From the fanciest of fancy with white tie to the more casual attire, and everything in between

Nowadays there are so many different types of dress codes and it can get confusing what the difference is between each of them. Sure, it’s easy to spot to the difference between black tie and casual, but what’s the difference between black tie and formal? What about formal and semi-formal?

Don’t worry - we’ve got you covered! Let us help you decide which dress code is right for your wedding and we’ll make sure you are ready to answer any questions from your guests about what that means!

White Tie

Women are expected to wear full length ball gowns and men, a long-tail tuxedo. This is not a very common choice, but if it is the route you choose for your wedding, make sure the rest of your wedding is as traditionally formal. Like, sticking with a traditional style with décor and not inviting kids.

Black Tie

A more common choice when a couple is looking for a very classy and upscale event. Black tie means women wear a formal dress, but it can be a cocktail length dress or floor length, and men wear a tuxedo. 

Formal/Black Tie Optional

This option is exactly what it sounds, guests can choose whether to dress according to black tie attire or slightly less formal. That doesn’t really change what women are expected to wear, but it means men do not have to wear a tuxedo and can choose formal dark suit with a tie instead.

Semi-Formal/Cocktail Attire

Things start to open up a little bit to other types of dress with this option. Women can still choose a floor length or cocktail length dress, but they don’t need to be as formal feeling. A dressy pant suit or jumpsuit is also considered appropriate with this option. Men should wear a suit with tie and can venture into different color options. Darker colors like navy are common in the winter and fall, while lighter colors like grey are common in the spring. 


With this choice, there are more choices that guests can wear, but also things that they shouldn’t wear because they will feel out of place. Women can wear a sundress, a skirt and blouse, a jumpsuit, a more casual cocktail dress, but on the flip side if they wear a floor length gown or fancy cocktail dress, they will definitely look overdressed. Same goes for the men; if they wear a full suit they will feel a little out of place. A nice pair of dress pants and a button up shirt or polo is more appropriate.  

Beach Wedding

It is more important to consider your location with a beach wedding, so dress weather appropriate. For women, anything they would wear to a nice dinner at the beach is appropriate for a beach wedding, including sandals. Same goes for men, a linen suit and no tie with sandals would be perfect. 

See examples of wedding dress by viewing our local real weddings HERE​.


Photo Credit: Jordan Tickle Photography