Reader Q | Can A Pregnant Mama Wear a Casual Maxi Dress To A Wedding?


Reader Question:

Hi, My husband and I are invited to attend a black tie optional wedding in late August in Boston. I will be 35 weeks pregnant with our second and totally unsure of what to wear that will be appropriate and feel comfortable (who knows if the church is air conditioned, but it will be a full Greek-orthodox ceremony, so it'll be long). Some friends have suggested just wearing my black maxi dress from the Gap, but that seems woefully informal. Others keep suggesting things that are strapless. And though my milk hasn't come in, I am a girl who clearly needs straps on a top these days. Big straps. Any advice on shoes that will work for my feet which will likely be a bit swollen by that point would also be welcome!




Can a pregnant mama get away with wearing a very casual maxi dress to a wedding?  Especially a black-tie wedding?  I've seen this question pop up in forums around the web, and the answers are discouragingly inconsistent.  Some say "Go for it!  You a growing a human!!"  Others are horrified by the thought.

My initial reaction?  Your words of "woefully informal" sum it up nicely.  But…MAN.  35 weeks pregnant?  How ANNOYING to have to buy ANYTHING at that point.  Especially a black-tie dress that will (most likely) never be worn again.  

Happily, one of my oldest and dearest friends was struggling with this exact question.  (Oddly enough, her name is also Sarah.)  She is also pregnant, and needed help finding something to wear to my sister's wedding….also "black-tie invited".  And this is her third and last pregnancy, so trust me when I say that buying a new dress was her last choice.

So.  Just like in 7th grade, we played dress up.  Here's what we tried, what didn't work….and what Sarah ended up wearing to my sister's wedding….

Attempt 1:  Belted and Pearled

Sarah looks very nice here, but there is something about this outfit that still reads too casual for a wedding.  Despite the fact that the belt is patent leather, I think it's causing problems.  And we tried to offset the casual dress by piling on the jewelry.  However, the necklaces are too much, and the bracelet seems like an afterthought.

We both voted no.  Next…

Attempt 2: Fine-Tune The Jewelry, Lose the Belt



Because the pearls are standing alone, they actually have more impact.  We're getting closer to a look that works.  Nude heels (hmmm…which she must have kicked off, actually) are sophisticated, but unless they are also patent leather (hers were not), they aren't dressy enough.

But we liked the knotted skirt.  By tying the dress we're subtly altering the shape and making it look less like a casual maxi, and more like a fancy dress.

We are onto something….this almost looks wedding-worthy.


Attempt 3 – SUCCESS!


This is what Sarah ended up wearing to my sister's wedding!  She looked gorgeous and received a ton of compliments.  Here's the breakdown:

  • Knot:  Because we liked how the knot changed the shape of the skirt, we took it further with a large, dramatic knot higher up her leg.  
  • Shoes: With the larger knot, more shoe showed.  So Sarah picked up this pair of fancy shoes at Target.  
  • Jewelry:  Liking the impact of a statement necklace, Sarah swapped the slightly boring pearls for J.Crew's Bubble necklace (found on Ebay for $30) 
  • Clutch:  Over-sized clutches are perfect for pregnant mamas…they look dressy, but the larger size is more in proportion with the belly. 

By focusing on accessories, you can keep costs down and ensure that whatever you buy you'll use again.  And look how cute!  I was actually surprised by how perfectly this look came together…even for a black-tie wedding.  



Here's my big disclaimer:  If you are living somewhere unbearably formal (parts of NYC?  DC?), and you are attending some red-carpet wedding…I'd pass on the Gap maxi and try one of these suggestions instead.

But for most of us, a comfy maxi, worn knotted by a pregnant mama, offset with the right accessories, glam makeup and hair, will look great at a wedding.  

Reader Sarah: If you are worried about swollen ankles and want to avoid heels….find a gorgeous metallic sandal that's either flat or wedge.

In summary….


(clockwise from top left: Sabine Tribal Necklace at Piperlime, Old Navy Maternity Tank Dress, Stella and Dot Metropolitan Mixed Chain Necklace, BCBG Sequin Clutch at 6pm, Pelle Moda Hanalee Sandal at Nordstroms, MAC lipstick, Alice + Oliva Juliet Wedge at Nordstrom, ASOS Yellow Clutch)


Have fun, Sarah!  Let us know how it goes!




  1. So funny, because just about a month ago, while 38 weeks pregnant, I wore a strapless non-maternity maxi to a wedding. Not sure if I rocked it, but it was just about the most comfortable thing I could wear without being woefully underdressed. I paired it with red Kork-Ease sandals and a multi-chain necklace.

  2. First of all, I love Sarah’s look! Pregnant ladies who want to look gorgeous but don’t want to shell out the cash for a special occasion dress can rent designer maternity wear at We’ve had lots o happy customers who love the rental concept for maternity and cant believe they can rent designer dresses rent for just $50!

  3. What about “Rent the Runway” do they carry maternity? It might be a good option for someone who wants to dress up but doesn’t want to commit to buying a formal maternity dress.

  4. I think a pregnant mama can wear whatever she wants! Especially if she is in her last trimester. However, what you came up with was absolutely adorable. I am going to try the skirt knot asap.

  5. There are a couple a places you can rent maternity dresses from baby shower to black tie, but I forget what they’re called. a quick google search would bring you to them.

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