Can You Wear a Long Dress to a Wedding?

can you wear long dress to a wedding article

Knowing how to dress for a wedding is never easy. Whether you haven’t attended many ceremonies or have been to many weddings with a wide range of styles, choosing the perfect dress can seem like a difficult task.

If you love maxi dresses, choosing to wear your favorite may be your first instinct. But, can you wear a long dress to a wedding?

You certainly can. While not just any maxi dress will do, you still have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing the perfect long dress. To learn how to choose the right dress for every wedding dress code, read on!

can you wear long dress to a wedding understanding dress codes

Can You Wear a Long Dress to a Wedding? Understanding Dress Codes 

If you love maxi dresses, you may have at least a few in your closet that will work for the next wedding you attend. But how can you know for sure?

Our overview of the six main wedding dress codes will help you find the perfect long dress for every occasion.

White tie 

Traditionally, a white tie wedding requires female guests to wear evening gowns, so not just any maxi dress will do. If you’ve been invited to a white tie wedding, you’ll need to wear a floor-length formal dress that doesn’t compete with the bride’s gown in any way. That means avoiding any shade of white as well as a lot of lace or embellishments.

Here are some elegant options perfect for white tie.

lena waterfall drape gown bambo tadashi shoji
Lena Waterfall Drape Gown Bambo
one shoulder bishop sleeve flowy gown macduggal long dress
One Shoulder Bishop Sleeve Flowy Gown
clarisse m6531cl dress the dress warehouse long dress
Star-Struck Cap-Sleeved Gown With Sarong-Style Skirt

Black tie 

Black tie may be less formal than white tie, but this wedding dress code still requires you to look elegant rather than flashy. An evening gown is perfect for this style of wedding, but it’s not a must. You can also wear a cocktail dress as long as its hemline is at least an inch or two below the knee.

These long dresses will have you looking sophisticated for a black tie wedding.

veria silk dress reformation

Formal (or black tie optional) 

A black tie optional event is still formal, but is slightly less conservative than black tie. And that means you can wear an above-the-knee dress. If you like a longer length, here are three lovely options that are formal, without being too over-the-top.

hazel sequin maxi dress black phase eight


A popular dress code for weddings, semi-formal means you can wear a maxi dress as long as it’s not too casual. If you’d wear it to the beach or out to run errands, for instance, you definitely shouldn’t be wearing it to a semi-formal wedding.

Here are some lovely options for a wedding-appropriate look.

white and yellow boho maxi dress

Dressy casual 

Dressy casual is a bit more relaxed than a semi-formal wedding, and that means you can choose a slightly less formal maxi dress. It should still be structured and give you a polished, sophisticated look.

These maxi dresses are all appropriate for a dressy casual affair.

everlasting bliss brown floral one shouder maxi dress


If you’ll be a guest at a casual wedding, you may already have a maxi dress or two in your closet that you can choose from. And while a casual wedding is not the same as your day-to-day casual wear, you can choose a dress with a more relaxed vibe. 

These dresses are all perfect for a casual wedding.

proenza schouler white label poplin tank maxi dress

What to Wear When No Dress Code is Stated

With dress codes decoded, you’ll be able to look your best at any style of wedding — but what if your invitation doesn’t state a dress code?

When in doubt, wearing a semi-formal dress can be a good option. If you want to truly nail your choice of dress, however, you can get pretty reliable clues just by reading the time of day and location stated on your invitation. Curious to know more? Let’s get started.

Daytime wedding

Morning and afternoon weddings are rarely formal, but that doesn’t mean you can throw on any old maxi dress without giving it any thought. Dressy casual or semi-formal attire are typically your best choices for a daytime ceremony. You should only opt for a casual maxi dress if your invitation specifically says the dress code is casual.

Here are some maxi dresses that are perfect for a daytime wedding.

halcyon floral lynette sweetheart maxi dress

Evening wedding

More formal than daytime ceremonies, evening weddings tend to be black tie, formal or semi-formal. So, which dress code is most likely? If your invitation doesn’t spell it out, then black tie is pretty unlikely. Opting for a semi-formal or black tie optional-style dress will be your best bet.

Choosing a simple yet sophisticated dress, like one of these, will have you looking your best for an evening ceremony.

morning lavender mariella satin maxi dress

Church wedding

A church wedding ceremony means choosing a maxi dress that is a combination of elegance and modesty. That means avoiding dresses with thigh-high slits, cleavage or bare backs. If you’re attending a Catholic ceremony, your shoulders should also be covered, so bring a cardigan or blazer to wear if your dress is sleeveless. 

Need some ideas? These classy dresses are all perfect for a church wedding.

unique vintage burgundy paisley buttercup maxi dress

Beach wedding

A beach ceremony is the perfect time for a cheerfully patterned maxi dress in a breezy fabric. A beach wedding also allows you to show more skin, but be sure to do so in moderation. Showing a lot of cleavage or having a thigh-high slit in your dress is never appropriate for a wedding.

Here are some cute maxi dress examples to get you started.

hello molly vivid skylines maxi dress multi

Garden wedding

A garden wedding is always gorgeous and sophisticated. To fit right in, choose a dress that offers up an English tea vibe. If you’re unfamiliar with this style, simply choose a dress that’s ladylike and feminine. Pretty florals and patterns are perfect for this setting and look fabulous with understated accessories and a hat.

These gorgeous maxi dresses all give garden wedding vibes.

melanie lyne floral print dress

Country wedding

A country wedding isn’t the time for casual clothes. Even daytime ceremonies held outdoors or in a barn tend to be dressy casual or semi-formal. Pretty florals or crisp gingham are perfect for a country setting, but make sure your dress isn’t too simple. Choosing a long dress with feminine touches like subtle ruffles, a bishop sleeve or a hint of lace will elevate your look.

These maxi dresses are all lovely choices for a country wedding.

erryn maxi dress ginghamandheels
Related Articles
Related Articles