Wedding Day Dress Codes De-Coded for Your Wedding Guests

African American Groom and Ring Bearer. Howerton+Wooten Events.

With so many different dress codes out there, it can be difficult to know what to wear, even when the type of dress requested is stated on the invitation.  Listed below are some dress code terms along with our recommendations of what they actually mean.

WHITE TIE. When the dress code calls for “White Tie” you should know that this is the time when you can purchase and wear that ball gown you have been coveting in your favorite dress salon, your opera gloves, and your “special occasion” jewelry. “White Tie” attire is typically reserved for formal state dinners, galas, and high-end formal weddings.

  • LADIES. Formal Floor Length Evening Gown (preferably worn with opera gloves; high-end jewelry and fur wraps)
  • GENTLEMEN. A tuxedo is the attire worn at a White Tie affair. A white tie is typically worn with the tuxedo. Additional options include a white vest and/or a morning coat.


BLACK TIE. For most formal events, Black Tie attire is the most appropriate choice.

  • LADIES. Formal (preferably floor length) Evening Gown; Fancy Cocktail Dress
  • GENTLEMEN. A tuxedo with a black tie is the appropriate attire for formal events. During the summer months, a white dinner jacket with black tuxedo pants is considered appropriate.


FORMAL or BLACK TIE OPTIONAL. Black Tie attire is considered appropriate, but it is not necessary. While men can get away with dark business suites, this attire is considered a little more festive than business attire for the ladies.

  • LADIES. Evening Gown; Knee-Length or Tea-Length Cocktail Dress; “Little Black Dress;” Fancy Separates
  • GENTLEMEN. Dark Business Suit with a Tie or a Tuxedo


SEMI-FORMAL or COCKTAIL ATTIRE. The options for this dress code vary, so it is probably the most confusing attire option. Remember this tip – Business attire is always acceptable for Semi Formal/Cocktail attire, but this is an opportunity for ladies to add festive jewelry, a fun scarf, and those great high heels to their outfits.

  • LADIES. Knee-Length Cocktail Dress; “Little Black Dress;” a Very Nice Blouse and Skirt or a Very Nice Blouse and Slacks
  • GENTLEMEN. This attire is typically a Dark Business Suit with a Tie. During the spring and summer months, a light colored suit and tie are acceptable.

So tell me, which dress code do you intend to have at your wedding?

Love and Soul Always, Kawania

Photo by Anne Lord Photography



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