Decoding Wedding Dress Code


Sponsored by Zappos.

Last weekend I went to a lovely Texas wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony and all of the guests in attendance looked so nice. In light of wedding season, I thought I’d put together a post on wedding attire.

Decoding the difference between formal, semi-formal, cocktail, and casual attire as requested by the invitation always left me a little confused. What does ‘casual’ mean anyway? Surely my Converse sneakers cannot be appropriate…  It can also be hard to figure out where to start when you’re on the hunt for that perfect dress.  Today I am partnering with Adrianna Papell at Zappos to decode the meaning of wedding dress attire and share some of my favorite styles available through  Plus, if you’re a Zappos Rewards member you’re also eligible for free expedited shipping and free returns! It doesn’t get much better than that! Scroll down to get the details for two of my favorite Adrianna Papell looks perfect for wedding season!  

If the invitation says…

Black Tie. This is crystal clear for men—wear a tuxedo.  Black tie is the most formal of all wedding dress codes. Most often, black tie weddings are in the evenings so turn up the glamour and bring on the beads and sequins! I suggest wearing a floor length evening gown but the best way to figure out what to wear is to dress according to what you expect the host to wear. 

Black Tie Optional or Formal. One of the murkier dress codes, men are given the option of either wearing a tuxedo or a dark suit and a tie. Because men are given the option of dressing in a more casual manner, the dress code is more open for women too, who can wear anything from a long dress to a cocktail number! Just remember that your look should be fancy enough to keep up with the fellas in tuxedos and ladies in floor length gowns.

Semi-Formal or Cocktail. For guys, this means a jacket is required. Depending on how fashionable they are, they can potentially get away with no tie, but I think a tie is always a good bet!

Semi-formal is the toughest code to crack since it can mean a variety of things based on the time and location of the wedding. When “semi-formal” dress is requested, wear a nice cocktail dress or a FAB blouse and skirt. A good rule for semi-formal is no beading on anything long, but if it’s a short dress, it can have a little bling! If the wedding is during the day, opt for lighter colors and fabrics, but no white! It’s the brides time to shine! Of course, this is 2017 and women don’t HAVE to wear dresses to weddings. You can get away with nice pants and a fancy top with elevated accessories if you please!

Casual AKA Business Casual. Casual usually means anything goes, but in the world of weddings it translates to “business casual.” Wear a sundress or a nice blouse and skirt. As for hair and makeup, stick with your natural, everyday look.

Dress code DO’S

  • Wear comfortable shoes so you’re ready to hit the dance floor
  • Cover your shoulders at a religious wedding with a shaw or wrap to cover up 
  • Subtle is best. Opt for simple, pretty or romantic looks rather than edgy or sultry ensembles.
  • Simple beauty. Keep hair and makeup natural and pretty. 

Dress code DONT’S

  • The White Rule. No wearing white! It is the bride’s time to shine
  • Black. Try not to wear black to early morning/afternoon weddings
  • Absolutely, positively NO jeans
  • No sexy or revealing clothing. 

LOOK #1: High Low Popover Dress




LOOK #2: Cold Shoulder Little Black Dress



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1 Comment

  • Reply
    June 2, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t understand wedding dress codes. I went once to a black tie optional wedding where the mother of the bride wore black jeans and a ivory top…..and then here my family is where fancy tafetta dresses. Talk about awkward lol

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