Finding the right outfit for any important event can be stressful, but when you’re coming together with friends and family to celebrate your own engagement or the engagement of a loved one, the stakes can feel even higher. If you’re the bride-to-be, you’re tasked with finding a stand-out outfit for the (first) occasion where all eyes are on you. If you’re a guest, you’ll be looking for something with the goldilocks effect — not too casual, not too formal, but just right. In this guide, we explore what to wear to an engagement party and how to make sense of those ever-confusing dress codes.
Dresses To Wear To Your Engagement Party | For The Bride
So, it’s the big day before your big day. All that planning, booking, organising, and preparing can be overwhelming. Picking an outfit on top of that? Just thinking about it all feels like cause for a lie-down. The main thing to remember if you’re the bride-to-be is that you hold the power. Well, you and your partner of course! Maybe your idea of the perfect night is a cocktail party, complete with a lively dancefloor and extravagant decor. Or, maybe a relaxed backyard barbecue or picnic is more your speed. Go with what feels right for you — that goes for the dress code, too. When you’re working out what to wear to your engagement party, consider what makes you feel most confident and comfortable.
The Bride In White
If you’re keen on sticking with tradition, slip into something white. At cocktail engagement parties, a statement white midi dress is always a good idea for the bride. For something with a contemporary twist, look to a white oversized blazer and wide-leg pants combo, or a sleek white jumpsuit. These stand-out silhouettes are also ideal if you’re wearing a white dress to your wedding and want to mix things up a bit for the engagement party.
Alternatively, you could go with something in a bold colour. You could even inverse the traditional engagement party style code by asking guests to wear white or neutral hues. Really lean into colour by opting for neon colour blocking or vibrant prints. As for silhouettes, it’s really up to you. For cocktail parties, you can look at structured mini or midi dresses with statement features like puff sleeves or a ruffled hem. In more relaxed settings, floaty midi dresses or a chic top-and-pants set will work well.
What To Wear To An Engagement Party | For A Guest
You’ve received the invitation, and now it’s time to work out what to wear. Let’s start by answering the question that always comes to mind when you’re planning your engagement party look.
Can You Wear White To An Engagement Party?
Our answer? No. We recommend adopting the same approach as you would for the wedding. Unless the engaged couple specifically requests that you wear white, don’t wear it. We’d also recommend avoiding off-white, pale pink, and champagne hues in case the bride-to-be opts for something white-adjacent. If you feel most comfortable in light or pastel hues, consider pale blues, yellows, and mauves instead.
Some engagement party invitations will outline a specific dress code. This is a good thing — it makes sourcing an outfit a whole lot easier. Below, we look at the two most common dress codes for engagement parties and what you can wear for each of them.
Dressy-Casual or Semi-Formal
These two dress codes are considered interchangeable, in that they basically mean the same thing. For dressy-casual or semi-formal engagement parties, you’ll be looking to pieces that are less structured than what you might wear to a cocktail party. We recommend a midi or maxi dress for both daytime and nighttime events. Look to floaty, relaxed silhouettes rather than bodycon or fitted styled which lend themselves more to formal events. Unless a colour palette has been specified, for daytime parties you can play with bright colours and prints that feel appropriate for the location. Think florals for picnics and bright hues for poolside barbecues.
If dresses aren’t your thing, wide-leg trousers and a blouse will also work for semi-formal parties. You could consider opting for a set too, which we love for ease of styling. It’s always better to overdress than underdress at an engagement party, so keep that in mind when selecting your outfit.
A cocktail party calls for a more structured look. For daytime cocktail parties, a classic midi dress is ideal. You can still work with bright colours and prints for daytime cocktail parties, as long as the silhouette of your dress is a bit more fitted to ensure a more elevated and formal look. We recommend avoiding styles with excessive cutouts or plunging necklines.
For evening cocktail parties, a blazer and pants combo or form-fitting midi dress are our top picks. You can dress your blazer and pants up with pointed-toe heels, slicked-back hair, and statement accessories. As for an evening midi dress, we love tones such as wine, deep green, burnt orange, navy, and dusty rose. Pleats and satin slip designs are timeless and foolproof. You could also opt for an LBD for an evening cocktail party — just ensure the hemline and neckline are sophisticated.
The Invite Doesn’t Have A Dress Code — What Now?
If the engagement party invitation doesn’t have a dress code, there are three key things that can help to guide your outfit selection.
Firstly, consider the location. Is the party at a rooftop bar or a restaurant? In this case, we recommend going with cocktail party attire. As a general rule, if the event is taking place at a formal venue, you should err on the side of formal outfitting. If the party is taking place in a park or at home, you’ll be safe with an outfit that toes the line between semi-formal and cocktail. Consider a printed midi dress or wide-leg pants, a blouse, and heels.
The time of day in which the party is taking place will also play a part in your outfit. For daytime events, colour and print are welcomed. So, if the event is a park picnic at 2:00 pm, a floaty floral maxi dress or printed skirt and cami will be perfect. For a party at an inner-city bar at 7:30 pm, we’d recommend a satin slip dress in an earthy hue.
Lastly, consider the season and the weather. In warmer months, bright colours, florals, and silhouettes with ruffles will be more appropriate. For an engagement party in winter, you might like to consider opting for jewel tones and more streamlined silhouettes instead.
Discover our range of cocktail dresses and day dresses available for hire for your next engagement party. You can find all of the pieces included in this guide here.