Wedding attire dress codes made simple - SuitMart
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Wedding season is in full swing, which means that delicate, calligraphy invitations have been sent across the nation inviting us to share the happiest day of a friend’s life. What it says on the bottom of the invite dictates what dress or suit you’ll be sporting at this event, but what do those words really mean? From formal to casual, we’ve got you covered. Here’s the breakdown of the wedding dress code:

White Tie

White tie is seldom seen since it is truly the most formal of all dress codes. An example of a white tie event might be a White House, State Dinner. For women, white tie means a formal, floor-length evening gown is expected. For men, it’s a tuxedo with all the formal trimmings: A black jacket with tails, a white vest and tie, a formal white shirt, white gloves and formal black shoes.

Black Tie

This term is a more common highly formal dress code which typically indicates that it will be an evening affair or reception. For women, they can wear a floor-length formal gown or opt for a shorter dress as long as it is a dressy cocktail dress. For men, it’s a tuxedo with some leeway.

“We recommend a black bow tie, vest or cummerbund and black patent leather shoes, says Gary Dante from SuitMart. “But there is some flexibility. During the summer, a white dinner-jacket and black tuxedo pants are a fun alternative.”

Formal or Black Tie Optional

This phrase could be considered black-tie, “light,” which means that both men and women have more options when dressing for this formal affair. Women can wear a formal cocktail dress, a floor-length gown or even dressy separates. For men, a tuxedo is not required but is welcome. Alternatives to a traditional tuxedo can be a formal dark suit and tie.

Also termed “semiformal,” this type of wedding attire involves dressing up but need not be stuffy or overly polished. Women can wear dressy separates or a cocktail dress. Men can wear a suit and tie.

“The best rule of thumb for a dressy-casual affair is to look at the time of the ceremony,” says Gary Dante of SuitMart. “If it’s an evening affair, it’s more appropriate to wear darker colors with a more formal feel. And if it’s a daytime event, you can select lighter fabrics and brighter colors without issue.”

Festive Attire
This type of verbiage wasn’t used on wedding invitations a generation ago, so a lot of people don’t understand its meaning. Basically, a festive wedding means that you can have fun with your look — in fact, it’s applauded. For women, a cocktail dress, party dress, fashion separates and even dressy jumpsuits are a go. Opt for playful accessories and bold colors. For men, a suit and tie are good, but a bright tie is even better. Have fun with suspenders, tie clips or other accessories.


Casual weddings are held in casual locations, so think beach, barn or fun space. The goal of this dress code is to let everyone feel comfortable and laid-back in their threads at this get-together. No formal fabrics here. For women, a sundress is just perfect, but cute, fashion-forward separates work, too.

“Beach weddings have become very popular; therefore, we recommend men wear light weight fabrics such as linen, seersucker or cotton poplin,” says Gary Dante of SuitMart.  “There is no need to wear a tie. Though it’s a great opportunity to add a casual tie in a light fabric and wear it to finish the look.” 

No matter the invite details and dress code options, if you’re concerned about your look for someone’s big day, always ask the bridal party. 

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