Many weddings require a dress code, and there are a few different dress codes that a bride and groom might choose for their big day.

Dress codes are meant to let wedding guests know what type of attire to wear to the event. They’re a helpful tool to uphold uniformity and expectations.

According to, the most common wedding dress code is “formal attire.” While formal may be the most common, there are many additional dress codes that may be placed on a wedding invitation or RSVP request. And although “formal” is the simplest option to assign for a dress code, it can come off as vague.

When preparing for an upcoming wedding, you want to look your best, feel your best, and feel as if you fit in with your fellow guests. We can help with that.

Here are the top six wedding dress codes explained:

1. Formal or black tie optional

A formal or “black tie optional” dress code means that tuxedos, evening gowns, or fancy cocktail attire is acceptable. Men can opt for a tuxedo or a dark suit, white shirt and conservative tie. Women can wear a long evening gown, a fancy cocktail dress, or a classy dress suit. Dresses that show the ankles are typical for this dress code. Trend alert: satin, “midi” length dresses are currently in style for summer wedding guests.

2. White or black tie

White tie is the most formal dress code for a wedding. It entails formal floor-length evening gowns for women and tuxedos with formal dress shirts, white vests, shirts and bow ties, and dress shoes for men. This style of dress code is not extremely popular today, but black tie is similar and may have a few more takers. For black tie weddings, women can wear floor-length evening gowns or very fancy cocktail dresses. Men can wear a tuxedo with a black cummerbund or vest and a black bow tie. These dress codes are perfect for extremely fancy upscale wedding celebrations.

3. Cocktail

A cocktail dress code is always a very popular option. The point of this dress code is for your guests to look and feel great, stylish, and comfortable. Women may wear floor length, midi-length, tea length or knee length dresses. Men may wear a suit and tie, but can opt for their own color choices and accessories. This dress code is perfect for warm, summer weddings that may be outdoors but are still upscale.

4. Semi-formal or dressy casual

This dress code allows for some flexibility depending on location and time of the wedding. Wear darker colors for an evening event and fun, brighter colors for a daytime wedding. Dressy skirts and tops, above-the-knee dresses, and nice dress suits may be appropriate for women. Forget about suits and evening gowns. Men can enjoy wearing a nice pair of slacks and a dress shirt.

5. Beach formal

Many brides and grooms choose to enjoy their nuptials on the coast, exchanging vows with water views and partying beachside into the evening. With celebrations that denote “beach formal” as their attire recommendations women should look at floral print or sundress options. (Pro tip: with some extra length to protect from embarrassing sea-breeze related incidents). For men, make sure to consider the weather climate and investigate wearing a linen-based dress outfit. Also be mindful of your shoe choices and think about leaving those stiletto heels at home.

6. Casual

A casual dress code is often instituted for warm outdoor weddings, destination weddings, beach ceremonies, etc. Think dress pants or khakis with a button up for men and flowy, summer sundresses made of cotton with nice sandals or wedges for women.

The final tip that should be known across the board but is always good to repeat never wear white to someone else’s wedding! If you are considering a dress that has white undertones or is floral with white included the general rule of thumb you need to remember is, if you’re questioning it, just go with another option.

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