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What dress code should I specify on my wedding invitations?

Published on April 27, 2020 Updated April 15, 2021

By Natalie Kenney
wedding invitations

Stationary by: Whisker Kisses Designs Photographed By: Kelsey Hayley Media

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Q: I am designing my wedding invitations and would like to include a dress code. What are the different terms I can use for my guests? 

A: Your wedding invitations are one of the most important tasks to complete during your wedding planning. It provides your guests with crucial information including if you want your guests to dress in black tie, semi-formal or casual attire. Let's review what these dress codes really mean: 

  1. A black tie dress code denotes a formal, evening occasion, where men wear tuxedos and women wear floor-length gowns. If you're throwing a black tie wedding, the men, if not in tuxedos, should wear dinner jackets and nice shoes, and the women, if not in floor-length gowns (although preferred), should wear a cocktail dress that's not too revealing in a rich tone. Black tie optional lets your guests know that the wedding party will be wearing tuxedos and formal attire is recommended. Gracie owner of Little Fox Paperie suggests, " if your wedding is a black tie or black tie optional affair, you can include “black tie” or “black tie optional" in the bottom right corner." 
  2. A Semi-formal or cocktail attire dress code means men should wear a darker toned suit with a dress shirt, a vest that matches the suit is optional. Women have quite a few options with semi-formal and cocktail attire. This may include a pant suit or dress in a fabric such as silk, cashmere, or satin. Sparkling gemstones, pearls, and fashion jewelry are all appropriate.
  3. A casual dress code generally means anything goes—except jeans, shorts, and tank tops are probably NOT appropriate unless they are specifically noted as acceptable. Men should wear dress pants with a button-down shirt or polo. Women should wear a summer sundress or a skirt or dress pants with a nice blouse. 

Ashley, Owner of Paper Love Club, suggests "keeping the attire subtle but noted, it’s especially important to include a note if you are having a black tie event. No one wants to show up to wedding in a mini skirt when you should have been wearing a ball gown. It’s also important to note when the cocktail party may be chilly, or if women need to have specific shoes in circumstances like sand or uneven ground. If you feel like your attire is getting wordy on your invitation, plenty of my clients have noted the general attire then directed guests to their wedding website for more information."

Now that you know the different dress codes you might still not know what direction you want to choose. Our friends at Wedding Wire have a great QUIZ that will help you determine what dress code is best for your wedding and guests. And, always know you can contact us for any support as you plan your wedding! 

Natalie Kenney
Natalie Kenney

Natalie Kenney aka Ms. Suitz has been styling the men of Philly for 8+ years and she loves seeing how a nicely fitted suit can elevate anyone's confidence....

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