Weird Wedding Dress Codes: A Guide

wedding dress code


OK. So these wedding dress codes pictured below might not actually exist, but sometimes it feels like they could. Since when did dressing for a wedding (or telling your guests how to dress for a wedding) get so hard? From Beach Casual and Dressy Casual to White Tie/Black Tie optional and everything in between, soon we’ll be telling guests what kind of undies to wear on our invites.

With that said, I often find it baffling that guests don’t kind of already know how to dress for a wedding. I mean, I can see the need to put Black Tie on an invite if you expect your guests to all wear tuxedos instead of a suit, but does it mean you can show up to an evening wedding wearing a golf shirt and khakis if a dress code isn’t listed on the invite? The short answer is ‘No.’ While some instructions are helpful if your desired wedding attire is out of the ordinary (Swimsuits Only!) or a specific dress code is required from your venue (IE: jacket and tie, in which case you would say Formal), I don’t always see the need to include a dress code on an invitation unless it’s important to you.

If you do want to include a real dress code on your wedding invite (excluding the funny ones, below), here are the meanings behind the most common ones.

White Tie:

The most formal of all wedding dress codes, it means men should wear a tuxedo with long black tails, a white pique vest, a white bow tie, and even white gloves would be appropriate. Women should wear a formal, full-length gown.

Black Tie:

This means men should wear a tuxedo, a cummerbund, a black bow tie, and patent leather dress shoes. Women should wear an upscale cocktail dress or a full-length gown.

Formal or Black Tie Optional:

Men wouldn’t be out of place in a tuxedo, but guys can also wear a formal dark suit and tie. Women should wear a cocktail dress, dressy suit, or a long dress.

Semi-Formal or Dressy Casual:

For daytime weddings men and women should wear lighter colors, and for evening darker is more appropriate. Men should wear a suit and tie, and women should wear a cocktail dress or a dressier skirt and top.

Beach Formal:

This has the same attire requirements as a formal wedding, but you’re dressing for the elements (IE: wind, sand, etc.). Men should wear a daytime-appropriate suit (no tie required), and women should wear a dressier sundress.


While some might think this means anything go, think office-appropriate (which means no shorts or jeans). Men should wear dress pants with a button-down. Women should wear a casual dress or nice top and skirt.

Thanks to Happy Place for the graphic

weird wedding dress codes


While we only link to products and services we think you will love, some of the links on our site are monetized. If you click on the link and make a purchase we may receive a commission, which helps us keep bringing great content to you! All opinions are our own.

Listen to the Woman Getting Married Podcast

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.