What to Wear to a Winter Wedding: The Best Guest Dresses

The only thing you'll need to worry about is shoes.

woman in dark floral dress
(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

So you have to tear yourself away from a weekend of Netflix, eat, and repeat long enough to attend a wedding? And worse, it's happening in the winter? Truly shudder-inducing. But don't fret—winter-ready dresses can be the most gorgeous, and we've for you covered (literally). Unlike spring and summer weddings, to which you can wear the bare minimum, winter weddings call for dresses made from thick fabrics like velvet and with sleeves, if possible. You can also feel good about icing yourself out in a ton of jewelry to match the icy temperatures outside. 

We tapped a stylist for her insight on what to wear to a winter wedding and curated a list of the best wedding guest dresses for the 2023 season, all of which you'll find ahead. In fact, the styles below are so nice you'll want to wear them twice—i.e., the holy grail of wedding attire. We've got everything from simple, ruched mini dresses to drop-dead-glamorous gowns that will make you look red-carpet-ready.

What to Look For

  • Formality

"For weddings in general, it’s always important to figure out how formal the wedding is," advises fashion editor, stylist, and influencer Caroline Vazzana. "Is it black tie, cocktail attire? That will determine how you should dress. If you’re not sure, I’d always suggest either asking the bride or checking the couple's wedding website."

  • Rich Fabrics

"For a winter wedding, in particular, I think velvets and satins are always great," says Vazzana, adding that you'll want to steer clear of summery fabrics like linen or lightweight cotton. 

  • Outerwear

Unlike a summer ceremony where easy-breezy dressing and limited layers are encouraged, you'll need to don outerwear for a winter wedding. However, you can't just throw on any winter jacket in your arsenal, says Vazzana. A bulky puffer or parka won't cut it, but "a faux fur coat or shrug, for instance, is also always the perfect accent to wedding guest looks in the winter," she says. A sharply tailored blazer or wool peacoat are also options to consider topping off your outfit with.

The Best Winter Wedding Guest Dresses

Don't Shy Away From Shimmer

woman in black sequin dress

(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

"I love a little sparkle, so a deep metallic or black sequin can always be fun for a winter wedding," Vazzana shares. "I’d stick to a darker sparkle though as not to distract from the bride, though."

Va-Va-Voom Velvet

woman in brown velvet dress

(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

For a timeless winter-ready look, try a dress made of luscious, dare-to-be-touched velvet. In particular, Vazzana encourages you to consider "a long, deep red velvet gown, as it's a gorgeous option" that delivers a glamorous effect without fail.

*Don't* Take the Plunge

woman in high neck satin dress

(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

"A high neck is always stunning in winter as well," says Vazzana. Julia Marzovilla, Marie Claire's E-Commerce Editor, seconds the stylist, shouting out this silk cowl-neck number from Reformation. "I have been dreaming about the Casette dress since I first saw it on Reformation's website. It comes in four colors—including this light green that I love so much- and has a high, halter-style neckline, making it a little more winter-ready. Plus a sleek low back if you want to show extra skin." As for styling the luxurious midi dress, the shopping expert "would wear it over patterned tights or lace tights and style it with close-toed pumps or even a tall boot for a more casual affair."

Winter-Approved Long Sleeves

woman in long sleeve black dress

(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

You can't avoid it: winter's chilly temps necessitate more fabric. But, as Vazzana points out, a more covered-up silhouette doesn't always mean your look will feel modest or tame. "Don’t be afraid to opt for a long sleeve," she advises. "Though it may feel very covered, it still can be very chic," especially if the style boasts a few choice cutouts or an open back.

Dark & Moody Florals

woman in dark black floral dress

(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images))

Flower motifs and prints are inherently romantic, making them a natural choice to wear to a wedding. And even though real flowers may be scarce in nature during the winter, Vazzana encourages you to keep floral prints in your guest dress rotation during the cold season. "Dary, moody florals are always perfect for winter," the stylist shares via email. "Oh, a bonus is that a darker floral cocktail dress works for so many occasions, more than just a wedding!"

Meet the Expert

Caroline Vazzana
Caroline Vazzana

Caroline Vazzana is a fashion editor, stylist, influencer, and the author and founder of “Making it in Manhattan.” She began writing “Making it in Manhattan” back in 2015 while working at InStyle and subsequently launched her brand as one of New York City’s most colorful influencers. Aside from running MakingManhattan.com, Vazzana has also styled celebrities for various red-carpet events such as the MTV Video Music Awards, The Tony Awards, and Comicon and is also involved in a wide range of social media brand collaborations and campaigns.

Emma Childs
Fashion Features Editor

Emma is the fashion features editor at Marie Claire, where she writes deep-dive trend reports, zeitgeisty fashion featurettes on what style tastemakers are wearing, long-form profiles on emerging designers and the names to know, and human interest vignette-style round-ups. Previously, she was Marie Claire's style editor, where she wrote shopping e-commerce guides and seasonal trend reports, assisted with the market for fashion photo shoots, and assigned and edited fashion celebrity news.

Emma also wrote for The Zoe Report, Editorialist, Elite Daily, Bustle, and Mission Magazine. She studied Fashion Studies and New Media at Fordham University Lincoln Center and launched her own magazine, Childs Play Magazine, in 2015 as a creative pastime. When she's not waxing poetic about niche fashion topics, you'll find her stalking eBay for designer vintage, reading literary fiction on her Kindle, and baking banana bread in her tiny NYC kitchen.