What it means, what to wear, and what to expect.
Written by Devin Lacy
Wedding season can be a stressful time for anyone—I know, I am attending eight in 2022 (and one is my own). When you have more than one to attend, it can be hard to figure out what you’ll wear, especially when they all have such different dress codes. We’ve taken the mystery out of it for you so you can focus on looking your best. Just remember: don’t wear white!
White-tie is about as formal as it gets. For a soiree of this manner, men will be expected to don long-tail tuxedos with a perfectly tied bow tie. Women have a few more options, but will most likely arrive in floor-length evening gowns. While you want options you can walk and sit comfortably in, the look is imperative for any white-tie wedding.
Black tie events carry their own level of formality for appropriate dress, but with a little more wiggle room. Tuxedos are still a must, but you can leave the tails at home. Long formal gowns are still expected. Don’t forget about accessories! They can go a long way in giving a look that extra fancy touch.
Just because it’s “optional” doesn’t mean you should move too far from it. If given the option, stay within the realm of dark suits and ties. Formal dresses are still typical, but they can start to move beyond floor-length options. Dressy jumpsuits may start to find their way into the crowd as well.
Now that we’ve moved away from formal attire, a nice suit and tie combination or simple vest work well, as do shorter-length dresses. Check the venue if you aren’t sure how dressy to go—a chic ballroom may require a little sparkle while a rustic chapel calls for something a bit more soft like lace or chiffon. And don’t forget about your shoes. For a rustic venue, opt for wedges or flats.
Though “casual” carries certain connotations, avoid going too far: save the jeans and sneakers for work on Monday. Think “business casual”: khakis and dress shirt with or without a blazer or sport coat, a light dress or pant-blouse combo. Don’t forget to take a look at the venue as well to make sure you are ready for any terrain or setting you may encounter.
Come As You Are/No Code
Anyone who chooses this dress code (or doesn’t use one at all) for their wedding means it: they want you there, no matter what. Come comfortably and authentically, ready to celebrate the happy couple. We still recommend leaving the sweats at home—it is a wedding, after all.