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What To Wear To A Wedding

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Got A Wedding Coming Up? Here’s The Dress Code

Let’s face it, when it comes to weddings, cracking the clothing code can be a bit of a hurdle. It’s a big occasion, so you certainly don’t want to lay down cash on a certain outfit, just to find out that it was the wrong one. Don’t worry, in this post we’re going to explain the common dress codes of weddings so that you can make sure you’re not showing up in the completely wrong attire.

While weddings are filled with tradition, there’s a lot of freedom to make the event as unique as the spouses-to-be. The dress code is one of those ways to set the tone of a wedding and get the guests involved. But if you’re confused over what exactly the different lingo entails (black-tie, white-tie, semi-formal, and so on), then don’t sweat. We’re going to cover that right now.

Before we go any further, though, it’s important to note that if you have specific questions, don’t be afraid to ask the engaged couple just to be sure.

The Different Styles

While formal and semi-formal are generally the go-to of weddings, there are a variety styles that fiances might choose to go with. Whatever option shows up on your invitations, it’s probably going to be one of these:

  • White-Tie
  • Black-Tie
  • Formal/Black-Tie Optional
  • Semi-Formal/Dressy-Casual
  • Cocktail
  • Casual
  • Concept/Themed
  • Come As You Are

Odds are you might have seen most of these before or have at least heard of them. But let’s go more in depth into what each actually means.

White-Tie

This is by far the most formal of all the wedding dress codes, and one that is not used often anymore. Though more popular 100 or more years ago, it is now pretty uncommon to see someone have their wedding “white-tie,” unless, of course, they are royalty.

This style is characterized by your textbook “fairy tale” style:

For men:

  • Pristine black suits with tailcoats
  • White or gray gloves
  • White vest and matching bowtie

For women:

  • Elegant floor-length gowns
  • Nice jewelry
  • Heels

While this is one of the oldest-fashioned wedding dress codes, only rarely is it used today.

Black-Tie

This is one of the more popular wedding dress codes. It is not as formal as white-tie, but still “fancy,” and is probably the image that comes to most people’s minds when they think of weddings.

Black-tie weddings tend to be evening events, taking place in the later half of the day.

While much more relaxed than white-tie (in a manner of speaking), it is still a very elegance-driven dress code.

For men:

  • A dark tuxedo
  • Black bow tie or a black necktie
  • Either a black vest or cummerbund
  • Usually leather shoes or something similar

For women:

  • A formal floor-length evening gown (meaning that the hem extends past the ankles)
  • Heals
  • Jewelry

In recent years, formal pantsuits have become a popular choice among women, though whether or not it will be acceptable at the wedding you’re attending is a question for the spouses-to-be.

Formal/Black-Tie Optional

It seems ironic to say that a “formal” wedding is not the most formal dress code on this list. But c’est la vie. More commonly known as “black-tie optional,” the idea is that while you don’t have to wear a tuxedo, you still want to dress nicely enough to be considered formal.

To put it simply, formal is like black-tie, but with much more room to move.

For men:

  • You have an option of a tuxedo or a formal dark suit
  • White shirt
  • Conservatively-colored tie

For women:

  • The main difference between black-tie and black-tie optional is that it is more acceptable to wear a dress that goes a little above the ankles instead of past them

Cocktail

Simply put, this is not quite semi-formal but not quite formal either. This makes it a popular choice among many as it allows for a clean-cut standard among guests without requiring the stiffness of the more formal dress codes. It finds that middle ground between elegant and cozy.

For men:

  • A nice suit and tie

For women:

  • A nice cocktail dress (tea- or knee-length or similar)

Semi-Formal/Dressy Casual

This dress code tends to be one of the more difficult ones to decipher. It’s pretty easy to feel like this is more ambiguous, which makes you unsure whether to err more on the formal (and risk being overdressed) or on the casual (and risk being underdressed). The general rule of thumb in this case is to dress nicely while remaining comfortable.

One of the biggest recommendations for semi-formal wedding attire is to choose your clothing based on the wedding’s time of day. For a daytime wedding, it is encouraged to wear light colors and fabrics. Meanwhile, if the wedding is in the evening, it is preferred to wear darker colors

For men:

  • Generally a dress shirt and slacks are the best option. You can also go with a full suit, if it feels comfortable

For women:

  • Rather than ankle-length, you want your dress to be below-the-knee
  • For shoes, either heels, wedges, or formal flats (but if it’s an outdoor wedding, opt for the latter two) 

Casual

Usually this option is reserved for outdoors or beach weddings, and reflects a more relaxed tone for a wedding. It is important to know that “casual” does not mean jeans and that t-shirt you got from a concert (unless the invitations specify otherwise). While the word “casual” usually brings up those kind of images, there is still some “dressing up” needing to be done.

For men:

  • A collared or dress-shirt
  • Dress pants, slacks, or khakis
  • If you want, a light coat usually is a good addition
  • Comfortable shoes, such as loafers, work well

For women:

  • Usually something like a sundress or similar
  • Wedges or sandals are usually the preferred footwear

Concept/Themed

The best advice to be given for this is to follow the requested theme without being over-the-top to the point of pulling attention away from the happy couple.

Often a theme will range anything from the couple’s favorite movie all the way to a simple clothing option. In Las Vegas, for example, with Elvis weddings being a popular choice, you might just find an invitation for all guests to wear their finest blue suede shoes.

For men and women:

  • The invitation will usually give details, so follow the instructions

Come As You Are

This one isn’t as common as the others, and therefore it can be confusing for guests to gauge what exactly this dress code entails. Usually it is a “do what is comfortable for you” standard. This is normally along the lines of casual, outdoors, or beach weddings. But you should still probably take some consideration and care into what you put on.

Look to the location, the time of the wedding, etc. for ideas as to how you should dress, then find an outfit that fits the context as well as your own comfort level. Dress in a way that you are supporting the spouses-to-be by the way you present yourself.

What If No Dress Code Is Mentioned?

Don’t worry, not every couple specifies their dress code. This doesn’t mean that it’s a free-for-all “show up in sweatpants” kind of occasion. You can rely on context clues like the location of the wedding, the time of day that the wedding takes place, or even just ask the happy couple for some idea of what you should wear.

Have A Wedding To Remember At The Little Vegas Chapel

Dress codes help you to have a picture-perfect wedding. Make the event one to remember by tying the knot at the Little Vegas Chapel. We are dedicated to giving you a wedding that you will never forget, no matter what dress code you’re looking for.

We know that there are a lot of details to sort out, and that’s why we make such an effort to make it as easy an experience as possible without sacrificing the care that goes into your special day. You can view more details here to see all the ways that Little Vegas is your ideal Las Vegas wedding destination.

Contact us today to learn more. We’d love to answer any questions. You can book your wedding right now, hassle free!

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