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What to wear to a wedding, and when

Decoding the Dress Code Language

­­­­There’s nothing more exciting than getting a beautiful wedding invitation in the mail, unless perhaps, until you get to the requested dress code and are a little confused. From “white tie” to “casual”, we’re breaking down the dress code language, so that you arrive appropriately dressed for the celebration!




White Tie

This is the most formal of all dress codes (think the Oscars or White House state dinners).

He should wear: A tuxedo, a long black jacket with tails, a formal white shirt, white vest and bow tie, white or gray gloves, and black formal shoes.

She should wear: A formal floor-length evening or ball gown.


Black Tie

This is the next most formal wedding dress code, and usually indicates that it will be an evening wedding.

He should wear: A tuxedo, a black bow tie, black vest or cummerbund, and patent leather shoes. Oftentimes, a conservative black suit is completely acceptable.

She should wear: A formal floor-length gown or a dressy cocktail dress.


Black Tie Optional

This tricky wording means that something slightly less formal than black tie is appropriate. So, although a tuxedo is not required, the event will still be formal enough for one.

He should wear: A tuxedo or a formal suit, white shirt and conservative tie.

She should wear: A long dress, a formal cocktail dress, or dressy separates.


Semiformal or Dressy Casual

For this language, you’ll want to take note of the time of the event. For an evening wedding, opt for darker, more formal colors, and for a daytime event, go with lighter colors and fabrics.

He should wear: A suit and tie, with colors depending on the time of day and the season.

She should wear: A cocktail dress or a long, dressy skirt and blouse.


Festive Attire

This relatively new language gives guests the opportunity to have fun with their look.

He should wear: A suit and tie, oftentimes selecting a vibrant and colorful tie.

She should wear: A cocktail dress or party dress, playing up the colors and adding fun accessories.



This language indicates that the event will be more laid-back and may likely be held outside or on a beach.

He should wear: Dress pants or khakis with a button-down shirt. Adding a tie, a jacket, or a sweater would be a perfect addition.

She should wear: A fun sundress made of fabric that isn’t overly formal.


Photos by Brian Anthony Photography

and Vesic Photography

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Following this handy list of to-do’s for the year leading up to your wedding day is sure to keep you on task, on track, and on budget!