Wedding dress code… decoded! In this blog post, we’ll tell you which wedding attire options are acceptable for different dress codes at weddings. Make sure you subscribe for the latest to your inbox!
If you received a wedding invitation and have no clue what to wear, you’ve come to the right place!
Wedding attire options and dress codes can be intimidating, but they don’t have to be. With our help, you’ll be confident in knowing exactly what the dress code means and figure out what wedding attire options you have to work with as a guest at a wedding.
After all, you don’t want to wear the wrong outfit. Yikes!
Once you read this article, you’ll be on your way to knowing exactly what to wear to a wedding, what NOT to wear, and how to dress to impress whether the code implies black tie or black tie optional, formal, cocktail, or casual. And let’s be honest, you’ll be closer to the fun part: shopping for the perfect outfit! ;)
Let’s get started!
WEDDING COUPLES: This article will help you decide how to properly word wedding attire options so your guests won’t be hella confused! Be sure to read the bottom portion of this article for proper wording of invitations to include the dress code.
What Wedding Attire Options You Have, Based on Dress Code
When a wedding invitation does not list the dress code, wedding attire options can be left up in the air which is confusing for guests. Although most will look to the venue to decide what the formality will be, it is a nice gesture to provide a clear-cut wedding dress code so everyone knows what to expect.
For most traditional weddings, your wedding outfit will be formal, but the level will vary. Let’s discuss your wedding attire options in order from the most formal to the least.
A white-tie wedding is the most formal of all dress codes. It is not very common, but if you’re invited to one you must dress to the nines: men wear long-tail tuxedos and women must wear ballgowns that are full-length.
The next in line for formality is black-tie wedding guest attire. When you’re invited to a black tie wedding, your attire options are pretty standard: a tuxedo or a formal gown. Most traditionally, men will wear a bowtie with a formal tuxedo.
Women typically wear ballgowns. Here are more options for dress wear.
Black Tie Optional
This dress code implies you should wear attire that will look elegant and formal, but you don’t necessarily need to wear a tuxedo or ballgown. Instead, your wedding attire options include a dark suit with a dress shirt and a tie or a tuxedo; women should wear a floor-length gown or a formal midi-length dress.
Formal attire suggests a classic suit with a dress shirt and a tie. Women should wear floor-length gowns or a formal dress that is midi-length (not mini).
Semi-formal wedding outfits are less formal than the aforementioned attire options, as the name suggests. However, you will want to wear something dressy like a jacket and tie with a dress shirt or a sports jacket. A blazer and khaki pants are also acceptable, provided the venue is less formal. Women should wear cocktail dresses that are mini or midi length — NOT floor-length — or a dressy jumpsuit.
Cocktail wedding attire is similar to semi-formal and requires suits and party outfits, like dresses at knee-length or midi, which is appropriate. Dressy jumpsuits are also appropriate wedding attire options.
For more cocktail dresses, see these attire suggestions.
If you’re invited to a beach wedding, lucky you: it’s a seaside celebration with maxi dresses, sun dresses, or mini dresses and nice summer suits in linen. Think of breathable fabrics and seasonal patterns and colors. [ Read: These suggestions will help you pick a suitable outfit. ]
While casual is the least formal attire, guests should not wear denim unless specified by the couple. For a casual dress code, wear a collared shirt such as a polo or a dress shirt and dress pants (not suit pants). A sundress or mini- to midi-length dress is permitted, as well as a dressy blouse and pants or a skirt, or even a jumpsuit.
If the wedding is very casual, and jeans are permitted, it will be mentioned on the invitation or the website.
Now that you know what wedding attire means, here are some options for wording the dress code on your wedding invitations.
How to Inform Wedding Guests of Dress Code
If you’re planning your wedding, how do you inform your guests of a dress code in place? There are several ways to do it.
Invitation Enclosure Card
The best way to inform guests of a dress code is with an invitation enclosure card. It can be on your reception card and include a short mention of dress code at the bottom, like “black tie attire” or “cocktail attire”.
Alternatively, some couples choose to include the wedding attire options on the invitation card itself in the lower right- or left- hand corner of the card. However, sometimes this can cause the invite to become too cluttered. It’s up to you and either option is acceptable.
We recommend you include the wording for dress code on the enclosure card OR invitation card itself — but not both.
In addition, you should also list the dress code on your wedding website.
If you do these two things — the card or enclosure card, and the website — your guests are sure to notice it.
Here’s an example of a wedding invitation card with a dress code enclosure card included. This wording is for a cocktail wedding.
Here’s an example of wording for a black tie wedding dress code.
Lastly, choose a wedding website with your dress code information on it that matches your invitation. This way, your guests will be apprised of suitable wedding attire.
Do you just write, “Formal”? Guests won’t know what that means.
Instead, include the following wording to imply the wedding outfit options:
Dress Code: Formal
Formal Attire (Black Tie Optional)
Casual Attire Encouraged
Dress Code: Cocktail
I hope this helps clarify what to wear to a wedding as a guest! These wedding attire options sound complicated, but in reality, they’re easy. If you have any questions, let me know in the comment box below.
ON TO YOU: Now that you know what to wear, here is a list of our wedding guest dress guides. I highly recommend this list as it includes ALL of the wedding options for attire in 2023.