When you receive a wedding invitation, one of the first things you think about is what you are going to wear. Before choosing what to wear, keep in mind the time of year that the wedding will be held; the venue, and whether the wedding will be indoors or outside. Many couples include some direction on their invites so that you know how fancy you need to get, or if there are any special instructions to follow.

Here is how to decode the dress codes:

Casual:

This means that as a wedding guest you can wear what you want– within reason. A summer dress or jumpsuit, or a nice button-down and dress pants. No tie necessary.

Decode

Semi-Formal/Dressy Casual:

A step up from truly casual but still within range of having some fashion freedom. Think cocktail dresses, understated jewelry, a shirt and tie or, jacket and no tie.

Beach Formal

While beaches are probably one of the least formal places you can go – a wedding is still a classy affair. Formal sundress tea or full length, a summer suit with a linen shirt, linen pants, or khakis. When choosing your footwear, remember there will be sand.

Black Tie Optional

Black tie optional indicates that the wedding party will be in formal wedding attire, and it’s optional for all guests. Formal evening wear is recommended; dresses, statement jewelry, tuxes, or dark suits with white shirts.

Black Tie/ White Tie

Black Tie traditionally indicates that men are expected to wear black suits or tuxes with black ties, and women are meant to wear formal evening gowns of any length, while white tie indicates the gentlemen dress in long-tail tuxedos and the women don full-length ball gowns. If you are invited to a Black or White Tie wedding, get ready to bring your fancy pants.

Decode

Traditional:

If you are invited to a wedding where the couple has indicated will follow certain traditions from their respective cultures, it is always a good idea to follow dress codes that fit in. If the traditions fall outside of your culture, we suggest asking the couple how they would like guests to dress.

Themed:

It happens, sometimes couples decide to have a theme wedding and want everyone to dress accordingly. Does this mean that you might have to dress up like a Hogwarts student? You bet. Be supportive of your friends and don’t be the guest who goes against the theme out of fear of looking ‘weird’!

When deciding what to wear to a wedding it is a general rule of thumb to not wear white, or try to outshine the bride. Ensure that you are within the dress code and don’t try to stand out. For example, if the wedding is beach formal, avoid showing up in a floor-length taffeta ball gown with a train. Remember that this isn’t your wedding day so be a good guest and follow the couple’s wishes!