What to Wear to an Autumn/Winter Wedding: 10 Guest Outfit Ideas
However, dressing for a wedding when the temperatures drop can be a difficult balancing act between style and practicality. Navigating winter-ready occasionwear means preparing for draughty venues and outdoor photography when the weather can be unpredictable.
To help you understand the nuances of styling in the colder seasons, we’ve created a guide on what to wear to an autumn or winter wedding that’ll secure your place as best-dressed guest and keep you comfortable throughout the day. Boglarka Trungel, Buying Assistant, has also shared their expert tips for understanding the dress code and their top outfit recommendations for the ceremony through to the reception.
What is the dress code for autumn/winter weddings?“As with any wedding, a guest’s outfit should be an extension of the setting, so dressing for autumn or winter nuptials should complement the venue and ceremony,” says Boglarka Trungel.
“To be sure that your outfit is appropriate for the occasion, find out what the dress code is so you can make sure you’re adhering to it. The best way to do this is to check with the bride or groom,” Trungel recommends.
Cocktail“Cocktail dress is another term for semi-formal, so men should opt for a dark suit and tie while women can embrace a knee-length dress that balances casual and overly formal,” says Trungel.
Black tieTrungel explains: “For black tie weddings, bring out your best formalwear to make sure you’re not underdressed. Maxi and floor length dresses are a safe option, while men are expected to dress in tuxedos — think bowties instead of ties and satin lapels.”
Top styling tips for autumn/winter wedding wear
1. Brace for the elementsWhether you’re attending an outdoor or indoor wedding, the elements can pose a unique challenge. Crisp autumn breezes or winter's biting chill can quickly transform from enchanting to uncomfortable, so Trungel's advice is to prepare for all outcomes:
“Unfortunately, airy fabrics like linen and chiffon aren’t ideal for cooler-weather dressing, so consider thicker and warmer alternatives instead. Velvet is an instinctive choice for winter; it’s heavier, so it gives a luxurious drape across the body and comes in a beautiful selection of rich and autumnal hues.”
“For gentlemen, a tweed suit is indispensable. Exuding style and unwavering warmth, it will ensure you’re comfortably warm without compromising on style. A full tweed suit can be fairly striking, so for a softer look, I’d recommend pairing a tweed blazer with smart flannel trousers to create a more relaxed feel.”
2. Layering with intentLayering is the epitome of autumn and winter fashion: it’s the art of carefully combining different pieces to create a cohesive, elegant look that can be shed or donned when needed.
“Chunky down and waxed, waterproof jackets may be quintessential country attire, but they’re not the most practical choice for a wedding. Instead, I prefer natural fibres to instantly elevate any look. Cashmere, wool, and tweed are renowned for their warmth, breathability, and luxurious appearance.”
“Along with the fabric, the length of your layers should be carefully considered. For men, a fitted overcoat should fall around mid-thigh. Ladies have more options: mid- to full-length coats can help to elongate the silhouette, especially if layering over a longer dress or skirt. If pairing with a shorter hemline, a cape coat adds generous volume and movement.”
3. Wearing black or whiteThe question of wearing white or black to weddings often stirs debate: white is historically reserved for the bride, while black is often linked to mourning. Trungel settles the question of whether you can wear white or black to a wedding once and for all.
“Today, black is much more acceptable for weddings, especially in fall or winter when guests naturally gravitate towards richer and darker colours. Black is versatile and always elegant, but opting for the right fabric and accessorising correctly can add verve to a look. I’m a big fan of a black satin or embellished dress contrasted with a colourful bag, coat, or shoes.”
“White is a bit trickier. It can be easier to pull off in the summer months when guests opt for pastels and lighter colours, but the winter ambience calls for deeper and more vivid hues. Men can incorporate white shirts or pocket squares, but ladies might want to consider off-white instead.”
4. Choose well-tailored pieces“Winter is an excellent time for power dressing. That may involve swapping a dress or skirt with a tailored jumpsuit, trouser suit, or co-ord. As well as being weather appropriate, styling heels with smart trousers is glamorous and helps you to instantly step up to the occasion,” Trungel says.
“I’d always recommend satin and velvet fabrics, vibrant jewel tones and colourful accessories to keep it on the side of wedding rather than workwear.”
What to wear to a winter wedding
Fall in love with the plush, tactile grandeur of velvet. This exquisite fabric shines exceptionally well in autumnal tones like deep emerald, royal blue and burgundy. Consider a velvet jumpsuit or a trouser suit for a seamless blend of sophistication and comfort at any autumn or winter wedding.
"Velvet makes a resurgence every winter, not just for its warmth but also for its royal connotations. It's an exquisite choice that pays homage to the season. What better opportunity to experiment with the most sumptuous of fabrics? Try a velvet suit with a delicate lace or satin top underneath to make each texture really stand out," says Trungel.
2. Statement necklines
For a ceremony in the colder months, reach for high necklines over plunging or V-neck styles. Not only do they channel classic appeal while being a safe, modest choice, but they simultaneously highlight the neck and shoulder area.
"High necklines have made a comeback and are perfect for autumn and winter weddings. I like to stick to the unspoken rule of veering away from anything too low cut, short, or tight; a long-sleeve dress that flares at the waist with a button-up neck meets all of these requirements."
3. Sleeves with detail
Trungel says: "Sleeves can transform an outfit from average to exceptional. This season, I’m especially partial to delicate details like balloon, butterfly, or pleated sleeves; they add a captivating dimension to any dress while also being on-trend."
“If you’ve chosen a blouse and long skirt combination, avoid a crisp Oxford-style shirt as they may appear more office-ready. Instead, a silk-effect blouse with frill detailing is feminine and elegant.”
4. Moody florals and prints
Embrace moody, autumnal florals and intricate prints that resonate with the season’s natural beauty. Think rich maroons, forest greens, and muted golds that enhance rather than distract.
"I personally think that autumn has one of the best colour spectrums of all the seasons. Along with your rustic oranges and browns, deeper hues and florals evoke the complex beauty of fall, creating an air of romance and mystery. Flowery patterns may seem quite summery, but a moody colour scheme can add intrigue and romance to an otherwise minimal dress," adds Trungel wisely.
5. Luxe outerwear
To take your place as best-dressed guest, don’t overlook the power of sophisticated outerwear. Elegant coats, sumptuous shawls, and wraps not only provide needed warmth but also act as a finishing touch to your outfit.
"A well-chosen coat or wrap complements your wedding attire rather than masking it. Tweed, pure wool and cashmere are timeless options that will last for all occasions, season after season," advises Trungel. Learn how to refresh your woollen outerwear and remove any pilling before attending the nuptials with our merino wool and cashmere care guides.
“For something with a bit more grandeur, I love a faux fur coat in a neutral colour for draping over your shoulders – it’ll keep the chill at bay and look effortlessly glamourous,” shares Trungel.
1. Tailored outerwear
Amongst brisk autumnal winds and the chill of winter, a well-tailored coat emerges as a foremost choice for the discerning gentleman. Whatever style you choose, ensure your outerwear is tailored correctly to keep your wedding look sharp and sophisticated.
"There are a few formal outerwear options for men: a car coat falls to the perfect length when worn over a suit, while a paddock coat features a silhouette-defining shape that embraces modern tailoring trends. The beauty of selecting a coat with a longer hemline is that as well as being wedding-ready, it can be worn throughout the winter for a number of occasions. It’s an ideal piece for wearing in town and country, ensuring it gets its wear,” recommends Trungel.
2. A tweed suit
As temperatures dip, materials like tweed and wool stand out for suits. They not only promise comfort but also showcase meticulous detailing in patterns and hues. Let the fabric and its intricacies be a testament to your sartorial wedding choices.
Trungel says: "A well-chosen suit becomes an extension of the wearer. Tweed, in particular, is a mainstay in the world of classic country fashion for both warmth and style. It reflects Scotland’s rich heritage and traditional craftsmanship while also embracing exquisite detailing. I prefer houndstooth, puppytooth and herringbone weaves for a celebration as the finer patterns are distinguished without being ostentatious.”
Learn more about the history of tweed, its different patterns, and how to style it in our guide to tweed.
3. Flannel trousers
If you’re averse to a two- or three-piece matching suit, wearing a blazer with flannel trousers can bring a soft sophistication to your winter wedding ensemble.
"Flannel trousers are warm and versatile – exactly what you need for any cold-weather wedding. I would always recommend a black or grey pair for seamlessly transitioning from a formal ceremony to a relaxed reception. They’re an essential piece in the modern gentleman's winter wardrobe."
4. Captivating accessories
Accessories might be small, but they can make a big impact. Pocket squares introduce a dash of colour or pattern to suits, while cufflinks add a touch of elegance and personal style.
Trungel tells us: "I really think pocket squares are such an understated accessory for a wedding. There are so many fabrics, prints and colours to choose from, and they do an excellent job of adding intrigue to a suit. Cufflinks are the finishing flourishes: they subtly underscore a gentleman's attention to detail."
“The trick to picking cufflinks is to match them to one of the colours in your tie or the colour of your shirt. If you’re unsure, I always abide by the rule that silver cufflinks complement suits in cooler shades like black, blue, or grey. Brown, green, or maroon pairs much better with gold cufflinks,” explains Trungel.
Don’t forget to polish your dress shoes before stepping out on the big day. Find out how to clean leather footwear here.
5. Classic footwear
Weddings call for footwear that complements the grandeur of the occasion. Opt for formal, leather dress shoes that embody comfort and craftsmanship, ensuring you stride confidently.
"A quality shoe is the foundation of any ensemble. Prioritise designs that offer both aesthetics and longevity so that they’ll last you for future occasions too. While black is one of the most versatile colours, style rules are different when it comes to suit footwear. Black dress shoes fit with a black or charcoal suit, whereas brown shoes can be more easily worn with a range of colours like blue, navy, or grey."
What to wear to an autumn or winter weddingWhether you are suiting up for a ceremony or reception, a wedding is an exquisite occasion that you’ll want to perfect the dress code for. For guests, autumn or winter nuptials mean more than muted colours and heavy outerwear: embody the celebration of romance through vivacious jewel tones, tactile textiles and sublime tailoring.
For more ideas or to select something that the bride and groom can savour,why not browse our selection of wedding gifts and guide.