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Wedding Guest Etiquette: Proper attire

wedding guestsEver wonder what the difference is between black-tie and formal?  Ever felt confused as to what to wear to a certain type of wedding?  Read on for a short guide to what to wear to a wedding.

Do not wear white unless requested by the couple or host.  Some brides may not be bothered by guests wearing white, but a lot do.  To be on the safe side, do not wear white or something that may resemble the bride’s dress.

It is okay to wear black to an evening event.  Some think that black is too gloomy for such a happy occassion.  But contrary to what a lot of people think, it is okay to wear black for evening weddings.  However, black during daytime may not be appropriate.

Out of respect for the couple, do not wear flashy, overtly sexy attire or anything close to that.

Below is a list of what’s appropriate for each type of event:

White Tie – the most formal
Him: tuxedo, long jacket with tails, white pique vest, bow tie, formal black shoes, white gloves
Her: formal full-length neutral-color ball gown, dramatic jewelry and hair

Black Tie – second most formal
Him: tuxedo, black bow tie, cummerbund, patent leather shoes
Her: neutral-color cocktail dress or long evening gown in a dark

Formal / Black Tie Optional
Him: tuxedo, formal dark suit and tie
Her: long dress, dressy suit, formal cocktail-length dress in neutral colors

Beach Formal – elegant beach affair
Him: summer suit with a linen shirt (no ties required), linen pants or khakis, sandals
Her: tea- or knee-length formal summer sundress, flat sandals

Semiformal / Dressy Casual
Him: suit and tie
Her: cocktail dress, dressy skirt and top

Casual – (almost) anything goes
Him: Dress pants, button-down shirt, polo
Her: summer sundress, skirt or pants with a nice blouse

Click here for more info at

Up next on the Wedding Guest Etiquette Series: Giving Wedding Gifts


I love your site. Informative stuff.

I am going to a 5:30 PM church wedding in March in SC. Is it appropriate to wear a dark brown linen dress with a matching jacket?
thank you

I am attending a 6 p.m. outdoor wedding in the South. As the sun will not set for another two hours, is it appropriate to wear a hat?

I am attending my son’s wedding this Sept. It is going to be held in Fla. on the beach at 5p.m. Can you suggest a proper attire for me to wear, their colors are pink and champagne.. I wear a size petite and am having a hard time to decide what to wear.. They suggest a maxi sundress…

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