What to Wear to a Spring Wedding: Your Questions Answered

what to wear to a spring wedding daytime

Since last month’s post Fashion Challenge: What to Wear to a Spring Wedding, hundreds of visitors have come to Modern Mrs Darcy via search engines seeking answers to their spring wedding fashion questions.

It’s no wonder.  The pressure’s on to dress right for weddings, since they’re one of the few occasions where a dress code is still in force.

Many of the most searched questions weren’t directly addressed in that post–but I want to equip all the ladies out there with the knowledge they need to dress properly for a spring wedding.

Here are the top 10 questions I received, and my answers.

1.  What do I wear to a spring wedding during the day?

Does the invitation specify a dress code?  Use that as your starting point.  For day, you can’t go wrong with a floral dress and heels, a light colored suit, or a pretty pastel dress.  No gowns for daytime, but this season’s maxi dresses are fair game.  Avoid sequins and satins–these are distinctively evening touches.  Save dramatic smoky eyes for evening–lighter makeup suits a daytime event.

what to wear to a spring wedding daytime

Retro Ribbon Dress / Keralam Dress / Sunstream Eyelet Dress. All from Anthropologie

2.  What do I wear to a spring wedding at night?

If I want a safe choice for evening when no dress code is specified, I go with a short cocktail dress.  Avoid daytime fabrics like cotton and linen, and choose a solid or a sophisticated print over a perky floral.  Sequins, satins and smoky eyes are all evening-appropriate, as are beaded accessories and higher heels.


3.  What do I wear if the invitation specifies “black tie” or “black tie optional”?

Black tie means formalwear–refer to this style guide for details.  For women, black tie and black tie optional mean pretty much the same thing.  (“Black tie” means tuxedos for men–so “black tie optional” is often specified to let men who don’t own tuxes off the hook–they can wear dark suits.)

If black tie dress is called for, it will be stated on the invitation.

4.  What do I wear if the wedding says “white tie”?

White tie means super-formal, and it’s rare for a wedding.  Think balls, and the Oscars.  If the invitation specifies white tie, you cannot be overdressed.   This occasion calls for a floor-length gown, and pull out your fanciest accessories from the back of the closet.  This is the time to dress to the nines.

5.  Can I wear black to a spring wedding?

In most parts of the country, you can wear black.  (To be safe, don’t wear black in the South.)  But fashion-wise, black’s a poor choice for a spring wedding.  Make it your option-of-last-resort.

6.  What can I wear over my dress when it’s cold?

A cropped sweater or jacket is a dependable choice, or even a beaded bolero if you have one.  A long scarf or wrap can be draped across your shoulders to keep the chill off of bare arms, or–if you have a flare for the dramatic–wrapped pashmina-style around your torso.  Wraps are a fun way to introduce color into your outfit.

Sometimes I would rather freeze than wreck my carefully-chosen outfit with a sweater.  In this case I’ve skipped the wrap–and asked my date (my husband these days, he’s used to it) if I can use his jacket as a fallback.

7.  Can I wear tights?  Pantyhose?

Skip the tights for spring.

For pantyhose:  if the question is, “Can I wear pantyhose?”–the answer is yes.

If the question is, “Should I wear pantyhose?”–the answer is no.

8.  Can I wear a long dress to a spring wedding?

Absolutely.  This season’s maxi dresses would be appropriate for less formal daytime weddings; choose a fabric that suits daytime wear.  Floor-length gowns are suitable–or may even be required–for nighttime events.

9.  Can I wear a hat to a spring wedding

So many of you want to try a hat after watching Will and Kate get married!  Yes, you can absolutely wear a hat or a fascinator for daytime only.


10.  What do men wear to a spring wedding?

It’s easy for men to dress for big events like weddings.  Do you remember the frantic six months of speculation about Kate Middleton’s dress leading up to her April wedding?  And the two dramatic reveals on the Big Day for the two different dresses?  Well, for daytime, William wore his military uniform.  For night, he wore a tux–from his closet.  Sometimes, it’s easy to be a man!

If no dress code is specified, men can wear dark suits to weddings.  Slacks and sportcoats are perfectly appropriate for most daytime and many evening weddings–if you want to be certain, ask the bride.   If the invitation specifies black tie, men wear tuxedos.  White tie calls for a tux or tailcoat with–a white tie.

If the wedding is at the beach or a state park, just ask the bride.  It’s possible that for a destination wedding, shorts and a linen shirt will be fine.

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  1. Nicole says:

    I hope you plan to do another one of these for September weddings! I have NO CLUE what to wear!!!

  2. Gwenny says:

    I’m so disappointed you said black is okay to wear to a wedding! I can appreciate the LBD, but really it’s for date night. Too many women think it’s the only dress they need own. Black is an uninspired choice, and at a wedding, it’s near insulting to the bride.

  3. Gwenny, you are completely right–in some regions of the country. In other regions of the country, black is simple, classic, and absolutely common at weddings.

    White, on the other hand, is still NEVER okay for wedding guests to wear.

  4. Stephanie says:

    I live in Texas and I thought black was safe and appropriate.I dunno down south it is pretty laid back! Lol

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