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Wedding Dress codes De-Coded

What are wedding dress codes? Wedding dress code wording can seem confusing and overwhelming, but I'm here to decode popular wedding attire options.  Read on to discover how to choose the dress code for your wedding, including how to mention it on your invitations and wedding website, and how to ask your guests to join in your wedding vision. 

I’ll unpack all the popular, traditional and slightly more out-there dress code options that are available so you can choose the perfect fit for your wedding.

Black Tie

The classic black tie dress code oozes formal elegance and is perfect if you are having a sophisticated wedding in a grand or historic venue. 

For Men: Black Tie means tuxedos or smart black suits, complete with white pocket squares, bow tie, optional waistcoat and smart black shoes. Think of a slick James Bond style. 

For Women: Floor-length gowns are expected for Black Tie attire. Patterned tulle or soft dresses are acceptable for summer weddings, whilst stunning silk or sleek satin dresses are preferred for evening guests or winter weddings.

A Black Tie wedding dress code can add glamour, elegance and a luxury vibe to your wedding. 

Couple walking down sparkler tunnel as wedding exit in Oxford

White Tie

If you want to go one step further than formal Black Tie, then opt for a White Tie dress code. This will take your wedding to almost royal heights! This wedding attire will ensure your wedding has a refined and ultra-sophisticated vibe with this very formal dress. 

For Men: White bow tie and white waistcoat are accompanied by a white or black jacket or coat with tails, black patent leather shoes and optional white gloves. Top hats are optional and often only worn by the groom and groomsmen. Think highly tailored and perfectly fitted 3 piece suits. 

For Women: Lavish floor-length elegant ball gowns are required by the ladies. Add jewellery, a tiara or even opera-length satin gloves to polish off this elegant look. Be inspired by royal balls for a refined vibe. 

White Tie is the height of formal attire you can have at weddings. It is the pinnacle of refinement and grandeur, perfect for ballroom weddings or traditional formal events. 

Formal Garden Party

For an English summer garden wedding, think floral dresses and colourful accessories within a formal dress code. This elegant dress code option is a mix of colourful and smart attire with personalised patterns and fabrics.  

For Men: Linen suits, coloured shirts and patterned tie or bow tie is accepted for a formal garden party wedding dress code. Pastel coloured suits with loafers can add a more casual tone to the overall attire. 

For Women: Embrace dainty pastel-coloured florals! Midi dresses with full skirts, soft chiffon fabric and romantic dress styles are perfect. Hats or fascinators are usually encouraged to finish off this formal yet romantic look. 

This is a very flexible dress code option as you can specify how formal or casual you want your guests to look. You could say jackets are optional or you could ask for 3 piece coloured suits, it's up to you! 

Guests at English summer wedding dressed in Garden party attire

Morning Dress

This is a traditional British wedding dress code and it is the epitome of sophistication. It is similar to Black Tie dress code, but is includes tail coats for men. This is also a more popular option if you are having a formal day-time wedding ceremony (before 4:30pm). This classic wedding attire will suit formal weddings that want to include a traditional wedding style.  

For Men: A gentleman's Morning Dress consists of a formal morning jacket with tails, a matching waistcoat and smart trousers. The outfit colour can range from grey, navy or black and it can include a top hat. 

For Women: A formal daytime dress which can be knee-length or longer paired with elegant accessories such as a clutch bag or hat. An optional tailored jacket or blazer can be worn. Hats and fascinators are encouraged and you can be creative as you like with these accessories. 

For a quintessential British church wedding, this dress code is for you! 

Grooms party dressed in morning suits

Themed Attire 

If you want a pleasing aesthetic in your wedding photos or want all of your guests to be dressed in a certain style or colour scheme, then make clear on your invitation what your expectations are. 

If you are having a destination beach wedding, you might want to specify that shoes are optional, and linen suits and floral shirts are accepted. 

If you are having a colour-themed wedding then ask your guests to incorporate this colour in their accessories and elements of their outfit like patterns on their dress, bow tie, shirt or shoes. If having all your guests dressed in one colour sounds fun but you don’t want it for your wedding day, then this could be the theme and dress code at your welcome party or post wedding brunch instead. 

For a themed wedding like a boho vibe, then ask your guests to wear patterned, flowy comfortable dresses and casual suits with fun and unique colours that they feel relaxed in.

Going for chic and kitsch instagram-worthy photos? Send a small moodboard sharing your ideas and inspiration like sharp tailored suit dresses and statement accessories and sunglasses so your guest can understand your wedding vibe. 

Choosing your wedding dress code 

The dress code possibilities for your wedding are endless, and you can tailor your specification to match your wedding theme, style, venue and location. Choose a wedding attire aesthetic that complements the wedding day vision. Then provide ample guidance through invitations, inspirational images and even designers or brands that align with your wedding guest dress vision. 

Top Tip: State the dress code on your website or Invitations. You can write the descriptions as above or even could share your inspirational images. Your website is a great space for your guests to get excited about your wedding and find out about your wedding colour scheme and aesthetic. Click here to read what else you can add onto your wedding website.

And last but definitely not least, remember your wedding photos will be with you for decades to come, so choose a style that you personally love. After all you will be the ones looking fondly at your wedding photos! 

Need a hand choosing what wedding dress code is right for your wedding? Get in touch with me and we can chat about curating your bespoke wedding design together. 

Photographer: V&H Wedding Photography

Photographer: D&J Wedding Photography


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