Wedding Dress Codes and What They All Really Mean

Creating a Wedding Dress from scratch.

There’s nothing more exciting than opening an invitation to a friend or loved one’s wedding – and frequently nothing more confusing than decoding that tiny line that states the dress code. “White Tie,” “Black Tie,” “Black Tie Optional,” “Casual,” “Festive,” “Beach Chic,” what does it all mean? We’ve teamed up with wedding expert and Say Yes to the Dress star Randy Fenoli, who just launched his own line of bridal gowns, to break it all down.

Some Important Dos and Don’ts:

·      Never wear white to a wedding unless it’s an all-white wedding

·      Remember that you’re a guest and you don’t want to pull focus from the bride. This means nothing too risqué, wacky, sexually suggestive or inappropriate for the venue

·      If you have questions about what to wear, ask a member of the wedding party or close friend of the bride first; try the bride next if they’re stumped

White Tie

This is the most formal dress code for a wedding.

For men: “In general, the rules that apply to formal dressing for men are stricter and more straightforward and therefore more glaring when not followed properly,” says Fenoli. He suggests a tuxedo, a long black jacket with tails, a formal white shirt, white (piqué fabric) vest, white bow tie and black formal shoes. Even white gloves can be worn for dancing.

For women: A formal, floor length gown is your only option. “I would suggest black, dark or neutral colors.  This is your chance to glam it up with makeup and exquisite jewelry!” says Fenoli.

Black Tie

Black Tie is the next most formal dress code for a wedding and usually indicates an evening event.

For men: A tuxedo is appropriate for this kind of wedding, says Fenoli. That means a black bow tie, vest or cummerbund, and patent leather shoes. He adds that for a summer wedding, a white dinner jacket and black trousers are acceptable.

For women: A formal floor-length gown or a very chic cocktail dress is appropriate. “Again, I would suggest black, dark or neutral colors and if you have any questions about what to wear or appropriate length of dress, it is best to ask the bride, wedding party, or close friends of the bride to help guide you.”


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