There are a few areas left in adult lifes that require a dress code. But wedding days are one of them! You might be rolling your eyes at the idea of a dress code. Or you might be totally excited about the idea of needing an excuse to go shopping for a fab new outfit!
Curious to know why wedding days even need a dress code? It all boils down to experience. Weddings are one of the most important events we will attend in our lives. And each one has it’s own they mood, vibe, and tone to it. The overall tone of a wedding is even more prevalent now, with modern couples focused on making their wedding day an experience. A big hand in that experience, especially for how guests perceive an event, is the dress code.
The way you arrive dressed to an event impacts the overall experience you’ll have. It dictates your mood and works to create an atmosphere that weaves itself through the people in the room. Does it sound a little silly and overboard? Think about how you feel when you are dressed in a Halloween costume. Now think about you feel when you are dressed to the nines in a formal suit or dress. Big difference right?
We’re breaking down some of the basic ins & outs of wedding day dress code in the post below. Including how you can get your guests on board with a fun wedding day dress code all your own! To start, there are four “main” types of wedding day attire for guests. And it all starts with the OG, black-tie.
We’re sure you’ve heard this term! A black tie wedding is the most formal type of wedding dress code. It requires guests who would normally wear a suit, to wear a tuxedo with a black tie and black vest or cummerbund. Guests more inclined to wear a dress would wear a floor-length gown or a high-end, sleek jumpsuit or pants suit. It’s very “we’re getting married at night in a high-end venue in Manhattan, Philadelphia, or Tuscany”. Granted those are not the only locations that would lend themselves to a black-tie wedding but you get the idea.
How to make black-tie attire uniquely your own.
Ask your guests to wear an accessory (of their choice) in a chosen tone from your wedding day color palette! How fun will it be to see everyone wearing a touch of something pink, or a loud orange accessory with their black-tie attire?
Black-tie optional or formal attire is just a step below a black-tie wedding. It’s slightly less formal than asking your guests to wear tuxedos. However, it still commands its own relatively high-end dress code for your guests. For guests wearing dresses, the same choice of attire would apply in a floor-length gown. However, they would also have the option to make that look more casual by selecting a cocktail dress or sleek jumpsuit, or pants suit.
For guests wearing suits, they would be expected to wear a matching jacket and tie. But no vest or cummerbund would be required for their look. Black-tie optional, or formal attire is a highly popular choice of dress code for wedding guests. If you know for sure the couple is not getting married on the beach with “no shoes required” clause, but they didn’t provide a wedding dress code, formal attire would be a safe choice!
How to make black-tie optional attire uniquely your own
Pick a fun element to assign to your guests! For example, guests wearing a dress have to include fringe or maribou feathers somewhere on their outfit. Guests wearing a suit have a add a pin or a broch to their lapel!
Not quite black-tie, and not quite semi-formal, that’s where cocktail attire resides. Cocktail attire opens the door to knee-length dresses and to suits and ties that are not as “stuffy”. Cocktail attire is all about pulling off that classy meets timeless look. And of course, pairing your cocktail attire dress code with some fab accessories which can up-level just about any outfit! Cocktail attire is also about choosing an outfit that helps you blend in with the guests, without taking away from the beauty of the wedding party and the couple getting married.
How to make cocktail attire uniquely your own
Make it literal! Guests wearing pocket squares can opt for one printed with martini glasses! Guests carrying a bag for evening can be encouraged to carry a fun shaped quirky bag.
This one is often referred to as “dressy” or semi-formal. For guests attending a semi-formal wedding, it would be appropriate for those wearing dresses to wear something slightly above-the-knee dress. Or, conversely, a longer-length skirt with a fab top! Guests who would normally wear a tux or a suit and tie would be able to choose an outfit in the form of a dress shirt and pants. No bowtie or tie is required. Semi-formal attire also offers up a wider range of fun color options. Whereas blacktie and blacktie optional are typically done in a darker color palette. Semi-formal attire is typical the go-to dress code for brunch or “day weddings”.
How to make semi-formal attire uniquely your own
Having a beach or summer wedding? Ask your guests to pair their semi-formal attire with open-toe shoes only!
Those are your four very basic tried and true types of wedding dress codes for guests. They’ve stood the test of time. And they’ve stuck around long enough for fun modern couples to say, you know what, we want to do things a little bit differently. Record scratch! Those uber-fun couples looked at their wedding day experience and how they could kick things up to a level that their grandparents couldn’t even fathom. From there, wo new types of wedding day dress codes were born.
White parties or Dîner en Blanc is not necessarily new in the world of formal dress codes But, we blame Diddy & The Hamptons for taking it to the mainstream. White parties went from exclusive and elite, to a required dress code for wedding guests. And probably because it’s the easiest and most straightforward dress code of them all. Guests should arrive at your wedding, wearing head-to-toe white. That’s it! It’s a particularly fab idea if you are hosting a beach wedding. Or, if you, your partner, and your wedding party will be wearing heaps of gorgeous tones that make you stand out among your guests.
Coastal Grandma Chic
We stan a fab coastal Grandmother chic moment at Guestie. If you’ve never heard the term before, Nancy Meyers brought it to life. And we go over the ins and outs of a coastal grandma chic wedding moment in this post. But, it all boils down to an aesthetic. Coastal grandma chic is an effortless look, that in all reality took a lot of effort to put together.
If you want to pull off a coastal grandma dress code for your wedding day, you’ll be pointing your guests to neutral shades, high-quality fabrics, and lots of linen! It’s natural, clean, uncomplicated, neutral, classic, and crisp. All while appearing elevated and chic. Because it’s a relatively new term, your guests might need some visual inspiration to help them along in this department! Put together a Pinterest board and share the link with your guests via the message board in your Guestie event.
None of those Dress Codes are For us
Ok, so maybe some of these dress codes just don’t hit. You really want to step outside the box. Maybe you and your partner are dreaming up fun ways to immerse your guests, even further, in your wedding day experience through the dress code. Or maybe, you’re dreaming of having a slew of fabulous wedding day photos. Ones where everyone you love looks amazing & match the theme of your day along with the decor. But, how do you get your guests on board with your outside-the-box idea?
The first thing to do is alert them that a dress code will be forthcoming! If your invites are going out before you and your partner have made your final decision on wedding day attire for their guests, it’ll be important to keep them in the loop on dress code updates. Nobody wants to show up in black tie when the rest of your guests are wearing Hawaiian shirts. It’s embarrassing, and it’ll deflate their fun balloon immediately!
The next thing to do is invite them all into your Guestie event, and keep the conversation open! Your guests 100% want to feel involved. Give them an idea of what you and your partner are hoping to achieve. This will set the boundaries for them. Then ask for their feedback via the message board of your event! You can get the conversation rolling and share links and inspiration on what the final conclusion will be for your chosen dress code. Who knows, they may even link up and find a shopping buddy so they can navigate arriving at your wedding having pulled off your dress code flawlessly!
Once your dress code has been chosen, communicate it clearly and as often as possible! Remind guests that your wedding day is an experience and their attendance is all part of the fun. Having them involved in every step of the process is a great way to get them excited, in advance and amp up the fun!