A Guide for Guests: What to Wear to an Outdoor Winter Wedding

Chilly temperatures don't have to mean sacrificing on style.

shelby barrett wedding guests
Photo: Corbin Gurkin

Winter weddings certainly have their advantages. Snowy backdrops are undoubtedly one of them-but it goes without saying that these spectacular views come with low temperatures. While that's well and good for wedding photos, guests might struggle with the chilly weather, especially if a portion of the ceremony or reception is outside. If you're currently a guest preparing for this type of event, know that you have options. To help you plan an outfit that's both stylish and functional, we tapped a few industry experts who all agree that keeping warm doesn't have to mean adding on bulky layers that take away from the outfit underneath. Ahead, your complete guide to getting dressed for an outdoor winter wedding.

Staying warm and being stylish aren't mutually exclusive.

It's time to break out your winter best, says Heather Dwight, the owner of Denver-based Calluna Events: "In Colorado it's not uncommon for our guests to have outdoor winter weddings in all types of weather. We recommend wearing your most stylish coat, gloves, hat and scarf." Alicia Fritz, owner of A Day In May Events, advises sticking to a few key fabrics when sourcing these garments-namely wool. "A long tweed skirt with a cashmere sweater and a great pump make a wonderful winter wedding outfit," she says. Alternatively, pop a tweed coat over a slip dress for a slinky (but warm!) ensemble.

Just because something's warm, however, doesn't mean that you should wear it, notes Emily Campbell of Bella Design & Planning. "Ski gear definitely doesn't fit the dress code, so leave that at home," she says. This holds true even if the couple really is getting hitched on the slopes.

Layering is key.

Think of layering as security against the varying temperatures you're bound to experience at an outdoor winter wedding-especially if there's also an indoor component. You'll feel better (and have more fun!) if you're prepared, adds Blue Bird Productions' Virginia Edelson. "Maintaining your ideal body temperature and comfort levels will always help you look like the best version of yourself," she says. You can layer up in two ways, explains Cambell, who suggests wearing a single heavy jacket or, if you aren't experiencing below-freezing temperatures, a few lighter layers (try a thin sweater or cardigan over a dress, then add a jacket, a coordinating scarf, and gloves, she advises). Looking for a heat-trapping layer that doesn't show? "Silk underwear is always a good option, since it's not thick or bulky," suggests stylist Cacky Rivers of Cacky's Bride+Aid.

A suit might be your best option.

The guys have a slight advantage when it comes to warm wedding guest attire, since suits are naturally insulating, says Dwight. So ladies, take note! "A chic pantsuit is always an option! Choose a figure-flattering bottom, like slim cigarette pants or a pair with a wider leg, and top them off with a silk blouse and matching jacket," recommends Campbell. Both men and women can approach layering a suit similarly-lean into heavier fabrics, pop a cashmere sweater over your blouse (or collared shirt!), and then add in wintry accessories (like gloves, hats, and scarves) if necessary.

winter wedding guest attire woman in blood orange coat
Alyssa Wilcox Photography

Double up on shoes.

You heard us: You'll want to bring two pairs of shoes with you if any part of the wedding takes place outside. "We suggest something warm and safer for the outdoor ceremony, like a pair of boots with toe warmers, and then something party-appropriate for the indoor reception," adds Edelson. If you know there will be snow on the ground, your outdoor pair should be water-resistant, says Campbell. Your sock choice is equally important, notes Fritz: "Smartwool's thin athletic socks are my favorite to wear with dress booties and boots."

Accessorize strategically, but with your overall look in mind.

This is especially true in the hair department. "Ear muffs are back in style and won't ruin your blow out," continues Fritz, who also recommends a "fabulous pair of leather driving gloves" for men. Other obvious choices, like shrugs, wraps, or fur coats can be an added comfort, says Rivers: "Especially if you want to wear that sexy dress to the reception!" However you choose to warmly accessorize, Fritz says treating your "outerwear like your actual apparel" is the only way to pull off a cohesive ensemble.

When in doubt, bring hand warmers.

Virtually all of our experts advise stocking up on disposable hand warmers ("I pass them out like they're candy," jokes Rivers). "Wear a heated wrap-like the ones for lower back pain!-under your clothes if you know you'll be outside for long periods of time," says Edelson. "This will keep your core warm, regardless of what you wear."

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