7 Wedding Dress Codes: What Does It Really Mean?

7 Wedding Dress Codes: What Does It Really Mean?

11.07.2022 Off By manager_1

bridesmaids wearing gray gowns

You have marked “yes” on your RSVP card. You have signed, sealed and delivered it. It’s now time to accept your wedding guest dress, or pantsuit, skirt set, or other attire. Double-check your invitation to make sure you include the dress code information before adding it to your cart. You don’t have to wear black tie at all nuptials.

You can usually gauge the type of reception venue and determine the dress code if there isn’t one on the invitation. Kennedy Bingham, a stylist and content creator (known as Gown Eyed girl on Instagram), says that this is particularly true for casual dress codes. She quips, “It’s difficult to wear white tie formal if your backyard bbq is going.”

If you are still unsure about what to wear to a ceremony, we suggest searching the geotag on Facebook to find out what other people have worn. If you still have questions, Bingham provides a breakdown of the various categories of wedding dress codes to help you choose the right ensemble.

Casual Wear

Although Bingham might say that a casual wedding can be as glamorous as a night out, or fancy brunch, it is important to approach it with grace. InStyle reports that she wouldn’t break out the flip-flops and basketball shorts.

Bingham suggests a light linen set for a casual daytime wedding or a simple button-up with dark beige shorts. A dress or longer pants are better for a casual nighttime wedding. Bingham suggests that you wear something you would wear to meet your partner’s parents for their first time. Although it may be casual, you want to still look good for the happy couple.

Cocktail Wear

Cocktail attire can be difficult to find. Bingham refers to it as “what Bond Girls wear when James Bond first sees them in the restaurant.” It is somewhere in between semi-formal or fully formal.

Bingham suggests a slim suit or a dress that falls below the knee if you are following cocktail wedding dress codes.

Formal attire

It means that formal weddings are not as strict as black tie events in terms of guest attire. There isn’t much advice on what to wear, other than to avoid casual attire because it is a formal event.

Bingham suggests long, dark-colored dresses in mauve, navy, and emerald colors are best for formal weddings. Fabrics such as silk and crepe look great, and while a full-tux is not necessary, it’s a good idea to have a crisp suit with a tie!

Semi-Formal Wear

Bingham describes a “semi formal” wedding dress code as “just one notch below cocktails.” You should dress up as if you are going to a fancy restaurant for dinner. But, it’s important to be more casual.

Traditional fabrics such as silk are still available, however, you can reduce the length of your hemline below the knee if you wish. Bingham says he would recommend a suit to replace a button-down or pants. However, you can experiment with different colors and fabrics. He also notes that if you prefer a more casual look with a tie, you should ditch it.

Black Tie Attire

One word: Fancy. This one will make you want to go all out — gowns, heels, full tuxedos and the whole nine.

Bingham advises that a black-tie bride’s dress code requires something at least floor length. You shouldn’t see beyond the toes of your shoes when you walk. She also said that suit-wearers should consider a full-on tux. You can choose to opt out of the cumberbund, as it is black tie and not white tie. However, it’s strongly encouraged.

Black Tie Optional Attire

It means that you are still fancy but that suit-wearers have some flexibility.

Bingham says that black tie is optional if you plan to wear a nice gown. Black-tie optional is effectively calling out suit wearers. Bingham states that it means that a bow tie and tux are acceptable, but not required. “Formal suits are acceptable, as is a tie.”

Beach Formal Attire

This is a popular code for wedding dresses in coastal towns. Bingham perfectly describes it when she states that the couple is basically saying “We want all of you to dress up to the nines but we also recognize that we are going to be on the beach.”

Bingham recommends that you wear a light-colored and linen-colored suit instead of a wool-grey. She says bright colors are welcome in dresses, such as burnt yellows and soft pinks.