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Decoding the Dress Code

Formal, casual, cocktail, black tie.... what does it all mean? How should your guests dress to fit the mood and style of your big day? Is it really important? Maybe to some and maybe not to others. And, will your need to have a dress code be appropriate for your guests? As much as one might love to have an elegant "black tie" wedding, you may have guests that cannot afford to rent or purchase a tux. Then again, you may have "those" relatives that are inclined to show up in cargo shorts and a stained t-shirt. What on earth do we do with them? Below are the main forms of dress that are commonly printed on wedding invitations. It's all very loose and open to interpretation. And of course, if you are of the very stylish set and have fabulously posh friends, you may opt to print nothing at all!

Festive Attire:

Is usually based on the "theme" of the wedding. Many of my clients state "Gatsby Attire" or "Vintage Attire".
This means have fun and wear vintage suits and ties, flapper dresses etc. If it's a tropical theme, sarongs and tiki shirts might be the "festive attire".

Cocktail Attire - Dressy Casual - Semi-Formal

These are all very similar terms to describe basically the same attire Ladies: Cocktail dress, nice skirt, pant suit

Gents: Suit and tie or a nice suit jacket and shirt

(Wear lighter colors if day wedding, darker for night)

Black Tie:

(Evening wedding and very formal)

Ladies: Formal Gown or a fancy cocktail dress and heels, dressy pants suit

Gents: Black tuxedo. If the wedding is in the summer, they can opt for a white jacket and black trousers

Formal Attire or Black Tie Optional:

(Evening wedding and very formal)

Ladies: Formal gown or a fancy cocktail dress and heels, dressy pants suit

Gents: Dark suit or tuxedo. (the "optional" party means gents can opt to wear either)

White Tie: (Most formal of all. Think a ball at the White House)

Ladies: Ball gown

Gents: Tux and tails

Ladies should know by now to never show up to a wedding in white. That is unacceptable.

Underdressing is a horror. There seems to be "that guy" who always shows up in jeans and sneakers. One at every wedding... he just ruins the photos and the vibe, doesn't he?. You might have to call your Aunt Edna to tell her to tell Cousin Ed not to wear his camo pants. Good luck, have fun... it will be festive no matter what!

wedding dress code
A stylishly dressed "Festive Vintage Attire" couple as photographed by


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