Carl White’s Life in the Carolinas

Wedding Dress Codes Defined

There’s often confusion when trying to define dress code labels. Here is a quick rundown on types of dress codes and their definitions to use when composing or reading wedding invitations.

Beach Formal: We recommend a formal summer sundress with flats for the ladies and a summer suit with linen shirt, linen pants or khakis and sandals for the guys. No ties required for men and women can opt for flat sandals.

Black Tie: Standardly an evening affair, look to tuxedoes and formal gowns of any length. Look to the wedding party for e length of dresses, as it may vary.

Black Tie Optional/Formal Attire: Like Black Tie, but you can swap a tuxedo for a nice, dark suit, and a long dress for a simpler dress with accessories. Women can also trade in the dress all together for an evening pants suit.

Casual: Basically, wedding guests can wear most anything they want. Recommendations however include summer dresses, dress pants, button downs, or polos.

Cocktail attire/Semi-Formal/Dressy Casual: All three of these refer to the same dress guidelines; dark suits and cocktail dresses for all. Ladies can also wear dress pants and a nice top and the Gents can wear sports coats. 
***Note: If no dress code is specified, consider this the default.

Dressy Casual: This is an invitation to have fun with color! Wear a cool tie, pick some fun, bright accessories; either way, definitely dress like you’re ready to party.

Festive Attire: This is generally used for holiday-season weddings, and it indicates that you should wear something sparkly, red, velvet, or all of the above. Or just wear something two steps up from what you’d wear ordinarily.

White Tie: The most formal of all wedding dress codes. Think Oscars; a tuxedo, long jacket with tails, white pique vest and a bow tie for the men and a formal full-length ball gown for the women. Men will want to accessorize with formal black shoes and white gloves while the women will adorn glamorous makeup and dramatic jewelry.

Common Questions

Should I not wear white?
This is one wedding tradition that has survived the test of time. Pass on the white dress for the wedding, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, AND engagement party. While the chances are quite low that wearing white will cause you to be mistaken for the bride at the wedding, as many brides-to-be opt for white attire at the remainder of these events as well, there is a chance that you could quite literally end up in the same outfit as the bride if you do.  

Ok, no white, but is Black ok?
You’ve got a green light on Black. Just make sure that your attire doesn’t hold the appearance of mourning, feel free to adorn your festive, classy black outfits for the wedding, meeting the dress code advised, of course.