Subscribe to blog via RSS

Search Blog

What to wear to an afternoon wedding

Categories: beyond 9 to 5, dresses


Arwen has a question: “What is cocktail attire when the party (a wedding) is in the middle of the afternoon?”

Ooh, good one!

I am a firm believer in always dressing up for a wedding; it’s a simple way to show respect for the couple and the institution and the venue. It’s also a good excuse to wear that lovely frock that doesn’t work for your everyday life. And of course, weddings are a great option to have your picture taken, and why not look your best when the photographer comes your way?

The twist here, of course, is the combination of cocktail attire and a function that starts before the cocktail hour. The real key here is not just when the actual wedding is, but what the reception schedule looks like. If the event is the wedding and cocktails only, then Arwen can go more casual; if cocktails will be followed by dinner (and maybe dancing!) then a dressier look is more appropriate. Either way, it pays to get dressed up.

Let’s consider the options.


Option number one is a simple silk or linen dress in a summery cut and color. A pretty sundress or sheath or strapless frock would be lovely; dress it up with embellished sandals and bright jewelry. Banana Republic linen/cotton strapless dress, currently $97.99.


Option number two is a dressier frock in a bright color. To keep the look afternoon-appropriate, keep accessories to a minimum. I like this dress, also from Banana Republic, because the embellishment means you can almost skip jewelry all together. Pair with strappy heels and a sleek clutch; keep hair and makeup simple. BR Monogram silk corsage dress, currently $110.


Option number three is the classic little black dress, of course. But since this is a daytime event, in the summer, look for a fabric and style that is seasonally appropriate. This dress works because the chiffon ruching is light and summery, and the cream panel across the back breaks up the black. Keep accessories minimal — this dress would be great with an armful of bright bracelets, for example, or a long necklace. Wear with peep toes or strappy high heeled sandals.

Your turn: What would you wear to an afternoon cocktail wedding?

Subscribe to blog via RSS
Share this on:

2 comments so far...

  • I have a silk flouncy sundressy thing in a floral print from Anthropologie (I know, you’re shocked) that I have worn to two afternoon weddings. Both were beach weddings with cocktails after, I added jeweled sandals and a flower in my hair and voila-done. In addition to Options 1 and 2, I’d look at Anthropologie since they have tons of fun party dresses, or perhaps Shabby Apple.

    elz  |  July 29th, 2011 at 1:01 pm

  • I will actually be attending an afternoon wedding on August 12th! I have picked out an adorable (I think!) dress with a bright floral arrangement/design. I’m also wearing a short sleeve shrug in a bold violet color as I typically skip sleeveless frocks. Still debating shoes, but I’m thrilled about the dress! Snagged it at Nordstrom’s recent sale! I’ve attached a link to it here!

    Tricia Skyles  |  August 4th, 2011 at 10:49 pm