sturdy heel, though low heals would be great too. I love the moody fall toned floral, along with the delicate earrings and gorgeous beaded bag. The look is perfect for lakeside nuptials or a gorgeous back yard ceremony.

Avery Floral sleeveless dress

Sam Edelman Yaro Ankle Strap sandal

Adaline Crystal Bead Clutch (on sale)

Drop Earring

Stella McCarney Vintage Denim jacket

Black Tie

How I love a gorgeous black tie event–wedding or otherwise! We pulled out all the stops with this elegant one shoulder gown. It is a comfortable, yet elegant jersey with a side slit, and has rhinestone encrusted sleeves which I think are just stunning. And the shoes–they remind me of Cinderella’s slippers. This beautiful dress calls for drama, and we dish it up with the earrings and hand bag. This would not only be stunning as to wear as a guest, but would also be perfect for mother of the bride or groom.

Cocktail Party Style Reception

Many brides are opting for a cocktail style reception, and this look is perfect–and would also be a great mother of the bride look as well. The emerald green would take you all the way into the Hollidays, I love the rose gold and malachite cuff, which could be worn with a casual outfit as well. I always swoon over shoes, these have a beautiful ankle wrap which is so feminine and beautiful. Who doesn’t need a classic gold clutch–this one is gorgeous!

Emerald green off shoulder dress

18 karat rose gold and malachite bangle

Venus Satin Pumps

Metalic Venus Clutch

The Destination Wedding

Destination weddings are always wild cards, aren’t they? This beautiful Zimmerman dress is perfect–add a beautiful wrap or shrug if the weather cools. The rose gold leather bag is a perfect match–and the shoes pick up the colors in the hem of the dress. This stunning dress has so much to say, I would keep the jewelry light, just adding a gold chain link bracelet, which picks up the gold in the clasp of the hand bag.

Zimmerman Cassia halter neck midi dress

Pitona Metalic/suede sandals

Kate Crossbody

Julie Vos link bracelet

Headshot of Nina from Sharing A Journey

A word about vaccination status

Don’t be surprised if the couple request guests be vaccinated, or that guests provide a clear test prior to the event.  no one wants to think they are hosting a super spreader event. Remember that everyone is trying their best to work through this difficult situation—even if we are clumsy about it.  What ever your position or situation, allowing each other grace is so important. If you find you need to step back from attending, do it kindly. Remember, in a few years, this situation will be a distant memory-not worth ending relationships over.

The post The Perfect Dresses to Wear to A Fall Wedding–for a Guest appeared first on Sharing A Journey.

Get Discount