“Non-formal” wedding attire isn’t quite as obvious as it should be. After all, being torn between the idea of “casual” with the setting of a wedding is enough to make anyone confused. When deciding what to wear to a wedding like this, the general rule of thumb is to look nice, but remain laid back. Wear a comfortable suit and lose the tie. Where a summer dress but opt for flats instead of heels. Thankfully this dress code isn’t complex, and we’re going to go into that now.
So your friend or family member is getting married. There’s a lot of excitement going on and odds are, you’ve already started thinking about what you’re going to wear. Perhaps that suit or dress that you haven’t worn since the senior prom? But then, when that invitation arrives, you see at the bottom the words “Non-Formal Attire.”
What on earth is that supposed to mean? Do they mean casual? What does THAT mean? I’m not showing up to a wedding in shorts and a t-shirt if that’s what they’re expecting. After all, it’s a wedding.
Don’t worry. If you’re confused, you’re not alone. “Non-formal” or “casual” attire isn’t exactly as self-explanatory in the context of a wedding as, say, “Black tie.”
So let’s get into what to expect from the informal dress code.
Casual Wedding – Defined
Let’s be honest, wedding dress codes are rarely straightforward, which usually means that at some point after receiving the invitation, you’re going to be Googling what exactly you should be wearing. I mean, come on, who wants to show up to a wedding and be the odd one out purely because they over or undershot the mark?
A casual wedding (often called an “informal” or “non-formal” wedding) is probably one of the trickiest of the lot, purely because “casual” often brings to mind images like jeans and a t-shirt, sweatpants and converse, shorts and tennis shoes. It’s more clearly defined by thinking in terms of “business casual.”
Simply put, a casual wedding is a combination of comfort and looking nice. Dressing to support the happy couple while remaining laid back. It is often the dress code for more intimate ceremonies with smaller guest lists and less austere decorum.
Let’s look more deeply at what this means.
What To Wear: Men
There’s no need to break out the ol’ tuxedo in order to fit the dress code. Heck, there’s not even a need to break out your stylish 3-piece suit. For a non-formal wedding, you are perfectly within your bounds to aim for a more business casual mode of dress. Now, khakis and a polo might be a little too casual (unless of course, you clear that with the spouses-to-be) but there are options.
Usually men tend to go with a suit when this dress-code comes up, which is perfectly acceptable. Just make sure that the suit is lightly-colored, such as a softer or navy blue or a gray.
Otherwise, while the term is “casual,” the following is recommended:
- Opt for a collared button-down shirt.
- If you’d like, pair with a blazer or sweater.
- Generally you don’t wear a tie, unless you have a lightly colored one.
- If the wedding is tropical-themed (which is often a casual dress code) a Hawaiian shirt is the usual go-to.
The guidelines go something like this:
- A pair of slacks, usually blue, brown, or gray. Often, the color black is associated with much more formal occasions.
- Jeans can be acceptable, but it is encouraged that you clear that with the happy couple. Usually jeans (unstressed, mind you) are reserved for more rustic country-themed weddings.
- Khakis are accepted, so long as they are paired with a button-down collared shirt or sweater.
The rule of thumb is to go with something like loafers or similar dress shoes. You don’t need to break out your finest Italian leather shoes in order to show up for a casual wedding. Just like the rest of your attire, opting for something that looks good while remaining comfortable is preferred.
What To Wear: Women
Low key weddings are the perfect opportunity to wear your favorite maxi dresses and strappy sundresses. Think florals, bright colors or pastels for a peaceful outdoorsy vibe! (Just remember not to choose a white dress though. You might be mistaken as the bride!)
A lowkey wedding allows women the freedom in wearing something elegant without worrying about appearing too extravagant at first glance. Just remember to follow a few guidelines:
- Opt for a midi- or maxi-dress. Nothing too short. But also you don’t need a floor-length gown.
- Lean towards brighter colors, especially during a summer wedding. Darker shades, especially black ones, are much more formal.
Do I Have To Wear A Dress?
Truthfully, no. You can totally go for “separates.” Something like a nice blouse or a nice sweater pair beautifully with skirts or slacks. In recent years chic jumpsuits with dress-sandals have proven to be a great combination. Women pant suits have also been found on the casual dress-code scene.
There’s no need to break out the fancy high heels. Flats or dressy-sandals make for great footwear, especially since so often, casual weddings are held outside.
Simply choose the ones which best match your outfit. There’s no need to have the most sparkly diamonds in the chapel (or tent, or barn, or wherever the wedding is). Just like “casual” suggests, opting for something simple or classic will best complement your attire.
No Matter Your Dress-Code, You’ll Fit In At The Little Vegas Chapel
Come see how easy it is to get married in Las Vegas. You can arrange to have any dress-code you please, as well as access to flowers, desserts, a reception area, photography, and more! Browse our selection of wedding packages, from traditional and pretend, to vow renewals and even Elvis weddings.
Book your dream wedding today with the Little Vegas Chapel.