Deciphering The Wedding Guest Dress Code

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Getting ready for a wedding as a guest may be exciting but it might not always seem so straight-forward. If you’ve ever been tasked with figuring out what to wear to a wedding, you know the struggle is real. When it comes to weddings, there are often many different dress codes that can leave you at a loss for what to wear. After having invested time to look good, the last thing you’ll want is to stand out- in a bad way! Fortunately, we’re here to help decipher the wedding dress codes so you can quit worrying about silly stuff like this and enjoy the occasion.

In This Article

Black-Tie

Formal Attire

Semi-formal or Cocktail

Casual

Resort Wear

Concept or Thematic

Black-Tie 

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Black Tie conveys a formal, evening event.

For men: Black tie means tuxedos, ie: black bow tie, black vest or cummerbund with formal leather shoes. 

For women: Floor-length gowns or dresses

Formal Attire 

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This dress code is slightly less formal than a black-tie wedding, so a tuxedo isn’t required. But if you prefer one, you can still wear one. 

For men: Dark suit, white shirt and conservative tie. Alternatively a fully decked out traditional wear is a safe bet.

For women: Floor-length gown, fancy cocktail dress, dressy pant suits or dresses that show the ankles (which is not true for black-tie dress codes) 

Semi-formal or Cocktail

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This is a step down from the formal dress code. Since semi-formal and cocktail attire are sometimes used interchangeably and trying to decide what to wear can be a little confusing, we’ve decided to put them together. For both, the style is pared-back elegance, although cocktail is usually reserved for an evening event and tend to err on the dressier side. When choosing clothing for a daytime event, opt for light colours and airy fabrics. For evening events; darker, more formal colours are more appropriate. The trick is to let the venue and time fo the day guide you.

For men: Opt for dress shirt and slacks with the option of a tie and jacket

For women: Tea-length, below knee-length, midi dresses or a dressy skirt paired with top blouse would work. Extra embellishments and nicer heels for a cocktail dress code. When in doubt, stick to the LBD.

Casual 

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Casual attire typically means that the event will be more laid-back than say, a church wedding. Since the term casual can take on such a broad meaning, taking a hint from the venue can be helpful to narrow down your choices. Having said that; jeans, t-shirts, tank tops and flip flops are not appropriate. 

For men: Light collared shirts with khakis and the option of pairing it with tie or jacket

For women:  Light dresses in bright, summery colours paired with dressy sandals or wedges.

Resort Wear 

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Since we’re living in the tropics, a resort wear dress code would mean that the event will be held outdoors. It is best to wear light and breezy clothes to stay cool and comfortable. However, be sure not to dress too casually. After all, you’re still attending a wedding. 

For men: Light collared short-sleeve shirts, colourful guayabera shirts or batik shirts with khaki shorts and boat shoes. Finish your look with sunglasses or a sunhat.

For women: Light dresses in bright, summery colours paired with dressy sandals or wedges. Remember to stay away from dresses that are too revealing and the colour white unless otherwise requested by the bride.

Concept or Themed 

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In a concept or themed wedding, guests should wear attire in accordance with a particular theme dictated by the couple. Examples include an all-white attire or derby attire. 

As a general rule, always err on the side of caution with a dressier attire. If you’re questioning whether your outfit is appropriate for an occasion and don’t want to trouble the bride, check with someone from the bridal party. Alternatively, you could ask the bridal party to describe what their wearing and lean into a similar style. 

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