Dress Code 101

Although many weddings follow a dress code best described as “anything goes”, you can reduce the stress on your guests about what to wear, and make everyone feel part of the group, by telling them the style of dress you want. Your group photos will also look better.

Include the dress code, preferably with a brief description, at the bottom of your invitations. Here are the basics styles to choose from, although you can certainly make up your own:

Casual dress means wedding guests can wear pretty much anything they want. We recommend a summer dress for the women and dress pants with button-down shirt or polo shirt for the men.

Cocktail Attire, Semi-Formal or Dressy Casual
All three of these phrases are asking guests to dress somewhere between formal and casual. We recommend a cocktail dress for the women and a suit and tie or a sport coat for the women.

Fancy Dress
This is only suitable if the wedding follows a certain theme. Think very carefully before going down this route, particularly in relation to the ease of guests making or renting a suitable costume.

Beach/Outdoor Formal
Beach or outdoor inherently indicates casual, which is why formal is tacked on to the end — it’s still a classy affair. We recommend a formal summer sundress (tea-length or knee-length) with flats for the women and a summer suit with linen shirt, linen pants or khakis and sandals/casual shoes for the men.

Formal Attire or Black Tie Optional
These two phrases are very common in today’s weddings. They indicate that the wedding party will be in formal wedding attire, and it’s optional for all guests. We recommend a dark suit or tux for the men and formal evening wear (floor length dresses or evening pant suits) for the women.

Black Tie
Black Tie usually indicates an evening affair where the men where tuxedos and the women wear formal gowns of any length.

White Tie
This is the most formal of all wedding dress codes. We’re talking “soirees at Buckingham Palace” kind of evenings. The gentlemen dress in long-tail tuxedos and the women don full-length ball gowns. If only we could be so lucky as to attend one of these fabulous receptions.

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