Wedding Guest Dress Code Guide

Wedding Guest Dress Code Guide

Once you get an invitation to a wedding, one of the first things you typically think about is what the dress code will be. We at Gowns of Grace understand that there are a lot of wedding dress codes and they can be a little tough to decipher! Some dress codes are more vague than others, leaving guests stumped as to what to wear. Today we wanted to offer a breakdown of the wedding dress codes we see most; consider this your complete guide to wedding guest dress codes!


White-Tie Attire

White-tie weddings actually tend to be the most formal of wedding dress codes. Some refer to this as full dress as well. White-tie weddings aren’t as common as others, but if you find yourself invited to one, here’s the basics:


For men, opt for a dark and long tuxedo tailcoat with extensions that reach the back of the knee. Pair it with a white button-down underneath a white vest with a bow tie and cummerbund. Your pants should match the fabric and color of the jacket, and make sure that your white-tie trousers include a satin stripe down the outer seams.


For women, wear a formal dress. A floor-length A-line or sheath evening gown is the best option for this dress code, though you could go for a ball gown silhouette depending on the venue. Accessorize your look with long silk gloves and your finest jewelry!


Black-Tie Attire

Photo by Maria Orlova:


Black-tie is the second most formal dress code for a wedding. These usually take place later in the day and always require formal looks. There’s slight room for interpretation but generally speaking, it’s formal. For men, black-tie requires you to wear a tuxedo rather than a basic suit with a black bow tie or a simple long black tie. For women, opt for a floor length formal gown. This is a great event to wear refined jewelry like diamonds or pearls to dress up your evening gown.


Black-Tie Optional Attire

Black-tie optional can be pretty confusing for wedding guests. When it comes to the optional aspect of this dress code, think of it as a mixture of formal fashion and black-tie styles. While it’s appropriate to wear a tuxedo or a formal dress, you could also wear a dark suit or a cocktail dress that’s knee-length.


We recommend that you use the time of the wedding to help interpret what you should wear for this! If it’s an evening wedding, you can consider a look that’s more formal. If the wedding takes place in the afternoon, you could certainly opt for a slightly more casual outfit than a tux or floor length gown.


Formal Attire

This is one of the most common wedding dress codes you’ll come across as a guest. It’s a little less formal than black tie but still requires some specifications. Tuxedos aren’t required for men; you can wear a jacket and tie with dress pants or a full, traditional suit. For women, you can wear a nice cocktail dress or even a classy jumpsuit. If you find yourself on the fence with this dress code, it’s always best to be overdressed - looking more elegant is always a good choice!


Cocktail Attire

For cocktail attire, there’s much more flexibility. You can always wear a longer dress or formal jacket if you like, but it’s not necessary! Men can go for a nice suit and tie with a crisp button-up and dress pants. Women can wear a short formal dress or jumpsuit and play around with fun accessories!


Beach Formal

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives:


Beach formal weddings are more lenient for sure! It’s most important that you dress properly for the elements in this scenario. If you’re going to a wedding on the beach, consider wearing a linen dress shirt and slacks for men with a blazer. Women can opt for a sundress with a straw bag or hat. If the weather is going to be rather warm, stick with shorter skirts and airy fabrics like cotton and linen. Also, carefully choose your shoes for this dress code - if you’re walking on sand, you might want to avoid stilettos or thick sandals.


Semi-Formal or Dressy Casual

These dress codes can be pretty tricky to navigate as a wedding guest! Semi-formal dress codes fall in the area between formal and casual. However, cocktail dress codes tend to be more dressy than semi-formal dress codes. A great example of something to wear for a semi-formal wedding include jumpsuits, midi dresses or even a wrap dress. It can be pretty simple without a lot of embellishments.


Dressy casual has become a really popular dress code for weddings these days. It’s sort of a spin on business casual and is more closely related to dressing for a semi-formal attire. It’s best to find something that falls between casual and formal! If the wedding takes place during the day, choose lighter colors and fabrics; if it’s in the evening, go for darker and more formal silhouettes.


Daytime or Casual Attire

While a casual, daytime dress code might make you believe that anything goes, that’s not really the case here. While casual attire is the most laidback of all the dress codes, it’s still important to keep in mind that a wedding is still a formal event that you want to look nice for! Don’t wear jeans, shorts, or tennis shoes for this wedding.


We encourage you to use business casual as a guideline for choosing what to wear. Men can always choose a navy blazer with a button-down and khakis, and women can go for something like a simple sundress with sandals or heels or a jumpsuit.


You also have more options for patterns and colors for casual wedding dress codes, which is super fun! You can go for bold solids or a pattern like a houndstooth. Men can even switch up their button-down shirt for a knit polo instead.


At the end of the day, make sure you feel confident in what you’re wearing as a guest. As long as you stick closely to the dress code, you’ll feel and look your best!