If you’ve ever opened a wedding invitation and spotted a wedding dress code that left you stumped, you’re in the right place. Today we’re going to demystify wedding dress codes and share specific wedding guest attire options for every wedding. Soon you’ll be able to tell the difference between “black-tie optional” and “semi-formal”.
For couples, we’ll help you find language to describe what you’d like your guests to wear. And for guests, you’ll be confident that you’re going to arrive at the wedding dresses appropriately for the celebration.
If you’re feeling a little stressed, keep on reading our helpful guide to wedding guest attire!
Featured image credit: Vedendo
Of all the wedding dress codes, white-tie is the most formal. This attire is appropriate for an elegant event, like a royal banquet or a formal wedding.
Here’s what to wear – women: A floor-length dress, with no exceptions. Accessorise your dress with heels, an elegant clutch and glitzy jewellery.
Here’s what to wear – men: A tuxedo with tails, a white shirt, white vest and bow tie, gloves and formal footwear.
This is the next most formal wedding guest attire. A black-tie wedding is a little easier to understand because you can expect guests to wear just that, a tuxedo with a black bow tie or black tie.
Here’s what to wear – women: A floor-length dress where you can’t see the ankles at the hem. An elegant jumpsuit is also appropriate.
Here’s what to wear – men: A tuxedo with a black bow tie or tie, with formal shoes.
Arguably the most confusing dress code, black-tie optional doesn’t mean that the tie is option. Think of it as a fusion between black-tie and formal (see below). You could wear a tuxedo or floor-length gown, but a dark suit or cocktail dress would also be appropriate.
Here’s what to wear – women: A floor-length gown, fancy cocktail dress or a dressy jumpsuit.
Here’s what to wear – men: Choose between a tuxedo and a formal suit, with a white shirt and tie.
Seems odd that there are three dress codes that are more formal than formal, but this is the most popular dress code out of all of them! It’s slightly less formal than black-tie and there are fewer expectations.
Here’s what to wear – women: An elegant dress or jumpsuit.
Here’s what to wear – men: A jacket and tie or traditional suit.
With cocktail attire, you’ve got more flexibility, especially with hem lines!
Here’s what to wear – women: A short formal dress or an elegant jumpsuit.
Here’s what to wear – men: A suit and tie with a black or white shirt.
Also known as ‘dressy casual’, this dress code can sometimes fall between casual and formal. It’s important to take the time of the event into account. For a later start, wear darker colours and for a daytime event, lighter colours are appropriate.
Here’s what to wear – women: A below-the-knee dress, elegant jumpsuit or midi dress.
Here’s what to wear – men: A suit and tie or a dress shirt and trousers.
This is by far the most misunderstood wedding guest attire, so we’ll begin with a list of things that are not appropriate: shorts, gym clothes, jeans, tank tops, sneakers, t-shirts.
Here’s what to wear – women: A summer sundress with wedges or dressy sandals.
Here’s what to wear – men: Trousers or khakis with a collared shirt.