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Wedding Attire: The Complete Guide to Wedding Dress Code

Wedding Attire

Updated on: Feb 16, 2024

So you got a wedding invitation and you don’t fully understand the dress code or proper wedding attire. Don’t worry, this guide will explain all that you need to know about any wedding dress code that is out there. White tie, black tie, and even weddings at the beach, we got everything covered for your wedding attire questions and concerns.

Wedding Attire: White Tie

This is easily the most formal dress code for a wedding. In terms of choosing your outfit, you should be thinking of clothes that celebrities usually wear at red carpet events.

She Wears: a floor-length ball gown, try to avoid a white gown as white is usually reserved for the bride.

He Wears a long black jacket with tails, usually a tuxedo, a formal white shirt with a matching vest and bowtie.

Wedding Attire: Black Tie

This type of wedding dress code is the next step down informality. The attire is still pretty much the same, just more lenient with the choice of colors.

She Wears: a formal long gown or if the wedding is more on the casual side, a tasteful cocktail dress. A white dress still isn’t a good idea for this kind of wedding.

He Wears: a tuxedo, black of course, with a matching vest and bow tie. A necktie works these days too, just make sure it's black. Everything is pretty much the same as white tie dress codes but with the color black instead of white.

Wedding Attire: Cocktail

This category of wedding attire is less formal than black-tie weddings but still a step above being semi-formal. Overall it's a hybrid between dressing elegantly and comfortably.

She Wears: a cocktail dress as the name implies or if you feel like being different, an elegant pantsuit. A traditional long gown would be too formal for this kind of event.

He Wears: a suit and tie, color are not all that important for a cocktail dress code. A tuxedo would definitely classify as overdressing and should be avoided completely.

Wedding Attire: Semi Formal

The semi-formal category of dress code is more or less indistinguishable from the cocktail category. Some extra liberties can be taken when following this code.

She Wears: a cocktail dress or a classy pantsuit.

He Wears: a suit, sportscoat, or blazer with either khakis or dress pants. A dress shirt is still required but a tie is entirely optional.

Wedding Attire: Dressy Casual

This dress code bridges the gap between semi-formal and casual. This basically means you can follow our section on semi-formal dress codes if you want to dress up more or follow the casual section if you want to dress more comfortably. This category of attire leaves room for either option.

She Wears: separates, a skirt, pants or even a dress. A cocktail dress would be overdressing but a nice pantsuit could be just right if you go on the more formal side.

He Wears: a button-down shirt or polo with a sports jacket or blazer. Khakis or Slacks are typical but depending on weather and location nice dress shorts are usually in the green.

Wedding Attire: Casual

Obviously casual is the most lenient category when talking about wedding dress code. Dress in what's comfortable to you but remember, this is still a wedding so dress appropriately.

She Wears: a summer dress, pants or a skirt. Whatever is most comfortable to you.

He Wears: a polo or button-down shirt with either dress pants/shorts. A suit would be too formal for most weddings but a blazer or sportscoat is acceptable.

Wedding Attire: Formal

The category of formal wedding attire usually encompasses both black tie and white tie. If white tie or black tie is not specified feel free to follow either or even a mix of both.

She Wears: a formal long or floor-length gown or even an elegant cocktail dress. Again a white dress still isn’t a good idea for most wedding outfits unless you are the bride.

He Wears: a tuxedo with a vest and bowtie of course, but this time your choice of either white or black for each accessory. Or of course, you could rock a hybrid of both.

Wedding Attire: Beach Formal

The beach by nature is typically a more casual choice for a wedding. This should be reflected in your outfit of course but still, remember the “formal” part. Still dress formally but you can take some more casual liberties, like wearing sandals or a hat.

She Wears: a classy summer sundress or a summer pantsuit if you prefer. Skirts should be avoided unless heat is a serious issue or if the invite allows skirts.

He Wears: a summer suit with khakis or slacks. Shorts usually don’t play well with the formal portion and can easily be taken as underdressing. Avoid them unless heat is a serious issue or if the invite allows shorts.

Wedding Attire: Beach Casual

Beach casual follows the same basic principles of casual attire. When dressing beach casual feel free to wear a hat or even sandals and enjoy the sand and sun.

She Wears: a nice summer dress, skirt or pants. Whatever is most comfortable for you at the beach.

He Wears: a nice button-down or polo shirt with either dress pants or most preferably dress shorts. A summer suit would definitely be overdressing for this kind of wedding.

Wedding Attire: Garden

Garden wedding attire is on the same formality stage as beach formal but in this setting, you should not take liberties with the footwear. Sorry but no sandals.

She Wears: a dress or sundress or a pantsuit if that's your preference.

He Wears: a suit or a dress shirt with slacks. Blazers are also commonplace. You should dodge the shorts but in some cases, they can be acceptable.

Wedding Attire: Conclusion

That about covers any wedding attire or wedding dress codes that you should ever see on a wedding invitation. Just remember, any specific accessories or clothes that are specified in the invite, whether they are required or banned, are absolute. Never dress against what is specifically stated on an invite. Remember, the day is about them so do your best to meet their requests.

Now get out there and dress armed with your newfound knowledge on wedding attire and enjoy that wedding.

Written By Patrick Fernandes; Contributor: Jack Leduc