April 28, 2019

Wedding Guest Attire Explained

We wrote a previous blog about wedding attire language for wedding and rehearsal dinner invitations. The blog focused on the proper terminology for the occasion, but we wanted to focus now on what exactly is acceptable to wear for men and women for each occasion. So, today we are breaking down what exactly is expected for wedding guest attire based on the terminology provided by the couple!

Wedding Guest Attire Explained

We broke down each section into the formality of the wedding day, and then we went into the terms that may be included on the wedding or rehearsal dinner invitation. Every single wedding is unique, so it is important to pay attention to the words and terms the couple uses on the invitation. We have shared with you what exactly is the expected attire for men and women for every common scenario we could think of! If you have any doubt about what to wear, we encourage you to ask the couple! They will be glad you asked, so you wear the proper clothes for their wedding!

Formal Wedding Attire

A formal wedding would be an evening wedding with a formal ballroom or elegant reception.

White Tie

  • Men – A long black jacket with tails, a white pique vest, and a bow tie. Formal black shoes and even white gloves are appropriate.
  • Women – A formal, full-length ball gown. Glamorous makeup and dramatic jewelry and hair are appropriate.

Black Tie

  • Men – A tuxedo, black bow tie, cummerbund, and patent leather shoes are suggested.
  • Women – A chic cocktail dress or a long evening gown. The couple, wedding party, or close friends can help answer questions about the appropriate dress length.

Formal or Black Tie (Optional)

  • Men – A tuxedo or formal dark suit and tie.
  • Women – A long evening dress, dressy suit or formal cocktail-length dress.

Semi-Formal Wedding Attire

A Semi-Formal wedding would be a late-afternoon/early evening wedding. It could be outside or in a garden. Usually, garden and outside weddings are semi-formal.


  • Men – A suit and tie. Lean toward darker hues in chillier months, and feel free to opt for lighter grays or blues in warmer weather.
  • Women – A cocktail dress or dressy suit or jumpsuit.


  • Men – A suit and tie, dark or light depending on the season and time of day.
  • Women – A cocktail dress or a dressy skirt and top.

Causal Wedding

Generally, casual means anything goes—but jeans, shorts, and tank tops generally are not appropriate, unless they’re specifically noted on the invitation as acceptable. For the purposes of wedding wear, assume business casual if the invitation says “casual.”

Men – Dress pants and a button-down shirt or polo.

Women – A summer sundress or a skirt or pants with a nice blouse. Makeup and hair can be natural.


Pro Tip: Ultimately, it is up to the couple, on how they want their guests to be dressed. If you have any doubt, ask them! It will save you from going underdressed or overdressed to the wedding. **Note: Jeans are never acceptable to wear to a wedding unless the couple specifically indicates jeans are allowed.**


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