Decoding the Dress Code!

The dress code for your wedding day is a way to continue to contribute to your guests understanding of the theme, mood and tone of your big day. It also helps for your guests to dress to the style you’re looking for. No good having suit tails on a beach (unless of course, that’s the look you’re after!).

So how do you determine what your dress code should be? It’s hard enough to choose the perfect outfit, let alone be the person who is deciding the theme along which everyone else should dress!!

The first step is to understand the various dress codes themselves, then thinking about your venue and location, if it is cocktail (ie stand up) or a sit-down event and what your wedding party will be wearing. Once you consider all those things, it is likely that a particular dress code will jump out at you and “just feel right”.

To help, we’ve described some of the more common dress codes here.

Wedding Dress Code
White Tie

The most formal of all dress codes. Think long tuxedos or full suits for men, and full-length, extravagent ball gowns for women.

Formal Wedding Dress Code
Black Tie

Typically relates to evening weddings only, and traditionally, men are to wear a black suit/tuxedo and a black bow-tie. Black tie creative is a more recent derivative of a black tie wedding; where men are allowed a splash of colour and may accessorise.

For women, it is an evening gown of colour (typically full length, but not as extravagant as a white-tie event).

Black tie wedding dress code
Black Tie Optional / Formal

A slightly more relaxed affair than black tie where the black suit for men is optional and a dark suit can be worn in place of a black tuxedo. The bridal party is typically dressed in formal wedding attire (black suits etc.), but it is optional for the guests to dress as so.

formal wedding dress code
Semi-formal / Lounge-suit

This is the classic “Jacket and tie” theme. More formal than cocktail, but you can add some flair. Navy suits or royal blue are common in this theme.

A lounge suit dress code is common for an afternoon wedding and is more directed to men than women. It’s a classic suit; waistcoat, smart shirt and a tie. Women may wear a dress suitable for daytime event.

Lounge wedding dress code

This is fast-becoming the most prevalent dress code as the popularity of the contemporary wedding rises. The dress code for men is typically the same as formal (a suit with a tie), but for women, it means a mid to short length dress. Think the ‘little black dress’ type of style, but without the black of course!

Cocktail wedding dress code
Beach and Beach Formal

Fairly self-explanatory we think – it inherently indicates casual, which is why at times it is referred to as ‘beach formal’ – to add some extra class! A formal sundress, with flats for the ladies and a lighter coloured suit for me, with linen or khaki pants.

Beach wedding
Smart Casual

Perfect for a backyard wedding! Neat, but informal; it’s all about being smart! For men, wear casual trousers, such as a suit pant or chinos, and shirt (no ties or t-shirts!). In summer, shorts (but not board shorts!) would also be suitable.

For women, it’s usually a sundress or a skirt or jeans and a dressy top. If you wear denim, we recommend dark navy or black.

Ditch the runners, but opt for loafers or equivalent. For women, it’s flats.

Backyard wedding dress code

Ultimately on the day, it’s unlikely you’ll mind what your guests wear. You’ve invited them along as you just want to share your special day with them. If you’re still stuck, chat to your wedding planner or your venue and ask them what they think would suit best (pun intended!), or of course, contact us and we can help point you further in the right direction!

Good luck!

Chantel Steele
Owner/Manager for Luxe Invitations