How to Address the Dress Code for Your Wedding

October 13, 2023 | riley

Image by La Vie Studios. Keep scrolling to see how to address the dress code for a wedding

When it comes to wedding planning, choosing the perfect dress code is just as important as selecting the venue, flowers, and catering. A well-thought-out dress code not only sets the tone for your big day but also helps guests feel comfortable and confident in their attire. However, what was once a simple concept has become far more complex. We’re seeing countless new dress codes pop up, and explaining your vision to your guests may feel overwhelming.

That’s why we’re breaking down how to address the dress code for a wedding, from including it on your invitations to wording it on a wedding website. We’re also touching on the various types of dress codes to consider, and one of the biggest questions you may be asking yourself–is it okay to give your guests a color palette?

Image by Lauren Wysocki

How to Address Dress Code on Wedding Invitations

Be Clear and Specific

Because you don’t have much room on a wedding invitation, it’s important to be clear and specific about what you want the dress code to be. Make sure it’s easy to spot, and use clear language that leaves no room for ambiguity. For example, use terms like “black tie,” “casual,” or “cocktail attire.”

Offer Additional Information

After you’ve listed your dress code, consider offering a brief note or line beneath it to explain it further. For instance, if your dress code is black tie, consider adding a line that says, “Please wear formal evening attire” or “Men wear a tuxedo, and women wear a floor-length dress.” The same can be said for a casual dress code. You can write something along the lines of “Dress comfortably to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.”

Point to Your Website

If you’re doing both invitations and a website, you can also point to your website on the invites. Mention the site and any necessary information (like if you have an FAQ page on the site that may answer any questions they may have). This way, your guests know how to find it and always have it to reference as needed.

How to Write Dress Code on Wedding Website

Explain the Dress Code

Wedding websites provide a much larger space to describe your dress code. We suggest creating a dedicated page on your wedding website to detail each dress code option. If your site does not have multiple pages, we recommend putting the dress code under the welcome message with all the other must-know info.

While you should follow the advice we mentioned for invitations, you can also provide examples of what is acceptable and what should be avoided. This could be through photos or a bulleted list. This is also a great place to put a color palette example if you’re having guests wear specific colors (i.e., pastels). You can easily make one on Canva and upload the image to the site as a visual.

Offer Shopping Tips

If you want to take it a step further, suggest where guests can shop for appropriate attire, especially if your dress code is a little more unique (i.e., boho chic or 1920s glam). However, this is not necessary, and your guests won’t expect it, so don’t fret if you don’t have ideas.

Mention Weather Considerations

Lastly, it’s important to mention weather considerations. If your wedding is outdoors or in a specific climate, advise guests on how to dress comfortably. Suggest that they bring jackets and shawls if you know it’s going to be cool, or opt for small hand fans and sunglasses if it’s going to be warm and sunny out.

Is It Okay to Give Your Guests a Color Palette?

While we’re on the topic of dress codes, there’s been a trend that we’ve seen go around that could be considered… controversial. More and more couples are choosing to give their guests a color palette to ensure that their big day looks cohesive. If you’ve been wondering if it’s okay to do so, we’re here to help. The answer is absolutely. It’s your big day, and if you want your guests to wear all black or an array of pastels, there’s nothing wrong with that. While guests may be a little annoyed that they have to buy a new outfit for the day, they’re there to celebrate you. They’ll get past it.

Image by McKenzie McNeil

The Four Main Types of Dress Codes

White Tie

A white tie dress code is the most formal option you can give your guests. Men are expected to wear tuxedos, while women should wear elegant evening gowns. Accessories like bowties, formal heels, jewelry, and a classic clutch are a must. This is one of the less common dress codes. However, if you feel like going all out, we say go for it. It’s important to note that this is different from black tie.

Black Tie

So what’s the difference, you may be asking yourself? While women are expected to still wear floor-length dresses that hide their ankles, the dress can be a bit more informal so long as it still touches the floor. Men are to wear tuxes, a bowtie or vest, and formal dress shoes. If the wedding is in the summer, guests also have the option to wear a white tuxedo jacket.

Cocktail Attire

Cocktail attire is a step below black tie and offers guests more flexibility in what they wear–that’s why it’s one of the most popular dress codes used. It’s the perfect balance between casual and formal, allowing men to wear suits and ties and women to wear floor-length, tea-length, or midi dresses. Separates are also more acceptable under this dress code.

If you’re looking to do cocktail attire for your big day, but you don’t mind your guests dressing up if they want, you can also list it as black-tie optional. Not sure what that is? That’s okay, we have a whole blog about it!


A casual dress code is exactly what it sounds like–laidback. It’s ideal for relaxed, informal weddings. These dress codes are typically used at an outdoor or beach wedding and include slack and dress shirts, summer dresses, and shoes such as wedges or dressy sandals. Although the name is deceiving, unless a couple okays it beforehand, jeans are not acceptable.

Final Thoughts on How to Address the Dress Code for a Wedding

These are just four of the most common dress codes. We could go on and on, listing the countless options that fall under the umbrella of these terms. Instead, when deciding on your dress code, go with your gut. Remember that while setting a dress code is helpful, it’s equally important to consider your guests’ comfort. Always be mindful of factors like the venue, weather, and your guests’ preferences when choosing a dress code. 

If you want specific patterns, colors, and silhouettes, make it known. There’s nothing wrong with listing with one of the above dress codes and then expanding on your vision (especially if you have the space to do so on a wedding website).

Addressing the dress code for your wedding can be done easily through invitations and your wedding website. Choose a dress code that aligns with the tone of your wedding and your vision as a couple, and provide your guests with the information and guidance, and you’ll end up with one stunning celebration. Need help with your wedding website? We got you! Here’s everything you need to know about setting up your wedding website.

Image by Kir Tuben

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