Wedding Dress Codes Explained, Plus a Few Tips on How to Look Your Bes – LIFESTYLE BY PS icon

Wedding Dress Codes Explained, Plus a Few Tips on How to Look Your Best


Weddings are elaborate affairs where everyone’s dressed “to the nines,” as the saying goes. The bride and groom have taken the time to make the event perfect: 

  • The venue 
  • The flowers
  • The guests
  • The dress  
  • The invitations
  • The color scheme 
  • The music
  • The catering

But what are modern wedding dress codes, and how can you look your best? Read on to find out! 

Wedding Dress Code #1: think classy jewelry

Classic jewelry, like the Cuban link chain, is something everyone can wear, no matter their style. The blocky chain can complement any look and has several distinctive types that change the look so much that everyone can look unique, even if several others are wearing such a piece. They come in bracelets, necklaces, and rings. The necklaces come in various lengths and styles, including “standard,” spiked, and tennis. Cuban link chains are made of gold, white gold, rose gold, two-tone gold, and maybe even studded with diamonds. 

Wedding Dress Code #2 White-Tie

“White tie” is the formal wedding dress code that comes complete with floor-length elegant gowns and jewelry, shoes, and a handbag complementing your outfit for women. Men must wear tuxedos with tails, formal white shirts, vests, bow ties, white or gray gloves, and derby shoes or oxfords. White tie affairs are the type of wedding you’ll find among high society and governmental elites. 

Wedding Dress Code #3 Black-Tie

Black tie affairs are a step below white tie but still exquisite and fancy. Typically indicating an evening wedding, black-tie weddings still require men to wear tuxes (a white dinner jacket for summer), black bow tie (hence the name), vest, and patent leather shoes. Women’s attire may be a bit more relaxed with stylish cocktail dresses or pantsuits. 

 Wedding Dress Code #4 Black Tie Optional

This style combines the styles mentioned above, though considerably relaxing the dress code on both sides. Tuxes still may be seen on men, but some may choose to wear neckties with white shirts. For such events – men, please use a “tied tie.” Clip-on ties for such events are considered tacky. Women may choose between floor-length gowns, cocktail dresses, and pantsuits 

Wedding Dress Code #5 Cocktail

Cocktail wedding attire splits the difference between (optional) black tie and traditional wedding attire. Women attending a cocktail wedding should wear knee-length or mid-length dresses instead of floor-length ones. Men must wear a suit and tie. Dressing nice and polished but avoiding ornate or flashy clothing is the name of the game.

Wedding Dress Code #6 Semi-Formal or “Dressy Casual”

Dressing for semi-formal weddings involves considering the wedding’s time. Dress formally for nighttime weddings and casually for daytime ones. Women might want to wear a dress, skirt-and-top combo, or an elegant pantsuit, though not a floor-length gown. As far as shoes go, women should wear heels (unless the wedding’s outside), wedges, or flats. Men should wear a formal shirt, dark or light pants, a necktie, and nice shoes. 

Wedding Dress Code #7 Festive

Festive dress code weddings are a new trend that may confuse people who are more used to traditional weddings of black or white tie formal, semi-formal, or even cocktail. Guests are encouraged to wear bright colors and fun accessories that suit their personalities. 

Wedding Dress Code #8 Casual

Casual weddings are typically outside: in a park, on the beach, or in a wooded area, which allows for a more relaxed dress code. Unless otherwise stated, jeans, shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, sandals, and sneakers are inappropriate. Sundresses are appropriate – but shouldn’t be formal. Casual weddings call for wedges or sophisticated sandals. Men should wear dress pants or khakis and a collared shirt. Neckties and sports jackets are optional. Add a sweater if it’s cold.  

Wedding Dress Code #9 Tropical or Destination

When packing for a tropical or destination wedding, err on comfortable but formal wear. If you’re unsure between two items, pick the nicer of the two, just as long as it’s appropriate to the location. Women should wear cotton sundresses, sandals or wedges, and a sunhat if the wedding is held outside.

Men can wear a fashionable tropical-themed short-sleeved shirt or one of those (typically) short-sleeved open-necked “Mexican shirts” with a pair of both breast and hip pockets that you can wear untucked.   

Wedding Dress Code #10 Misc.

These dress codes don’t fall into any of the ones listed above. Consider the following:

    • Nautical weddings – the guests might wear clothing that has a boat or submarine theme. For instance, the guys could wear navy-inspired “uniforms,” and the women could wear an outfit decorated with anchors or an “over-the-shoulder” pantsuit. Or they may wear “standard” wedding attire and accessories that echo the nautical theme: a broach, earrings, or a necklace.
  • Vintage weddings would have people wearing clothes from a specific period. When sending out invites, let guests know what era clothes they should wear.
  • For Modern weddings, think of the architectural movement of the same name. Both men and women should choose clothing with clean, minimalistic lines. 
  • A Costume wedding might be appropriate if you’re marrying in October. All guests come dressed in their favorite costumes