BRIDAL GURU / Aug 04, 2021


Decoding the wedding dress code isn't easy. If you haven't been to many weddings, knowing what is and isn't acceptable attire is already a challenge. If you have been to your fair share of weddings, then you know that the dress code can vary at each—from black tie to casual. (And even if it hasn't in your experience, who wants to wear the same outfit to every wedding?)

There's no need to frantically rummage through your closet or run off on a shopping spree. Today, we're decoding wedding dress codes for guests, so you know how to create the perfect look—and arrive at the party stress-free.

🌹 Black Tie Dress Code

Black tie events are formal and typically held at night, so evening wear is the most appropriate attire.

Black tie attire is pretty straightforward for men. It means a dark tuxedo, a white dress shirt, and a coordinating bow tie. Dress shoes, like oxfords, are suitable.

Women have a bit more options in terms of what to wear. With that said, a black tie event isn't the time to try the latest bold trends.

First, we recommend sticking to a floor-length gown—or if at the very least—a knee-length cocktail dress. Go for classic, feminine silhouettes. Think neutral colors or rich jewel tones, as well as decadent fabrics. And complete the look with sophisticated jewelry, a clutch, and heels.

Remember—the goal is to choose an elegant outfit.

What about hair and makeup? Typically, women wear their hair up in a sleek updo. If you choose to keep your hair down, make sure that it's styled. A smoky eye or a bold lip also works well with black tie looks.

long gown for black tie event

Editor’s Pick: style GL2889 | Floral Embroidery Glitter Mesh Mermaid Long Dress

🌹 Black Tie Optional Dress Code (Formal)

If you open up your wedding invitation and it says black tie optional, you can breathe a sigh of relief—it's totally cool to tone your outfit down a notch.

The main difference here is for men's attire. Rather than having to wear a tuxedo and bowtie, they can opt for a suit and tie.

For ladies, it means there's less pressure to wear a floor-length gown. While it's certainly welcomed, you can also choose to rock that chic new cocktail dress—and still feel dressed for the occasion.

Although in terms of accessories, we still encourage sophisticated jewelry and heels for formal attire.

Again, your hair should look styled, but you can get away with a half-do or leaving your hair down.

semi-formal dress

Editor’s Pick: style GS2807 | Lace Embellished Bodice Chiffon Short Dress

🌹 Cocktail Attire Dress Code (Semi Formal)

Not all weddings require a black tie dress code. In fact, lately, weddings have become a lot more casual—especially since the pandemic.

On the spectrum of wedding dress codes, cocktail attire sits between formal and casual.

Men can wear suits with or without ties. Women, as you've probably guessed, usually wear cocktail dresses.

However, when it comes to semi-formal events, there’s no need to play it safe. Feel free to explore bolder necklines, silhouettes and cuts, and embellishments.

Dressy separates are also an option. A pantsuit or two-piece dress is absolutely suitable for semi-formal weddings.

When it comes to your footwear, you can experiment with different colors and designs. Now's also the time to rock a statement piece of jewelry. And hey, why not consider unique hairstyles as well? We personally love the fishtail braid trend!

Embroidered Cocktail Dress

Editor’s Pick: style GS1439 | Two-Piece Embroidered Pencil Skirt Dress

🌹 Casual Attire Dress Code

Casual intimate events, like garden weddings, are a big trend this year. That means a casual dress code!

Dressing for these occasions is super relaxed.

At its most formal, men could wear sport coats. Button-down shirts and trousers (like chinos and khakis) are usually fine. At its least formal, polos and shorts are even acceptable.

Two-piece sets, skirts, or dresses are all appropriate attire for women. No need to go super glam here—a sundress would totally work. You can even get comfortable and wear sandals or flats.

Hair and makeup can be neutral, and your accessorizing can be minimalist. With casual dress codes, it's all about comfort—so style your outfit in a way that works for you.

Glitter Silver Blue Short Dress

Editor’s Pick: style GS2856 | Cut-Away Shoulder Glitter Crepe Bodycon Dress

Need more beauty and fashion inspo?

Wedding guest attire isn’t the only dress code we decode on our blog. Peek these blog posts for more outfit inspiration:

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