As a guest, when you are planning what to wear for wedding, the first step you should take is to look at the wedding invitations for the dress code. Typically, the couple will include wedding guest dress code on their invitation, and that should be your ultimate guideline as to what to wear to the wedding.
Here is the most common types of wedding dress codes that you might find on the wedding invitation and what you should know about each type. If you are going to the wedding with a plus one, we will look at how to interpret the the dress code not only for the ladies, but also for the men.
What is a white tie wedding
The white tie is the most formal dress code. In fact, according to Wiki, “white tie” itself doesn’t necessarily refer to wedding guest dress code. Any formal event could request “white tie”. If you have never been invited to a white-tie event before (most of us probably have not, unless you are part of the royal world), think the White House state dinner or Met Gala. It often times involves red carpet, celebrities and camera flashing. Even though it is rarely seen on today’s wedding invitations, it is still good to be educated about the etiquette.
White tie dress code for women
Even though this is the most formal type of wedding guest dress code, there is no clear restrictions on what the women should wear. Traditionally, a ball gown (long evening gown) will be considered appropriate for a white tie wedding. You probably also want to complete the whole look by wearing jewelry and even evening gloves.
White tie dress code for men
The dress code for men is stricter than for women. Traditionally, men should wear a black dress tailcoat over a white starched shirt, marcella waistcoat and the white bow tie worn around a standing wingtip collar. Be mindful that it should be a tailcoat instead a regular suit, and it should be a bow tie instead of a regular neck tie.
What is a black tie wedding
This is the second most formal type of dress code. According to Wiki, black tie is semi formal, but for most of us, this might be the most formal type of wedding you will attend, because white tie weddings do not happen that often in day to day life.
Black tie wedding dress code for women
Traditionally, women should wear full length gown or tea length (below calf length). However, in modern days, black tie for ladies is sometimes used interchangeably with cocktail attire. What that implies is if you are wearing petite dresses for wedding, it doesn’t need to be ankle length or even tea length. It could be modestly shorter, but probably not mini dresses. You are not restricted to only petite dresses for wedding. Evening pants (either palazzo cut or other dressy looking pants) are also acceptable for black tie evening.
If your budget allows, it is ideal to own a formal gown. In the wedding season, having one ready in your closet will save you a lot of stress.
First, since formal gowns are not cheap, you want to have plenty of time to try on different styles of full length petite dresses for wedding and find what suits you the best.
Sometimes you may need alterations, so you want to make sure you have ample time to do that.
Last but not the least, formal gowns also request more thoughtful choices for the accessories such as the jewelry, bags and shoes that go with them. You need to make sure to spend enough time to put the whole ensemble together. Read our guide on “How to Style Petite Formal Long Dresses“.
Black tie wedding dress code for Men
Traditionally, tuxedo and accessories are the preferred attire for men to attend a black tie wedding. Typically the ensemble includes a black dinner jacket (tuxedo), and matching dress pants, a black formal waistcoat or black cummerbund, a white formal shirt, a black bow tie, black dress socks and black formal shoes. While white tie is strictly regulated, black tie can have more options. For instance, the waistcoat is optional. Also, you can wear a black long tie instead of bow tie.
What is a black tie optional (formal) wedding
Black tie optional still means the couple want guests to dress up, but it means even more flexibility for the wedding guests to choose from what they want to wear.
Black tie optional wedding dress code for women
In stead of formal petite dresses for wedding (gown), women can wear cocktail attire as long as it is dressy enough. You choices are not limited to just dresses either, it could be jumpsuits, separates and anything else appropriate for the venue. The keyword here is still “dressy”.
Black tie optional wedding dress code for Men
Instead of a tuxedo, men can wear a dark suit (navy or dark grey are perfect). Instead of a bow tie, men can wear a neck tie. Men should wear the suit with a pressed dress shirt and a solid tie to dress it up. Black tie is most safe, even though it is not strictly expected.
What to is a cocktail attire (semi-formal) wedding
ocktail attire might be one of the most popular wedding guest dress codes, because it falls between formal and casual. The wedding couple is giving guests a lot flexibility in terms of choices. In terms of formality, this is one step down from the “black-tie optional”, and you have a lot more options to let your personality shine.
Cocktail attire wedding dress code for women
Put on your best cocktail dress and pair it with your favorite jewelry. Don’t restrict your choices to only wedding guest dresses either. You can totally wear a dressy jumpsuit and put on a pair of stiletto. Some sparkling jewelry will give your wedding guest look a nice finish touch. If you are not a big dress or jumpsuit person, opt for a nice blouse with a pair of well tailored dress pants or palazzo pants made of fine quality fabrics like silk.
Your options are not limited to dress, either. There are many other outfits you can wear, as long as they fit in the dressy and celebrative ambiance of the cocktail attire wedding. To name a few, jumpsuit works great for weddings because they are automatically dressy. Or, A satin blouse and dress pants are another great option, when you want something different than dresses for wedding.
Cocktail attire wedding dress code for Men
Men also have more options. The best news is most men can most likely wear the items they already own in their closet (instead of getting a tuxedo like requested by the more formal dress codes). Men can wear a dark suit – solid dark navy or charcoal are perfectly appropriate
What is a beach formal wedding
This means the wedding is taking place at a beach venue, and the wedding couple want the guests to dress in elegant attire that suits the beach theme (think the sun, the ocean and the sands). If you have not been to an event with “beach formal” dress code before, just think about what you would wear to a fine dining restaurants by the beach.
Beach formal wedding dress code for women
You have many choices for beach wedding guest dresses, and you can consider this an opportunity to wear your favorite sun dress. If you do opt for a dress, a maxi dress is perfect for the beach theme. Or, you could also choose a tea length or knee length dress.
On the other hand, dresses are not your only option to wear to a beach wedding. If you are not a dress person in general, there are many other outfits you can wear and they are totally appropriate for weddings. you could consider a palazzo pants for a beach wedding or a destination wedding.
Beach formal wedding dress code for men
Since the wedding venue is by the beach, a summer suit with a linen shirt and linen pants are the best. No ties are required.
What is a daytime (or casual) wedding
Casual normally means there is no strict restriction for what the wedding guests should wear. Does that mean you can put on your favorite T-shirt and jeans? Since this is a wedding, it is still a formal event at the end of the day. You should still dress appropriately to show the respect for the couple, their family and other wedding guests. Read our post on “What to Wear to a Wedding if you are Petite: 9 Common Mistakes to Avoid”.
Daytime (causal) wedding dress code for women
The best petite dresses for wedding? Be yourself and pick out what you feel like is most YOU. As long as it’s not too tight, too short, or too revealing, you are good to go. If you are not a big fan of dresses, it is perfectly fine to wear separates as well. A feminine blouse and a pair of well fitted dress pants will work out nicely for the occasion.
Daytime (causal) wedding dress code for men
Even though the invitation says “casual”, that is not giving out the pass to wear jeans and sneakers. For the men, a button down shirt or polo shirts are appropriate for this dress code.
What to wear if there is no dress code on wedding invitation
It is totally possible that the couple do not put the dress code on the wedding invitation. When that happens, always try to be on the dressier side. If you have to take a guess game, it is always wise to be slightly overdressed than to be underdressed. After all, this is a wedding, the most important day of the couple.
As much as we want to say the dresses for wedding should be all about you expressing your individual style, wedding is one of those occasions where you do need to pay close attention to the etiquette and be mindful of the dos and don’ts.
When the wedding season comes around, it always pays to be prepared if you anticipate to hear good news from your bestie or cousins, even though you have not received the wedding invitation yet.
Since “white tie” hardly comes around, and even “black tie” is not as commonly seen as the other less formal wedding dress code, do you need a formal gown? If your budget allows, having a gown will make sure you are totally prepared. If you happen to get an invitation that says “white tie” or “black tie” dress code, you will not be in the panic mode. Even though they don’t happen every day, you want to avoid the last minute rush shopping when they do happen.