Trying to pass along the wedding dress code to guests has forever been the point of stress for couples.
Wedding dress codes have become slightly more complicated over the years, many weddings are veering away from ultra-formal attire and going with alternative approaches for the big day. Once and for all, it's time to address the topic and hopeful help couples and guests with a guide to the most common wedding dress codes that you're likely to encounter during wedding season. Image courtesy of CateringontheMove.com
White Tie Attire
This wedding dress code is the most formal of them all—and the most rare. It's something typically reserved for extremely fancy events, like White House banquets, state dinners, and royal weddings. Men traditionally sport a tailcoat, white vest, white bow tie, and sometimes gloves or a top hat. Full-length ball gowns, high heels, and glamorous jewelry are the norm for women's white tie attire.
Black Tie Attire
For a Black Tie wedding dress code, imagine that you’re going to the Emmy's, a gala, or other red carpet event. It’s time to really lean into the formal look when it comes to this wedding dress code. Women should wear floor-length gowns made from fabrics like silk, satin, crepe, chiffon, or beading. High heels are preferred (avoid open-toe flats and sandals). Men must wear full tuxedos, including the jacket, tuxedo shirt, cummerbund, black bow tie, cuff links, and matching pants with a satin stripe.
Creative Black Tie
When a formal event calls for a creative black tie dress code, it means you don't have to adhere to the traditional black tie standards in which men are expected to wear a specific tuxedo shirt paired with a black suit, and women are expected to wear evening dresses.
Black Tie Optional
A black tie optional wedding is basically suggesting that you should wear black tie, but it's acceptable if you don't. So what does that mean, exactly? Men can wear dark suits (think: your very best suit, preferably black and custom-tailored) instead of the tux that's required for actual black tie weddings. Women can wear very fancy cocktail dresses instead of floor-length dresses, but avoid anything with revealing cutouts or hemlines above the knee.
When dressing for a semi-formal wedding, aim for understated and elegant looks—think streamlined blazers, dress shirts, pantsuits, midi dresses, and simple accessories. Classic hues, like navy blue, burgundy, and black, are some of our favorite go-to colors for semi-formal attire.
Heading to a cocktail attire wedding? Get ready to have some fun with your look! Cocktail attire is all about creating a party-ready look while keeping it classy. For dresses, cocktail-length is a must—that means a knee-length hemline or something longer that hits above the ankles. If you don't want to wear a dress, a tailored jumpsuit is a chic alternative. Men should wear suits, preferably in dark blue or black, paired with a traditional white shirt. High heels or dress shoes will complete your look.
Dressy Casual or Daytime Attire
If you've received an invite that says "dressy casual," you're more than likely wondering what it means and exactly how casual is too casual. One of the first things you should consider is where the wedding is taking place. Is the couple getting married outdoors in a barn or garden setting? If so, you can take a more informal approach when it comes to choosing your outfit. Elegant sun dresses, button-down shirts, and dress pants are all appropriate outfit ideas under a casual dress code. For an indoor venue, such as a banquet hall or house of worship, basic suits and modest looks are your safest bet.
No Dress Code
Lastly, if there’s no dress code mentioned on the wedding invitation or wedding website, it's normal to feel puzzled. But as long as you follow a few simple etiquette rules, you'll be in the clear no matter the setting or venue type. Note the time of day. the wedding location, and the feel and style of the invitation. And when all else fails ... simply ask the host!
Where to find the attire?
If you are the host, it is good to feature the attire that you require in the lower right-hand corner of the invitation or on the reception card. The easiest way to get your point across is to be clear and specific with your request. Don't leave guests scratching their heads with creative attire terms. Include the dress code in the lower right-hand corner of the invitation or on the reception card.
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