17 Last Minute Wedding Guest Outfit Ideas (Without Spending a Fortune)

17 Last minute wedding guest outfit ideas
Although it’ll be August tomorrow, we’re still in wedding season. And if, like me, you’ve had a last minute wedding invitation, you may find you get a bit stressed about what to wear. I find that with plenty of notice I tend to build up to the big day – I know it’s not my wedding but I still get excited about what I’m going to wear – and like to plan ahead. However, a last minute invite is enough to make even the most hardened wedding-goer resort to panic mode.

I’ve put together 17 outfits (I could have done more to be honest!) that are all from my outfit archives that I think are great last minute wedding guest outfit ideas. It’s not so much about copying the outfits exactly (though of course you can recreate them if you wish), but this post is really providing some clever ideas on how to make things that you already own work for you.

I always maintain you should borrow accessories or shoes if you can, rather than buy new, or else buy things – but only if you know you’ll wear it again.

I’ve also shown the same dresses twice in some of them to show you how you can wear the same dress you bought to wear to that wedding in June to another wedding in September… it’s all in the accessorising!

Let me know if you find these tips useful – and if you still have a wedding to go to this year, what are you planning to wear? Let me know!

17 Last minute wedding guest outfit ideas

1. Accessorise a solid-colour dress

Original posts, L-R: 1, 2, 3

I know that my dresses are pretty much an identical style but two different colours, but this works for any one-colour dress: Dress it up with really bold accessories. Take a plain dress you already own and either borrow a bold belt, clutch or shoes from your sister, friend, etc. or simply go sale shopping and grab yourself a bargain.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get great-looking accessories. My top picks of retailers that sell reasonably priced accessories are , Asos, New Look, River Island and Forever 21.

Shop great clutches (all under £40):

17 Last minute wedding guest outfit ideas

2. Choose a basic skirt and top and add great accessories

Original posts, L-R: 123

This is probably the easiest wedding guest outfit to put together at the last minute: Take one skirt and one top, add shoes, a clutch and a fabulous necklace or hairpiece/hat – and you’re done.

Although the middle outfit is actually a dress, it shows that a really pretty top with a skirt that has some interesting detailing to it – in this case a ruffle – works beautifully as a wedding guest outfit. Depending on the weather you may or may not want to add patterned tights. A plain top dressed up with a statement necklace will always look fabulous, and don’t be afraid to create the illusion of a dress by wearing a top and skirt in similar colours.

It’s the same principle as wearing a solid colour dress but it saves you buying something new.

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Shop great necklaces (all £20 or less):

17 Last minute wedding guest outfit ideas

3. Let an all over bold print dress do all the talking

Original posts, L-R: 1, 2, 3, 4

This is an easy choice (and probably the most popular) for a wedding: A bold all-over print dress. There’s not much you need to do to dress it up, but here are a few ideas.

Add a statement necklace and wear your hair in a fancy up-do or braid instead of wearing a hat. A statement necklace always adds some glamour.
DIY some plain shoes to make them co-ordinate with the colour of your dress better.
Depending on the weather, add a shrug (fur if it’s winter), patterned tights, and/or DIY a hairpiece or fascinator.
Add a contrasting bag to a neutral-coloured dress (this yellow one is a bit too big for a wedding but you get the idea).

Shop great hair accessories and fascinators:

17 Last minute wedding guest outfit ideas

4. Creative evening reception outfit options

Original posts, L-R: 1, 2, 3, 4

Evening receptions are a little easier to dress for. You’re not going to church or a town hall – you’re basically there for the party, so dress accordingly. Skip the hat and wear something that you can dance all night in.

The maxi skirt/cardigan outfit on the left is one I actually wore to an evening reception a few years ago and it was thrown together at the last minute. If you’re going for a skirt and top combo add lots of interesting textures and details with contrasting fabrics and accessories.

In two of these outfits I’ve worn a dress layered over trousers – a big no-no for an invite to the whole day but I think it’s perfectly acceptable for an evening-only invite. If you’re not keen on showing your knees but your friend has the perfect short dress you can borrow, layer it with a pair of smart trousers (cropped ones work best). Add heels and a necklace and you’re done.

Shop great heels:

17 Last minute wedding guest outfit ideas

5. Wear vintage to avoid wearing the same as someone else

Original posts, L-R: 1, 2, 3

The great thing about wearing vintage to a wedding is that there’s no chance of you turning up in the same dress as someone else. I’ve styled my fruit-patterned midi with brightly-coloured accessories – including some flower corsages in my hair (instead of a hat) – and then with a simple belt and fabulous chandelier earrings.

The black poppy-print dress was originally a maxi but I cut it to a midi length. Unless you’ve bought an Ossie Clark, don’t be afraid to alter vintage clothing to suit you. I usually scour eBay for vintage dresses (read my tips on how to shop for vintage on eBay) and I love The House of Pandora and Beyond Retro for curated pieces.

Shop great belts:

17 Last minute wedding guest outfit ideas - beach wedding

6. Go maxi with a floppy hat for a casual or beach wedding

Original posts: L, R

Instead of wearing the same dress twice you can always wear the same hat twice – and a big floppy sun hat is perfect for a beach or casual summer wedding. Wearing your simple maxi dress and a big hat is always stylish and the addition of accessories such as bold belts or bags always add a little extra something.

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Shop great floppy hats:

Hope these outfits have given you some ideas – let me know what you think in the comments!
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P.S. Some of these outfits are “missing” bags but that’s because they weren’t worn for a wedding at the time. I’d always add a fabulous clutch for both practical and style reasons.
P.P.S. Like this post? You might also enjoy my Wedding Guest Outfit series I did a little while back!

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  1. 6 July 2016 / 1:13 pm

    great taste of style, i love the way you choose the colors, maybe you will enjoy to read this fashion blog of my friendhttp://elstile.com/?

  2. 9 October 2015 / 9:39 pm

    What a great post, Catherine – as always! I got a Winter (December)wedding so looking for inspiration at the moment.. I love the idea of a top + skirt+ accessories, but franklynot sure yet where to start!!! Keep your cool posts coming , Claudia xx

  3. 25 August 2015 / 3:04 pm

    How about a post about how to dress down something that you now think is too "tarty" to make it more appropriate for more casual times.

    • 6 August 2015 / 9:57 pm

      Aww thank you so much Sandy!! Glad you liked them xx

  4. 1 August 2015 / 5:35 am

    These are all beautiful. And thanks for the tip from your post yesterday about always adding something to take into the dressing room with you that you normally wouldn't choose. I thought of that today as I was shopping and added a brightly colored floral cardigan in orange and blue tones. I tend to normally wear more subdued neutrals. Anyway, as soon as I saw it on, I loved it! My husband really likes it too. It goes with so many things I already have in my closet, and I know this one is going to see a lot of wear. So thanks!

    • 6 August 2015 / 9:56 pm

      Oh Charlene that's so great to hear – I love that you did that!!! I have to admit I have to remind myself to do it, I get so wrapped in trying on "my style" pieces that I forget to be more adventurous. Love that you went for some brights, good for you!!!!!

      (And thank you re. the lovely comment about the wedding guest outfits, =muah=)

  5. 31 July 2015 / 11:18 pm

    Lovely ideas here for any occasion (I'm so old all my friends have either been married or divorced for decades : > ). Love the solid color frocks.

    • 6 August 2015 / 9:54 pm

      Haha thanks Patti…! The blue Hobbs dress is a favourite of mine, I feel very elegant in it 🙂

  6. 31 July 2015 / 8:53 pm

    Some great ideas here. Particularly like the idea of putting a skirt and top together with fab shoes and accessories. I hadn't thought of that as I would always usually wear a dress. Feel very inspired now!

    • 6 August 2015 / 9:54 pm

      It's a great idea to get more out of your wardrobe, Sarah – especially good if the top and skirt are similar colours! That's my favourite combo :))

      Thanks for commenting, so glad you liked the post x

  7. 31 July 2015 / 8:26 pm

    I sooooo need to gate crash a wedding now, Catherine! I love the red animal print dress with the faux fur shrug. Such understated glamour. But then I do love a great print and am very partial to a birdcage veil! It's exactly what I wore to a wedding back in January but instead of a shrug I had a short black bouclé jacket with a Peter Pan collar (I know how cold, old churches can be in winter!). Love seeing all the different outfits you've managed to come up with.


    • 4 August 2015 / 8:54 pm

      I've always wished I had a smart town wedding to go to to wear that outfit to!! Thank you so much xx

  8. 31 July 2015 / 5:57 pm

    You look beautiful in your vintage dress and huge pink hair flower…but you look the most fun in your black and white dress and lace tights. Like someone who would be up on the dance floor, having a good time. The ideal guest!
    Great post.
    Samantha fakefabulous.com

    • 4 August 2015 / 8:33 pm

      haha that's lovely, Samantha – thank you (and yes I am one of those people)…!!!

  9. 31 July 2015 / 4:49 pm

    My kind of wedding dress would most probably be slightly above the knee or below. I don't think anything too sexy is appropriate to be worn to a wedding. I shouldn't take the attention away from the bride though. Maybe I'm just a little traditional.

    • 4 August 2015 / 8:33 pm

      No I think traditional is good, Yen – or should that be "respectful"? It proves my theory that we should concentrate on occasion appropriate dressing, not age appropriate!

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