We’ve all faced the dreaded question: What do I wear; The bigger question is: What do I wear to this wedding? Who’s ever heard of coastal casual and what even is black tie? There’s no doubt about it, wedding dress codes are confusing and frustrating. The good news is, most couples stick to the same tried and true attire guidelines and I’m here to help decipher that code!
Black tie means very formal dress but this also means the wedding will be an evening event, starting after 6pm and translates to a late night shindig. Traditionally, long evening gowns are preferred in dark or neutral colors, but modern dress codes allow for a little adventure with beading and bling. Since most people don’t have a lot of formal gowns hanging in their closet, consider renting from sites like Rent the Runway for a low cost solution. Shop: Midnight Sequin Stars from Nicole Miller c/o Rent the Runway $90 Rental $650 Retail
Formal/Black Tie Optional
If you receive an invitation labeled black tie optional or formal the rules of black tie apply with a little bit of a twist. Long gowns are preferred but don’t feel like you have to be tied to darker colors or buttoned up styles. Even over the top cocktail dresses can be suitable (think fashion forward but no club attire please). Experiment with your accessories and get creative. Shop: Elinne Cutout Pleated Gown from BCBG $338
Semi Formal/Dressy Casual
In the situation of Semi-Formal or Dressy Casual it’s best to consider the time of day, but err on the side of evening. Think grown up homecoming dance. Cocktail dresses are fair game but you could also rock a dressy skirt and top. If you go with a short dress, a little bit of oomph is never a bad thing (details like lace or beading are beautiful). Shop: Up and Up Magenta Lace Dress from Lulu’s.com $115
Beach Chic/Garden Casual
If you’re off to a beach or garden party it’s important to consider the location. A laid back cocktail dress or boho sundress would be great. Elevate the look with the right jewelry and you’ll be set. In this situation it’s also important to think head to toe – and by this I mean what is on your feet and how are you doing your hair? You’ll be spending a considerable amount of time outside so plan accordingly. Shop: Felicity&Coco Fit and Flare Dress from Nordstrom $128
If your wedding invite asks for casual attire this by no means allows you to show up in jeans. In this case, casual means business casual. Separates are a great option, as is a nice sun dress. Depending on the locale you could even don a dressed up jumpsuit with some killer heels. Shop: Occasion Tailored Floral Jumpsuit from Asos.com $110
A few other considerations to think about are the location, time of year and weather. While you wouldn’t wear long sleeves in the summertime this would be perfectly acceptable for a winter wedding. Wedges and sandals are wonderful options for beach or garden soiree’s. You’ll usually find the dress code outlined on an invitation, but these days, many people are providing more details on their websites. If you can’t find any clues, try researching the venue to see if there are any hints to the style there. When in doubt – don’t be afraid to ask! Members of the bridal party and the couple themselves are a great resource. At the end of the day though, wear what makes you feel confident and comfortable enough to last the whole night.
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