Did you know that the average wedding guest spends about $430 on attire, gifts, and attending the big day?
If you've been invited to a wedding, you're likely excited to support the happy couple and share their joy. However, it's normal to think about all the steps you'll need to take to prepare for the event, especially if there is a dress code.
Many of us find wedding dress codes confusing, and unless you've gone to plenty of formal events over the years, you likely have questions about what to wear. In this article, we will review some of the most common wedding dress codes so you can plan to look your best!
How to Determine the Best Attire
Most bridal couples establish a dress code for their wedding day. Usually, this information is on the invitation, but many modern couples rely on wedding websites to share the event's details.
If you can't find the dress code on the wedding website or invitation, it's best to contact the couple directly. Alternatively, you can reach out to the venue where the wedding will be held since it may require guests to meet a certain standard of dress.
Remember that not all couples impose a dress code on their guests. In these cases, it's up to you to decide what's appropriate wedding guest attire. However, it would help if you kept in mind the cultural and religious norms of the couple so you could dress in a way that shows your respect. Additionally, you'll want to consider the weather, season, and time of day the event will be held.
What to Wear to a Wedding (By Type)
If the wedding you're attending has a dress code, keep reading this section for more details!
White Tie Wedding Attire
The white-tie dress code has been around for nearly 200 years and is associated with royal or state ceremonies. Despite the rarity of white-tie weddings these days, some couples who desire the utmost formality still have them.
Being invited to a white-tie wedding is a unique opportunity to dress in your fanciest garb. For men, that means wearing:
- White, self-tied bow tie
- Tailcoat with peaked lapels
- High-waisted slacks
- White low-cut waistcoat
- White dress shirt, either pleated or plain, with a winged collar and folded cuffs
- Black patent leather shoes with black ribbon laces
- Black evening socks
You can have a lot of fun with accessories you'll never get to wear at another event, such as a top hat, white gloves, and a dress cane.
This formal dress code is a little less demanding for women, who can wear a floor-length gown in a dark color. Ladies going to formal weddings should use elegant accessories like long gloves, closed-toe heels, and one piece of jewelry, such as a dressy necklace.
Black Tie Wedding Attire
Formal weddings usually call for black-tie dress codes. Although they are less formal than white-tie weddings, these events are still highly formal. Men should wear:
- Dark tuxedos, either black or another neutral/dark color
- Black self-tied bow ties (black tie is also acceptable)
- Plain pocket squares
- White dress shirt
- Cummerbund or waistcoat
- Black patent leather dress shoes or loafers
- Black dress socks
Sometimes, weddings are black tie optional, meaning that you can choose between a tux or a dark suit without it being a faux pas. However, we encourage you to dress your best for black tie events, even when it's optional, since you may not get the chance often.
Women usually wear floor-length gowns or dresses, but cocktail-length dresses are also acceptable.
Casual Wedding Attire
Casual weddings are increasingly common these days, and because they are a step down from formal attire, they give guests the liberty to wear pretty much anything they want. However, if you don't want to feel out of place, you should ensure your outfit isn't overly casual. That means no t-shirts or shorts!
Instead, you should wear a button-down shirt with a sport coat. Pair it with dress pants (or khaki chinos) and a nice pair of shoes, such as loafers or lace-ups.
Women can wear a sundress, midi dress, jumpsuit, or maxi dress in lighter colors or floral prints.
Cocktail Wedding Attire
Cocktail dress is semi-formal, somewhere between casual and formal attire. Men should wear suits, and dark colors are the standard. However, you don't have to match your pants and jacket. Your shirt should have a collar, but you don't necessarily need a tie.
If you choose to forego the tie, you can opt for other accessories like a pocket square. As for shoes, lace-ups or a shiny loafer are best.
Women's cocktail wedding guest dresses are typically knee-length, but long dresses are also acceptable. Pantsuits are another great alternative to dresses for women's cocktail attire.
No Dress Code? No Problem!
Some couples prefer to let their guests wear whatever attire makes them most comfortable. Of course, there are some definite no-nos, such as matching the wedding party's outfits or women wearing white dresses. But, other than that, guests can wear pretty much anything.
In these instances, it's best to dress for the occasion, considering factors like the season, time of day, and venue. If you know the bridal couple well, you may also be able to speak to them about what you plan to wear or ask for suggestions.
Below we'll consider a few wedding guest outfit suggestions if you're basing your attire on the time of year.
Darker colors are usually the standard for winter clothing, and weddings are no different. Dark suits are a good choice because you don't have to worry about being underdressed. If the venue is outdoors, consider a three-piece suit since it will keep you toasty all evening.
If you want something more casual, consider a long sleeve button-down with a corduroy blazer or a sweater with a suit jacket.
Spring is the perfect season to pull out your pastel dress shirts and floral ties. Lighter-colored suits or jackets are appropriate, but we recommend layering if the weather fluctuates throughout the day.
Summer is peak wedding season and also the time of year for beach weddings. Lightweight fabrics, such as linen or cotton, are best for casual weddings. You’ll also want to go with a short-sleeve shirt. These outfit ideas also work for tropical destination weddings, no matter the season!
Layers are best if you go to an outdoor wedding in the fall. Nights can get chilly, so wear a sweater or dark suit jacket over your dress shirt.
Dress to Impress with PRIME Neckwear
Knowing what to wear to a wedding can be challenging, but this guide can help. We recommend favoriting it so you can refer to it as you work out the details of your outfit.
PRIME neckwear has a wide selection of ties, bow ties, and accessories to help you look your best, no matter the dress code. If you want to celebrate your favorite couple's nuptials in style, browse our collection of products!