How To Understand Wedding Dress Code Wording and What To Wear

How To Understand Wedding Dress Code Wording and What To Wear

Have you ever received a wedding invitation that's left you completely clueless about the wedding guest dress code? It can get difficult to decipher from “black tie optional” to “theme”.


You might have been to a black-tie event that ended in a proper party rather than a sit-down meal or a casual beach wedding where the bride was dressed in haute culture.


Dress codes can be a difficult concept to master; it also doesn’t help that anyone can make up their dress code. Seriously, what is a bohemian black tie, and what do you wear if you’re told to feel like Beyonce?


There are some obvious dress code rules to follow when attending a wedding that apply no matter the theme. Obviously, you want to avoid wearing white; there aren’t many brides who would appreciate that!


You also want to avoid an all-black number, especially in summer. You’ll be far too warm, and this is a celebration of love, not a funeral! Speaking of being too warm, dress weather appropriately, no matter the dress code!


Every dress code we’ve mentioned in this piece can be accessorised for any season, so don’t let the Great British weather stop you from winning best dressed!



This is perhaps the most formal version you’ll come across when receiving an invitation, and this usually means the wedding is an evening event. Black tie weddings often occur later in the day, requiring more formal attire.


Wedding style expert Monte Durham explained, “Black-tie weddings usually happen after 5:30 pm or 6:00 pm. Black tie means exactly that: Expect to see tuxedos and black bow ties. Formal gowns are also expected; they should touch the ground or the top of the shoes”.


Black-tie is designed, so there is little room for interpretation, so stick to the basics, and you can’t go far wrong. This doesn't mean you can’t elevate your outfit with accessories. The outfit doesn’t stop at the dress. Depending on your skin tone and metal of choice, opt for some simple accessories in either silver or gold to complete the look.


Whether you want to wear your hair up or down, add a touch of glamour with this Genevieve Siler Round Hairclip to keep in touch with the high elegance affair.



This one is a step between semi-formal and black ties, and it’s a really popular choice. It’s a great mix of elegant and comfortable and can work for daytime and nighttime weddings. Instead of opting for a floor-length gown, you’d feel more at home in a tea-length, knee-length or midi dress.

Cocktail is a great excuse to add a little colour to your outfit, not that you should need one! The Ariana Halter Frill Dress in Vivid Green is the perfect cocktail  wedding guest outfit no matter the season.


Semi-Formal / Dressy Casual

Dressy casual is normally a decision influenced by the time of the wedding. A floor-length gown is not needed, but it is implied that the dress should go below the knee. It can be paired with any footwear you prefer, be it heels, a pair of wedges or dressy sandals.


Take inspiration from the location; if the ceremony is being held outdoors and you'll be walking across a lawn, you may want to avoid heels as you’re likely to get stuck in the grass. Dressy casual gives you the flexibility on comfort still refrains you from dressing too casual. It can be a great way to go for fun and flirty prints or a pop of colour, especially for a spring or summer wedding.


The Luisa Belted Pleated Maxi Dress in Pink and Red Spot is the perfect option. The material is lightweight, so you can still be comfortable, but the maxi length is still flattering for any body shape. It also looks great paired with a pair of wedges for even more comfort. This dress will have you on the dance floor till sunrise.



The previous themes we’ve touched on have been influenced by time, whereas this one is more influenced by location. A casual dress code will indicate an outdoor wedding, perhaps on a beach, which will be more laidback. Casual doesn't mean it’s appropriate to dig out a tank top and some denim shorts; it’s still a wedding. 

A floaty material would work perfectly for the occasion, and they can be dressed down with wedges or dressy sandals rather than a full heel. There’s no specification on length, so you dress however you fancy.

We suggest a wrap dress with a fun sleeve, like the Josie Puff Sleeve Red Wrap Dress if it's a warmer wedding. It’s a lightweight material with plenty of room, so it’s certified buffet friendly and won’t be restrictive if you fancy a boogie later on!



A theme wedding is popular, but you might not have come across it where it influences the guest's outfits. Some couples may ask their guests to all wear one colour to match their monochromatic aesthetic. Some also might choose a theme based on inspired looks like The Great Gatsby or James Bond. If this is the case, take inspiration from the movie and dress like you’re an extra in the film.


What Should I Wear To A Wedding With No Dress Code

If the invitation doesn’t specify a dress core, dig a little deeper into the invitation for some clues. The dress codes mentioned above are all influenced by location, time and the season so take some inspiration.


It's also important to look out for the religion of the ceremony so not to look out of place or offend anyone. If in doubt, a knee-length wrap dress like the Charlottle Wrap Midi Dress is a safe option and guaranteed to suit any figure.


There you have it, a rundown of the most common wedding guest dress codes and how to interpret them. However, brides might decide to go completely off on their own accord and create their theme. If that does happen, we’re sure to have something for you. Contact our style squad for fashion advice and inspiration, no matter the occasion.



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