White tie, black tie, morning suit, lounge suit.....deciding the wedding dress code can be as difficult as picking the menu, or culling the guest list.

Once you've settled on a theme for your day you can decide which style of dress suits - do you picture your guests sashaying around in floor-sweeping gowns, or is short and shimmery more what you had in mind?

Will barefoot and black tie suit your seaside nuptials or are you happy for your guests to wear whatever they like - after all you want them to relax and enjoy themselves?

Whatever dress code you decide, your guests will appreciate a guide on their invitation. Even if you're opting out of a specific style, by just noting "smart casual" or "informal" on your invites you'll put everyone at ease.

We've put together a detailed description of the most common dress codes for weddings - from the ultimate in formal attire to no dress code at all. Check out your options before finalising your invitations - or decorations - your dress code can have an impact on the look and feel of the whole affair.

White tie

Wedding Suit White TieWedding Suit White Tie

Worn after 6pm. This is ultimate in glamour and 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. Think Pride and Prejudice.

Black tie

Wedding Suit black bow Tie

Worn after 4.30pm. 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.

Morning suit

wedding suit morning suit grey tail coat wedding suit morning suit grey tail coat

Worn before 4.30pm. 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

wedding suit 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

wedding suit smart casualwedding suit 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.


wedding suit cocktail theme

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.


wedding suit informalwedding suit informal

Men wear blazers or tailored sports jackets with tailored trousers optional or linen pants with crisp white linen shirt - no jeans. Women dress as if they were going out to a nice restaurant. Linen creases a what was a crisp shirt at the ceremony can quickly look old by the reception.  To stay looking and smelling fresh, some grooms like to pack an extra identical shirt to change into before the reception.

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 it...contact 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

dress codes

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

wedding formal wear ideas

Interesting bow tie or tie with a dinner suit or dark business suit for evening weddings, or chinos for outdoor weddings. 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 in order for your guests to decipher the code and dress appropriately.

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