Donna is a retired Certified Image Consultant with experience in women's fashions and cosmetics. She loves sharing insider fashion tips.
What does a woman wear to a 5 p.m. wedding?
Since this type of wedding is typically informal (unless the invitation specifies “Black Tie”), women should opt on the side of short dresses rather than full-length or tea-length dresses.
This is the bride’s special day to wear her beautiful full-length wedding gown, and guests should be mindful of not doing anything that upstages the bride.
Best Dresses for a 5 p.m. Wedding
The best dresses for a 5 p.m. wedding are dressy, short dresses that usually fall just to the knee.
A wedding is an excellent excuse to pull out your little black dress and add some classic accessories to give it a festive look.
A strand of pearl and matching pearl earrings are luxurious without being flashy. Complete the look with sling backs or platform heels and an iconic black chain-strapped bag, and wear complementary black hosiery to create a long, lean look.
Style Tips for a 5 p.m. Wedding
If dancing is part of the reception entertainment, you may want to consider a dress with a softly flowing or flirty swing. Wrap style dresses are universally flattering and offer a body-hugging cut that is not too tight or constricting.
Sheath and A-line dresses are fashion staples that are wedding attire-appropriate and can be dressed up slightly with sweaters and jackets for cooler weather weddings. The only colors that are not appropriate for guests to wear to weddings are red or white because they draw attention away from the bride.
Dressy Suits and Evening Pantsuits
Dressy suits are great choices for a 5 p.m. wedding, but stay away from designs with sequins, rhinestones, and other embellishments. Dark colors are good for fall and winter weddings while you can lighten up the look for spring and summer.
Etiquette rules have relaxed somewhat, and today, dressy evening pantsuits are appropriate for informal weddings. Avoid overly shiny fabrics and ornamentations and opt for suits with classic lines and clean tailoring for a sophisticated look.
Exceptions to the Rules
There are exceptions to most rules, and an in-depth answer to the question, “What does a woman wear to a 5 p.m. wedding?” should deal with those. The venue of the wedding is an integral part of deciding what to wear.
For instance, beach themed weddings, barbeque receptions, and pig roast celebrations all call for attire other than cocktail dresses or evening pantsuits. For occasions like these, you will want to wear your nicest dress slacks and a matching or coordinating jacket.
A simple silk shell in a complementary shade, a statement-making necklace and earrings, peep-toe wedges or strappy sandals, and clutch complete the look.
Reference and Source Materials
"6 Secrets to Dressing Slim," Goodhousekeeping (online)
Author's own experience as a Certified Image Consultant and clothier
© 2011 Donna Cosmato
What Would You Wear to a 5 pm Wedding?
Dawn on May 15, 2019:
If it is an indoor 3:00 pm wedding with an outside garden reception what is the most appropriate attire for a women in her late 40"s?
Beca on February 15, 2019:
Can you wear linen to wedding?
Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on July 04, 2011:
Thanks for the nice comment! I like having the opportunity to dress up for special events, especially since so many celebrations these days have gone to ultra casual dress. How about you? What's your favorite dress up event?
womens pant suits on July 03, 2011:
I like the idea of dressy suits and evening pantsuits to wear at the wedding. I like the pink color pant suit. Great article. Thanks for sharing it.
Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on April 12, 2011:
You're welcome, Julie...thanks! Yes, these in-between time events can really cause some stress when trying to look fashion forward without being over or under dressed. I'm always looking for some new ideas or tips to help my clients, so if you run across something fabulous, do let me know:-)
JulieCarlson from Chicagoland on April 12, 2011:
Evening weddings are so tricky to dress for. Thanks for the hub. It's very useful.