Decoding Wedding Dress Codes

Have you ever received a wedding invitation that left you completely clueless about the dress code? Happens more often than we would like to admit. The language can be tricky to decode. Aside from knowing the 'definition' of each dress code, one of the best ways to decide what to wear is to consider the venue. If the wedding is being held at a historic mansion, it's obvious you would up your game. As for the couple, you too need to consider your venue when deciding on a dress code. If your wedding is taking place outdoors in the summer months and you're asking guests to dress Black Tie, you might be disappointed.


BUT don't stress, we're here to breakdown e-v-e-r-y-thing dress code.

Photo by Abigail E Photography

1. B L A C K T I E

It's simple for men, the dress code itself implies a tuxedo. Most commonly black with a classic, timeless bow tie. Sure, the 'black tux' has evolved of the years, but it's still rather simple for men. On the other hand, for women it's a little less specific. It's safe to assume black tie for women means a floor-length gown, but pending the location (if it is less formal) a cocktail dress would be appropriate.


2. B L A C K T I E O P T I O N A L O R F O R M A L

This one can be trick, and often I wish couples would just decide for themselves... Black Tie or Formal. If you go the Black Tie route, see above. However, on the formal side of things for men a dark suit is ideal. For ladies going formal a floor-length dress is still appropriate, if you do though choose a cocktail dress or paint suit add elegant accessories.


3. C O C K T A I L

By far the most common dress code among weddings - it's traditionally less formal, but not in any way should it be mistaken for casual. For men a suit is still the go-to option, but lighter colors are acceptable. For women, choose a dress still below the knee, but not floor-length. Think tea-length or knee-length. Guests are more often than not most comfortable with a cocktail dress code, because they likely already have something in their closet they can wear.


4. S E M I - F O R M A L O R S M A R T C A S U A L

This one can be tricky, so pay attention to the time of the day. For an evening wedding, choose darker colors and lean into the cocktail attire. For a daytime wedding, choose lighter shades and tone done on your accessories.


5. F E S T I V E

Festive attire is typically centered around a holiday, especially around Christmas/New Year's Eve. It's usually implying cocktail or semi-formal, but with pops of holiday color and/or accessories.


6. C A S U A L O R D E S T I N A T I O N

This dress code blurs lines the most. Often guests associate casual attire as informal and comfortable clothing, but still something 'most' people would consider professional. Destination attire however completely depends on the destination! You should dress differently for a beach wedding as you would a for a ski lodge. With a destination dress code take into consideration the location itself and weather.