When planning your wedding day you focus on the perfect dress for the bride, suit for the groom, outfits for each bridesmaid and groomsmen, but what about the attire for your wedding guests? As you probably know, your 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 you might have a friend who wears shorts and sandals everywhere they go. For this reason, many brides and grooms wonder if a dress code for their big day is needed. Some may believe that their friends and family will know what to wear to a wedding and others might not care what their wedding guests arrive in. However, a dress code benefits not just you as the couple, but also your guests as many stress what to wear to the event the moment they receive an invitation. To help you decide on whether setting a dress code is necessary there are a few things to consider:



Each wedding has a sense of formality or informality about it. 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 different dress style than an outdoor wedding featuring food trucks. This decision is really at your discretion, but giving your guests some insight into the formality can be a great help to them.



Whether you’re having a destination wedding or staying local, the time of year and average temperature should always be considered. Typically most weddings are in the midday to early afternoon, when it tends to be warmer. If your ceremony or reception will be outdoors, think about the comfort and practicality of the dress code. Letting your guests know that they can dress casual or semi-formal at a Summer wedding will ease the pressure of needing to wear a suit and tie or long gown.


Of course, one of the most important aspects to remember is how the photographs and videos will turn out after the big day. If the bride and groom are looking incredible, but your friends and family are not quite how you would have hoped, then it might not make for great memories. For this reason, it can be a good idea to align the appearance of your extended family and friends with how you and the bridal party are dressed. 


‘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, white vest and bow tie, white or gray gloves, and black formal shoes. Black Tie is perhaps one step away from formal. 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, dress pants and 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. 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 so casual will be perfect. Women can opt for a summer casual dress or sundress, while men can go for dress or khaki pants with a button-down shirt. A tie may also be optional depending on the location. Festive wear usually means to add 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.)


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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