Happy Hump day and welcome to a brand new Wedding Wednesdays Q&A! Since it’s fashion week in NY, this week’s question is about the dress code: I’m planning my destination wedding and in the process of ordering my invitations. I want to tell people what to wear (and pack) to make it easy on them, but I don’t know what dress code to put down. We aren’t going super casual, but we also don’t want people wearing tuxes. We’re kind of somewhere in the middle. What are the different dress codes and which do you think best describes my wedding?
Great question! The dress code can be a tricky thing, especially for a destination wedding. But, picking the right dress code that matches your particular wedding is key so that your guests know exactly what they should be wearing and you won’t get any inappropriately dressed guests. Below are the most common dress codes and what they mean so you can get an understanding of the options.
White Tie – This is the most formal of dress codes. Women usually wear full-length ball gowns and men wear full tuxedo dress with white tie, vest, and shirt.
Black Tie or Formal – This is also a formal dress code with women wearing a very fancy cocktail dress or a long evening gown and men in tuxedos.
Black Tie Optional – Think of this as black tie light. For women, this means either a long dress or formal knee length dress. For men, it means a tuxedo or a dark suit and tie.
Semi-Formal – This is where the dress code starts to get more casual and less formal. This means that tuxes are not required, nor are long dresses. An evening wedding (after 6 PM) would still dictate a cocktail dress for women and dark suits for men. Daytime semi-formal events mean an appropriate short dress for women and a suit for men.
Cocktail Attire – This means short, elegant dresses for women and dark suits for men.
Casual – This is the most casual version of dressed up. Women wear a nice dress, or nice separates and men wear a nice collared shirt (with or without a tie).
Beach Attire – This is the most casual you can go. For women, it means a breezy dress at knee-length or longer and for men, it’s usually a polo or short sleeve collared shirt.
So, where do you fall in this spectrum? I’d say probably anywhere between semi-formal and casual. The best way to tell is to look at how you are dressing your wedding party and see where their attire fits best. Your guests should be similarly dressed to how your wedding party is.
Now once you’ve settled on a dress code, keep in mind that even if you pick the right dress code, most people don’t necessarily know what that dress code means. You didn’t, right? So they probably won’t as well. To help them along, I suggest that you put on your wedding website the definition of your dress code and give them examples like I did above. That way it lessens the confusion and makes it easy for them which was the whole point.
Photo credit: Jerry Yoon Photographers
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