How to Get Dressed for a Daytime Wedding in the Summer

Tips for staying cool while looking hot

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

apw x modcloth

ModCloth Wedding Guest Dresses

Left to right: There’s Always a Ketch DressStopped Bold in Its Tracks Heel in PunchPatio My Goodness! Dress in GardenTop Notch Wedge

It doesn’t matter how full my closet gets: when it comes time to get dressed for someone else’s wedding, my brain goes blank and suddenly nothing works anymore. And that goes double for summer. Because in the summer, the list of attributes I look for in an outfit goes from something like “looks cute” to “looks cute, won’t cut off circulation to any body parts, won’t make me trip on uneven ground, not too short, doesn’t trap heat, and won’t show off sweat stains if I end up in a church without air conditioning.” So, NBD.

But over the course of the last few years, as my friends have started to marry, I have learned some helpful guidelines for summer weddings that keep me comfortable and cool. And this month we’ve partnered with ModCloth to share them with you. ModCloth recently released a brand-new weddings boutique, which includes affordable wedding dresses (think under $500), bridesmaid dresses, and of course, guest attire. So if you’re gearing up for wedding season, here are my best tips for what to wear to a daytime wedding in the summer:

ModCloth Wedding Guest Dresses

Resort’s Most Ravishing DressStride and Glory Wedge

1. Formality is flexible in the daytime: The most important thing to remind yourself when you’re picking out an outfit for someone else’s wedding is that no one will be looking at you (unless you’re wearing a formal white dress, in which case, I’mma have a hard time drumming up sympathy). So unless the couple has specified that the event is of a certain level of formality, then it’s safe to assume anything barring jeans will work. This includes summer dresses, pants and a nice top, a suit and tie, or anything else you would consider the dressed-up version of your normal self. And in the summer, you want to work this flexibility in your favor.

ModCloth Wedding Guest Dresses

The Blogger the Better DressTop Notch Wedge

Do a Google search of the ceremony location and check the forecast for the day of. If things are outdoors, you’ll want to be mindful of the terrain (will the ground be muddy? Will you be on grass?) and things like humidity, especially if you’re traveling somewhere you don’t normally spend a lot of time. (Ninety degrees in New York City is a whole different animal from ninety degrees in Northern California!)

ModCloth Wedding Guest Dresses

Entrepreneurial Mentor DressFlor-Ever in Love Heel

2. Cotton is your friend: One of the first things I do when shopping for party outfits is to check the materials. Natural fibers breathe better than synthetic fibers, so if you are worried about overheating, stick with something like cotton for increased airflow. (On ModCloth, you can find that information under “details and measurements.”) If cotton worries you because you need a little stretch (girl, preach), look for items that are mostly cotton with 2–3 percent elastane. It’s the jeggings of dresses.

ModCloth Wedding Guest Dresses

Miss Indie-Pendent DressSpring to Mind Heel in Coral Gloss

3. Patterns hide a multitude of sins: Here’s a true story: I once went to a wedding with a full Catholic ceremony at a church without air conditioning on a hundred-degree day with what felt like one hundred percent humidity. I did not come out of that situation looking cute. Now? If there’s even a remote chance that I’m going to sweat out my blowout (and thus the back of my dress as well), I stick with patterns.


Muster the Length DressStopped Bold in Its Tracks Heel in Punch

4. Don’t forget a sweater: I know, I sound like your mom, stop judging me. An extra layer is usually not something I’m thinking about when I’m packing a gift and extra lip gloss and trying to get an Uber while running ten minutes late, but I can’t tell you how many weddings I’ve been to where, come sunset, it got cold and I was shit out of luck (thanks for letting me borrow your jacket, Michael). So now I scrap the cute clutch and stuff my work tote with a jacket and a pair of flats, because when I’m wine tipsy and drunk on cake, I just want to be comfortable and warm.

ModCloth Wedding Guest Dresses

There’s Always a Ketch DressBe Who You Arc Necklace

5. Do a test run: Summer outfits tend to be more revealing. So before you put on a new outfit for a big event, give it a test run. Jump around your house, do some hairography, rub up on your boo. Do you find yourself adjusting every five minutes? Because that will be your life on the dance floor. So figure out before you go if your outfit moves when you do.

ModCloth Wedding Guest Dresses

 Patio My Goodness! Dress in GardenThere’s Always a Ketch DressBe Who You Arc Necklace

While you probably can’t get away with cutouts in the office (though with a cardigan over, who’s to know?) the best part of daytime weddings is that whatever you choose to wear doesn’t have to end up taking up extra space in your closet, reserved exclusively for special occasions. So if you’re struggling to find something cute for upcoming parties, head over to ModCloth to browse the complete collection of party dresses, or click below to go straight to your favorites:


This post was sponsored by ModCloth. ModCloth’s new wedding boutique offers stylish wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, and guest attire, plus shoes and accessories at prices you can actually afford. And their commitment to body diversity means you don’t have to settle for something boring just because you’re not a sample size. Click here to browse all of the amazing wedding guest dresses ModCloth has to offer.

The Info:

Photography: Allison Andres for A Practical Wedding | Venue: Photo Studio via Peerspace | Dresses: ModCloth Wedding Boutique | Hair: Yesenia Guinea

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • Laura C

    No joke, I have one mostly cotton with a tiny bit of stretch summer dress that I have been wearing regularly to summer events since about 2003.

    … Actually, come to think of it I have two of those, though one I wear a little less regularly because I have to be at the low end of my typical weight range for it to work.

  • Louise Danger

    Yes, yes!

    Something I’ve learned from my time in the SCA: you can survive even a mid-Atlantic swampy summer in long sleeves/a long dress if you’re wearing natural fibers like cotton and linen. Yes, you’ll be warm (hydrate!), and you’ll probably be sweaty (pro tip: wear an underlayer, like a lightweight cotton tank top, so you don’t sweat through to your nice togs), but you won’t keel over and die like you would if you saran-wrap yourself in polyester. And natural fiber stuff doesn’t have to cost a fortune – ModCloth is a great place to look, but even closer to home, check Old Navy!

    And and and the importance of portable shade cannot be understated! There are tons of cute sun hats on sale in the summer – pick one that fits you well (not too tight) and has a nice wide, floppy brim. Hats not your thing? Try a parasol, though you might not want to sit up front if you’re rocking the cute sunbrella look. ;)

  • brakell-basicinvite

    Such an adorable photoshoot! Loving those summer dresses. Gorgeous!

  • Keri

    I have been trolling Modcloth daily because I have a balance from a return and have been looking for maybe a rehearsal dinner dress but haven’t been able to pull the trigger on anything! I know they have a ton of white floral dresses which I think could be cute (you know, because bride), but I wonder if I’ll ever wear something like that again (given that I’ve never done it before).

    • Essssss

      I got a Modcloth wedding dress and this white/floral number was my rehearsal dinner dress: I actually used it as a bridesmaid dress too later (clearly bride was on board with the red/floral color theme and didn’t care about the white part), but I haven’t worn it since, which makes me a little sad cause I love it so much. We have a fancy dinner party coming up and I might just have to break it out…

  • Essssss

    Ahhh that cactus dress!

  • Ashlah

    I don’t usually fret much about what to wear to a wedding, but my sister’s wedding is in 12 days, and I know I’ll be in a bunch of forever photos, so I feel more pressure! If anyone knows where I can buy a gold A-line skirt (or dress, but not formal) on short notice for a not-outrageous sum of money, please share your wisdom…

    • Caitlyn

      What about Rent the Runway? I’ve always had awesome luck with them and rented a gorgeous gold dress a year ago for an event.

      • Ashlah

        Oh, I’ll take a look! Thanks!

        • accidental_diva

          My sister & I are doing this for our brother’s rehearsal dinner – something fun & flirty and not insanely expensive

    • idkmybffjill


  • Stars

    It can be really tough to find summer dresses that aren’t polyester. Even a maxi dress, which you would think ASSUMES hot weather, is often made from polyester. Yuck. I was browsing through eShakti lately and I was pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of their dresses were made from cotton, or cotton blends. Just wanted to toss it out there!

    • Kayjayoh

      And pockets! And custom sizes!

  • BefWithAnF

    Hellz yeah to the breathable fabrics! My mom never bought us any polyester when I was a kid, which at the time made me feel left out, but now I totally understand.

    I don’t personally understand this “tech” fabrics trend, where spots gear is made of poly blends. I tried it out with a sports bra & a yoga shirt from my local goodwill, & by the end of Yoga I felt like I had a wet napkin stuck to the small of my back. Are you not supposed to wear two layers of the stuff? I feel like I’m doing it wrong. I am lucky in that I don’t actually need support for my ta-tas, so I’m thinking of trying the plastic shirt again without the sports bra.

    Anyway, Modcloth! Usually a good place to look.

    • Ashlah

      I recently got a Nike Dri-Fit t-shirt for the first time since I started running, and I love it because it does feel more breathable and less wet than running in a cotton shirt. I’ve never done yoga, so maybe there’s something different about the movements and the way the clothing moves with your body? Or maybe it’s just personal preference!

      The synthetic athletic clothes really hold onto stench though.

  • Entrepreneurial Mentor Dress and There’s Always a Ketch are both out of stock. They are totally on my wishlist for future weddings because they are HOT!

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