Can you wear a maxi to a wedding?
We often get this question, and the answer is a resounding YES. A maxi dress is a fantastic choice for a wedding for many reasons.
It’s decent, elegant, and timeless, meaning you can wear one all year round, no matter the season. What’s more, maxi dresses come in different styles and fabrics, so you can find one for any type of wedding.
But as you may have imagined, not all maxi dresses are suitable for weddings. For example, that casual dress you wear to the beach may not be a good idea for a wedding. The tank top style, casual fabric, and simplicity make the dress too relaxed and casual for such an important occasion.
Weddings, no matter how casual, demand something more elegant, starting from premium fabrics like georgette, chiffon, and jersey. This also means steering clear from plunging necklines, thigh-high slits, peek-a-boo cut-outs, and animal prints. A bit of beading and embellishment is fine but stay away from sequin and loud colors such as neon.
Lastly, avoid wearing plain white and black. We leave all-white to the bride, and wearing all-black feels like you are going to a funeral. If you must wear either of these colors, break the monotony with something else. For example, a floral maxi dress with a white background is fine, and so is a black dress worn with a denim jacket or pink blazer.
Speaking of colors, find out what the bridesmaids are wearing as well. It would be a shame to roll up with a dress that looks exactly like what the girls in the line-up are wearing.
The idea here is to keep it classy and respectful.
How to Choose a Maxi Dress for a Wedding
As we have established, not every maxi dress will do for a wedding. Make the choice simple by keeping these two things in mind when choosing the right dress.
Most weddings today have a dress code or a theme depending mostly on where they are held. For example, a beach wedding will most likely have a casual theme, while a church wedding may have a formal or semi-formal dress code. Make sure you confirm the dress code before choosing the dress.
Not sure what those themes mean? Here’s a simple guide.
- Formal. A long, formal-looking maxi dress, preferably one that is straight, form-hugging, and with sleeves. You can combine this with a blazer.
- Black tie. If the dress code says black tie, wear an elegant gown like what celebs wear to red-carpet events.
- Semi-formal. This could be a flowy or form-fitting maxi dress. It should not be too formal or too casual. How you style the dress, however, is what matters most.
- Casual. A maxi dress with fun prints, pleats, ruffles, a flowy skirt, or a slight slit will do.
There’s a maxi dress for every season. Light-colored breezy dresses for summer, floral prints for spring, and form-fitting heavy fabrics for colder months. You don’t want to wear a light, breezy, and strappy dress when it’s negative degrees outside.
Speaking of seasons, there are seasonal colors as well. Pastel hues like baby pink, powder blue, sea green, midnight blue, and turquoise are great colors for summer and spring weddings. For fall and winter, try burgundy, red, emerald and burnt orange.
How to Accessorize a Maxi Dress for a Wedding
A big part of dressing up a maxi dress for a wedding is accessorizing. This is what elevates the outfit to look worthy of such an occasion, and it can make or break the entire look. As a rule, keep your accessories simple and tasteful, even for a casual wedding.
Jewelry makes the biggest difference to any outfit, especially when attending a wedding. This is not the time to wear delicate invisible gold chains and earrings unless of course your dress is too loud. Instead, don a colorful or statement necklace or bold hanging earrings. These will accentuate the dress and bring out your face.
A classic string of pearls on your neck or hands can really pull together a pastel maxi dress outfit. But if you are attending a casual or outdoor wedding, feel free to wear colorful jewelry, layered bangles and necklaces, and a stack of rings. As always, do not overdo it with jewelry, especially chunky or colorful pieces.
Fancy, comfortable footwear is the sweet balance you want to hit when choosing shoes for a wedding maxi dress. The right shoe will transform your maxi dress from casual to classy, even if you wear no other accessory.
Ideally, the shoe you choose should follow the dress code or theme. For example, high pumps and stiletto heels are perfect for formal and semi-formal weddings, while wedges and strappy sandals will do for an outdoor or casual wedding.
Neutral colors like beige, white and black are the best but feel free to infuse some color into your outfit as well. Deep blue sparkly pumps, for example, are quite beautiful when paired with the right dress and accessories.
There are only two ways to go when it comes to wedding purses; clutch or sling bag. If the wedding vibe is relaxed, a sling bag on your shoulder is ideal because it will carry your essentials without being overbearing. If the wedding is formal, however, a classy clutch is the best choice.
When deciding whether to wear headwear to a wedding, consider the venue, the dress code, and the timing. Traditionally, hats are worn to outdoor daytime events such as beach or pool weddings. Make sure the hat matches your outfit and is venue appropriate.
Wide-brim hats, for example, are perfect if the wedding takes place outdoors on a hot sunny day. Likewise, you can rock a hair flower for spring or fall weddings instead of a hat.
The best maxi dresses for a wedding already have a waist definition and flow elegantly over your hips. However, we realize that many classy maxi dresses are flowy, which is why you need a belt to cinch in the waist and create shape. For a wedding, I recommend a statement belt with something shiny to draw attention to your waist.
What to Wear Over a Maxi Dress for a Wedding
Air conditioning can be such a gift when attending an indoor wedding in hot weather. But eventually, the weather will cool down towards the end of the celebration, lending your sleeveless breezy maxi dress useless.
This is where draping a fashion scarf or a shawl over your shoulders comes in. It’s a lightweight, elegant way to keep warm without overheating or carrying extra baggage.
And if you have a somewhat revealing maxi dress on the top, a wrap or shawl will help cover up your shoulders, arms, and chest so you can feel decent.
But how about a fall or winter wedding? What if the wedding starts late and goes on until nighttime?
Well, you have to consider the dress code again, as well as the style of the dress.
Wearing a long structured blazer over a maxi dress is a great way to make a maxi dress look more formal. Wear a blazer over a form-fitting or A-line dress, especially one with a front-side slit. If the dress is light colored, wear a dark blazer and vice versa.
Trench coats are a perfect cover-up over any maxi dress, no matter the theme. They are especially great to wear at night or when the weather is cold.
Denim jackets here represent any waist-cut small jacket, except leather, because that may be too casual. This type of jacket is a great way to style a casual maxi dress to a wedding, provided you accessorize appropriately. A denim jacket can make a casual maxi dress look less relaxed, making it more suitable for a casual or outdoor wedding.
Last but not least is fur jackets, which I recommend for black tie or winter weddings. Fur is not only heavy and warm, it’s also luxurious. What’s more, you don’t have to actually wear the jacket; you can simply drape it over your shoulders to create a more regal look.
How to Dress Up a Maxi Dress for a Wedding
Casual Summer Dress
The best maxi dress for a summer wedding is something free-flowing, light and breezy. Think of a pastel-colored sleeveless maxi dress with a halter neck and maybe ruffles at the bottom. An A-line or free-flowing chiffon dress with a loose, airy fit is also perfect.
To style a maxi dress for a summer wedding, wear chunky heels or strappy sandals, layered bangles, and hoop earrings and carry a sling bag. You can also wear a wide-brim hat if the wedding is outdoors and take an elegant shawl with you in case it gets chilly later on.
Velvet Maxi Dress
A long sleeve velvet maxi dress is perfect for a winter wedding because of the warm, heavy fabric. Choose a deep rich color like burgundy and accessorize the dress with closed heels and a sophisticated clutch. If you don’t like velvet, choose another heavy fabric like jersey knit.
You can also wear a fur jacket over the dress or a trench coat for warmth.
Formal Wrap Dress
Looking for the perfect maxi dress for a semi-formal cocktail wedding? Nothing works better than a light-toned wrap dress. With the right strappy heel and a clutch, you can look flawlessly chic and free. Don a trench coat over it if it’s cold and keep the jewelry dainty and elegant.
A wrap dress also works for summer weddings, especially if it has a unique design at the bottom. With this, you want to drape a shawl over your shoulders and wear chunky heels or peep-toe shoes. Instead of a clutch, carry a sling bag and go a little wild on jewelry. Colored earrings, for example, would be ideal for a summer wedding though you can also keep it simple with gold or silver.
Floral Maxi Dress
Choose a short sleeve floral dress for spring, fall, and summer weddings. A floral dress should hug you in the right places and still move about freely to give you that feminine look. The cover-up you wear will depend on the season so go with a trench coat in fall, fur coat in winter, and a denim jacket in summer and spring.
Strappy heels and ankle boots also go well with a floral maxi, and so does a black or gold sling bag. As for jewelry, try to match your earrings or necklace with the florals or the background color of the dress.
Traditional Maxi Dresses
Mature ladies can rock a traditional maxi dress such as a caftan or African Ankara dress. These dresses tend to be quite unique and regal, which will make you stand out in a good way. Wear one statement jewelry piece and a striking clutch bag to kick things up a notch. Bedazzled pump heels or stilettos will also bring the best out of these dresses.
With traditional maxi dresses, the best cover-up is a trench coat because it’s elegant and simple enough not to steal the dress’s thunder.
A maxi dress makes the perfect background for accessories when attending a wedding. However, ensure you stay on theme and keep the accessories simple and classy. Some of the best accessories for a wedding include statement jewelry, fancy footwear, belt, hats or headwear, and unique purses.
A maxi dress may look too simple or too casual for a wedding. However, you can dress it up with high heel shoes, a classy clutch, statement jewelry, and an outer garment such as a pea coat, blazer, or fur jacket. Make sure to also define the waist on free-flowing maxis using a statement belt.