What To Wear This Wedding Season

It’s wedding season, and it seems like every time you get on your social media pages, someone that you know is getting married! If you are invited to be a part of someone’s big day, it’s quite important to dress the part! 

Ah, the dreaded wedding dress codes.

With so many different variations, it can be confusing on what is and is not appropriate to wear to a wedding. Don’t stress, we’re here to help! Below is a guide to the most common wedding dress codes that you may see this summer.

Credit: AP

White Tie

When it comes to dressing up, white tie attire is about as lavish as you can get! White tie attire is formal and very traditional. In this day and age, white tie required weddings are far and few, but just in case you happen to be invited to one, it is imperative that you dress the part!

Women need to wear a formal floor-length evening gown. It’s also highly recommended to pair your dress with elegant jewelry, shoes, and a clutch. When deciding what to wear, ask  yourself what you would wear if you were going to a gala at the White House or dining with the British royal family.

Men on the other hand are expected to wear a black tuxedo with tails, a formal white shirt, a white vest, and a white bow tie. For foot wear, traditionally men are expected to wear black patent leather shoes with black laces, but any black formal foot wear will do! Gloves are optional for both men and women.

Check out this complete guide of do’s and don’t when it comes to the white tie dress code!

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Black Tie

A step down in formality from the white tie, but still very extravagant, is black tie attire. Black tie is a more commonly expected dress code when it comes to modern day weddings, and oftentimes signifies that the wedding is an evening event. For a black tie affair you should dress formal and appropriate.

Women should wear a long evening gown, preferably one that reaches their ankles. Choose a dress that is simple yet elegant, for example choose a solid color over floral print. On occasion if it is a less-formal black tie, cocktail dresses will be okay. Make sure that your cocktail dress at least ends at the knees, and stick with black or jewel-toned colors. Finish off your look by pairing your dress with jewelry, heels, and a clutch!

For men, evening wear is your go-to! Opt for a black or dark-colored tuxedo, a fancy white dress shirt, a white vest, and a matching bow tie. Classic leather shoes or oxfords are always a good choice for footwear. If you are unsure of what is expected, it’s always safe to stick with black and white color choices for your outfit.

Look to the red carpet for black tie inspiration!

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Black Tie Optional/Formal

If your invitation reads, “black tie optional” you may be wondering what that wording means. Black tie optional is just another way to say formal wear! So basically, you can dress in black tie attire or you can step it down a notch if you prefer. Realistically, you’ll be looking grand either way, but there are a few small differences to note.

For women, the word “optional” allows you the opportunity to wear a formal floor length gown as previously mentioned, an appropriate cocktail dress, or even a fancy pantsuit if that’s what you prefer. The same rules still apply as mentioned before, just make sure to be tasteful when picking out your outfit and accessorize accordingly. A black tie optional dress code definitely allows for more creativity!

Men, the word “optional” is your free ticket to ditch the tuxedo and opt for a regular dark-colored suit. Another variance is that you can wear a conservative tie instead of a bow tie. No matter if you choose the tux or suit, a clean white dress shirt and black shoes are still the formality.

Credit: Mike Larson

Semi-Formal/ Cocktail/ Dressy Casual

Perhaps one of the most common (and flexible) wedding dress codes is semi-formal wear. Other variations you may see on the invitation is cocktail or dressy casual attire. This means that really anything between formal and casual is a-okay with the bride and groom on their special day.

A go-to for the gals is always a cocktail dress. It is the perfect balance between classy and comfort. Other appropriate choices include tea-length dresses, jumpsuits, pant suits, or even a dressy top and bottom. When it comes to dressy casual, remember the important factors when making your outfit choice. If the ceremony is outside, maybe you’ll want to wear wedges instead of heels. If it’s an all-day event, you’ll want to be comfortable. Every ceremony will be different!

For men, there is also a wide variation when picking out your fit. Usually, men are still required to wear a suit, but the tie can be optional. If it’s an evening wedding opt for darker colors; if it is a daytime wedding it is okay to experiment with other colors. Chances are, you’ll have a decent idea of who the bride and groom are if you are invited to their wedding, use your best judgement when picking out your outfit.

Here is some outfit inspiration for both men and women!

Credit: C Brown Photo


We all may be familiar with normal casual wear, but those gray sweat pants you wear out to do your errands won’t quite cut it in the world of weddings. In wedding lingo, casual means comfortable, but chic at the same time! I like to think of it as what you would wear to church or to dinner while on vacation. In short, it is a step up from your usual everyday clothing, and you really have a lot of freedom when choosing what to wear! 

Ladies, a sundress is perfect for this occasion. Or if you’re a pants person, dress pants matched with a nice top is always a great choice. When it comes to shoes, you can compliment your outfit with dressy sandals, loafers, or a wedge. I would advise against shoes such as regular sandals and tennis shoes. Stay away from heels that look too formal, and for accessories, don’t go overboard. A pair of studded earrings and your purse seems just about right.

For the guys, wear dress pants or khaki pants with a nice top and you’re set! If it is a cooler day, a nice sweater or a sports jacket is fine too! If it’s warmer out, dress shorts are probably fine, but it never hurts to check with the future Mr. and Mrs.

Credit: Lulus

Special Occasion

A special occasion type of wedding is one with a particular theme or destination.

One common wedding you will see is a beach wedding! Usually, a beach wedding will be hot and humid so you will want to dress accordingly. Women, for you, pick a dress or two-piece outfit made with cool and comfy material. A maxi-dress is always beach appropriate. Sandals, or at most wedges, will be the most practical choice of footwear. 

Men, you’ll also want to think about comfortability. If it a formal wedding, try finding a thinner jacket to wear that will be breathable, no heavy wool or cotton! The same will go for the rest of your outfit.

No matter the occasion, remember to pay attention to the formality listed and do your research. If you are unsure, I always recommend over-dressing instead of under-dressing. But remember, it never hurts to ask questions if you need to!

What is your favorite wedding dress code? Drop a comment below and let us know your thoughts!

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