What To Wear To Any Wedding From the beach to the ballroom, we have every ceremony covered

It’s undoubtedly awesome to get an invite to a wedding. There’s a little partying, some music, an open bar–the works. But unless you’re the groom or the best man, there’s always the underlying question: What are you supposed to wear? When you’re not the one getting hitched, there’s a lot of gray area when it comes to figuring out a surefire ensemble. However, with a little consideration and a little know-how, you can figure out a perfect, stylish, and appropriate look for any wedding, no matter how casual or fancy. Consider these tips and tricks the next time you’re invited to a wedding and you’ll be good to go!

Check the invitation: if you only just skimmed your wedding invitation, go back and give it another look. Your friends may have included a tip-off of what attire they want you showing up in, from a theme like “beach wear” or “black tie,” to a more broad category like “casual.” If there’s no dress code on the invitation at all, it’s likely that semi-formal dress will be a safe bet.

Consider the venue: if the invitation’s lacking in details, scope out the location of the wedding. Beach and backyard weddings mean you’ll be wearing more relaxed clothing, but dress it up for indoor venues like churches and ballrooms.

It’s all in the timing: weddings that occur earlier in the day tend to lean to the more casual side, while evening weddings usually call for more formal attire. So it’s likely that you can get away with less dressy duds in the morning, but be sure to pull out that suit and tie for anything after dusk.

It doesn’t hurt to ask: if you’re still not sure, then why not simply ask? Either ask the bride- or groom-to-be, or any of your friends that are also planning to attend. Trust us, it’s way less embarrassing to ask the soon-to-be-weds directly than to show up at a black tie affair in shorts.

Never wear: jeans. Even if the dress code says casual, jeans are still taboo. The same goes for shorts. And the Hawaiian t-shirt hidden in the back of your closet? Stay far, far away UNLESS you’re actually going to a wedding in Hawaii. Specifically a wedding in Hawaii filled with locals. Hawaiian attire there is perfectly acceptable as semi-formal. Other than that, just please don’t.

If you don’t have it, rent it: an invite to a more formal wedding might have you stressing out over the cost of a good tuxedo. If there’s not a tuxedo conveniently hung up in your closet, don’t sweat it. Places like The Black Tux rent out formal wear for a fraction of the purchase price.

White Tie

What to Wear to Any Wedding: White Tie

The pinnacle of all things fancy, white tie weddings will require you to break out your dressiest of duds. Because of the strict dress code, little can be left to interpretation, which makes your job that much easier. A black dress coat – yes, that means one with tails – is required for this formal event, along with black patent leather dress shoes. The trousers should be made of the same fabric as the tailcoat, and the dress shirt is always white. Pair it with a white bow tie and optional white or black gloves.

Black Tie

What to Wear to Any Wedding: Black Tie

Black tie weddings are likely going to be fancy evening affairs, so this is still a chance to dress to the nines. Now, while the nomenclature may suggest a tie, “Black Tie” affairs actually call for black bow-ties (confusing, right?). Along with that, a formal black tuxedo is an absolute must. If the weather is too hot, consider a white tuxedo and black bow tie for a formal ensemble with a twist.
We realize black tie attire can be a little daunting, but luckily we’ve summed it all up in one handy formal dress code guide.

Formal

What to Wear to Any Wedding: Formal

For formal weddings, you can still opt for the tuxedo if you wish, but sporting a simple suit is just as acceptable in this situation. A dark suit can be worn in place of a tuxedo, but a suit is still necessary. Bow-ties can be replaced with ties. Stay away from light colors if possible (though accenting with colored ties and pocket squares is fine).

Creative or Festive

What to Wear to Any Wedding: Creative/Festive

Creative black tie still requires formal attire, but gives some wiggle room to add unexpected touches to the outfit and display your personal style. You can get crazy with cufflinks, a cool bow tie, or choose an unconventionally colored undershirt or tie. You can play with materials as well – a velvet jacket is a popular and fashion forward choice for adding some creative flair. Festive formal weddings often have a predominant theme, so take this opportunity to coordinate your accessories to match.

Semi-Formal

What to Wear to Any Wedding: Semi-Formal

Also known as dressy casual, this category tends to be the broadest because it represents the flimsy line between formal and casual. In other words, you can get away with a whole breadth of ensembles at a semi-formal wedding. To narrow all the choices down and figure out what you will wear, pay attention to the time of day of the wedding: Earlier in the day, lighter colors fly. Later in the evening, darker shades will do.

Beach Formal
What to Wear to Any Wedding: Beach Formal

Beach formal is what it sounds like: formal attire you’d wear to the beach (um, right. Yes). What makes it complicated is the weather. To avoid melting under the sun, go for light fabrics like linen or seersucker that will keep you cool, literally and figuratively. The host will understand that you’re dressing to brave the elements, so an outfit you might wear to a nice restaurant will do well in this scenario.

Casual

What to Wear to Any Wedding: Casual

Again, you might think jeans are casual – but your friends are tying the knot, and that’s still an occasion to dress nicely for. Think business casual. You can sport a pair of khakis and a button-down or polo t-shirt and call it a day. Ties and other niceties are completely optional (but if you’re feeling it, by all means wear a tie).

When you don the right outfit, you’ll be looking smart and feeling fresh. Now that you’ve got the dress code down pat, all you’ve got left to do is enjoy an evening free of wardrobe worries, and check out that open bar, while you’re at.