Are Maxi Dresses Appropriate For An Afternoon Wedding? (2023)


May 22, 2017

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Dear Deborah,

I’m going to a summer afternoon wedding, and I’d like to wear a maxi dress. Is that o.k. and what kind should I choose for a wedding? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Melissa

Are Maxi Dresses Appropriate For An Afternoon Wedding? (1)

Hi Melissa,

A maxi dress is a beautiful choice for an afternoon wedding, but here’s the catch. You have to be careful you don’t pick a maxi that is 1) too casual or 2) too sexy for the affair.

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Like this white striped maxi (right), Maxi dresses are more suited to lounging by the pool and would look totally out of sync at a wedding. The tank top style, the casual cotton fabric, and the sporty stripes make this maxi far too relaxed for such an important celebration. The celebration calls for more elegant maxi dresses for weddings, made from flowy fabric silk, jersey, or chiffon.

Are Maxi Dresses Appropriate For An Afternoon Wedding? (2)

Choose a Classy Maxi Dress

Maxi dresses that are too sexy or edgy don’t work either. Steer clear of maxis with plunging necklines, thigh-high slits, or peek-a-boo cutouts. These look like you are desperate for attention and make it look like you are trying to upstage the bride.


Animal prints like leopard or python look tacky at a romantic wedding ceremony. Save an edgy maxi for your next cocktail party. A bit of beading on this dress is fine, but too much shine or sequins are overkill, especially for an afternoon wedding.

Are Maxi Dresses Appropriate For An Afternoon Wedding? (3)

If you are wearing a sleeveless or bare or one-shoulder detail, think about bringing a wrap to the church. More formal places of worship expect you to cover your shoulders/arms during the service out of respect.


Best Women’s Maxi Dresses for Weddings in the Afternoon?

  • Floral Maxi Dresses for weddings are always an excellent and appropriate choice this time of year. They are feminine and fitting for a wedding.
  • Modern Prints – a Modern graphic print can look lovely, especially in bright colors.
  • Caftans can also work if you are a bigger gal who wants to cover up—just no Hawaiian muumuus.
  • Dresses that Flow and Move – You will be walking and swishing around on the dance floor. Get something feminine.
  • Black and White– When in doubt Black and White is always a classy choice. Keep the White to a Minimum.

Are Maxi Dresses Appropriate For An Afternoon Wedding? (4)

Petite? Keep this in Mind when Choosing a Maxi Dress

Since you are only 5’3″, Melissa suggests you avoid maxis with little or no shape because they will drown you. Petite women need to choose Petite maxi dresses for more proportionate weddings. Look for styles that sit close to the body and have a defined waist. The defined waist can even be higher, such as an empire waist.

Are Maxi Dresses Appropriate For An Afternoon Wedding? (5)

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What Type of Maxi Dress to Wear to a Beach Wedding?

If you are attending a beach wedding or an outdoor wedding, you have a little more leeway, and you can go slightly more casual with your maxi and more colorful. Try corals, turquoise, sky blues, and soft shell pinks. You may want to wear pretty sandals and not heels by the beach.

Are you looking for long sleeve maxi dresses for weddings? Check these out!

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Are Maxi Dresses Appropriate For An Afternoon Wedding? ›

These dresses can be accessorized casually or formally to suit everything from outdoor daytime weddings to evening formal events. A pretty maxi dress can go anywhere if the fabric and accessories are right.

Can I wear a long dress to an afternoon wedding? ›

Absolutely! Wearing a maxi dress to a wedding is a great choice year-round. Be comfortable and fashionable when you spare the gown and wear a maxi-length dress to a wedding. Also known as a tea-length or a full-length dress, a maxi dress is long with a hemline that typically rests at or just below your ankles.

What is the appropriate dress for an afternoon wedding? ›

If the event is not for a beach wedding, but some hours after lunchtime, the typical dress-code of an afternoon wedding is semi-formal. Consequently, it calls for cocktail dresses, LBDs or modest party dresses. If the invitation asks for formal attire, go for a cocktail dress or a dressy LBD.

Is it okay to wear a maxi dress to a semi-formal wedding? ›

A semi-formal wedding typically isn't the place to wear your most sparkly, dramatic floor-length gown, but that doesn't mean you can't wear any long dresses. Consider wearing a light, minimalistic maxi dress featuring a solid hue or a subtle pattern to exude elegant energy without being too fancy for the occasion.

Where is it appropriate to wear a maxi dress? ›

Maxi dresses have grown in popularity for formal events but also your more casual events such as cocktails with the girls, bottomless brunches, party nights and date nights. If you're looking to be a trendsetter, you can't go wrong with a maxi dress.

What does a woman wear to a 4pm wedding? ›

In general, daytime weddings are more casual, so lighter fabrics, festive colors, and less-formal attire is the rule. What is this? For women, a nice daytime dress, skirt, top, or jumpsuit are good choices. For men, a well-tailored suit in a mid-to-dark neutral color like gray, blue, or charcoal is appropriate.

What do you wear to a late afternoon spring wedding? ›

The rule of lighter fabrics and colors for daytime or afternoon weddings still applies, while heavier, darker formal fabrics are good for spring weddings after 5 pm. If you prefer to shop by color, check out our dresses organized by color!

What is an afternoon wedding like? ›

Afternoon weddings are generally less expensive because people expect less food and drink during the day. Lunch portions are often lighter and smaller, and guests may consume less alcohol than they would at an evening reception. 2. More free time after the wedding.

Can an afternoon wedding be formal? ›

Can It Still Be a Formal Celebration? Yes, your daytime wedding can be as casual or as formal as you want. Of course, formal during the day isn't quite the same as white tie at night, so don't expect guests in ball gowns.

What do you wear to an afternoon wedding in June? ›

Casual Summer Wedding Attire

Pretty, flowy dresses paired with sandals works for women. An open-collared shirt, chinos and boat shoes are great for men. Keep in mind that if you're not sure how casual is "casual" then it's always better to be overdressed than underdressed (just don't show up in a gown or a tuxedo).

What shoes to wear with a maxi dress to a wedding? ›

The two best shoe options with a wedding guest maxi dress are pumps and strappy heels! Nude heels are great for Spring and Summer weddings and darker colors are the best for Fall and Winter weddings. These are my go-to strappy sandals!

Is maxi dress casual or formal? ›

Maxi Dress Style for Casual Comfort

A maxi dress is perfect for that casual style. Light, neutral colors and simplistic designs are key elements of casual wear, although bright prints have their fair share of style moments, too.

Is a maxi dress dressy casual? ›

You can wear things that are a little more flowy, and even bold prints are acceptable. "That really cute sundress or maxi dress is a great example of dressy casual,” Swann says.

Can you wear maxi dress over 50? ›

Maxi dresses are an excellent fashion piece that women of all ages can enjoy. With the right tips and styles, women over 50 can rock maxi dresses and feel comfortable, fabulous, and confident while flaunting their style, personality, and curves. Remember, there is no defined age to wear maxi dresses.

What do you wear over a maxi dress to a wedding? ›

  • A Cashmere Wrap. Need another beautiful selection for the colder months? ...
  • A Blazer. For more casual dress codes, from semi-formal to cocktail, a blazer will round off your attire in a fun and trendy way. ...
  • A Leather Jacket. ...
  • A Pashmina. ...
  • A Duster Jacket. ...
  • A Wool Coat. ...
  • A Cardigan. ...
  • A Trench Coat.
Jun 13, 2023

Is a 4pm wedding considered afternoon or evening? ›

12:01 p.m. – 5:59 p.m. is afternoon. 6:00 p.m.- 11:59 p.m. is evening.

What is proper dress for a 5 o clock wedding? ›

No Specified Attire

The time of a wedding, for instance, can be hugely helpful in determining what to wear. A morning wedding typically calls for casual dress, while a ceremony after 5 p.m. generally calls for formal attire. The location can also help decode the dress code.

Can you wear a black dress to an afternoon wedding? ›

As a general rule, "wearing black is totally acceptable, as the hue is very versatile," Sabatino affirms. However, you should avoid wearing white unless you are told otherwise. That shade, she says, is reserved exclusively for the bride.

What do you wear to an afternoon wedding in April? ›

Expect to channel the season through bright colors, airy materials, and playful, nature-inspired prints. Playing around with florals, frills, and other romantic features is the perfect way to make the most of this unique season. In contrast to winter wedding guest attire, spring often calls for a less formal aesthetic.

What do you wear to an afternoon wedding in the fall? ›

"A formal fall wedding requires a man to wear a tuxedo and a woman to wear a formal gown. Women have wiggle room because a short, traditional cocktail dress can also work, or even a dressy pantsuit," she explains. Try to stick with fabrics like silk and tulle for an elegant look.

What does formal attire mean for an afternoon wedding? ›

What Is Formal Attire for a Wedding? "Formal wedding attire sits between cocktail and black tie on the wedding dress code scale. It's slightly more elevated than cocktail attire and a touch less dressy than a black-tie nuptial," says Alex Rivera, a stylist at Stitch Fix, a personal styling service.

How much do you give for an afternoon wedding? ›


She offers these guidelines to wedding-goers wherever they might be: A distant relative or co-worker should give $75-$100; a friend or relative, $100-$125; a closer relative, up to $150. If you are wealthy, are you expected to inflate the gift? No, Cooper says.

How long do afternoon weddings last? ›

As a rule of thumb, wedding ceremonies typically last 30 minutes to an hour—although short and sweet wedding programs are okay, too—and most wedding receptions typically last four to five hours.

What time is an afternoon wedding? ›

The most popular times to get married are in the late morning from 11 am and 1 pm or in the afternoon between 2 pm and 4 pm. Both these options have their reasons for why they work well.

Is it better to have a morning or afternoon wedding? ›

Afternoon weddings tend to be well-timed well for older family members and your ring bearer or flower girl who may tire easily at night. Afternoon weddings also tend to open up options at many venues where evenings book up quickly, and you may be looking to schedule both the ceremony and reception back-to-back.

What is too informal for a wedding? ›

Your Everyday Attire

It doesn't matter if the dress code requests "casual" attire, jeans, T-shirts, shorts, flip-flops, and sneakers are never appropriate to wear as a wedding guest. Show respect for the bride and groom by dressing formally.

Can I wear pants to an afternoon wedding? ›

Can you wear pants to a wedding? Yes, you absolutely can. If you don't like dresses or your legs are not your best feature, pants are totally acceptable, so long as you keep the time of day and venue in mind.

What colors to wear to a daytime wedding? ›

Day-wise colours to wear on weekdays are White for Mondays, for Tuesday – shades of red, for Wednesdays – green, Thursdays can go with yellow, and Fridays can go with Pink shades.

What to wear to a 6 00 pm wedding? ›

Black-Tie Attire

"Traditionally, black-tie weddings happen after 5:30 or 6:00 p.m.," explains Virginia-based wedding style expert Monte Durham. "Black-tie means just that: Expect to see tuxedos with black bow ties, a simple long black-tie or even a long string tie.

What color dress is for June wedding guest? ›

We think floral prints, pink, pale green, light blue, purple, and yellow are some of the hottest colors this season. We also love the trend of tiered ruffled dresses, midi dresses, and floral printed maxi dresses for the summer 2023 wedding season.

Should you wear heels or flats with a maxi dress? ›

If the wedding is formal, pair your maxi dress with a sleek minimal heel (perfect footwear), or a shiny lace-up heel to dress it up. If the wedding you're going to is semi-formal, try pairing your maxi with some dressier flats with some embellishments on them.

Should you wear heels with a maxi dress? ›

Not all heels are going to pair well with every maxi dress so making the right match is important. “Wedges are a comfortable option for giving you a lift while still staying true to the casual essence of the maxi,” says Miller. “For a more formal take, wear a peep-toe pump or strappy heeled sandal.

Can you wear a chiffon maxi dress to a wedding? ›

A maxi dress in a gorgeous chiffon fabric is a perfect choice for an evening summer wedding. Evening weddings tend to be a bit elevated in dress even if not black tie so it is a great opportunity to wear something long. It would work for a black tie wedding as well.

Do maxi dresses suit everyone? ›

Maxi dresses are the perfect choice for any woman who wants to look chic and trendy. They're a great style of dress for women of any shape or size, and certainly should not be shied away from if you have a petite frame or if you have a body shape that's short and curvy.

Will maxi dresses always be in style? ›

Maxi dresses return to our wardrobes every year to mark the change to the warmer seasons. And like every year, new ways to wear them appear. Find out how to wear them this 2023 for your outdoor plans and endless nights out.

Is maxi dress a cocktail dress? ›

From the color and fabric of the dress, to the hairstyle and accessories you pair with it, a maxi dress can easily pass as proper cocktail attire, if styled correctly.

Can a maxi dress be smart casual? ›

The easiest outfit to turn into a smart casual look without spending heaps of cash is a maxi dress. You may already have a few, and with the right chunky sandal and some accessories, you'll easily fit into any smart casual dress code.

What should a female guest wear to a wedding? ›

Women can wear below-the-knee dresses, slip dresses, a dressy skirt and top, or an elegant pantsuit (styled with heels, nice wedges, or formal flats). As for men, opt for a dress shirt and slacks, with the option to wear a tie.

Can you wear a maxi dress at 60? ›

Maxi dresses can be very flattering when you are over 60, because it certainly makes sure everything you want to cover is safely covered. Besides, maxi length is always elegant, especially suitable for fancier occasions where you want to look more dressed up.

What is the best length of dress for over 50? ›

Keep your skirt and dress lengths to the knee or slightly above. Flowy dresses look best if they are mid-calf length. Steer clear of cropped pants — they were an unflattering fashion fad for way too long. Don't show too much skin: too-short skirts and tops that are too low don't flatter anyone.

What length dress should a woman over 50 wear? ›

For a woman in her 50s, it's best to opt for a dress or skirt that has a length above the knee or one slightly above. Maxi dresses are a great choice, as well as designs that drape around you. Don't wear ones that are too short or show too much skin, as this can create an unflattering look.

What coat or jacket to wear with maxi dress? ›

Blazer: Transition your maxi dress from beach to boardroom by pairing it with a blazer. This structured shape creates a streamlined look and paired with heels keeps the rest of your look professional.

Can you wear a cotton maxi dress to a wedding? ›

Formal or semi-formal weddings call for dramatic, luxurious fabrics, such as silk or silk-like fabrics. Options such as cotton, rayon jersey or viscose can be more appropriate for a casual affair.

Can you wear a long dress to an outdoor wedding? ›

In general, the formality and location of the wedding should help guide your attire. For example, if you're attending a black tie outdoor wedding, a tuxedo or floor-length gown are appropriate choices. Conversely, if you're attending a casual beach wedding, a sundress or lightweight suit are safe bets.

What length dress is best for a wedding guest? ›

Women wedding guests should wear full-length dresses, be it a ballgown, a sheath or an A-line dress. High heels are strongly recommended. Feel free to accessorize with opulent jewelry and even elbow-length white silk gloves.

Can you wear a long floral dress to a formal wedding? ›

Can I wear a floral pattern to a wedding? “Absolutely! Floral dresses are an excellent choice for a wedding no matter the season or formality,” says Varney. “There are plenty of different styles that can make the perfect fit.”

Do evening dresses have to be long? ›

Typically formal dresses are floor length, though midi or knee-length options can work for certain occasions. Feel free to choose the neckline of your choice (but depending on the occasion, you may want to avoid ultra-plunging options).

Can you wear a long dress to a summer wedding? ›

For summer weddings with a formal dress code, guests should consider wearing mid-length to floor-length gowns in light and breathable fabrics.

Should you wear a short dress or a long dress to a wedding? ›

Women should wear a floor-length gown that does not reveal the ankles, in sumptuous fabrics like silk and organza. If the wedding seems a bit less formal, however, a sophisticated cocktail dress might be acceptable, but be sure to consult with the bride first.

Can I wear a floor-length dress to a wedding? ›

If you're confused about what's appropriate when it comes to formal wedding attire, you can never be too overdressed. When in doubt, a dark, well-tailored suit or a floor-length dress are safe choices.

What do you wear to a 4pm wedding in October? ›

To a Formal or Black Tie Fall Wedding

"A formal fall wedding requires a man to wear a tuxedo and a woman to wear a formal gown. Women have wiggle room because a short, traditional cocktail dress can also work, or even a dressy pantsuit," she explains. Try to stick with fabrics like silk and tulle for an elegant look.

What do you wear to a 6pm wedding? ›

If the wedding is at 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m., you typically want to wear cocktail (semi-formal) attire. Again, you want to consider the style of the couple getting married, as well as the venue, but unless otherwise noted, this time period calls for a cocktail dress, jumpsuit or pantsuit.

Is it OK to wear black to a wedding? ›

Yes, it can absolutely be appropriate to wear black to a wedding, and it isn't typically considered disrespectful (although there are exceptions). While black attire was traditionally associated with mourning and funerals, times are changing — and so are fashion rules!

Is it OK to wear a long dress to a day wedding? ›

For a more formal wedding, it is typically expected that female guests wear a long dress. But instead of breaking out the gown you wore to prom, try wearing a more appropriate evening gown. If the wedding is during the day, a pretty maxi dress should do the trick.

Can I wear a long flowy dress to a wedding? ›

Wearing a maxi dress can be the best choice if you're not quite sure of the dress code or formality for the wedding. These long dresses are chameleons and can look just as good at laid-back outdoor weddings and destination weddings, as they do with a good dose of sparkly jewelry for semi-formal and formal events.

How long is too long for a wedding dress? ›

In fact, most tailors would suggest that the front of your wedding dress should actually be about one inch from the floor and reach only to the top point of your shoes. The back of the dress should touch the floor.

When your maxi dress is too long? ›

Belts & Blousing Trick. With most maxi dresses that are too long, you can put a belt around your waist and pull the top fabric up to blouse it over the belt a bit thereby pulling up the hem at the bottom.

What is the difference between a cocktail dress and a maxi dress? ›

A Maxi dress is an ankle-length version of the long skirt, which is more casual for informal occasions. A cocktail dress is a loose, straight dress with a hemline just above the knee, which is more of a formal and semi-formal occasion dress.

How long can a maxi dress be? ›

Maxi dresses are dresses that extend past your ankle. It is often confused with floor length dresses. However, floor length dresses tend to be more for formal dresses.


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