Big spring energy is in the air, and with it comes the promise of warmer weather, blooming flowers, chirping birds and wedding invitations coming in hot. Whether your calendar is already speckled with springtime weddings or you just have one or two, it’s time to start thinking about what showstopping looks you’ll wear for all of those photos. The goal? To find an Instagram-grid-worthy dress that stops just short of actually upstaging the bride.
If you have no clue what to wear, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve assembled complete-outfit ideas for every type of ceremony and reception, from a casual garden party to a destination event or a formal bash. Also, most of these styles—like slip dresses and jumpsuits—will go the distance in your wardrobe, working well beyond the wedding day. Scroll down for our favourite ensembles, which might just land you the title of best-dressed guest.
What to wear to a casual spring garden-party wedding
It doesn’t get much more romantic than a wedding surrounded by nature. But being outdoors doesn’t mean it’s an open invitation to dress casually. And whether it’s taking place in an intimate backyard or a fancy botanical garden, you need to keep the elements in mind. A mid-length dress is ideal—anything too long might run the risk of getting stained with grass and dirt. We love this playful silk dress paired with a cozy wrap coat, because—real talk—in most of Canada, it’s still chilly during the spring months, especially after the sun goes down. As for footwear, give the obvious choices—flats and wedges—a miss and ground your look with a sturdy block heel instead. We love this plastic pair from Aldo; if they get dirty, simply rinse them off and they’ll look as good as new.
Warhol Shirt Dress, $420, silklaundry.com. Unalenna Block Heel Mules, $95, aldoshoes.com. Ray-Ban Round Double Bridge Sunglasses, $238, holtrenfrew.com. Double Carter choker, $160, jenny-bird.ca. Voluminous Sleeve Coat, $219, zara.com.
What to wear to a destination wedding
If you live in Canada, early spring is the most popular time for a tropical destination wedding. Take a cue from the natural setting and opt for bold prints, flowing silhouettes and a colourful palette. The ocean breeze can kick up short, flirty skirts, so look for a midi- or maxi-length dress, like this floaty one from ChicWish. Since sand comes with the territory, skip the heels. Instead, stick with wedges, flatforms or fancy sandals. Most beach-wedding ceremonies take place outside in direct sunlight, so this is the perfect time to break out that fancy pair of sunnies you’ve got stashed away. Beauty tip: Wear sunscreen—a sunburn doesn’t go with any look. Tuck some into your clutch and reapply every two hours while you’re outside.
Floral Watercolour Maxi-Dress, $49.90, chicwish.com. Straw Knot Top Headband, $8, boohoo.com. Mar Y Sol Mia Mini Clutch, $39, shopbop.com. Gold Fish Bone Statement earrings, $72, jcrew.com. Keiko-Chan Sunglasses, $179, bonlook.com. Flat metallic sandals, $49.90, zara.com.
What to wear to a city hall ceremony followed by a cocktail reception
Look effortlessly chic on the city hall steps in something streamlined and printed. “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.” Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada’s perfect villain) sarcasm aside, bold, floral prints are always the right choice for spring, especially on a jumpsuit. No one can deny that a stylish jumpsuit makes for a refreshing change, plus it can be dressed up or down—adorn yourself with a few twinkling accents and strap on a pair of sexy sandals to take the look up a notch for the reception.
City Chic Belted Floral Jumpsuit (sizes 14 to 24), $159, additionelle.com. Ciena Heart Hoop Earrings, $58, baublebar.com. Denim Jacket, $49.99, hm.com/ca. Leorx Letter Hair Pins, $10.66, amazon.ca. Click-Clack Clutch, $120, simons.ca. Strappy heels, $112, bananarepublic.com.
What to wear to a brunch-style wedding
People love brunch nearly as much as they love weddings, so it makes sense that brunch-style receptions are on the rise. Not only do they make a nice change, but for whoever is throwing the wedding the cost savings are substantial. In terms of guest attire, think about what you’d wear to brunch with your girlfriends, and then elevate it. Trade in the traditional wedding-guest dress for polished separates, like this yellow gingham skirt and a feminine bodysuit. Finish off the look with a smattering of pearl accessories, and you’re all set.
Pearl Box Handbag, $49.90, zara.com. Ruffle Skirt in Silk Twill, $289, jcrew.com. Lelet NY Imitation Pearl Headband, $265, shopbop.com. Organic Pearl Large Hoops, $75, mejuri.com. Wilfred Free Fortune Bodysuit, $60, aritzia.com. Elyse Sandals, $258, reformation.com.
Read this next: How Much Should You *Really* Spend on a Wedding Gift?
What to wear to a formal spring wedding
If the invite reads “formal” or “black-tie optional,” this is your moment to go full-on red-carpet glam. Most of the guests will be clad in formal suits and floor-length gowns, so why not wear something just as opulent—only better. These showstopping extra-and-we-do-mean-EXTRA-wide-legged pants are like a modern version of a ballgown skirt. They deliver on drama, so pair with something restrained on top. Embellish with accessories that complement the overall colour scheme and geometric shapes.
Acetate Flower Earrings, $58, jcrew.com. Layeur Mae Wide-Leg Trousers, $711, farfetch.com. Topshop Corset Bodysuit, $38, thebay.com. Rachel Zoe Leather Slingback Pumps, $289, thebay.com. Soft Velvet Headband, $9, simons.ca. Glitter Flapover Clutch, $55, lechateau.com. Carfanny Wide Cuff, $18.99, amazon.ca.