Wedding invitations do more than merely announce that a celebration is on the horizon. Invitations provide key information about the ceremony and festivities to follow. Many details, including the location, time and date of the wedding, are spelled out on the wedding invitations. However, invitations can sometimes leave guests confused about the appropriate style of attire for the occasion.
Even though wedding invitations rarely offer specific information regarding attire, chances are the wording will provide clues that can help guests interpret the desired dress code.
If the invitation mentions casual attire, it’s important to realize that everyday casual is different from wedding casual. Jeans, shorts and tank tops are unacceptable unless otherwise noted. Err on the side of caution and go with business casual, which includes chinos, slacks, a polo shirt or button-down shirt for men. Women can wear a sundress or slacks or a skirt and an attractive blouse. If the invitation mentions beach casual, shorts and even sandals are likely acceptable.
Semiformal dresswear, sometimes referred to as “dressy casual,” is a step up from casual clothing. Cocktail dresses or a more elegant skirt and top are the norms. Gentleman generally wear a suit and tie. Coordinate the colours of clothing to the time of day.
Formal attire is the default dress code for the majority of weddings. When the invitation does not specify a dress code, it is safe to assume formal attire is expected. Men can choose among a dark suit and tie or a tuxedo. Women can opt for a formal cocktail-length dress, a classic suit or a long dress. Select among tones that are grey, black or brown.
Black tie events also require formal attire. Black tie typically goes hand-in-hand with an evening wedding. Black tie is more rigid for male guests, who should wear a tuxedo, black bow tie, cummerbund, and patent leather shoes. Women have a little more leeway with their attire at such gatherings. A long evening gown might be preferable. However, a chic cocktail dress also can be acceptable, and darker, neutral colours are most appropriate. Some invitations may reference “Black Tie Preferred.” While men may opt for a tuxedo, a black suit also can be worn.
The most formal of occasions will request white tie attire. Ball gowns and tuxedos with tails are the norm, as are dramatic jewelry and hairstyles. White tie attire is akin to what one might see worn to awards shows. Very few weddings take attire to this extreme, and you would definitely know if the one you’re attending is planning to do so.