etiquette events style traditions

Wedding Dress Codes

While a wedding doesn’t revolve around guests’ personal style, it is important to understand and follow the dress code.  But this isn’t always easy – what are the dress codes and what exactly do they all mean?

  1. White-Tie

White-tie is the most formal of the dress codes and is not used frequently.  For women, a floor length gown is expected along with equally formal shoes (preferably heels) and sophisticated jewelry.  Men are expected to wear a tuxedo with tails with a crisp white dress shirt, formal vest or cummerbund, and bowtie.

  1. Black-Tie and Black-Tie Optional/ “Formal Attire”

Black-tie is a tier down from white-tie in terms of formality.  Women are again expected to wear a floor length gown or equally formal and elegant pantsuit or jumpsuit that hits the ground.  Tuxedos with a black bow tie are a must for men, although long tails are not required.  Formal dress shoes are also expected.

Black-tie optional or “Formal Attire” is essentially what it sounds like-you can opt for black-tie attire (as seen above), however it is not required.  If you choose to go a little less formal, a dark and well fitted suit with nice shoes is acceptable for men and a cocktail dress is perfectly fine for women.

  1. Cocktail

Cocktail attire is a happy medium when it comes to the spectrum of formality.  Women should wear cocktail dresses that have a shorter hemline than evening gowns – knee length and midi length are perfect.  You can certainly play around with accessories and jewelry here- but don’t overdo it.  For men, a classic suit and tie with a nice button down will do.

  1. Semi-Formal

In comparison to cocktail attire, semi-formal is a tad more casual.  So, for women, a nice dress that is a bit less formal than cocktail will do (perhaps with less beading and ornate detail).  Men can wear slacks paired with a nice button-down shirt and a tie.

  1. Casual

Out of all of the above dress codes, this is the most casual.  However, this does not mean that you can wear jeans and a tank top.  For women, a flowy sundress with sandals or heels is perfect.  A fun jumpsuit or skirt with a pretty top is also appropriate for this dress code.  For men, a button-down with dress pants or khaki pants is appropriate; a nice blazer can be added to slightly elevate this look.



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