Wedding guests should be appropriately dressed for a wedding. But have you ever received a wedding invitation in the mail that left you completely clueless about what to wear? Between “black tie”, “black tie optional” and “dressy casual” for example. It’s important to know how to interpret the invite wording. The language can be tricky but we’ve got you covered. Here are the most common wedding guest dress codes explained so that you arrive appropriately
Before taking your next step at this easy cheat sheet for what to wear, please check out other worth trying tips for wedding guest dresses via articles “Wedding Guest Attire: What to Wear to a Wedding – part 1, 2, 3” as well as more and more ideas of Wedding Guest Dresses via :
– What to Wear to a Wedding Spring Summer 2014 Wedding Guest Dresses
– What to Wear to a Wedding : Shoes, Clutches and Jewelries
– Style Ideas: Wedding Guest Dresses and Attires For All Seasons
– What to Wear to a Wedding Fall Winter 2014 from Various Labels
– 15 Beautiful Fall Winter Wedding Guest Dress – Outfit Ideas
Not to mention, taking all things into consideration, along with some very easy tips of wedding guest dress codes, here are a few ideas to give some inspiration for those “what do I wear” moments:
1. Black Tie Wedding Dress Code
2. Formal or Black Tie Optional Wedding Dress Code
3. Semi Formal or Dressy Casual Wedding Dress Code
4. Festive Attire Wedding Dress Code
5. Beach Formal Wedding Dress Code
6. Casual Wedding Dress Code
When the invitation says “Black Tie” this means the guests should wear highly formal dress. While a safe bet for the gentleman is to wear a tux, the ladies can opt for a full length gown in luxe material, cut, or embellishment. Black tie is usually meant for formal evening affair that start after 6 p.m., and basically translates to this party is fancy. So ladies can go fancy as well on the hair and makeup for a black tie event.
If you don’t own a gown and don’t particularly want to buy one for a one-off occasion, a little black dress is completely appropriate for black tie functions. Or you could opt for a cocktail party dress in rich color (such as black, jewel tones, chic metallic, navy or brown) so as not to look too casual.
Your accessories, clutch and shoes can also add more luxurious touch to your simple cocktail dress. Sparkling, statement jewelries or glitter clutch and shoes will serve additional glam to your entire look. Just make sure to dress the look in perfect balance. Take a look at some ideas of wedding guest dress for black tie event, starting from ones in classic design, material, color and embellishments perfect for all seasons long to the ones in bright color or floral print for your summer look.
When the invitation says “Formal or Black Tie Optional” or can also have several other aliases, such as “Black Tie Suggested” this means you are free to go either with long gown or cocktail dress in slightly less formal than black tie. The options for ladies include a long dress, dressy separates, or a formal cocktail dress.
Actually, if you receive an invite with the term black tie optional know that it mostly applies slightly less pressure for the men to wear a tuxedo (a dark navy or black suit, and crisp white shirt, with a dark, or neutral tie is appropriate here). So generally, a tuxedo isn’t required, but the event is still formal enough for one to be appropriate.
Not only guests are required to wear outfit that is formal enough for black tie, but I also think “black tie optional” implies formal gowns that are simpler, less glamour than those that are fully embellished. This can include floor length gown that comes in modern designs such as with cut-out, full skirt, or fun color block, but with less details, appliques or embellishments.
Check out some suggestions below, and be free to opt for a cocktail dress in modern style, even you can opt for a little black dress or little white dress as long as the dress comes in festive and party look – but still not too bridal-y
If you want to wear an LBD, since formal or black tie weddings usually suggest the bride to wear a full-skirted bridal gown, technically you are safe to wear LWD as long as your dress doesn’t outshine the bride – avoid materials like tulle or lace, or silhouette and details that usually come in a wedding dress such as embroideries, beads, etc. But for a safe bet when wearing LBD or LWD, learn “Wedding Guest Attire: What to Wear to a Wedding (Part 1)”
When the invitation says “Semi Formal or Dressy Casual” first you may take your cues from the time of the event, for example, wear darker, more formal colors for an evening wedding, and opt for light colors and fabrics for a daytime event. If it’s daytime, then a sundress would be fine. If it’s evening, then wear cocktail-esque attire in darker, richer colors, and fabrics like silk or satin in a casual length and cut.
However, if you don’t own dress appropriate for the time of the event, you could also “trick” your look with makeup and accessories such as clutch, shoes, and jewelries. Light colored dress in the evening can be paired with little bold accessories along with makeup for evening wedding, while dark colored dress can go for daytime affair if matched with subtler and lighter accessories as well as makeup.
As for the formality of the dress, generally, the attire for this invitation suggests you to dress somewhere between formal and casual. It basically calls for dressed-up versions of casual looks. Meaning, you could think between a dress in casual fabrics like cotton or knits but with a formal cut, or formal fabrics like satin in a casual style.
While guys can wear a suit or a sport coat, and tie, the girls can opt for a cocktail dress or a dressy skirt and top. The length of your outfit (either dress or skirt) would be cocktail length—in other words, just above, or at the knee; or a little longer. A tea-length, or a longer, ankle-skimming hemline are welcome for this event. Even sometimes ladies are also allowed to wear dressy, tailored pants with chic blouse. Check out some ideas of semi-formal wedding guest dress from various different stores.
“Festive Attire Wedding Dress Code”
When the invitation says “Festive Attire” it’s relatively new that can leave many guests scratching their heads. Basically this means look nice but feel free to incorporate a little flair. For this invite guests are given the go-ahead to have fun and play with their look. A festive wedding is most often “a lively, fun party,” which relies heavily on the location and date of the event. The safe bet is to wear color, bold jewelry, and sparkly details showing that you’re ready to have a good time.
While the guys can always wear a playful vibe with a velvet blazer or a classic suit with a fun tie, or go simpler with a dark suit or a nice cashmere sweater or silk shirt and slacks, the girls can opt for a party dress in a fun color, cute design, or joyful print, paired with playful accessories. Go all out with sophisticated bling and a vibrant dress, or you can even add more glad tidings with statement accents: a bib necklace, red pumps, or a glittery clutch. Think shine, in your dress, shoes, beaded clutch, and jewelry, and you’re all set, but make sure to still think of a balanced look, and never overdo the bride.
Although in this wedding you are allowed to have fun with your look, one must-follow rule when attending someone else’s wedding is to show respect, compliment, and joy to the couple, so wear something appropriate. You can look sexy and flirty, but make sure you don’t want to look like you’re on your way to the night club. It’s perfectly acceptable to wear a floral-patterned tea-length cocktail dress; but be sure your style isn’t too ‘look at me’ over the bride. Go for subtlety and balance in any pattern you wear. Take a look at some suggestions of festive wedding guest dress from various stores.
ASOS : ASOS SALON Midi Dress in Floral Organza ($152) / Spot Mesh Insert Fit And Flare ($104) / Chi Chi London Premium Metallic Lace Prom ($134) / ASOS SALON Premium Beautiful Floral Jacquard Bandeau Maxi ($269)
Nordstrom : Adrianna Papell Lace Fit & Flare Dress ($178) / Maggy London Print Chiffon A-Line Dress ($148) / Adrianna Papell Print Illusion Yoke Chiffon Sheath Dress ($138) / Adrianna Papell Petal Chiffon Fit & Flare Dress ($198)
Nordstrom : Stripe Silk Organza Strapless Midi Dress ($690) / Ellen Tracy Print Faux Wrap Jersey Dress ($108) / Taylor Dresses Embroidered Mesh Fit & Flare Dress ($158) / Trina Turk ‘Audrey’ Print Fit & Flare Dress ($388)
“Beach Formal Wedding Dress Code”
When the invitation says “Beach Formal” or sometimes can also be a “Beach Casual” – depending on the formality of the wedding – basically the invite calls for easy, relaxed and breezy outfit, yet appropriate enough to show respect to the happy couple. Be sure to keep in mind that it is an outdoor event, and anything can happen with the weather. Learn “Wedding Guest Attire: What to Wear to a Wedding (Part 3)” to know more about wedding guest tips for an outdoor venue.
When it comes to color and style, although you may go with neutral colors such as black, navy, or beige, vibrant colors and pastels for both men and women will look wonderful in this type of wedding. Light blues, reds, bright yellows, violets or corals are appropriate in formal shirts, ties and breezy sundress.
If you are invited to a Beach Formal wedding, be sure to keep the style of your dress formal, while your makeup and hair can be natural, along with pretty accessories such as woven clutch, wide brim hat, and embellished wedges. Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen if needed, as well as sunnies for eye protection, and a wrap (or light cardigan) if the ocean breeze picks up – these last items are certainly important for all types of beach wedding.
The safe bet for girls can be a comfortable maxi, a formal summer sundress, or a cute summer shift with a splash of bright jewelry. However, you can also opt for a beachy-but-elegant skirt with chic tee, and make the look a little bit dressier with some dazzling accessories. As for guys, an elegant linen, or crisp cotton shirt, a summer suit or sport blazer in a madras or seersucker or linen would fit well here. Although tie is not required, but some of the lovely tropical print ties would certainly look wonderful, just be sure to wear them with a shirt with a full length sleeve.
Little Black Dress : Aftershock London Tejla Halterneck Print Dress (£29.45) / Jarlo Siobhan Dress in Lilac (£83.95) / Miss Patina Her Grace Floral Print Dress (£49.80) / Aftershock London Tatan Dress (£32.95)
Nordstrom : BCBGMAXAZRIA ‘Shaina’ Pleated Georgette Popover Gown ($398) / Tracy Reese Print Silk Maxi Dress ($498) / Amsale ‘Amore’ Print Silk Chiffon Gown ($370) / Alice + Olivia ‘Dee’ Print T-Back Midi Dress ($330)
For a Beach Casual wedding, the ladies can go more casual with sandals instead of wedges, a tunic dress a pretty light skirt, a short flowy sundress can be a perfect match, or a beachy look with linen or cotton shirt paired with nice pants, such as palazzo pants with cute print. As for guys, a festive ivory or tan linen suit, a cotton short-sleeved shirt or button down, or a tasteful tropical printed shirt can be paired with white or khaki pants or Bermuda shorts along with loafers and no socks
“Casual Wedding Dress Code”
When the invitation says “Casual” this might as well leaves many guests confused. Yes, you can get away with a lot of different looks when dressing for a casual-style wedding, but how casual is appropriate for the guests when dressing for a wedding? While this type of dressing sounds the most relaxed, it can also be the most open-ended, and, therefore, sometimes the most mystifying. The venue may help you better determine the level of formality – or lack thereof, but if you have no single clue of the wedding you’re going to attend, it’s best to keep to the safe side and aim for Business Casual.
The goal when dressing for casual wedding is polished but not uptight, so for the ladies, a floral shift, a sundress, a skirt with pretty blouse, a dress romper – but nothing too shorts, or a nice pair of tailored pants with a bright cardigan are the best bet particularly for a daytime function. For an informal dress code in the evening, you can be more adventurous in a trendy jumpsuit or boldly printed pants. Plus, don’t forget that shoes can also make the look more polished, which you can choose metallic flat sandals or wedges. But be sure nothing is going to be too flashy in this wedding. You don’t want to be more formal than the wedding couple.
As for guys, aim for date night—no suits or ties. A nice collared or button down shirt in a short or long sleeve, a tailored oxford shirt with flat-front chinos or sleek wool pants, or a nice polo with dress pants, or casual, but neat, khaki pants are best suited for this. If the event is more pub than lounge, the guys can always switch the pants to dark denim.
Lastly, although casual generally means anything goes, meaning the wedding will likely be held outdoors and will be much more laid-back, especially when it comes to attire. However, jeans, tank tops, t-shirts, stretchy pants, cargo shorts, flip-flops and athletic clothing would still be a poor choice, unless they’re specifically noted as acceptable.
A useful tip when you are in doubt about what to wear, or if there isn’t a clear statement about dress code in the invitation, remember that you can always ask the host or hostess what they expect party guests to wear. Or, there may be more information on the couple’s wedding website, if they have one. If your search still turns up zero results, make an educated guess based on the invitation, its wording, the location, and venue of the event.