HOW TO CREATE A WEDDING DRESS CODE FOR GUESTS

 

Wedding guests throwing flower petals in the air in celebration.

When planning your wedding day you focus on the perfect dress for the bride, suit for the groom, and outfits for the bridal party but what about the wedding attire for your guests? Family members and friends can have very different ways of dressing. You might have an uncle who still wears suits from the 70’s or a friend who wears shorts and sandals everywhere they go. For this reason, many brides and grooms wonder if a wedding dress code is necessary. A dress code is not just for your benefit, it also makes it easier on your guests who may be stressing over whether or not their outfit is too casual or formal. Make sure everyone is attendance is dressed to perfection with these tips on how to create a wedding dress code for guests. 

The Formality of the Event

Each wedding has a sense of formality but where they differ is the level of formality. This depends on the tastes and personalities of the bride and groom and the overall theme of your wedding. A sit down dinner in an upscale venue might call for a more formal dress code than an outdoor wedding featuring food trucks. Whether you want your guests to arrive in suit and ties or are OK with polo’s and khaki pants is your decision, but keep in mind that your dress code also serves to create consistency in your wedding photos.  

Location and Weather

Whether you’re having a destination wedding or staying local, the time of year and average temperature should always be considered. If your ceremony or reception will be outdoors, think about the comfort and practicality of the dress code. For a winter wedding, formal dress code is hardly an issue, but that same dress code during a beach wedding in the middle of summer is sure to leave your guests sweaty and uncomfortable. 

A man dressed in a suit coat adorned with palm trees and flamingos at a wedding reception.

Style of the Wedding Photos and Video 

One of the most important aspects to remember regarding your wedding dress code are the photographs and videos. If the bride and groom look incredible but your friends and family are underdressed it can affect nearly every photo. Thinking ahead and planning your dress code around the attire of your wedding party can help create uniformity and can work wonders for your wedding album. 

What are the Most Common Dress Codes?

‘White Tie’ and ‘Black Tie’

White Tie is the most formal style of dress. For women, this typically means a formal floor-length evening gown. For men, it means a tuxedo, a black tailcoat, a formal white shirt, a white vest and bow tie, white or gray gloves, and black formal shoes. 

Black Tie is perhaps one step away from White Tie towards the casual end of the dress code spectrum. With a Black Tie dress code, women can wear a formal floor-length gown or choose a shorter, dressy cocktail dress. Men can go for a tuxedo with a black bow tie, black vest or cummerbund, and patent leather shoes. In some cases, a white dinner jacket and black tuxedo trousers might also be acceptable.

‘Formal’ and ‘Semi-Formal’

Formal wear can include a long dress, dressy separates, or a cocktail dress for ladies. For men a tuxedo or a formal dark suit with a conservative tie. Semi-formal is similar in style; however, you can take your cues from the time of the event. For an evening event, you can wear darker, more formal colors and you can opt for light colors and fabrics for a daytime wedding. For men, this would include dress pants and a button-up shirt, but a tie is not needed. For women, there is a wide range of acceptable attire including dresses, rompers, pantsuits, and jumpsuits. 

‘Dressy’, ‘Festive’ or ‘Casual’ 

This is where the exact details are up for interpretation and can be customized by each couple. If a wedding is being held outdoors or on the beach, it can mean that the event will be much more laid-back, especially when it comes to attire. Women can opt for a summer casual dress or sundress, while men can go for polo’s and khaki pants. A tie may also be optional depending on the location. 

Festive wear usually means adding a little more life to your outfit. Bright dresses, fun ties, and interesting accessories can make your outfit more festive. (As a rule, jeans, shorts, tank tops, flip-flops, etc. are likely not appropriate unless they're specifically noted.)

A Picture Perfect Dress Code 

These are some basic guidelines to help your guests have a better experience, and for you to have better-dressed guests at your wedding. Overall, the focus will be on you and your spouse, but it helps to offer some guidelines to make your special day perfect!

These are some basic guidelines to help your guests have a better experience, and for you to have better-dressed guests at your wedding. Overall, the focus will be on you and your spouse, but it helps to offer some guidelines to make your special day perfect!


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