Half of my friends are about to get engaged and the other half are already planning their weddings. (Okay, not quite that many, but it feels like it!) I’m trilled for them, but also truly terrified—where did the time go?? And more importantly, what do I wear?? So far, I've pulled 19 eye-catching dresses to slip on for the upcoming nuptials, all costing just $500 or less. And I've rounded them up here for all of us to browse through, because I know I’m not alone in my hunt for a full-on wedding guest wardrobe.
The number of Save The Dates on your fridge is multiplying quickly, so budget is top of mind. This Forever 21 dress is affordable, yet stylish, which makes it a must-have. I love the hanging shoulder strap details.
Forever 21, $25
All those hours you put into barre class pay off with this short but sweet BCBG Generation dress. It'll show off your legs as you dominate the dance floor—while still being conservative enough to wear in front of Aunt Brenda.
BCBG Generation, $40
Bless the friends who throw backyard weddings, so we don't have to overthink our outfits. Grab your favorite floral dress (perhaps it's this one from J.Crew?) and throw on some sandals for the easiest look you'll put together this wedding season.
The LBD is always a popular choice for special occasions; make yours stand out from the pack with interesting details. This Asos piece features an asymmetrical, mermaid-esque hem, so you won't look like every other bridesmaid.
When choosing your wedding guest dress, be mindful of the reception location. If it's outside, keep cool in a backless slip dress, like this one, as you dance the night away.
by the way, $72
Get yourself a wedding guest dress that works beyond the day's festivities. This Cooper & Ella number fits the bill: You can recycle the mini dress for date night or your SO's summer office party.
Cooper & Ella, $94
A wedding is the most romantic event you can witness (aside from the proposal), so channel those feelings with this sweet off-the-shoulder maxi dress. The side slit keeps it sexy, not saccharine (if you're single and ready to mingle).
Roe + May, $99
I'm all for effortless dressing and, damn, if this style from Finders Keepers isn't the definition of that. The thin straps and fluted hem details aren't flamboyant, but rather, provide a delicate, feminine touch.
Finders Keepers, $155
If you plan to spend all your time on the dance floor, slip into Saylor's floral v-neck half-sleeve dress. You can get down to Beyoncé without worrying about a drunk groomsman stepping on your hem.
Blogger-turned-designer Julia Engel created the perfect dress for all your summertime fêtes, including that wedding you just RSVP'd to. This off-the-shoulder cocktail dress is made from forgiving scuba crepe and the trumpet skirt is perfect for twirling.
Gal Meets Glam, $168
Are you attending a wedding in the Hamptons? You'll need an easy, breezy dress like this striped halter maxi number. The dress is simple but not boring, flatters all body types, and comes in sizes 16 to 22.
Eliza J, $188
This versatile v-neck party dress comes in three different colors: burgundy, midnight, and black. And thanks to the dress's timeless silhouette, this style is suitable for both black-tie events and more casual, daytime receptions.
Dress the Population, $198
We all have that one friend who's getting married for the Instagram (and love! definitely, love), so you'll need to find a dress that makes a statement—without overshadowing the bride. This two-toned C/Meo Collective number is both elegant and unique thanks to the tie-front. Don't forget to use her custom hashtag.
C/Meo Collective, $205
Feel like a grecian goddess in this comfortable, floor-length wrap dress. The easy-to-wear chiffon material is forgiving, so you can hit up the open bar and dessert table all you want (not that you should ever have qualms about that). This style also comes in blush, burgundy, black, light blue, and navy.
Summer weddings call for pastel hues; embrace the color palette with an on-trend lavender dress. This one comes in a high-low design, which allows you to show off your heels.
BCBG Max Azria, $298
Every piece on Fame & Partners' website is completely customizable, which means you'll never accidentally be twinning with another guest (my greatest fear). Start with a simple black dress, like "The Max," and change up the details, from the color to the cut, for that one-of-a-kind look.
Fame & Partners, $299
Marriage is all about compromise right? Find the middle ground between showing off your shoulders and keeping them covered with a one-shoulder design. This asymmetrical number from Iro has a romantic floral print and airy skirt...because cocktail hour is almost guaranteed to be humid.
Featuring a print that evokes the feeling of frolicking in the countryside, this romantic dress has a fitted bodice and flowing skirt. It's a good Instagram guaranteed.
Designed with female anatomy in mind, this dress features a scrunched and supportive bodice (no sticky boobs, no problems), a neckline that does great things for collar bones, and a flowing asymmetrical skirt. Editorial note: I've owned this dress for about about a month and it's quickly become the only thing I want to wear when I need to look spiffy, but want to feel pajama-level comfort.
Be the most sophisticated wedding guest with this figure accentuating cobalt blue number that falls just above the knee. Featuring a shirt style open collar and polished with a fitted belt, the look channels Kate Middleton SS19.
Staying in the pastel palette for warm-weathered weddings is a failsafe option that'll always work. We love this style from Copenhagen-based brand Samsøe & Samsøe for featuring a retro prairie silhouette that feels very Parisian.
Are you attending a wedding upstate? Bring your bohemian A-game. Made from 100% cotton (read: it can be hand washed!), Dôen's Dree dress features a squared v-neck with puffed sleeves. It will look fabulous with a sprawling countryside backdrop.
This playful cinched waist Wilfred dress comes in eight (I repeat, eight) different colors, so you can buy it in every shade and wear it 'til death do you part. Go with lavender if the ceremony is outdoors or resort to black if the event's more formal.
This floor-length dress masters understated glamour with pearlescent beads on the front and back V-necklines and a center slit. It comes in ivory and navy-blue as well.
Get away with wearing white to a wedding with a polka dot print dress. Is your vibe fun and flirty? This ruffled number is for you. It can be styled with a black leather belt for a cute summertime outfit, too.
Featuring a customizable halter neck, this red hot gown can be styled multiple ways, so it'll feel like a new dress every time you wear it. Featuring a plunging neckline, a slitted leg, and a waist tie, it's a show-stopping look.
For the guest who's opting for an off-the-runway look, meet this GenZ yellow ensemble from C/Meo Collective.