Wedding season is among us, and since I will be attending a wedding as a guest, I thought it’d be fun, hopefully interesting, to post a small series on how to be a wedding guest. I wanted to include everything from the dress code to common courtesies to makeup looks that will last throughout the day. First, I wanted to address how to dress.
Generally wedding invitations are simple: who, what, when, where, and RSVP by this date. However, some couples will specify the type of wedding they are having, and that will dictate the dress code. This would be listed on the invitation as well. But sometimes these dress codes can lead to confusion and murky, gray areas. So I’ve compiled a small list for anyone attending a wedding this summer.
White Tie: This is, quite literally, the most formal dress code you will come across. And let me tell you, if the couple is even bothering to make the dress code white tie, they will notice and care if you don’t follow through. It’s going to be very formal and very conservative and proper.
She wears: Floor length gown devoid of bold patterns, beading, cutouts, jewelry, or makeup.
He wears: A tuxedo, with tails, slip on shoes with no laces, and a white tie, preferably a bow tie. That’s how specific it is.
Black Tie: Think Golden Globes here. This is going to be an evening event, after 6 pm. You’re still going to want to be formal, but you can be a little more fun.
She wears: Floor length or chic cocktail dress (this isn’t a cocktail party, so keep it longer in length, around your knee, and formal). You can also ask the wedding party for the most appropriate length. Feel free to wear something with beading, a bolder color, or a pattern.
He wears: A tuxedo, patent leather shoes are suggested, bow tie & cumberbund or a Euro tie & vest.
Formal or Black Tie Optional: Slightly less formal than black tie.
She wears: See black tie. Women can wear a dressy pantsuit for black tie optional.
He wears: A tuxedo, or dark suit and tie.
Cocktail or Semi-formal: Ok, think homecoming here. The wedding will most likely take place in the early evening.
She wears: A good rule of thumb is no beading on anything long and a little bit of bling if it’s a short dress.
He wears: Guys don’t necessarily need to wear a suit, but a jacket is required. Unless you’re amazingly talented in the fashion department, wear a tie as well.
Beach formal: You don’t have to be as formal as black tie, but you can’t be at all casual either (I know it’s hard, because you’re at the beach). And remember, you’ll be on sand, so be comfortable and wear something you can easily move in. A nice way to think of this dress code is: What would I wear to a nice dinner at the beach?
She wears: Formal sundress at knee or tea length, flat sandals or sand appropriate wedges/platforms. Your hair and makeup can be natural.
He wears: A summer weight suit, in a light color with linen shirt, linen pants or khakis, sandals, no tie required.
Dressy Casual: This one is a doozy, because it can be one of the more confusing dress codes. Do you go more toward formal or more toward casual? It also will depend on the location of the wedding and the season. But you’re safe to think nice dinner or evening event.
She wears: Dressy skirt and top, cocktail dress, or dressy jumpsuit.
He wears: Suit and tie, dark for fall/winter and light for spring/summer. You can also get away with dress pants and a sportcoat or blazer. A tie is not required but appropriate.
Casual: This is dangerous, because almost anything goes. Just remember, you are going to a wedding, which is a special event. Think what you’d wear on a date. What’s great, though, is you already have something in your closet. Jeans, shorts, and tank tops shouldn’t be worn unless the wedding party has noted them as appropriate.
She wears: Sundress or skirt/pants with a nice blouse. Feel free to accessorize! Hair and makeup can be natural.
He wears: Khakis and a button down sportshirt. A vest is a nice touch. Jackets aren’t required, but buttons are.
When attending a wedding, the most important thing to do is be mindful of the couple and remember you are their guest–this means their dress code, family, venue, and known values. For example, if the wedding is at a church, don’t wear something too revealing. Bring a stole for the ceremony and remove it for the reception.
But Jacqie, where are examples of outfits? Help.
Guys, it’s wedding week. Stay tuned until tomorrow. (;