Jul 9

Wedding Dress Codes: A Guide for Guests

Weddings are a fun opportunity to dress your best. But the process of choosing attire is ripe for confusion! As a wedding stationer, I recommend using the couple’s invitation to steer you in the right direction. Most couples will indicate the attire they require, whether casual, black-tie, or somewhere in between. Also, consider the wedding location, season, and time of day. To make your choice easier before your next event, I’ve compiled this guide to wedding dress codes!

What to Wear to a Casual Wedding

For a casual wedding, choose attire that is laid-back, comfortable, and easy to dance in. However, avoid overly casual items such as jeans, shorts, tank tops, sneakers, and flip-flops (after all, it’s still a wedding, not a barbecue!). Moreover, choose attire that will be comfortable during the day and night, regardless of temperature shifts. I recommend choosing clothing in breathable fabrics like linen and cotton for a summer wedding to avoid those dreaded sweat stains. 

Recommendations for Women:

  • Mid-length sundress, breezy maxi dress, or high-quality jumpsuit
  • Add a blazer, cardigan, or pashmina wrap for a fall or winter wedding
  • Elevated sandals, wedges, or block heels

Recommendations for Men: 

  • Polo or long-sleeve button-down with dress pants
  • Add a blazer, cable-knit sweater, or tweed jacket for a fall or winter wedding
  • Casual loafers
A guide to wedding dress codes for guests

Left photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplashed, right photo by Samantha on Unsplashed

What to Wear to a Semi-Formal Wedding

This dress code falls between casual and formal and generally calls for understated cocktail attire. In other words, you don’t need to wear a full-length gown or tux but may need to think beyond your typical “church” or “date-night” attire. Solid, dark colors are best unless the couple has specifically requested bright hues. You might also consider wearing a subtle pattern like stripes or a classic floral print. 

Recommendations for Women:

  • Knee-length or mid-length cocktail dress
  • A formal jumpsuit or dress pants paired with an elegant blouse are also appropriate
  • Cocktail sandals or pumps

Recommendations for Men:

  • Suit jacket, button-down, dress pants, and tie
  • Oxfords, loafers, or dress shoes
What to wear to a semi-formal wedding

Left photo by Amy Kate on Unsplashed, right photo by Haute Stock

What to Wear to a Formal (Black-Tie) Wedding

Formal evening events—taking place at 7:00 PM or later—are the typical setting for black-tie attire. If a couple wants their guests to wear black-tie attire, their invitation will indicate so. Dress should be appropriately formal but not showy; it’s best to stick to subdued, evening-appropriate, solid colors (when in doubt, just wear black!). 

Recommendations for Women:

  • Floor-length evening gown, ball gown, or formal cocktail dress
  • Tasteful jewelry and accessories
  • Sleek high heels (closed-toe is best)

Recommendations for Men: 

  • Formal dinner suit or tuxedo
  • Cufflinks and shirt studs
  • Solid-colored bow tie or necktie (black is best)
  • Black dress shoes
A guide to wedding dress codes for guests

Photos by Haute Stock

Wedding dress codes don’t have to be complicated! Bookmark and follow this guide the next time you need to choose attire for a casual, semi-formal, or black-tie event. Are you on a wedding planning journey? Discover how to enhance the guest experience with
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