Cocktail

Understanding the Wedding Invitation Codes
Coming up with the right wedding invitation is a big part of the wedding planning process.

Wedding invitations are a great way to let guests know what attire and colors they should wear.

With wedding season almost upon us, couples are starting to mail out invitations. You’re probably thinking about your summer wardrobe budget, and trying to decide what you need to shop for over the next few weeks. In a standard wedding invitation, many brides will tell the guests what attire they are expecting, but this information may need some decoding. Here are some of the most common identifiers for dress codes at the event, to help you avoid feeling over- or underdressed.

White Tie

This is the most formal wedding. Think red carpet, Hollywood awards, your most special outfit. Most men think that the black tuxedo is the most formal outfit they could wear, but a white tie event takes it up a notch. A black tailcoat, white starched shirt, and high-waisted black trousers are required, but a formal military uniform is acceptable at a white tie event. It’s almost impossible to be overdressed for a white tie wedding, so wear that evening gown and tiara you’ve been saving for a special occasion.

Black Tie or Black Tie Optional

Black tie for men means a tuxedo. Women have more options at black tie events, but some experts recommend neutral hues when it comes to choosing colors, such as champagne, navy, or black. An evening gown is appropriate, but a tea-length dress can also work. Make sure the fabric is elegant enough to look formal. If the word optional is included, men can get away with a black or dark suit with a white shirt. Dress it up with a pocket square, but think timeless and classic. Women can go with a cocktail dress, provided it isn’t flashy or too sexy.

Semi-Formal or Cocktail Attire

This type of wedding is a bit more festive and modern. Go with a trendier look, with sparkle and panache. However, semi-formal does not mean informal. Leave the jeans and khakis at home. For men, a tie is optional. Feel free to wear a light-colored shirt with a suit. Women can wear a cocktail dress appropriate for the season or even a dressy skirt with a stylish shirt. If the invite says, “beach formal,” get out the linen suit for men, or formal sundress with sandals for women.

Casual Attire or Informal

While this dress code does indicate an “anything goes” idea, it’s still better to choose more formally than you might for a simple party. Jeans and tank tops are really unacceptable, even though that may be your casual attire. Think casual business dress when it comes to an informal wedding. Remember that this day is special, even though the event may be low-key. Take the time to be well-dressed in a nice outfit. When the pictures are later revealed on social media, you’ll be glad you look your best.

Added Tips for Wedding Apparel

Most people still believe that white should not be worn to a wedding, unless requested by the couple. Brides are choosing all shades of white, such as ivory and ecru, so stay away from any shade. Know the environment where the wedding is being held to really understand what to wear. When in doubt, check with the family of the bride and groom. Men can also take the invitation to their tailor or the tuxedo rental business, which can help in choosing the correct attire.

If the invitation doesn’t specify dress code, you can get an idea of what should be worn by taking note of the time of day and place of the ceremony. Morning weddings tend to be a little less formal than evening weddings. When the venue is a religious site or church, don’t dress in an outfit which may be revealing or too short. Men should probably wear a suit or dress pants.

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