How To Set A Dress Code That Works For You

Your wedding is the biggest party you’ll ever throw, so you need it to be an event you’ll treasure forever. What kind of event are you going for, though, and how will your guests fit in? Is it a super-formal evening event, or will it run all day? Will your guests need to dress for the outdoors or guard against red wine stains? Here’s a quick guide on deciding on a dress code for your wedding, and making it easy for your guests to understand.


Deciding on a Dress Code

When setting your dress code, think of the aesthetic you want for your event. For example, an evening wedding might warrant black tie; a destination wedding, on the other hand, could benefit from being more casual. Consider the practicalities, too; if you’re getting married at a winery, you might want to allow a little extra flexibility in your formal dress code to cover for the inevitable red wine stains.

Try to take the circumstances of your guests into account, too. A white tie wedding might sound grand, but if you and your guests are all millennials on your first or second job, that level of formality might make it too expensive for them to come at all. Think carefully about how accessible your dress code will be for the people you really want to come.


Dress Codes Explained

These are the main types of dress code and what they mean:

  • White tie is as formal as it gets. For women, that means a floor-length evening gown; for men, it’s a black tail-coat, white dress shirt, white waistcoat and bow tie, white or grey gloves, and black formal shoes. This is the kind of dress code you’d expect for a state dinner.
  • Black tie – Women wear floor-length or cocktail dresses, and men wear a tuxedo with formal dress shoes. This works well for evening events, if your aim is maximum elegance.
  • Formal/”black tie optional” allows room for your guests to wear dressy separates (for women), or a formal dark suit rather than a tuxedo. This is the most flexible dress code for a formal event that takes place earlier in the day, or runs from day to evening.
  • Semiformal dress isn’t far removed from formal, but it allows a bit more variety from the usual dark colours. Consider this for a daytime wedding, or one that’s location-based – that extra wiggle room could make it much easier to enjoy your winery event without worrying so much about red wine stains.
  • Casual attire normally implies a beach wedding. It doesn’t mean your guests can rock up in t-shirt and jeans, necessarily, but they can choose less formal dresses and suits in just about any colour.


Sending Out the Invites

The wedding invitations are the first point at which you’ll be explaining the theme to your guests, so it’s important to have your helpful guides at the ready. Try to summarize your code in a sentence or two for the invite cards themselves. This will save you having to bury it somewhere in the small print where it’s easy to miss. If explaining dress codes feels like a lot of work, you could designate a member of your wedding party as a dress code expert, and include some contact details for them in your invitations.

If you don’t have a point of contact, make it easy for your guests to find out more. Compile a list of resources, and make it as easy to use as possible. Consider creating a visual guide to the aesthetic you’re aiming for – a Pinterest board, for example, could be hugely helpful in inspiring and informing your guests.

With the invitations sorted, all that’s left to do is enjoy your big day. Congratulations, and here’s to the smooth running of your wedding!

Images via Pinterst