You’ve received your wedding invitation and you’re absolutely thrilled to help your friends celebrate their big day. You can’t wait to see the lovely flowers, eat the delicious food, and gawk at the bride’s fabulous dress…uh oh …you’re going to have to buy a dress! Or can you get by with the cocktail dress you wore to that yacht party last summer? No, it’s off-white. You don’t want to compete with the bride, do you? Oh no, you’re single now, too…you’re going to have to find a guest who is willing to rent a tux. Unless he has a dark suit of some kind already, or is that a faux pas?
Thinking about your wardrobe may very well be the only depressing aspect of receiving a wedding invitation (unless the invite also announces that the wedding will take place in three weeks, in Turks and Caicos). How can you beat the wardrobe blahs and be sure that your attire is perfectly appropriate to the event? Read on.
While this kind of event may conjure up images of Fred Astaire, it still exists in the modern world – for the most formal weddings. Should you get invited to a white tie wedding, expect a lavish affair; men will be dressed in tuxedos with tails, white vests, bow ties and even white gloves, while the ladies will be decked out in full-length ball gowns in dark colours, with dramatic jewellery, makeup and hair.
This event requires men to sport a tuxedo, while women can get by with a dark or neutral coloured chic cocktail dress – though long ball gowns, glamorous hair and professional makeup will still abound.
Formal or Black Tie Optional
At last, a wedding a man can pull out his dark suit for! Though the occasional tuxedo will be spotted, formal dark suits with ties are fine, and women are permitted suits too, as long as they are dressy, or cocktail dresses, or long formal dresses. Again, dark or neutral colours are important so as not to compete with the bride.
Because this wedding will presumably be held in a hot climate, men can shed the tie in favour of light cotton suits, linen shirts and khakis with – gasp! – sandals, while women can wear formal sundresses and dance the night away in flats. Another nod to the heat is natural hairstyles and makeup. Dark colours are not required on the beach.
Semi-formal or Dressy Casual
A suit and tie is required, but it can be dark or light, depending on weather and time of day. Women can pull out the cocktail dress again, or choose separates as long as the skirt and top are both appropriately dressy.
This wedding style throws traditional wedding garb rules out the window. Men don’t have to wear jackets to a casual wedding; button down shirts or even polo shirts will suffice, worn with dress pants. Women can pretty much dress down as well, with classy separates or a summer sundress.
What’s the purpose of rules for wedding attire, given that people will always try to look their best at a wedding? The rules exist mainly to ensure that your guests are attired similarly and appropriately enough that they look and feel like they belong. If you receive a wedding invitation that does not specify what attire is expected, simply ask the bride or groom what their plans are; chances are good that the level of formality will be lower than if the dress code had been spelled out on the invitation. Get ready to search your closet and get creative!