Here’s What Wedding Dress Codes Actually Mean

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White-tie, black-tie optional, dressy-casual, casual, and these are only the most common wedding dress code options. We’ve all been invited to a wedding before and been more than confused as to what the dress code meant. With all these terms, it’s hard to keep track of what’s appropriate to wear to weddings and we don’t want to show up in the wrong outfit. Here’s your guide to knowing what you should wear.


White-tie is as formal as it gets and you need to dress to impress. You should wear something you would be seen at a White House state dinner in. The only acceptable attire is formal floor-length gowns and heels. You also need to accessorize with jewelry and an elegant clutch. Men need to wear tuxedos with tails, a white shirt, white vest, bow tie, white or gray gloves, and fancy shoes.

Black Tie-Optional

What’s the difference between black-tie and black tie-optional? Well, the difference is more for men, as a tuxedo isn’t required for black-tie optional. Men can wear a dark suit with a white shirt and tie if they want to. Floor-length dresses, cocktail dresses, and pantsuits with heels or flats are acceptable for women.


Less formal than black-tie optional, dressy-casual is a common choice for wedding dress code. If the wedding is dressy-casual, cocktail dresses, dressy skirts and tops, and pantsuits, as well as heel, flats, or wedges are all options. Men should wear dark or light-colored suits and a tie.


Beach and outdoor weddings are usually casual attire because they are more relaxed. Don’t take this too literally and show up in flip flops and a t-shirt. Instead, wear sundresses and dressy sandals or wedges. Men don’t have to wear sports jackets or ties, they can come more casual in dress pants or khakis and collared shirts.