Wedding Guests Outfit Ideas

Decoded: Wedding Dress Codes

Wedding season is in full swing, and you’re probably starting to RSVP to those big days. Nowadays, many wedding invitations come with a dress code for wedding guests, but understanding what these dress codes mean is sometimes easier said than done.

Don’t worry, that’s where we come in with our foolproof guide to dressing up for weddings, or dressing down, as the occasion calls for it.

This is Dress Codes Decoded.

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Green Dress

1. White-Tie

A white-tie dress code is the most formal one can choose for a wedding, and has been around for centuries. The name refers to the fact that men are meant to wear white bow-ties with coats and tails, rather than being indicative of the colour palette you should be choosing from. Do not take this dress code as an invitation to upstage the bride in your own white gown! White-tie may not be a common dress code for wedding guests anymore, but you’ll still see it on invitations to banquets or balls. It’s your chance to unleash your inner princess, with floor-length gowns, dramatic embellishments and all the jewellery.

For a modern twist on white-tie affairs, we love designers such as Alexander McQueen and Rachel Gilbert’s contemporary gowns.

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Purple Dress

2. Black-Tie

A classic dress code familiar to most is Black-Tie. The second most formal of all wedding guest attires, black-tie weddings usually imply gowns for ladies and tuxedos for men. While black-tie calls for either a gown, an elegant suit or a sophisticated cocktail dress, it also leaves room for you to put your own spin on things. You can choose your own colour, style and pattern dress depending on when the wedding is, where it is, and your own personal preference.

Some of our favourite brands for black-tie include Rebecca Vallance, Solace London and Rachel Gilbert.

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Black Dress

3. Cocktail

Cocktail attire is probably one of the more common dress codes you will see on wedding invitations, and is a nice balance between formal and casual. In these circumstances, you can opt for a shorter dress. The idea is to look put together without looking extravagant. Cocktail attire leaves more room for interpretation – you can choose anything from the perfect mini or midi dress to a sophisticated two-piece ensemble.

When it comes to cocktail attire, we’re looking to Aje, Cecilie Bahnsen, Self-Portrait and Johnathan Simkhai.

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Polka Dot Dress

4. Semi-Formal

Think of semi-formal as lying somewhere between office-chic and cocktail. You don’t need to wear a gown, but you do still need to dress up. Semi-formal encourages a slightly more relaxed approach to wedding dressing, meaning we start to see jumpsuits and two-pieces appear more, along with bolder prints, shorter hemlines and flat shoes such as sandals. For men, this often translates as relaxed suiting: think, shirts and slacks but no tie.

We love fun styles by Rotate, Celiab and Reformation for this dress code.

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Floral Dress

5. Destination

Maybe you’ve been invited to a wedding in Greece or Spain or Italy, or perhaps you’re travelling even further afield to a beachside resort somewhere tropical. Either way, a wedding that exotic deserves a special dress code of its own. When dressing for destination weddings you must find the right balance between looking formal and dressing for the location. Make sure you won’t be too hot or too cold, and don’t be afraid to inject a little colour or pattern into your look to embrace your surroundings.

When it comes to destination dressing, no one does it better than Zimmermann.

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6. Casual

If you have received a wedding invitation marked ‘casual’, you might be wondering just how casual that means. In our books, even when dressing casually, it’s important to look your best. For a casual wedding, we appreciate smart trousers and a nice top, or a simple day dress that could be worn with flats if you’d prefer.

Victoria Beckham is an expert at off-duty chic, and we love Rixo’s day dresses always.

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Don’t Forget The Gift

Now that you’ve picked out what to wear to your next wedding, don’t forget to choose the perfect gift. Discover our curated edit of wedding gifts for the bride and groom, from LSA glassware to a Brown Thomas gift card. You really can’t go wrong.

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