A wedding dress code is designed to ensure everyone at the wedding is dressed similarly. This can be an excellent way for the wedding party and guests to avoid a fashion faux pas, such as wearing a cummerbund with a tailcoat or a colored t-shirt with formal attire.

Choosing to use a dress code does not necessarily mean strictly adhering to age-old standards of tuxedos or tailcoats. Instead, you should feel free to add your own twist, such as colors or accents.

Should I Have a Dress Code?

Deciding whether to have a dress code or not is entirely up to the newlyweds-to-be. However, you should keep in mind that some venues may have their own requirements for attire. You should choose a dress code to help yourself and your guests understand the event’s formality and set the tone for the ceremony and reception.

There are numerous types wedding dress codes, and many of them are quite similar, with only subtle distinctions like color choice, hemline length, or suit cut to distinguish them. 

Here are several of the most common dress code options explained to help you choose the right one for your big day.



White-Tie Attire

A white tie dress code is the most formal wedding dress code and should be used for the most upscale events. White-tie wedding is typically held in the evening, with less formal options usually selected for morning and afternoon ceremonies.

What is White tie attire? White tie wedding attire requires a black tailcoat that falls to the knee with matching black pants that may include a satin stripe down the side. The outfit should also have a white cotton or piqué shirt and a white piqué vest.

The groom should wear a white bowtie and a pair of black formal shoes such as Oxfords. It is also important to accessorize with gray or white gloves, cufflinks, and a pocket watch.


Black-Tie Attire

A Black-tie dress code is still very formal, but allows for more options than just a tailcoat.  A black tuxedo is expected, but midnight navy blue suit, paired with matching pants, a cummerbund, and classic bow tie -is acceptable according to Emily Rees, a social media and marketing assistant at Sabina. You may also choose to exchange the cummerbund for a vest. Learn more about tuxedo costs here.

A black bowtie is traditional, but it is also acceptable to wear a necktie. You should also wear leather shoes and cufflinks. Consider adding a timepiece, such as an elegant wristwatch, to complete your attire.

Formal Attire


Formal Attire

What is formal wedding attire? Formal wedding dress codes are less strict than black tie and may be referred to as black tie optional. But it can be a bit ambiguous with what it requires. You can wear a tuxedo, but a suit is also acceptable

A dark, well-tailored suit is a good option as you will be able to use it even after the wedding. If you do choose a suit, you will have the choice between two- or three-piece styles. Consider a matching three-piece suit with a bowtie.

You should consider a midnight blue or charcoal gray suit and matching tie with a white shirt for formal attire. A pocket square that matches your shirt and a pair of black shoes can help complete the ensemble.

Cocktail Attire

Cocktail Attire

There are many different wedding dress codes. A cocktail dress code is one of the most popular options for modern weddings because it falls between the dressed-up look of a formal event and low-key semi-formal outfits. It strikes the perfect balance between elegant and comfortable and allows you to experiment with patterns, textures, embellishments, and various tailoring styles. 

Consider wearing a two-piece suit in a bold pattern like checkered, plaid, or stripes. Alternatively, opt for lighter fabrics with interesting textures such as linen or silk. You can also play with color rather than wearing classic midnight blue or black. 

If you plan a daytime or afternoon cocktail wedding, wear a light-colored jacket like powder blue, mint, or tan. For an evening affair, choose darker shades in burgundy or emerald. 

Accessories are another way to get playful with cocktail attire. Neck and bow ties are optional, but they can be a great way to add visual interest to your outfit and break up the horizontal lines to give you a more statuesque silhouette. 

Try tying your necktie in an elaborate configuration like an Eldredge or Merovingian knot. Leave your cufflinks at home, but wear a luxury timepiece to give your outfit a little sophistication.


Semi-Formal/Dressy Casual Attire

Semi-formal attire could also be considered business attire. This is an excellent option for the warmer months and daytime weddings as it is lighter than other formal attire. There has been a rise in less formal weddings, particularly those conducted outdoors. But semi-formal is also a great option for other venues as well. 

Semi-formal typically includes a blazer or suit coat with dress pants. You should wear a button-down shirt, but feel free to play around with the colors. A necktie is optional but unnecessary. An array of accessories are also available with this attire, such as a wristwatch or a hat and glasses.



Beach Formal/Beach Semi-Formal

Beach weddings are fun, but it can be hard to choose a dress code. After all, you don’t want to get sand in your shoes, and you probably don’t want to wear a three-piece suit in the middle of summer. Consider beach-formal attire to blend class and comfort. 

Beach-formal typically includes dress shirts and long pants with an optional blazer. 

The key to a beach wedding dress code is to choose light colors. A black coat will not be the best option; instead, go with a light blue or tan ensemble. The same goes for your shirt; consider an off-white or cream color. 

The most important part of choosing beach attire is to look at the materials. Make sure that you think about thickness and breathability when shopping. Opt for a linen or cotton two-piece suit or a pair of light khakis, a light sports coat, and a button-down shirt without a tie.

As for accessories, you have various options depending on your style. Some grooms wear sunglasses at a beach wedding, while others may also add a hat to fend off the heat.


Casual Attire

There is nothing wrong with having a casual wedding, and more couples are choosing less-formal ceremonies every year. With that said, weddings are still events with a level of sophistication and tradition. Just because you choose to have a casual wedding does not mean your guests will show up in a T-shirt and shorts.

The most common attire at a casual wedding is a button-down shirt with dress pants. The main difference between this and a semi-formal wedding dress code is forgoing the coat and necktie. However, some couples may choose to go with an even more casual option. 

Depending on your venue, you may even opt for jeans. Remember that jeans should only be worn for outdoor weddings or barn venues. But if done properly, jeans and dress shirts can offer a great look. An obvious addition is cowboy boots and a hat to complete the look.

Choosing the Proper Wedding Attire

It is important to remember that this is your wedding day and that you have the ultimate decision on what to wear. While there are numerous traditional dress codes for weddings, you should consider adding something unique to make the day special. Many grooms choose subtle nods such as quirky socks or undershirts that only they and their bride will notice and to add a bit of comic relief to the festivities. 

Get more helpful tips and check out all the latest articles The Groom Club has to offer!

You May Also Like: