Wedding Attire Decoded

Your wedding invitation is the first taste of your wedding that you will share with your guests. Obviously style is important, but the content of your invitation is what guests need to see in order to know where to go, when to be there and what to wear. You can have a look at some wedding invitation wording ideas here.

Speaking of what to wear to a wedding, there are some terms that are used in wedding invitations that can be a little bit confusing. Here are some definitions to help you let your guests know which attire is most suited to your wedding. And if you are on the receiving end of one of these instructions, hopefully this will help you dress for the occasion:


What it means: This is going to be a relaxing wedding, which will probably take place in the morning or around lunch time.

What to wear: For the ladies, a casual dress or a skirt and top along with pretty sandals will do (no flip flops or sneakers). For the men, a polo shirt and khakis is casual but still formal enough for a wedding (no jeans, ever!).

Dressy Casual

What it means: This oxymoron suggests that a casual dress in satin material or a formal dress in cotton would be fitting.

What to wear: Depending on the venue and time of day, a dress above the knee is safest. For the men, a nice short sleeved shirt and khakis.

Semi Formal

What it means: Generally your outfit should lean more to the formal side.

What to wear: Ladies can wear dresses in any length ranging from just above the knee to ankle length. Ball gowns aren’t appropriate but fancier fabrics are acceptable. Men could get away with something as formal as a tuxedo but formal pants, a blazer and tie will be suitable.


What it means: Think “prom” and you’re already in the right direction.

What to wear: A dark suit with a crisp white shirt and tie for the men, and a floor length dress for the ladies is appropriate.

Black Tie

What it means: You have permission to dress like James Bond.

What to wear: This is less ambiguous for men, so a tuxedo is expected. For the ladies, a full length gown is expected, so look at your red carpet favourites for inspiration.

How To Make Sure Your Guests Aren’t Mystified

Glen and I wanted to keep our guests informed as to what attire is best suited to our wedding. We don’t want anyone to feel under dressed or over dressed, not because we are control freaks, but because we are considerate. So, we stated on the invitation that “cocktail attire” is what we expect. This is somewhere between semi formal and dressy casual, but to be safe, as guests RSVP, we are sending them this image to clarify:

Glen and Kelly - what to wear


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Filed under Planning My Own Wedding, Wedding, Wedding Wednesdays

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