The Ultimate Dress Code Guide for Wedding Guests

This post is in conjunction with  Harry’s . When it comes to etiquette + dress code, I called on the experts to help steer you in the right direction. You’re welcome!

Every wedding is different. The type of occasion you’re hoping to plan will likely influence how you and your guests are expected to properly dress. Getting an understanding of what kind of function it is and the group of people attending, will better your decision-making about how you should stylize yourself among your peers.

Depending on your invitation you’re going to want to decide right away. With that in mind, use our tips below to complete your bad-ass look for the big day.

White Tie vs Black Tie

At the most formal level of a wedding, the expectation is that guests will be asked to abide by either white or black tie standards. Let’s start with white tie. This is the fanciest and most formal of any wedding dress code. It is known to be the “best of the best” look. For men, a tuxedo with tails, a white dress shirt, and a white tie are required. However, be sure to check the invitation as it may list other requests as well. Likewise for women, selecting your most elegant dress as if you’re attending a gala will be your best bet. Many white tie functions have strict restrictions and requirements so just be keen to abide whatever the bride and groom might ask.

On the other hand, black tie weddings are the most common dress code at weddings. While black tie is a step down in formality from white tie, it is still a very formal event. At these kinds of functions, men should be expected to wear their nicest black tuxedo with an accompanying white dress shirt and black tie. If you want to mix it up with a bow tie, try it out as it can add a little pizazz to a pretty standard look. For women, your options are open. Whether you go with a formal gown or a dressy cocktail dress, this will be when you have to evaluate the kind of wedding and make your choice from there.

Formal vs Casual

If black or white tie is not the vibe you’re going for, the next expectation would be a “formal” dress code. The beauty of a “formal” wedding is that you are welcome to dress with a black-tie wedding if you choose. While it’s not entirely necessary, you won’t look out of place. For ladies, there is no real difference between black tie and a formal event. This means you can go with either an elegant dress or something more casual. Heels or flats are both acceptable and can match your outfit perfectly, just remember to keep your comfort in mind.

The same goes for male guests. At a formal even you have the option to either go all out and wear a tuxedo, but if you won’t look out of place if you opt for a dressed-down look in a nice shirt and tie.

Other Necessities

No matter the dress code, there will be other necessities on your checklist that you’ll have to take care of for the big day. While your outfit will be the majority of your look, the “extras” that will make you stand out should not be forgotten, and can truthfully, make or break your outfit.

For men: Facial hygiene will be most important for male guests as they prepare their look. Starting with their hair, you should be sure that your hair is cut and styled to perfection to prevent any messy situations and potential bad photographs. Likewise, make sure your facial hair is just on point as your hair. Whether you choose to tame your beard or completely shave it off, make sure you shave and upkeep with top-line shaving products days before the wedding to give you the best look.

For women: After it comes to picking out your dress, you’re going to want to decide how to accessorize yourself to match your outfit. Starting with jewelry, you’re going to want to pick something that matches the occasion. If it’s more of a formal event selecting appropriate earrings and necklaces to match the vibe make more sense, rather than fun-colored or flashy, which would better fit a more casual scene. 

In terms of makeup, be sure to decide on how you want to do your makeup and make it match the function. For example, if your wedding is outdoors you may want to do less makeup with a more natural look, rather than you would for a wedding indoors. Don’t ever overdo your look and remember that everyone at the wedding is close friends and family so you shouldn’t stress about applying too much.

Photo by Mark Zamora on Unsplash