Have you ever struggled to choose what to wear as a wedding guest? What does a black tie wedding entail? How formal is formal? If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions you aren’t alone. Here’s a cheat sheet for what you need to know about wedding guest attire!
If an invitation says “black tie” it means the wedding will be as formal as can be, which means you are expected to be dressed to the nines. Gentleman, this is the occasion to don a tuxedo. This will include a tuxedo jacket, tuxedo pants, a dress shirt, tie or bow-tie, a cummerbund, and suspenders. Do not panic if you don’t already own a tuxedo, I’d expect most men don’t. If you don’t own one and you’d prefer not to spurge on something you might never wear again, rest assured there are several tuxedo rental shops. As for the ladies, you would wear a long, formal evening gown. If children are attending, they should be in their fanciest clothes.
Formal to Semi Formal
Formal or semi-formal is the most common wedding dress code. Despite having “formal” in the title, both formal and semi-formal weddings are a little more flexible than black tie. Men, you are free to wear a suit instead of a tuxedo if you prefer, and ties are optional unless you’re in the wedding party. Ladies, you may wear any length of a formal dress. Maxi, midi, or a cocktail dresses would all be appropriate. Children should be dressed in one of their nicest outfits.
You want to be absolutely sure the wedding is classified as casual on the invitation or wedding website before choosing your outfit. To be on the safe side, jeans and shorts are still better to be avoided unless the invitation indicates otherwise. That being said, men in particular are free to wear something more comfortable. You do not need a tie, and a short or long-sleeved button shirt with dress pants or khaki pants is perfectly acceptable. Ladies, you may wear any casual dress, skirt, or dress pants. A cute sundress is a great option if the wedding is in summer. Children are typically dressed nicely, but not formally.
What you wear is going to depend on where the destination is. If you were going to a beach wedding you would typically follow the casual guidelines unless the invitation says otherwise. If the destination is in any other location, a Villa in Tuscany for example, the invitation may say black tie or formal. The most important thing for you to do is to follow whatever the invitation or website says.
Here are a few more rules of thumb:
1. It is better to be a little overdressed than underdressed
2. Always follow the stipulations on the invitation or wedding website
3. If in doubt, Google the venue to help you envision the bigger picture
4. Ladies, do not wear white, ivory, champagne, or off-white unless the invitation says otherwise. Just in case, it may be wise to take this into consideration for bridal showers and bachelorette parties as well.
5. Take culture and religion into consideration. For instance, if you know a wedding will reflect certain cultural or religious traditions, it might be a wise decision to check if there are any faux-pas to avoid.
We hope this answers any questions you had concerning what to wear as a wedding guest. Choosing what to wear should be fun, not stressful. Perhaps this is the perfect event to wear your favorite dress. You know, the one you rock every time! If you enjoy shopping, then maybe this is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to a brand new outfit. Whatever you decide, wear something you feel comfortable and confident in.