Wednesday, May 18, 2011

what to wear

Some of my readers might already know about my love for all things wedding. Most of my favorite blogs surround weddings, I am a loyal subscriber to Martha Stewart Weddings, and I work with one of the best wedding planners in Cleveland. People often ask me what is appropriate to wear to a wedding, and I recently received an e-mail from a reader inquiring about that very thing. So naturally I decided to dedicate an entire post to it! 

There are many different dress codes to follow for weddings, and many different ways of finding this information. Although it is not very common, some invitations will say right on them or you can usually indicate by the wording how formal or casual the wedding itself will be. If you have no luck there check the couples wedding website. If they don't have a website or the dress code isn't listed contact a bridal party member. 

most formal of all dress codes
Women- Full length formal gown.
Men- Tailcoats + Tuxedo's only, bow tie.

Black Tie
Women- Full length gown is best choice but can wear formal cocktail dress.
Men- Tuxedo and conservative tie

Creative Black Tie
Same as black tie but with colorful accessories
Women- Add colorful or glitzy headpieces, shoes, jewelry, and bags.
Men- Add colorful ties, shoes, and shirts.

Black Tie Optional 
Most popular
Women- Formal cocktail dress, full length or even dressy separates.
Men- Dark suit and conservative tie.

2nd Most Popular
Women- Slightly more casual dress, shoes, and separates.
Men- Darker suits for evening, lighter suits for day. Add a fun tie or shoes.

Dressy Casual
Women- Sun dress, flats, and even sandals are appropriate.
Men- Khaki suit or nice button down shirt and khaki pants.


Women- Sun dress, skirts, blouse, sandals, even dressy jeans.
Men- Khaki shorts, polo's, sandals, dressy jeans, and even t-shirts (no slogans).

Basic Rules of Wedding Attire Etiquette
NO white unless the couple requests it, and just to be I safe stay away from ivory, cream, nude, etc.

Classy not trashy, meaning although you may be dying for a occasion to wear your new dress keep it in the closet if it is backless, low cut, super short, or exceptionally glitzy (glittery or sequined).

REMEMBER you are a guest. While the couple wants you to look and feel your best it is their day
Leave the standing out to the bride, groom, bridal party, and close family.

If it is a day wedding (before 5 pm) lean toward the more casual side. 
If it is a evening wedding (after 5 pm) lean towards the more formal side.

I personally always lean towards the dressier side. I would rather be slightly over dressed than under.



  1. Great info! I have a wedding to go to in a couple months and this should help a lot! Thanks

  2. Good to know! I like how you broke this down. :)

  3. Thanks for the info. My cousin's wedding is apparently somewhere between black tie & black tie optional... I AM BEFUDDLED. But this is helpful in clearing some things up.

  4. Thanks to all of you!! I'm glad it helped!

    p.s. Kate thanks for checking out the blog, i follow yours!

  5. This is a great breakdown, in case I'm ever in need of ideas! (Although I don't have any actual weddings to go to in the near future). And I love that you're so into weddings! So am I actually. I recently bought the Fall issue of The Knot magazine and I spent all day devouring it haha! We should get together sometime for coffee and chit chat weddings.

  6. The first photo under white tie is incorrect for the man, that's a black tie outfit. White tie means tails, a white vest, and a white bow tie...hence the term "white tie." Just thought I'd point that out to help others avoid confusion.

  7. Yes the white option for men is incorrect and also the black tie for men. I'd like to include some additional information.

    White tie - Black dress coat (tails), black dress trousers (2 stripes if from the UK or EU, one if from the USA) white pique wing collared shirt with stiff front, white vest, cufflinks and shirt studs should be white (mother of peal is a good option), white bow tie, white or gray gloves, black patent leather shoes with black fine wool socks. (Traditional dress is allowed in place of white tie - e.g wearing a kilt with all the proper accessories is fine.)

    Black tie - Black tuxedo jacket with matching trousers, formal white shirt, black cufflinks and shirt studs, black bow tie, black cummerbund or waistcoat, no gloves, black patent leather shoes with black fine wool socks.