What to wear to an evening wedding this summer

Most people have a good idea of what to wear to a daytime wedding in summer – light suits, floaty dresses and pastel-coloured sunhats are the norm. If you’re invited to an evening wedding, however, then the dress code can be harder to judge. Should you go for all-out white-tie glam and risk upstaging the other guests in their cocktail evening dresses? Or is it best to dress down and spend the evening dodging frosty looks from the mother of the bride?

The first step, of course, is to check the invitation. Many couples will put their guests out of their sartorial misery by specifying a dress code. If there’s no guidance on the invitation, then really the best thing to do is to ask. The parents of the bride are usually the first port of call for questions like these, but if you know one half of the engaged couple well enough then feel free to consult them.

The four major themes for evening weddings are white-tie, black-tie, formal or casual. White-tie means all-out ’40s glamour: a tail coat and white bow-tie for men, and potentially a cummerbund and top hat as well. Women should wear an evening gown with glittering accessories and a stole or wrap for colder weather.

Lipsy Bandeau Organza Flower Cocktail Dress from Next, £70

Black-tie is the next step down on the formality ladder, but men must still wear a tuxedo and women an evening dress.

For ‘formal’ invitations a cocktail dress should be appropriate – Next has a great selection of cocktail evening dresses at high street prices, so you can wow on the dance floor without breaking the bank. Finally, for ‘casual’ occasions, don’t be tempted to dress down too dramatically. A shirt and smart trousers or a casual dress for women is appropriate – trainers, or excessively short skirts, are not.

For this season, take inspiration from the catwalk for your wedding outfit. Look for accessories containing marine motifs, dresses with bold patterns, or suits in sorbet colours. If you’re looking for something a little more original, then a classic fifties tea gown makes for the perfect demure wedding look.