Can You Wear Animal Prints to a Wedding?

can you wear animal prints to a wedding article

There is one cardinal rule when it comes to wedding attire: Never upstage the bride. And that means avoiding any outfit that is too flashy or attention-seeking.

While you most likely know better than to show up in a white lace dress or a bright red sequined gown, you may be wondering if your favorite print is appropriate. Can you wear animal prints to a wedding? 

Yes! As long as the print doesn’t scream “Look at me!” and the dress is not too sexy, you can wear your favorite animal print. The key is to look stylish and elegant, not like you’re heading to the club or, worse, to a Halloween party. 

If you love animal prints but want to make sure you get it right at the next wedding you’ll be attending, our guide will walk you through what to wear whether the event is white tie or dressy casual.

animal print ruffle midi dress boohoo

Can You Wear Animal Prints to a Wedding? 

While wearing an animal print dress can make you feel chic and sexy, it’s important the outfit you choose does not steal the bride’s thunder.

The key is to avoid flashy colors like fuschia, lime green or electric blue in favor of neutrals, pastels or dark hues. You should also accessorize an animal print dress as subtly as possible. 

Choosing sophisticated neutrals for your shoes, jewelry and handbag will tone down the print of your dress. The same goes for your makeup. Choosing neutral eyeshadow, lipstick and nail polish will ensure your overall look is elegant rather than dramatic.

Understanding Dress Codes

If you’re looking for a suitable way to wear an animal print to a wedding, the first thing to determine is the dress code. With appropriate attire running the gamut from evening gowns to sundresses, knowing where the wedding falls on the formality scale is the key to choosing a tasteful outfit. 

To help you find the perfect animal print dress, here’s an overview of the six main wedding dress codes.

White tie 

A white tie wedding is the most formal of all affairs and requires an elegant, floor-length evening dress. Anything that’s too flashy or glittery is a major faux pas as is showing too much skin or wearing tight fabrics. 

Here are some gorgeous animal print dresses.

one shoulder animal print maxi dress mac duggal

Black tie 

While you do have more leeway at black tie weddings, this dress code still requires sophisticated attire. You can wear a floor-length evening gown or a cocktail dress with a tea length, midi, high-low or just below-the-knee hemline.

These dresses would all be stunning for a black tie wedding.

sherri hill beaded column dress with v neckline skirt slit and off shouder draped beading

Formal (or black tie optional) 

A formal event allows guests to wear either a floor-length evening gown or a cocktail dress. Slightly less conservative than a black tie wedding, your hemline can be shorter for a formal affair as long as it’s no more than a few inches above the knee. 

Need some ideas? Here’s three great options.

adrianna papell metallic jacquard dress melanie lyne


A consistently popular dress code, a request for semi-formal attire offers you a wide range of wardrobe options. Cocktail dresses, garden party dresses, jumpsuits or fancy pantsuits are all acceptable attire. 

Here are some lovely options for a semi-formal wedding.

getting wild beige and black leopard print midi dress

Dressy casual 

Similar to semi-formal, a dressy casual dress code is slightly more relaxed, allowing you to choose between a garden party dress, a semi-casual dress or a skirt and top ensemble. If you’re not a dress kind of gal, you can rock a jumpsuit or a pantsuit as long as they’re not too casual. 

These dresses are perfect for a dressy casual affair.

leopard printed dress plus size dress wedding guest dress etsy


If you’re attending a casual wedding, you may already have an outfit in your closet that would be wedding-appropriate. When going through your wardrobe, remember that casual for a wedding is not the same as your typical casual wear. 

Even though this dress code is relaxed, you should look for a pretty sundress or maxi dress, a cute skirt and top or a chic jumpsuit.

These outfits will have you looking your best.

statement maker tan animal print wrap midi skirt lulus

What to Wear When No Dress Code is Stated

Now that you have the lowdown on wedding formality levels, let’s talk about how to dress if your invitation doesn’t request a particular dress code.

Wearing a cocktail dress is a pretty safe option, but you can often determine exactly what type of attire is expected just by reading the time of day and location stated on your invitation. Want to know more? Let’s dive in.

Daytime wedding

Morning and afternoon weddings are typically more casual than evening ceremonies, but that doesn’t mean you should dress casually. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to don dressy casual or semi-formal wear. You should only dress casually if your invitation specifically asks you to.

Here are some cute ways to incorporate animal print into your daytime wedding attire.

dsquared2 graffiti animal print flared midi dress farfetch

Evening wedding

More formal than daytime ceremonies, evening weddings require a more sophisticated look. Most evening weddings are either black tie, formal or semi-formal, making either a fancy jumpsuit or cocktail dress that is knee-length or longer a safe bet.

Here are some lovely examples of wedding-appropriate dresses for an evening ceremony.

ronny kobo zebra jade dress rent the runway

Church wedding

Stylish yet modest attire is always best for a church wedding ceremony. Dresses that show cleavage or have hemlines more than an inch or two above the knee are definitely taboo. If you’re attending a Catholic ceremony or a wedding at any conservative church, it’s also important to keep your shoulders covered. 

A sundress, a skirt and blouse or a maxi dress is perfect for a casual church wedding while semi-formal to formal ceremonies will require a cocktail dress or fancy jumpsuit in a conservative color or pattern.

If you need some ideas, these classy dresses are a good starting point.

petal and pup au dresses tanzy long sleeve midi dress emerald

Beach wedding

A ceremony on the beach doesn’t mean you should put on your shorts and sandals. Instead, opt for a dressy casual outfit of either a breezy maxi dress or sundress or casual but cute jumpsuit.

Here are some good examples to get you started.

someone you loved beige animal print midi dress pinklily

Garden wedding

Any outfit you choose for a garden wedding should be ladylike and feminine. If you could wear it to an English tea party, then the dress you’ve chosen is probably perfect. This is also a great time to add gloves or a hat to your ensemble.

Here are three great dresses to serve as inspiration.

frill hem wrap maxi dress leopard print etsy

Country wedding

A country wedding rarely means casual attire, so put away your jeans and leopard print top. Even if the ceremony is being held outdoors or in a barn, the dress code is still likely to range from dressy casual to semi-formal. 

These adorable animal print dresses are perfect for a country wedding.

summer leopard print casual ruffle elastic waist mini dress etsy

How to Use Animal Print Accessories

Rather than wearing an animal print dress, another option to indulge your love of this print is by wearing an amazing pair of cheetah print heels or a leopard print coat. 

Animal print accessories would be too much paired with a bright hue or a dress with a lot of bling, but can be a beautiful touch when paired with a black, navy, gray, burgundy or forest green dress. Animal prints also look amazing with neutral shades.

Here are some lovely options to give your wedding attire a lift.

feline fantastic tan leopard print coat lulus
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