Wedding Guest Style Guide

Have you ever received a wedding invitation in the mail from a friend, and you just can’t decipher what the dress code is? Some couples are kind enough to say “black tie” on an information card, while others just let you decide what to wear. If the invitation doesn’t include an attire designation, there are a few other ways to determine what’s appropriate to wear.

Time of Day 

Afternoon weddings, where the reception begins before seven o’clock, will typically be less formal than evening weddings when dinner starts at eight o’clock or later. Morning or brunch weddings are a clear indication of less formality and a sundress or bright cocktail dress is probably perfect!

Type of Dinner and Location

Where is the reception held? A cocktail reception in a loft downtown will likely allow for a less rigid dress code, while a four course meal at the Four Seasons probably warrants something a bit more formal. 

Formality of the Invitation

What is the wording like on the invitation? Formal wording suggests a more formal affair, and vice versa. The type of paper stock and design can also give insight into the overall expectation. If parents are included in the wording of the invitation, you’re probably right to err on the side of caution and go with something a little more conservative. 

Don’t Wear White

This has been debated lately, but I think it’s probably a good idea to stay with tradition on this one. I highly doubt you’ll upstage the bride if you wear a white cocktail dress, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. You don’t want to offend the bride on her big day!

When in doubt, go with your LBD

We all have that perfect black cocktail dress that gets pulled out for special occasions or date nights. If you don’t have a designate LBD, now is the time to buy one! Don’t be afraid to spend a little bit more money on a killer black dress – you’ll be surprised at how often you wear it. 

If the invitation does have a little bit of guidance on what is appropriate for a wedding, the Black Tux has come up with a great infographic to help you decipher what exactly it means!

Wedding Guest Style Guide from the Black Tux on Joelle Charming


The Wedding Guest Style Guide first appeared on Joelle Charming.

Photo by the Gathering Season (formerly Leo Evidente Photographers).


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