wedding guest outfit for mum and son

Occasionwear Q&A | What to wear to a wedding (or other special event)

(Disclosure: This post on what to wear to a wedding is sponsored by

This summer, after a depressingly long “special occasion” drought, Terry and I have no less than three weddings to attend. Three.

One of them actually happened last week, in fact: here’s what I wore:

wedding guest outfit

And here is Max, shortly before he bit into one of the heart-shaped soap bars we were all given as wedding favours, in the mistaken belief that it was some kind of cookie:

wedding guest outfit for a four year old

Here he is afterwards:

WHOOPSNow, soap-related incidents aside, I can’t tell you how excited I am about this whole “professional wedding guest” situation we suddenly find ourselves in. (That should be a legit career choice, by the way, don’t you think? I’d sign up in an instant…) I love weddings – not just for the opportunity to drink champagne all day and dance all night while surrounded by the people you love, but also for the opportunity weddings provide to get dressed up to the nines. And, let’s face it, we’ve had all too few of those excuses over the last couple of years, haven’t we?

When my sponsors at Very got in touch, then, and asked if I’d be interested in writing a post about occasionwear, I immediately posted a question sticker over on Instagram, asking my followers there for their biggest occasion-wear questions and dilemmas. And here they are, handily illustrated by some special-occasion worthy outfits courtesy of…

What to Wear to a Wedding

Can you wear black to a wedding?Black dress at a wedding – go or no go?

You’ll get a lot of different answers to this one depending on who you talk to, but I’m firmly in the “go” camp here. The main reason black was traditionally frowned on for weddings is simply that it’s a colour which is usually associated with mourning, but, of course, there are plenty of ways to wear black without looking like you’re going to a funeral, so I think that as long as your outfit doesn’t look sombre, then it’s all good. I mean, black may be the colour of mourning, but it’s also the colour of many a good cocktail dress, and I think this one, for instance, would work pretty well for most occasions, weddings included:

can you wear black to a wedding?

I obviously wouldn’t wear this dress with black tights and matching blazer to a wedding, obviously (Or not unless I really hated the couple in question and wanted to cast a Veil O’Doom over their wedding, which I hardly ever do any more), but, with pale pink accessories (My bag is by Katie Loxton, and is just gorgeous…), including some super-dramatic headgear, I’d be surprised if anyone thought I was going to a funeral in it.

(As a quick aside, though, this will more or less be the dress code for my funeral; just giving you fair warning there…)

Have hats fallen out of favour?

Will a fascinator make me look like I’m trying too hard to look grown up?

OK, I’m going to take the second of these two questions first, and I’m going to answer it with this photo:

are fascinators still fashionable for weddings

I mean, I’m basically wearing a giant marshmallow on my head. Do I look like a grown-up to you?

I mean, seriously?

black dress for a wedding

So, I don’t think fascinators will necessarily look too grown-up, in other words – although, of course, it depends very much on the style you choose. This one, for instance, is what I think of as more “modern” fascinator, in that it’s more like an over-sized headband than a hat, and these more dramatic styles can be a lot of fun, and not too formal.

To answer the first question, however, in terms of trends, I do think hats in general are less ubiquitous as events like weddings than they used to me, and that’s a huge shame, because I love a good hat. With that said, occasion-wear trends tend to move much more slowly than general fashion trends, and, of course, ALL trends can safely be ignored, if you’re not feeling them. So if you want to wear a hat, I say go for it.

If you do want to go for something more contemporary, though, something like a headband or hair clip can also work really well, although, of course, there’s nothing to at all to stop you going bare-headed if that’s your preference.

What to wear over your dress when it gets chilly in the evening?

pink Chi Chi London dress

This is by far my own biggest occasion-wear dilemma, and, in Scotland, it’s not just the evenings you have to worry about: it can be ALL the time – even in summer. I really feel the cold, so while they may not be particularly fashionable, I’m a big fan of the sparkly shrug, like the one I’m wearing above. I prefer something like this over the usual pashmina/shawl/wrap people tend to recommend, because they keep my arms warm without slipping off constantly, or having to be readjusted, and because they’re designed to fit close to the body, they don’t interfere with the line of your outfit too much, either:

wedding guest outfit ideaI hate heels but feel too informal/out of place in flats, do you have any thoughts?

What’s your advice for formal shoes that don’t kill your feet after a full day at a wedding?

green polka dot wrap dress

(Dress: AX Paris c/o Very)

Good question.

I’m wearing heels with all of these outfits purely because that’s my preference. Not only do heels help balance out my long torso/short legs situation, I’m so used to them now that I don’t have any trouble walking/dancing in them.

But that’s just me.

The good news for the heel-haters out there is that high heels are very much out of fashion at the moment. I’m going to keep on wearing them for things like weddings and other special events, for the reasons given above, but if you hate them, or just can’t wear them, you most definitely don’t have to, and you won’t look remotely out of place. At the wedding we attended last week, for instance, a lot of the guests (including the bride) changed into trainers in the evening so they could dance in comfort, and no one batted an eyelid.

There’s been a big move towards “comfort first” dressing over the last couple of years – motivated largely by the lockdown – and while I still think that if you’re attending someone’s wedding it’s good manners to look like you’ve at least made a bit of an effort with your appearance, that definitely doesn’t have to be at the cost of your comfort or health.

So, what to wear, if not heels?

Well, sparkly flats are the usual recommendation here. As much I love them, though, totally flat shoes don’t offer much in the way of arch support, so I’d go for a low wedge instead. I have a pair of gold glitter wedges with a heel that’s only about an inch high; I bought them years ago, and they’re more than paid for themselves in terms of cost-per-wear, because they come out any time I want to wear something a bit “dressy”, but still be able to do a lot of walking.

Katie Loxton handbagpink is always a good idesWhy is petite length so hard to find? Are there any go to shops you’ve found for petite occasion-wear?

The struggle is real, my friend, the struggle is real…

Actually, my favourite brand for petite occassion-wear is also my favourite brand for occasion-wear in general, and it’s Chi Chi London, who made the pink floral dress I’m wearing in this post, plus the one at the top of the page, and quite a few other dresses I’ve worn over the years. The dress I’m wearing here is their regular length (This particular style seems to run quite short; this one is a couple of inches shorter than the other Chi Chi London dresses I own), but tons of their styles are also available in both petite and tall, so they’re well worth checking out.

No, you don't need to get a tan for your weddingI am getting married and my friends are pressuring me to get a tan. Not necessary, right?

Nonononono, what insanity is this?!

So, back when I was getting married, I remember getting a lot of comments from people saying what a shame it was that I wouldn’t be able to wear a “traditional” white wedding dress, on account of my being so pale. You don’t need me to tell you this is absolute nonsense, do you?

Now, as it happens, white, ivory and cream are actually some of my favourite colours to wear. I think they can be really striking with pale skin, and I find that while dark colours can easily drain me, and make me look ill, lighter ones will almost light up my skin and give me a bit of a glow. In the end, I wore an ivory dress to my own wedding – and, no, I didn’t get a tan, fake or otherwise.

Obviously it’s a case of “each to their own” with this – I used fake tan on holiday this year, so I’m by no means saying you shouldn’t do that if you want to. The key words here are “if YOU want to“, though. If you feel better with a tan, go for it, but if it’s simply a case of adhering to society’s artificial beauty standards then I hope you’ll feel really comfortable about sticking two fingers up at that and being your pale, beautiful self instead.

(See also: No, I won’t get a tan, no matter how much you think I need one and How to be comfortable in your own (pale) skin for more of my thoughts on this one…)


There were quite a few more questions on this one which I didn’t get around to answering, but fear not, I still have lots to say on this subject, so I’ll try to get another post up soon!]

[Top image by Kelly Jean on Unsplash ]

P.S. I write a weekly diary which goes out every Friday to my subscribers. Sign up below to get on the list...

books by Amber Eve
  • dublinerInDeutschland


    You and Max look great in the first photo! I’m a big fan of wedge heels because they are a lot easier to walk and dance in

    June 28, 2022
  • B


    These photos are awesome! And I love the dresses. And Max, I would have thought that was a cookie too. I think wedding attire also depends on country you are in. In Canada, if you wore a fascinator or a hat to a wedding, you would be the only one. I would love to go to the UK for a wedding just so I could wear one. I also think shoes with a higher block heel can be comfortable, as they offer a little more stability than a stiletto. Great post, I am living vicariously as we have NO weddings to go to this summer.

    June 28, 2022
  • Myra Boyle


    I only have one question- why is there no photo of Terry’s wedding attire. You and Max look fantastic, so I think we should see Terry as well. You could call it What every well groomed man should wear to a wedding.

    June 28, 2022
  • Lucy


    I love this occasion wear-themed Q&A! Fascinators are hit and miss for me, it suits a lot of people, but for me, it’s a no! x

    Lucy |

    June 28, 2022
  • Nicky


    Please can you give a link for shrugs like you are wearing. Thank you.

    June 28, 2022