Don't risk arriving to the wedding in the wrong attire.  We've deciphered a whole range of dress codes that are commonly found on wedding invitations. 

White tie

The ultimate in formality. This code means the men wear full black tail coat and black trousers, white pique shirt - no frills on the shirt please - white waistcoat and self tied white bow tie - no clip on the ties. The women wear full length evening dresses. Appropriate for weddings held after 6pm. Think Pride and Prejudice and Downton Abbey.

Black tie

Men are to wear a black dinner suit with white pique pleated front shirt, cufflinks and dress studs. A black, self tied bow tie is more appropriate - or find a very very smart clip on one. Black socks and shoes. A white tuxedo can be worn with black pants. Women wear formal dinner dresses long or short. Appropriate for weddings held after 4.30pm. 

Morning suit

Black or grey tail coat with grey or black striped pants, white shirt, grey waistcoat and grey silk tie. Black socks and shoes. A grey top hat can be worn or carried. This is a good option for a very formal day wedding.

Lounge suit

A popular choice for less formal weddings and can be considered the appropriate dress code at any time, day or night. Dark business suit, white shirt, cuff links and matching not clashing tie for the men, with black shoes and black socks. The girls can wear a dress or smart suit, or even a cocktail dress if the wedding is held in the afternoon or early evening.

Smart Casual

Appropriate dress code for a wedding at any time if stated on the invitation. For the men a suit with a white or pastel coloured shirt. The tie is optional. A tailored jacket and tailored pants will pass, but not jeans! Women wear dresses or pants, with or without glittering adornments depending on the time of day.


Worn after 5pm. Men are required to wear a suit (preferably dark) and tie. Women wear pretty dresses with all the glittering adornments they chose.


Men wear blazers or tailored sports jackets with tailored trousers optional - no jeans. Women dress as if they were going out to a nice restaurant.

No dress code indicated

If you receive an engraved invitation in black ink on a heavy stock card with no dress code written in a very formal address for a wedding after six o'clock, the dress code is considered white tie, at four or five o'clock black tie is appropriate. If the invitation is not presented this way then they have forgotten to include the maid of honour.

Other dress codes can be less specific or even hint at your theme. Here are some you may receive:

Barefoot and Black Tie

Popular for beach weddings. For a late afternoon wedding with this dress code try a cocktail dress with no shoes, and for the boys white or beige linen pants and a hawaiian style shirt.

Creative Tie

Interesting bow tie or tie with a dinner suit or dark business suit. Girls can dress according to the Black Tie or Lounge Suit code.

Creative dress codes can be harder to decipher and may need some extra thought and advice. If you receive a wedding invitation and you have no idea what the dress code means let alone is asking you to wear, then you need to contact the best man or maid of honour for their advice.

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Julian Beattie Photography

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