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what to wear to a winter wedding

What to Wear to a Winter Wedding: The CHO Wedding Guest Guide

Is there a winter wedding in your diary? What are you planning to wear? Figuring out what to wear to a winter wedding is no easy task, especially for the ladies. It’s a decision that requires several considerations, the main ones being colour schemes and prints, and those all-important practicalities.

For example, that bright, colourful floral dress you wore to your friend’s summer wedding would look quite out of place whether it was practical for the weather or not, while a sleeveless dress without any additional layers is unlikely to do you any favours once those biting winter winds take hold.

Dressing for a winter wedding is all about balance. Here’s our foolproof guide on what to wear to a winter wedding, including a selection of the best designer winter wedding guest dresses and outfits available right now.  

Tip 1: Go for Sleeves

It may sound obvious but sleeved dresses really do make all the difference to your own comfort at winter weddings. Winter church weddings and high-ceilinged venues can be particularly draughty, at which point that sleeveless, strappy dress will begin to feel like a big, albeit pretty, mistake. Avoid the winter wedding shivers and opt for a dress with sleeves for the upcoming nuptials; even cap sleeves and three quarter sleeves will make a difference. This way you will be able to enjoy the ceremony without needing to subtly shrug your coat back on during the I-Do’s. This season’s collections are packed with long-sleeved winter wedding guest dresses so you won’t struggle to find plenty of options.

what to wear to a winter wedding sleeve dresses

French Connection Komo Drape DressSeasalt Silvershell TunicMaison Scotch Printed Sheer Dress

These short, mid and long sleeved styles from French Connection, Seasalt and Maison Scotch make ideal options for winter wedding guest dresses. They’ll help keep the winter chill off your arms, while still making an elegant style statement that will transition effortlessly from the daytime through to the evening reception party.

Tip 2: Knits are your Friends

If the wedding you’re going to is set for a date in the very depths of winter then you should absolutely consider choosing a knitted dress for your outfit. Cosy, soft and oh-so-on-trend, a knitted dress is the ultimate winter wedding guest outfit option that combines style and practicality. The thicker fabric will keep you much warmer than the flimsy linens and crepes of the summer styles, while the textural appearance of knits adds an extra wintry style element that will suit the season perfectly.

what to wear to a winter wedding knitted dress

Boss Orange Illora Knitted Dress

We absolutely love this knitted dress from Boss Orange, which we think works perfectly as a winter wedding guest dress option. The fit and flare style with pleated skirt makes it more than elegant enough for the daytime ceremony, while the high-shine gold yarns and jacquard top section allows you to effortlessly transition into the evening reception party. What’s more, it has sleeves! That’s another winter box ticked …

Tip 3: Layer it up

If you’re really not a fan of a sleeved dress, don’t worry. If you master the art of layering you can make the sleeveless dress work perfectly as a winter wedding outfit. Cardigans, wraps, scarves, blazers and capes can be incorporated seamlessly into your outfit to help keep your arms and shoulders protected from winter’s chill while you need it. And the best part about layering is that you can take away as well as add, meaning you can lose the extra layers if you get a bit warm while dancing the night away at the reception.

Blazers are great for making a slightly more casual dress appear smart enough for the wedding ceremony itself, leaving you free to be a little more casual for the reception later on if you wish. Wraps and capes, on the other hand, act almost like extensions of your dress if you match up the colours well enough, meaning you can transform a sleeveless dress into something a little more substantial for those brief spells you’ll be spending outside in the elements.

what to wear to a winter wedding layers

French Connection Salerno Lace Back Cardi, Joules Mollie Jersey Blazer, Joules Wensley Scarf

Can’t find a matching blazer, wrap or cape? Don’t forget that a silk scarf can be used for more than just keeping your neck warm. Most silk scarves are folded from large pieces of fabric, so simply open one out and drape over your shoulders and tuck under your arms for an elegant look that keeps the chill off your upper arms.

Tip 4: Jumpsuits are Allowed

One of the great things about modern weddings is the ever more relaxed dress codes. A whole host of new outfit options have been opened up, taking away the ‘dresses only’ restriction and replacing it with choices galore. Jumpsuits, playsuits and even trouser suits are all acceptable wedding guest outfits for ladies, and this is especially convenient when it comes to deciding what to wear to a winter wedding.

A jumpsuit is the perfect winter wedding guest outfit option, covering the legs to keep away those pesky, skirt-ruffling winter draughts. Teamed up with heeled shoes, elegant jewellery and contrasting accessories, a jumpsuit will look just as sophisticated and feminine as a dress-based outfit, and you’ll be much warmer besides.

what to wear to a winter wedding jumpsuit

Great Plains Liz Lace Belted Jumpsuit

This season we’re loving this sleek belted jumpsuit by Great Plains. The long leg will keep you warm and protected from the chill, while the flattering waist and elegant V-neck provides a feminine silhouette. But the star of this piece is most certainly that lace detailing around the neck, shoulders and arms, elevating the outfit into a more than wedding-worthy ensemble. And if you’re worried about the fact that it’s black, there’s no need. We’ll get to that in a moment …

Tip 5: Consider the Colour Scheme

The winter season brings with it a whole new colour scheme, setting itself well apart from the traditional brights and florals of the summer. Of course, there’s no hard and fast rule to say you can’t wear brights and florals for a winter wedding, but why would you want to when there are so many beautiful winter shades to explore?

what to wear to a winter wedding winter colour scheme

Winter is all about deep, dusky, rich colour schemes that exude warmth and sophistication. Try opting for earthy colours like dark forest greens and rich browns, or go slightly bolder with deep claret and burgundy shades. Frosted pastels, winter teals and starry night navy blues are also great choices for winter colour schemes, bringing depth and elegance to any outfit. And there’s one more winter colour you can explore, though many people tend to avoid it for weddings; black.

Yes, we said it. Black. Contrary to popular belief, you officially CAN wear black to a wedding. The old-fashioned rules have long since been thrown away, and in their place stands an almost ‘anything goes’ policy. Just take a look at Cara Delevingne if you’re feeling doubtful; she turned up at the Royal Wedding in a black suit, and she carried it perfectly.

Of course, you need to strike a balance. You don’t want to look like you’re dressed for a funeral, after all. So try brightening it up with contrasting, colourful shoes, layers and accessories if you’re not too sure. And you should probably double check with the bride and groom just in case they have any special colour scheme requests; you don’t want to be the only ‘rule-breaker’ in the congregation after all.

We hope we’ve helped you decide on what to wear for that upcoming winter wedding. Got any additional tips you think we’ve missed? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter below and we’ll share it with our readers.