So you want to make sure your guest are appropriately dressed for your wedding day. What should you ask them to wear? Should it be on the invitation? Here’s how we figure it out and what each means.
White tie doesn’t mean an all-white attire. White tie, also called full evening dress, is the most formal dress code in fashion. It truly refers to the tie. The tailcoat, trousers, shoes, and socks remain black, but the tie and waistcoat/vest are white. For women, long dresses are required. If your event is white tie, the invitations will note the dress code, as it is rare and you want to make sure your guests are informed properly.
Like a white tie event, black tie is typically notated on your website or sometimes on the invitation. A wedding that starts at 6pm or later is safe to default to black tie. For men, this means a traditional tuxedo with black tie, pants, waistcoat and jacket and a white button down shirt. When black tie optional is listed, feel free to skip the tuxedo for a formal black suit but stick to a simple dark tie to keep the streamlined feel of a tuxedo.
For women, it means you have the option of wearing a full-length gown, or opting for a cocktail dress, so long as the hemline isn’t too short or the style isn’t too revealing. A clutch, sparkly earrings and bracelet will help round out a simple dress. If you do go the cocktail route, just make sure to keep the colors rich (black, jewel tones, chic metallics, brown) so as not to look too casual.
Cocktail attire also is referred to as semi-formal. It often allows more room for creative expression such as dressy separates for women and more playful tie choices for men. If the invitation specifies “festive” semi-formal then add on more fun or seasonal accessories.
Anything goes. Casual events are typically the least likely to note on the invitation but any invitation received by phone or e-vite without a mention of dress is a good bet to be casual. If unsure, a quick call or email to the host can clarify without need to worry.