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What to Wear to a Outdoor Garden Wedding

April 06, 2009 - Linleigh Richker

    I received a lovely invitation to an evening wedding set in a wine vineyard for Memorial Day weekend. The dress says “Garden Glamor.” How perfect. Right? A simple dress with a wrap. But my instincts tell me that this search is a bit trickier than most. What to wear as a guest to this wedding has its unwritten rules. 

1. Avoid all over white

2. Avoid all over black (navy is a great option) 

3. Knee length is preferred (long is not appropriate for this venue) 

4. Fabric should be of substance: silk, lace, combinations of cotton/silk.  Knit jerseys and double knits also work. 

5. Prints are personal; subtle florals can work. I would avoid graphics and color blocking, too sporty for an event like this 

6. Details like ruffles, lace, bows, pleats, flounces always lend that added lofty feel. 

7. Colors like tangerine, coral, parrot pink, gold, sea foam and navy, if you are not that confectionerily brave, will complete that garden magic.  So with all those rules, I came up with a few choices.

Milly Poolside Cocktail Dress

Milly's poolside yellow cocktail dress at $455 or

Milly Single Flutter Rainbow Floral Party Dress

Milly's rainbow floral silk chiffon asymmetrical flutter dress or her ecru/brown trompe l'oeil guipure dress.(not pictured) Whimsical and delicious!

Tory Burch "Belinda" Dress

Tory Burch's Belinda vine jacquard coral print dress with a ruched scoop neck at $450 or her Sophia navy flounce at $595. (not pictured) 

Nanette Lepore "Trellis" Stripe Corset and "Garden Party" Skirt

 Nanette Lepore’s trellis stipe corset and garden party skirt each piece $275 or her Larkspur sheath in sea foam $395 (not pictured) or her Very Cherry short flutter sleeveless dress $395. (not pictured)

David Meister Capsleeve Sheath Dress

David Meister’s capsleeve printed sheath dress at $322 or his tangerine re-embroidered lace one shoulder cocktail dress. (not pictured) 

Erdem's Adelphia box pleated dress $935 

or Erdem's Lucina tailored cap sleeve toile de reve (lilac print) dress at $1135. 

Hanii Y's Flutter Trench in navy print at $785. This jacket is sublime paired with an ivory cigarette legged silk pant. (a great substitute if you are not the dress type)

 Barney’s private label had a few choices: its Italian lace party dress in navy on sale from $1295 to $779 or its ruffle front sundress in yellow wood grain print $750. (not pictured)

Dior’s navy cotton pique boat neck with back bows on each shoulder at $2490, a knockout fabulous dress if you can spend the money. What will I wear? An ivory linen and tiny gold sequined sleeveless dress by an Italian line called LaviniaTurra. (not pictured) 

Now all I need is the wrap!


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Cute options. I wouldn't be so daring as to show too much skin so my two favorites are the Tory Burch and David Meister

I find these dresses lovely - however some are very busy. Like the Milly rainbow dress and the David Meister black and white dress. I wonder what type of physique could carry off such elaborate pattern and style (one shoulder etc.). Taller? Skinny? I would be inerested in what Linleigh says about this.

Number one and two sounds like my mom - who always said to never wear black or white to a wedding. Right again! Enjoyed this piece.

Very attractive items showcased here. The writer here obviously has good taste. Would have liked to see more priced in the $300 range though. These are tough times and no one I know is shelling out the big bucks for fashion this year - me included!

These two you mentioned are the safest bet(most conservative) and would feel appropriate in most settings. They also cover the body, so one can feel confident while wearing them. Thanks for responding. Linleigh

Thanks for reading and responding. As they say, mother knows best! Linleigh

I realized after I posted this article that I had been remiss in not offering a couple choices in that price point. I will do a bit of research a give you some options. Linleigh

The Milly rainbow dress takes a very confident woman to pull that off. Being tall and lean with a great clavicle would help, but this woman has to have the posture and confidence to be noticed all night! The David Meister has a broader audience. A very petite woman could even wear this dress, but again, it's a lot of pattern, so you can't be a wall flower. Linleigh

I like them all except the last photo. Wish I stumbled your site before. Thanks a lot for this valuable information.


I like Nanette Lepore’s it so unique of course so pretty and fashionable love the outfit.

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