Proper Wedding Guest Attire For You This Wedding Season

wedding attire black tie

Wedding season is in full swing, and every wedding has a different dress code. The invitations you’ve received may or may not indicate a specific type of dress code, and we know it can get confusing to keep them all straight. If the bride and groom indicated a certain dress code for their big day, then it’s proper etiquette to dress the part and look appropriate. Regardless of the style of wedding, remember that it’s typically frowned upon for women to wear white or off-white or anything that’s too revealing. Remember that this is a really important day and you’ve been invited to be a part of it, so dressing appropriately is key. Here’s what each type of dress code means in layman’s terms, complete with outfit examples to inspire you!

White Tie

If your wedding invitation says white tie, it means that it is a very formal event. Men should wear tuxedos with coattails, white vests and a formal bow tie. White gloves are appropriate, but not required. Black formal dress shoes are the norm at white tie events. Women should wear formal, full-length ball gowns with glamorous hair and makeup – think red carpet styles at the Oscars. Ladies’ gowns should be in neutral tones, like black or dark grey or brown.

white tie wedding dress code

Photo Credit: Daily Mail

Black Tie

The second most formal style of wedding dress code, black tie usually indicates that it’ll be an evening reception. Men should wear tuxedos with black bow ties and cummerbunds, along with patent leather shoes. Long coattails and gloves are not required, but men should expect to look sharp. Women can wear cocktail dresses or long evening gowns in dark, neutral colors. Similar to white tie, glamorous hair and makeup are encouraged to fit the theme.

wedding attire black tie

Photo Credit: Patricia Lyons Photography

Formal or Black Tie Optional

As the name describes, weddings that are formal or black tie optional are exactly that – formal, or black tie optional. You may dress in the same format as a black tie if you wish, but the bride and groom are telling you that they just want you to dress up nicely. Men can wear either tuxes or a suit and tie, and women can wear formal cocktail dresses, a long dress or a dressy suit. Dark, neutral tones are still recommended, like black, grey or brown.

formal black tie optional wedding

Photo Credit: Pursuit of Shoes

Semiformal or Dressy Casual

Semiformal and dressy casual are terms that many couples use to describe their weddings, regardless of time of day or day of the week. If it’s an evening wedding reception, you might consider dressing on the more semiformal side, while a daytime wedding can be more dressy casual. Men should wear suits with ties, but the color can vary depending on the time of day (lighter suits for daytime weddings, darker suits for evening weddings). Women can wear cocktail dresses or a nice skirt and top. Keep in mind that if it’s an outdoor daytime wedding, lighter hues and fabrics will be more comfortable in the heat.

semi formal dressy casual wedding

Photo Credit: It’s a Brides Life

Beach Formal

With beach weddings becoming more and more popular, beach formal is a dress code that has popped up in wedding invitations as well. If you’ve been invited to a beach formal wedding, men should wear linen shirts and pants or khakis – think Tommy Bahama style. Women can wear formal sundresses, and hair and makeup can be done naturally to suit the theme. Sandals are appropriate for both men and women since you won’t want to get sand in your shoes.

beach formal wedding

Photo Credit: My Perfect Wedding


Depending on the couple, casual can mean different things. Typically, casual weddings mean business casual-types of clothing. Men would wear collared shirts, like button down shirts or polos, with dress pants, and women can wear sundresses or nice tops with pants or a skirt. However, some couples might indicate that jeans are okay. If so, we still recommend men to wear collared shirts and women to stay in the business casual realm of tops, and to avoid anything revealing!

casual wedding guest attire

Photo Credit: Christina Logan Design

So there you have it – all the wedding dress codes you might encounter this wedding season, with a description of what you are expected to wear. We hope that this was helpful for you and you can start thinking about what outfits you can wear to each wedding. And remember, when in doubt, err on the side of caution – it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed!


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