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How to look your best at a winter wedding

Winter weddings are tricky to dress for. The location, schedule and weather, all have to be considered. Being prepared is part of the logistic to look your best at the event (without outdressing the bride). Read on what to wear at a winter wedding, and what not.

Updated: 3/2021

    1. What to Wear at a Winter Wedding as a Guest
      • Consider the Location
      • The Time Gives Hints at the Dress Code
      • What Dress length Is Best for a Winter Wedding?
      • What Fabrics Will Work?
    2. Can You Wear Boots to a Winter Nuptial?
    3. Go for Fancy Outerwear, If Needed
    4. What Color to Wear as a Guest
    5. Where to Find  Great Winter Wedding Guest Dresses
    6. Further Wedding Dos and Don’ts


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What to Wear for a Winter Wedding as a Guest

While June is the wedding season in the US,  many Germans like to mary in May. Both months are chosen because of spring (a new beginning). Also many people believe that they have better chance for  sunshine. Sunshine elevates the mood. Photos look great. Why do American and German couples favor different months? Well, it’s again weather. Greenup starts latter on the East Coast than in Germany. Despite NY State is at the latitudes of Italy, New York winters can get cold with a lot of snow meaning a later start of spring.

Now what if the couple decided to get married in winter, because – well snow is so romantic, cuddling in the cold in front of a fireplace is so romantic, it’s Christmas time, they could come to church in a sled pulled by reindeers with the aurora watching overhead (ok, very Alaskan), … . Now

What is appropriate to wear to a winter nuptial? #festivewinterstyle Click To Tweet
ice church
Church at the ice hotel. Sadly the service was a bit late to stay for. They have weddings here most weeks apparently and most brides wear ‘normal’ bridal gowns even though it can get down to around -45C this far north. “[Pew]” by mark.braith is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Consider the Location

Read the invitation to find out where the couple will tie the knot. Lucky you, when it’s a beach wedding somewhere warm down south. Since you have to pay for the airfare, it’s your gift to them that you show up. Thus, no stress on finding a gift. It’s at the same time a mini vacation for you. You get some Sun and build some vitamin D. Best, what you wear you can wear again on your next vacation! Who doesn’t like that?

If the location is somewhere south where it is warm and you come from a much colder climate region, you will be fine with what you would wear for such an event in your climate region in summer. Also check whether it’s inside or an outdoor wedding for the right shoes. If it’s in the Southeast of the US, get a fancy hat if it’s outside. If the location is  on a ranch in the Southwest, go with the upscale clothing related to the theme.

The Time Gives Hints at the Dress Code

If the dress-code is not given on the invitation take the time as your best bet. After 3 pm dress for an afternoon wedding, after 7 pm, go for formal attire, especially when the event is at an upscale hotel.

What Dress Length is Best for a Winter Wedding?

In cold climate regions and unless the dress code is “White Tie” or “Black Tie“, midi or tea-length are best. These hems wouldn’t sweap the floor or sidewalk or whatever you walk on when going to the location. The ground may be wet from snow splash or rain. Make sure your coat covers your dress entirely. Spots from splash would ruin your look.

Another reason to avoid floor length or anything mermaid? If there is fresh snow you would act as a snowplow, sort off. Imagine how embarrassing such photos may be in ten years or more from now at a family reunion.

Why not a mini? It’s cold outside. You want to look timeless in the photos and mini skirts are fashion trends. When a religious ceremony is taking place you are best dressed on the modest side.

stylist in velvet tea-length wrap dress
Shein green velvet V-neck wrap dress with Stephanie Professional dance shoes

What Fabrics Will Work?

Velvet is a great fabric as it looks festive and provides some insulation. Brocade or thick lace work as well. Silk looks festive and helps you stay warm. It’s a bad conductor meaning a good insulator. When the couple gets married outdoors or in an ice church, faux fur looks great. Wool is great for a tuxedo suit.

Alaskan in ankle length velvet gown with bolero outfit as guest at cold season nuptial
Scott Mac Clintock velvet gown with cropped jacket, collier de chien belt (all own)


Don’t let the right outfit be a random thing. Wear the right look in every situation by looking up what to wear when in How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy the book now.

Can You Wear Boots to a Winter Nuptial?

The answer is, it depends on the location. Down in the Southeast, it’s a no-no. In the Southwest on a ranch, it’s ok. When snow is on the ground, yes, for the parts of the ceremony that require you to be outside to get there. For instance, in church, at a restaurant. But if the festivities are in the ballroom of a hotel, bring shoes that match with your dress. Switch from your boots into the shoes once you get there. Check the boots with the coat clerk. They are used to it in cold climate regions.

Wear pantyhose with sandals or tights matching to your dress with pumps, Mary Janes or wedges. Tights with sandals would look too casual. Stylish ankle boots or ballerina flats work well with tights.

winter outdoor nuptials
“The Knot Between Squalls” by MTSOfan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Go for Fancy Outerwear, If Needed

Cold climate regions require appropriate outerwear. Since nowadays photos are made at any time, your outerwear is part of your outfit of the event. Thus, go for an upscale fancy tailored coat. Your ski jacket or untailored down coat would be inappropriate. Also style your outerwear. Wear a wool felt classic hat, not your beannie or pom-pom hat. Go for leather gloves.

Alaskan blogger in festive winter outerwear with hat
Silk scarf, Camel Sak bag to hold pumps for inside, LeatherCoatsEtc gloves, Vince Camuto tall boots and unbranded hat (all own)

What Color to Wear as a Guest?

Most importantly, make sure you stay away from the color of the bridal party or any color that would clash with it. Cloudy winter days are gray. Cheer up the mood and go for jewel or gemstone colors like citrine, amethyst, ruby, garnet, emerald, jade, aquamarine, sapphire, or lapis. Other great colors are the classic winter neutrals like black, navy, chocolate brown, tan, green, gray or burgundy. Wearing metalic colors is also a great choice. Stay away from pastels. They not only add seemingly weight, but they also look inappropriate for the season.

style blogger in semi-formal velvet sheath with sequins
Head band (own) and velvet sequin semi-formal sheath c/o AmiClubWear


Where to Find Great Quality Affordable Winter Wedding Guest Dresses

Here some winter gowns for guests at a nuptial that look super chic. I have five dresses from this brand. Their garments look much more expensive than they are, and show great craftsmanship. For more, and how to wear your (semi-)formal attire later check this review of Ever Pretty dresses.

Cute Caped Bodice Asymmetrical chiffon dusty blue guest outfit
Ever Pretty dusty blue cute caped bodice asymmetrical chiffon guest attire $45.99


When you can sew and know how to shorten a hem, this velvet gown available in navy, brick red and burgundy will keep you warm.

elegant velvet warp dress with statement sleeves
This $42.99 Ever Pretty elegant double V neck velvet party dress for women available in brick red, burgundy and navy is prefect when you look for arm coverage and are able to shorten it to tea-length


off shoulder LBD
A LBD is always appropriate. This Ever Pretty Alisa Pan cold shoulder velvet party dress for $15.99 covers the cleavage and arms, has a slimming color and will feature your shoulder and legs. Recall less is more and too sexy would be inappropriate for the event.


royal blue long lace sleeves bodice fit-an-flare midi winter semi-formal attire
This Ever Pretty Alisa Pan long sleeve velvet beauty looks also great with opaque tights. It’s a great deal at only $14.99.


You can find these winter wedding guest and more festive dresses online at Ever Pretty.


Further Wedding Dos and Don’ts

When the nuptial is between 2pm and 4pm, you may also like to read create your best afternoon wedding guest outfit. In case you are heading to a civil event, you can find further information on outfits for a civil wedding  at the link.

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Photos: G. Kramm

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