Deciding what to wear to a wedding is hard enough without the added stress of packing for the destination aspect of it. To help you out, we’ve called on Jess Levin, the wedding expert behind Carats & Cake to break down a range of dress codes, as well as how to make them work for a summer wedding. Keep reading to learn what to wear for everything from a white tie ceremony to a casual event and, of course, to shop our outfit suggestions for each!
White tie means it’s time to break out the ball gown. White tie is definitely the most formal (and conservative) dress code out there and calls for more than just your "maxi dress." Anything above the knee, even if it's couture, isn't really appropriate, no matter how you look at it.
What to pack: A floor-length gown with some extra punch, be it a train or an embellishment, killer strappy heels, and a pair of diamond studs. Word to the wise: for best travel results, pack your gown in a garment bag and take it on the plane as your carry-on. This is not the time to stuff something in your checked bag.
This gown is made in the perfect print and fabric for summer.
Matthew Williamson Printed Silk-Chiffon Gown ($2150)
Cubic zirconia studs are an easy (and affordable) way to add a touch of elegance to any ensemble.
Kenneth Jay Lane Rhodium-Plated Cubic Zirconia Earrings ($45)
These strappy shoes are a game-changer for any outfit.
Schutz Naty Heels ($180) in Deep Ocean
Black tie strongly suggests a floor-length dress as well, but because it's summer, you can get away with lighter fabrics.
What to pack: A bright colored long dress in airy silk chiffon, statement earrings, and a small metallic box clutch.
This lightweight slip dress will give you the floor-length look without weighing you down in the slightest.
Nili Lotan Maxi Cami Dress ($495) in Sapphire Blue
These statement earrings are glam enough for a wedding, but you’ll still be able to wear them long after, even to casual events.
Chan Luu Beaded Earrings ($170)
This metallic box clutch serves as your bag AND rings for the evening.
From St. Xavier Zane Clutch ($85)
Black tie optional is code for "anything goes." Well, sort of. Technically you can wear a long dress if you want, but a fancy, shorter frock will work too.
What to pack: A short dress that is more than just your basic cocktail dress, statement heels, and jewelry to “glam it up.”
This mini dress is the perfect color for a summer wedding.
Victoria Victoria Beckham Short Dress ($1090)
Never underestimate the power of a simple cuff!
Jules Smith Big Bang Cuff Bracelet ($62)
Statement shoes make all the difference.
Kurt Geiger London Bond Snake Print Pumps ($500)
Beach formal really means "no sundresses please"— and sand-friendly footwear is going to be key.
What to pack: A luxe pair of flat sandals and a graphic print maxi dress. For jewelry, try a great arm cuff.
Possibly the chicest maxi dress to ever exist.
Mother of Pearl Aspen Printed Silk Crepe de Chine Maxi Dress ($950)
An arm cuff adds a little edge to any outfit.
Mikal Winn Crystal and Mesh Sprial Upper Arm Cuff ($168) in Crystal Clear
We love how these sandals manage to be equally casual and dressy.
Zara Jeweled Sandals ($50)
NCP/Star Max/GC Images
Possibly the most comfort-centric of dress codes, casual means you can wear your nicer everyday summer clothes, but with an extra touch. This means silk sundresses, matching sets, and even kaftans. Just try to stay away from the most informal fabrics—like jersey—it is a wedding, after all.
What to pack: sundress or crop top and flowy skirt to be paired with sandals and some bangles and you are off.
Aside from looking great, a two-piece set also gives you the most bang for your buck.
Reformation Azalea Two Piece ($228) in Oahu
A pop of color is always encouraged.
Marc by Marc Jacobs Read My Palmz Marquis Palm Bangle ($68) in Infared Multi & Oro
These minimalist black sandals are resort-ready.
Tory Burch Trudy Sandals ($275)
Unless the bride and groom provide "inspiration" for their guests (via a pinterest board, for example) this is just unkind, as people will truly have no idea what to wear. If you find yourself in this less than ideal situation, be sure to talk to your hosts, or pack some fail-safe pieces.
What to pack: A fancy jumpsuit, heels, and a conversation-starting clutch.
This versatile jumpsuit can be easily dressed up or down, depending on your accessories.
Diane Von Furstenberg Rawena Crepe de Chine Jumpsuit ($375)
If this isn’t a conversation-starter than what is?
Olympia Le-Tan Appolonia’a Valentine Embroidered Clutch ($2125)