What to Wear: A Lesson on Wedding Attire

Ok ladies (and gents, of course!), if you're anything like me then one of the hardest parts of the day is figuring out what the heck to wear! Let’s face it. Some days the struggle is real! And that’s just on a normal day…

This is even more true when you have to find something appropriate for a wedding!

Why? Because, wedding attire has a language all its own!

Whether you’re a guest trying to decode your wedding invite or a couple trying to find the right words to describe your dress code to your friends and fam, all the wedding lingo can be down right confusing.

Fear not, my friends!!

I am here to give you the quick and easy breakdown of wedding attire code!



If the attire is casual often times this wedding will be held outdoors. Possibly at the beach, a farm, or other venues offering a more laid-back atmosphere.

Ladies!! Sundresses or maxi dresses are perfect! So are skirts or pants with a nice blouse. You could pair your look with some cute wedges, flats, or dressier sandals. If the weather is going to be more chilly add a cozy sweater or cardigan. If it's going to be a beach wedding think light and airy dresses with cute sandals.

Gents!! A button down shirt or a polo with khakis or dress pants is the go-to! You don’t have to wear a jacket or a sweater but you can if you would like!

Photo: RLJ Photography


“Dressy Casual” / Cocktail or Semiformal

This has everything to do with the time of day for the wedding which means there is a wider range of appropriate options. If it is a daytime wedding aim for lighter colors and materials versus an evening affair which would be more appropriate for darker colors.

Ladies!! This is the perfect time to break out your favorite cocktail dress or skirt/blouse combo! Wedges or flats are perfect for this attire and even heels (but keep in mind if you’re going to be walking on grass that heels can be tricky!)

Gents!! A suit and tie is best! You can totally wear a sports jacket with a button down and dress pants as well!

Photo: Michelle Whitley Photography


Formal and Black Tie Optional

This one can be a little bit tricky… mostly because it sounds similar to “Black Tie” but it is more casual and does not require a tux, however if you did decided to wear one gentlemen, it wouldn’t be out of place!

Ladies!! An evening gown or formal cocktail-length dress. You could also wear a dressy suit if that is more your style! With Formal/Black Tie Optional keep hair and jewelry more simple and elegant to fit the mood!

Gents!! As mentioned above you don’t have to wear a tux but you can! Any dark suit and tie would also be appropriate.

Photo: Pursuit of Shoes


Black Tie

Black tie is a fun one and is the perfect excuse to feel glam! A black tie wedding will most likely be an evening affair and and is much more formal than the previously mentioned attires. Think Oscars and Golden Globes (hmm… wonder where I found my picture inspiration).

Ladies!! It is not so different from “Formal/Black Tie Optional”. Floor length gowns or formal cocktail dresses are still perfect! The real difference here is… the BLING! With a black tie dress code you have permission to go more glam and glitzy then you could with “formal/black tie optional”.

Gents!! Breakout a black tuxedo! If you don’t have a tux handy, do not fear! There are plenty of places for you to rent a tux for the night. You can feel dapper pairing your tux with a black bow tie, cummberbun, and patent leather shoes for the completed look.

Photo: FabFashionFix


White Tie

The dressiest of the dressy!! While there aren't many occasions that call for white tie attire (think the annual Met Gala for inspiration) I want you to be ready for anything! Besides there’s nothing that would make you feel more like Cinderella (or Prince Charming!) than dressing up for a white tie event!

Ladies!! You should feel like a princess or movie star in a floor length evening gown or more likely a ball gown! Remember, how I said black tie was an excuse for bling? Well so is white tie!! White tie is very tasteful but sparkly jewelry combined with dramatic hair and makeup is encouraged for the occasion.

Gents!! A tuxedo with tails paired with a white shirt, black bowtie, and formal footwear. In this case even white gloves are common to see at a white tie event. You don’t get many chances to dress so dapper men so take advantage of the opportunity and go all out! You won’t regret it!

Photo: Gala

Now you have the basics for decoding the language of wedding attire!

Guests just remember that usually the dress code is listed somewhere near the bottom of your invitation. If your a bride and groom mentioning your wedding attire on your invites is encouraged to put your guests at ease and create the atmosphere at your wedding that you dream of!

If you have any trouble selecting a dress code that is where your handy-dandy wedding planner can come in and give you suggestions and advice!

Have a purrr-fect day!

- Maddie -