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Decoding Wedding Dress Codes: What to Wear

After that very important RSVP, your next to-do is to figure out what to wear to the I-do's. Here are some tips to help you decide based on the dress code listed on the invitation and some ideas on what to do if you aren't given a dress code. Let's crack those dress codes to ensure you look your best.



Casual attire is often suitable for an outdoor or garden wedding. Women can consider a cute sundress paired with sandals or a linen pantsuit for a relaxed yet polished look. Similarly, men can opt for khakis and a light-colored button-down shirt.

Pro Tip: Avoid wearing baggy clothing, athletic wear, flip-flops, and sneakers. Even though the hosts are going for a laid-back vibe, you still want to show respect for the occasion.



When the dress code is semi-formal or dressy casual, it can be tricky to nail since it falls between casual and formal. A midi dress, jumpsuit, or wrap dress would be good options for ladies. Men can wear dress pants and a dress shirt; a necktie is optional.

Pro Tip: Opt for more formal attire for events after 6 p.m. Evening weddings are more formal.



When the host requests cocktail attire, it's time to wear a tailored above-the-knee skirt or dressy separates, such as a long skirt and a pretty blouse. Men should wear a suit and tie.



Formal is a popular choice for wedding dress codes, especially in the late afternoon and evening: an embellished cocktail dress or an ankle-length gown would be perfect. Men should wear a traditional dark suit, a crisp white shirt, and a conservative tie.

Pro Tip: Darker-colored clothing appears more formal and can add extra sophistication to your outfit.


Black Tie

Look at you getting fancy! If you are invited to a black-tie wedding, wear a formal floor-length gown or, depending on the formality, your best cocktail dress. Men are expected to wear tuxedos without full tails and a cummerbund.


White Tie

This is the most formal dress code. Consider yourself lucky to be invited to such a regal affair, as it's uncommon. Women should wear a full-length evening gown—think elbow-length gloves and break out your best jewels. Men should wear tuxedos with tails and a cummerbund.

Pro Tip: This is your chance to shine, so don't hesitate to dress your very best.


What to Do If There's No Dress Code Listed

Wait, my invite didn't come with a dress code. What should I do?

  • Stay Away from Denim: Leave the jeans and jean jackets at home regardless of the event's formality.

  • Avoid White: Do not wear anything that is white or that will appear white in photos. Let's keep the attention on the couple.

  • Keep it subtle: There is a better time for rhinestones and ostrich feathers. Less can be more.

  • Consider the Venue: Take a cue from the venue. Is it outdoors or in a ballroom? That will give you a hint, along with noting the wedding time. The later the event, the more formal it's likely to be.

  • Ask: If you're not sure, contact the mother of the bride or the maid of honor and ask for their input.


Now you are ready to rock any wedding celebration with confidence and style!



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