Attending someone’s wedding means finding a great gift, booking a hotel room, and selecting the right outfit.
However, picking your wedding guest dress isn’t always easy.
Here’s how to decipher dress codes and choose something comfortable and stylish.
Understand the Dress Code
These are some of the most common dress codes on wedding invitations.
Check out what makes them different to ensure you wear the right clothes to the upcoming ceremony.
When you picture a white-tie wedding, imagine the most formal clothes possible.
This is what you’d wear to a state dinner or banquet.
You’ll want to find a floor-length gown with no risque hem or neckline.
Pair it with elegant heels and jewelry to complete your look.
People declare their weddings a black-tie event when they want their guests to wear something formal and their ceremony happens in the evening.
You can wear the same thing as a white-tie event, but you’ll likely pair it with a light coat or wrap to keep warm in the evening.
Weddings with cocktail dress codes are still dressy but more formal.
You could find a midi dress with a calf-level hemline and dark jewel tones for an evening reception.
Jewelry and shoes can be more laid-back. This will likely be your favorite dress code if you prefer flats and a simple necklace.
For black-tie events, women are expected to wear floor-length gowns or high-end cocktail dresses, while men typically wear tuxedos.
When you see a black-tie optional dress code on a wedding invitation, stick with any formalwear you’d take to a white- or black-tie event.
If you choose not to go full black-tie, still try to choose something formal to respect the couple’s wishes.
You don’t want to show up in a sundress and casual sandals if other people will be wearing gowns.
Couples who host laid-back weddings often pick a casual dress code.
They might indicate that on their invitation or not mention a dress code at all.
Either way, you won’t have to worry about selecting a highly specific gown.
A lovely sundress could create the perfect outfit with jeweled sandals but never flip-flops.
Don’t feel nervous about seeming too casual.
This is the typical dress code for venues like campground ceremonies and backyard receptions.
It’s also when the bride is more likely to wear something nontraditional, such as a metallic jumpsuit or black suit.
You might see a festive dress code on an invitation for a holiday-themed wedding.
Christmas and Halloween ceremonies often require festive outfits because it’s a fun time of year.
Consider which holiday pairs with the upcoming wedding date to choose the right dress.
A gauzy dress covered in spiderweb motifs or a red velvet gown with holly buttons could be your best option for a festive dress code.
Double-check what the bride wants by researching their announced venue to ensure your dress isn’t too casual for something like a Christmas wedding in an ancient chapel.
Destination weddings inspire couples to align their wedding planning details with the venue’s location.
People don’t picture beachfront wedding guests arriving in high heels that can’t handle the sand.
Invitations to destination weddings will likely include this dress code to avoid that problem.
Research the venue mentioned on the invitation to plan the perfect wedding guest dress.
A flowy sundress for a lakefront wedding would be comfortable and chic.
You could also wear a long-sleeved dress made with thicker fabric to a mountaintop wedding with a snowy reception.
Remember the Weather
Your outfit can be perfect for the wedding guest dress code, but the weather could still influence what you pack.
Check the forecast for the venue’s location in the days leading up to the nuptials.
You might need to pack sunscreen for a sunny beach ceremony or bring a formal coat for an outdoor fall reception.
Don’t forget about the chance of rain.
You could wear stylish booties between the parking lot and the venue.
After getting inside, you can switch into your formal heels.
You might also bring something to change into after leaving the reception.
Consider if your heels or dress will get uncomfortable after hours of celebrating.
A pair of jeans, a sweatshirt, and some sneakers could save the day for the ride back to your hotel or the airport.
Consider Your Suitcase
If you’re traveling, consider how you will pack your outfit.
The last thing you want is to pull your dress out of your suitcase the morning of the wedding, only to find it terribly wrinkled.
Using a garment bag or laying your dress in your suitcase can help it stay smooth.
Find the Perfect Wedding Guest Dress
Wedding guest dress codes shouldn’t make you nervous about attending a loved one’s ceremony.
Use these tips to find the perfect wedding guest dress for formal and casual events.
You’ll understand what to look for in hemlines, necklines, and accessories before jetting off to the dreamy ceremony.
Cora Gold is the Editor in Chief of Revivalist magazine, where she covers wellness, beauty and more. Follow Cora on LinkedIn and Twitter.
This article was proofread by Grammarly