When you're planning your wedding, you may have a tough time deciding on the dress code. Do you want to have an elegant black tie wedding on a Saturday evening or a casual, rustic wedding on a Sunday afternoon? The dress code you choose helps set the mood you want for your wedding. Think about what time of party you want to have and the mood you want to create and then consider these options.
White Tie: Your most formal option. White tie weddings are generally after 6:00p and the men are expected to dress in a white coat and tie. Ladies should wear ball gowns or floor length dresses. Ladies may choose to wear gloves or shawls during the cooler seasons.
Emily Post suggests, "men should wear a tailcoat, a formal white shirt, white vest, and tie, white or gray gloves, and black opera pumps (shoes without laces)."
Black Tie: This is the most popular formal attire choice for today's brides and grooms. This would be a step down in formality from white tie. A black tuxedo or evening jacket and matching trousers are standard. Men should wear a black tie and black vest or cummerbund. During the summer months, a white dinner jacket and black trousers is considered acceptable, according to Emily Post. Women should generally wear a formal floor length ball gown, but a short, dressy cocktail dress is acceptable.
Black Tie Optional: This option is slightly less formal than black tie. The same attire worn at a black tie event is appropriate, but guests that choose to go a bit more casual can wear a dark suit with a white shirt and conservative tie. The word "optional" here, basically just means that a tux is not required. Women can wear floor length formal gowns, dressy cocktail dresses, or even dressy separates.
Creative Black Tie: This option is probably one you haven't seen before, however wedding that ask guests to wear "creative black tie" attire are beginning to pop up. For these weddings, a tuxedo is traditional for men, but you can have fun by adding a colorful tie, cummerbund, and shirt. Women can wear anything from a floor length gown to short, dressy cocktail dresses, but may choose to dress it up by adding a colorful shawl or jewelry.
Semiformal: In today's wedding world, semiformal attire is the most popular. Men should wear a dark suit with a white shirt and a conservative tie. For ladies, a cocktail dress or a nice skirt and blouse are appropriate.
Traditionally, if the invitation does not state the specific attire required, guests should follow these guidelines.
Casual: This one is pretty self-explanatory, it's...casual. Outdoor weddings or beach weddings tend to be a little more laid-back, and this includes attire. Guys should wear a nice button-down shirt with a tie and khaki pants. They may also consider wearing a sport jacket. Depending on how casual the wedding is, you may also be able to get away with khaki shorts and a polo.
Ladies should wear a sundress, but should be mindful of the fabric. You don't want to wear anything that looks to formal. A nice skirt and blouse would also be acceptable.
Lastly, I know this isn't included in the dress codes above, but I think it's important to cover. While many etiquette books think it's acceptable, please avoid wearing white to a wedding...unless of course you're the bride. If you do show up in white, you're not technically doing anything wrong, but people may talk. Most guests haven't read through etiquette books and will think this is in poor taste. Let the day be about the bride and save your little white dress for a special occasion that doesn't include someone else exchanging their vows.
Brides, be sure that you include your dress code in your invitations and on your wedding website if you have one. Guests will not know you're planning a black tie affair if it's not printed on the invitation and you won't Uncle Joe showing up in khakis while everyone else is wearing a tux.
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