How to Dress as a Wedding Guest

Etiquette, Stationery, Wedding Invitations

Aside from the traditional details on an invitation (names, date, time, location), one of the top concerns of any and every guest is the dress code. During the design process, each couple and I talk through all of the dress codes to decide on the appropriate wording for their wedding invitation. However, sometimes a couple or a guest asks the telling question: what does that mean? From brides to grooms, family to friends, I thought it would be so helpful (and fun!) to define each dress code option. Black tie, black tie optional, cocktail attire, and casual – read below to find out exactly what to wear!

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Black Tie: Black tie is turned to most often for the most formal weddings (think: stately ballrooms and exquisite tented affairs). For gents, you will want to rent or purchase a tuxedo or don a black suit (the latter is a bit less traditional). For ladies, you will want to wear a floor length gown or a very formal cocktail dress (black is always best!). I recommend only choosing to note black tie if it’s absolutely necessary for your vision or your venue because it can cause guests to become slightly stressed because their attire adds to their cost to attend.

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Black Tie Optional / Black Tie Invited: Sometimes “formal attire” may be noted on the invitation in lieu of black tie optional. For this dress code, the options are very similar to black tie. Ladies should still plan to wear a floor length gown or formal cocktail dress; however, the gents don’t have to wear a tux – a dark suit will work just fine. While planning your attire for this style, dressy is always best!

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Cocktail Attire: Cocktail attire is one of the most popular styles because it’s perfect for vintage and rustic weddings as well as country club celebrations. Gents should plan to wear suits and ties (navy blazers, khaki pants, and the like are also appropriate!), while ladies should plan to wear a cocktail dress. Color is absolutely appropriate for cocktail attire weddings, and it’s a great dress style for spring, summer, and fall soirees because guests can alter their attire to match the weather and temperature.

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Casual: Casual attire is used the least because brides and grooms are sometimes concerned that guests may opt against wearing formal attire at all. However, it can be the perfect notation for a destination wedding where guests will spend time at the beach. For gents, khaki pants and a dress shirt (no tie!) will look perfect. Ladies should plan to wear resort casual (think: summer sundresses or a blouse and skirt combo). Gents should make an attempt to avoid sneakers, but sandals are just fine for ladies. Note: everyone should avoid jeans and shorts.

Make sure to bookmark this post and refer back to it while planning your wedding or planning your wedding guest attire! Let’s talk about the dress code wording for your wedding invitations.

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