Anya Meyerowitz

Guest Luxury Lifestyle & Travel Writer



What to Wear to a Destination Wedding

Wedding season is here, and as the invites stack up ensuring that dress codes are adhered to can become a full-time job in and of itself. We’re au fait with garden wedding attire and have foolproof favourites for country pile nuptials, but what to wear to a destination wedding is a true sartorial conundrum.

While most would usually opt for thicker fabrics like heavy lace and satin, weddings abroad present you with the opportunity to wear more lightweight garments and generally allow for extra skin to be on show. Then there’s the question of where abroad the ceremony is being held, beach weddings call for an entirely different fashion fix than that of a reclaimed castle in Northern Italy or a candlelit chateau in Cannes.

It’s fairly safe to assume that you’re likely to be outside, and so outfits and materials that can withstand heat, humidity, and breeze are key.

Whether you’re heading for salty air and cascading sea waves or the tree-capped peaks of Italy’s undulating countryside, we’ve curated a collection of pieces that will ensure you retain your title as ‘the most well-dressed guest’ at the event with ease.

Beach wedding guest dresses

While beach wedding attire for guests varies depending on the venue and event style, it's often more casual than black tie, given the climate and terrain. However as a key moment in the sun (and sand), flip flops and traditional beach cover-ups aren’t permitted. Beach wedding guest dresses should still reflect the occasion’s magnanimity, which requires some level of formality.

Karen Millen Tie Dye Studded Woven Strappy Maxi
Tie Dye Studded Woven Strappy Maxi

Drawing on the soft and varied colours of the surrounding sea, this gauzy tie dye dress will uplift your entire look with a smattering of light-reflecting studs. It’s light, relaxed-yet-delicate and the slim crossover straps show off sun-kissed shoulders. This piece can be paired with tan flats for the ceremony and then dressed up with strappy heels once you hit more hardened land.

Karen Millen Signature Italian Fringed Tweed Cami Dress
Signature Italian Fringed Tweed Cami Dress

Tweed is not a material that can easily be transferred to the shimmery surrounds of the shore, however this playful midi-dress is a thoroughly modern, destination-versatile take on the more traditional, heavy material, and helps to create a textured, artisanal feel that picks up on the accents of your sun-soaked surrounds.

Karen Millen Mirrored Tulipa Print Woven Satin Maxi Dress
Mirrored Tulipa Print Woven Satin Maxi Dress

A key criteria for a beach wedding guest dress is one that delicately, and enticingly, ripples in the breeze. This exquisitely cut, elegant maxi - a limited collaboration with botanical artist Rui Jiang - does just that, as the artfully-printed fabric sweeps down the satin fabric, billowing out onto wide sleeves and a sultry back cut-out, so that the breeze may ravish the dress, rather than wrench it up from your ankles.

Boho wedding guest dresses

The boho wedding concept lends itself perfectly to any setting, from an idyllic countryside ceremony to a chic city-hall elopement, though of course, in this instance we’re talking about a whimsical setting abroad. Boho wedding guest dresses should encompass charming poetic details such as billowing sleeves, delicate ruffles, or a sweeping fringe hem that give a feeling of enviable insouciance, and ethereal, pastel colours paired with either minimal accessories or oversized jewellery which help tie together the creative dress code with flair.

Karen Millen Blush Botanical Border Print Silk Cotton Maxi Dress
Blush Botanical Border Print Silk Cotton Maxi Dress

This silk and cotton maxi dress personifies romance and would be just as at home at a balmy garden gathering as it would at a wedding nestled within the candlelit ruins of a faraway castle. Printed with a unique motif inspired by British flowers, it obeys the cardinal rule of bohemian dressing with its puffed sleeves and full, swishy maxi skirt that oozes glamour.

Karen Millen Metallic Gathered Woven Midi Dress
Embroidered Ladder Trim Strappy Midi Dress

A slightly different take on the traditional boho summer wedding guest dress, this slinky, embroidered midi is ideal for warmer climes, longer days and a sartorial saviour for anyone who feels swamped by swelling sleeves and heavily fabriced necklines. The unique double-strapped top, textured ladder trims and sweeping, high-low hemline give the piece an airy feel - a feature you’ll thank us for on the dancefloor - while the floral pattern draws on the bohemian theme and shows care and thought.

Karen Millen Metallic Gathered Woven Midi Dress
Metallic Gathered Woven Midi Dress

If you’re not a pattern paramour, the boho theme can feel slightly overwhelming, however, it’s a myth that you need to go all out on fabric details in order to fit with the dress code. This woven midi dress picks up on key elements of the sojourn-worthy style, without going over the top, and lets the gorgeous lime green hue do all the heavy lifting. The gathered seams offer a touch of texture along with an artisanal metallic motif and a tie-detail front. Fitted with gauzy, semi-sheer sleeves with a touch of volume, this ethereal design makes a big impact with minimal effort at any wedding, and works well with metallic accessories.

French chateau wedding guest dresses

Though of course we all have varying understandings of what the term ‘romantic’ means, as far as we’re concerned, a French chateau wedding embodies them all. Guests' attire at French weddings is classic, and though a level of formality is generally expected, it’s a much more relaxed vibe, particularly when it comes to summertime nuptials, than the ‘formalwear’ we’re more used to in the UK..

Karen Millen Cornelli Embellished Cap Sleeve Woven Maxi
Cornelli Embellished Cap Sleeve Woven Maxi

Feminine, sophisticated and enchanting from funnel neck to light, dancing hem, this embellished maxi is a head-turner in any language. The structured bodice gives the piece a timeless feel, though the keyhole cut-out brings it firmly into the modern day. The cap sleeves and delicate embroidery complete the distinctive character of the dress, and the sumptuous cobalt blue pops against the pastel palette of the chateau and biophilic backdrop of the surrounding countryside.

Karen Millen Italian Structured Satin Asymmetric Hem Dress
Italian Structured Satin Asymmetric Hem Dress

We know this piece has Italy in the title, but that’s just in reference to where the glamorous satin is sourced from, because this luxurious, softly-structured number is sure to shine at a chateau ceremony. The strappy, one-shouldered neckline plays into the innovative take on classics that we mentioned earlier, and the ruffled asymmetric skirt is high on the swish-factor scale.

Italian wedding guest dresses

Sorrento, Amalfi and hilltop Positano, to name just a few of the dreamy Italian wedding destinations that pepper the azure waters here, not forgetting the rolling countryside of Tuscany and olive groves of Lake Garda, Italy is a country that abounds in romance. And when it comes to a wedding, a typical affair runs from the afternoon until late at night, with lively dancing into the early hours. Italian’s are also renowned for their impeccable dress sense and style, so it’s vital for us Stranieri to get the wedding guest dress code right, while ensuring we keep comfortable enough to join in the festivities.

Karen Millen Pressed Floral Pleated Woven Maxi Dress
Pressed Floral Pleated Woven Maxi Dress

With its soft, flowing silhouette, come hilltop olive grove or breezy terrace, this vibrant maxi dress conquers the Italian wedding dress code with ease. The flattering halter neckline gives sun-kissed shoulders centrestage, while the vivid geo pattern creates interest through the entire piece and only gives rise to greater intrigue as the wind ripples through the gauzy chiffon fabric.

Karen Millen Petite Geo Chiffon Halter Drama Woven Maxi
Petite Geo Chiffon Halter Drama Woven Maxi

Designed in crinkled chiffon with a full swooping hem, this structured-yet-floaty dress is a refreshing take on the floral theme that has dominated wedding guest dress style for several years now. The vibrant print provides elevated synchronicity, especially when contrasted with the black piping cinching the waist to flatteringly showcase the form. The oversized, energetic sleeves complete the powerful look, one which is easily topped off with a pair of thin, strappy heels and short, drop-look earrings, both in gold.

Church wedding guest dresses

A church wedding, wherever it is in the world, is a much more formal, traditional affair and so demure dressing is a must. And though attire must pass the most conservative post, your outfit needs to be able to work between the pew and the party afterwards, so opting for more conventional silhouettes with playful prints or adding a silk shawl or wrap to a sleeveless piece is a savvy sartorialist’s best move. What to wear to a church wedding? Well, just read on.

Karen Millen Satin Waterfall Dress
Satin Waterfall Dress

Thick, smooth, and shiny, satin has a luxurious look to it that feels just right, and the cascading style of this striking red piece creates a timeless look that both nods to tradition and flirts with the future. The tie waist offers a flattering outline, the high neck keeps the dress feeling respectful and the floaty skirt is ready to accompany twirling on the dancefloor with style as the evening rolls in.

Karen Millen Satin Cowl Neck Woven Mini Dress
Satin Cowl Neck Woven Mini Dress

A mini dress, particularly if you’ve jetted to the destination several days early, is an easy way to give golden legs their moment in the sun, and this champagne-hued mini dress, crafted from rippling satin, is our top pick. The high, draped neckline ensures some things are kept under wraps, while the gathered detailing and sultry wrap-over skirt pay homage to more traditional wedding guest dress shapes.

Karen Millen Abstract Bias Cut Viscose Crepe Woven Midi

Bold, bright and playful, this bias-cut midi dress is ideal for destination church weddings due to its lightweight viscose crepe fabric. The piece features a draped cowl neckline, loose sleeves and a flowing midi hem, giving the outfit an amorous rippling feel. Pair with bold, colour-block heels, a clutch of the same colour and sparkling, oversized earrings for a show-stopping look.

Abstract Bias Cut Viscose Crepe Woven Midi