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A Woman’s Guide for What to Wear to a Wedding

Someone close to you has just presented you with an invite to their nuptials, congrats! Your mind is filled with endless gowns and pretty shoes, but then you see that the bride and groom have a specific dress code. Weddings have a pretty varied dress code, so it can get confusing even when they are specified. What you wear is ultimately up to you, but you often want to respect the new couple’s wishes at their wedding. Wedding dress codes can be pretty tricky regardless of the code, so here is a rough guide to what is appropriate for any wedding dress code. 

P.S. Never wear white; that is a definite no at any wedding. 

Casual

You’re lucky! Your friend or family member is having a casual wedding which means you will not have to purchase an expensive wedding outfit that you will never wear again. If the wedding asks for a casual dress code, it will most likely be informal and intimate. This means it is a much more relaxed dress code compared to traditional wedding attire. Anything you would wear to a nice lunch would be appropriate for a casual wedding. A dress is great, but a nice blouse and skirt are also perfect. Since the wedding is casual, you can afford to spend less on your outfit. A brunch dress from H&M would work fine. The shoe option for a casual dress code can be something as fancy as a kitten heel or as relaxed as a strappy sandal. 

Cocktail

Cocktail weddings are becoming increasingly common as they require less from the new couple. Cocktail weddings are ones that will not have a sit-down dinner, and it also means a more relaxed dress code. Most cocktail weddings allow shorter dresses but always check with the bride or friends and family if you are unsure of the length. Since it is a non-traditional wedding, you can also adopt a non-traditional look. Feel free to wear a unique and bold dress! Cocktail weddings are definitely more formal than a casual wedding, so skip the floral linen dress. But also do not wear a gown. Make an effort and show up polished. If in doubt, a little black dress and heels are perfectly fine. 

Semi-formal

Semi-formal weddings are similar to cocktail weddings in terms of sophistication, but they are slightly elevated. You want to choose at least a knee-length gown unless the bride has indicated other lengths are allowed. Choose what makes you confident but be mindful as it is someone else’s special day. A floor-length dress is an appropriate choice as long as it is not a full-fledged gown. You can also wear your cocktail wedding dress, albeit with more polished jewelry. You can even be a stand-out in a bold jumpsuit! Guests typically want to wear heels for a semi-formal event unless it is an outdoor wedding. Flats and fancier sandals are appropriate for an outside wedding. 

Formal

Let your dreams dictate your outfit with a formal wedding. You could wear this gown to the Oscars. A formal wedding allows you to wear virtually any dress or gown your heart desires. You can still show a little ankle if you want a midi dress moment instead. Your fanciest heels finally have an appropriate event to attend. That said, you can still have fun at a formal event. Bold jewelry is sure to do well at a formal wedding, and the grandest hem-line will not be out of place here. If you want to add a little more character to your outfit, choose an intricate necklace or bold print for your dress.

Black Tie

A Black Tie Wedding is a call to pull out your fanciest formal dresses. You will wear what you would wear at the Met Gala when you attend a Black Tie wedding. Oscar de la Renta is taking note of your outfit at this wedding. Black Tie Weddings have the most formal of all wedding dress codes, and traditionally not even ankles are shown. If you want to deviate from the grandeur dress code, be sure to check with the bride. It is exceptionally rare to have a Black Tie wedding, but it is definitely a wedding to be seen at. Black Tie events are often equally as fancy as the dress code so pull out your fanciest jewelry, heels, and bag! You will want to opt for designers such as Mac Duggal, Halston, and Cult Gaia if your budget allows. Traditionally, guests will spend upwards of $300 for an evening gown, so be aware when you attend a Black Tie wedding!

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