Wedding Guest Attire: Explained

formal wedding guest attire
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One of the most common questions I get when it comes to styling is, “What do I wear to a wedding?”. There are so many different dress-code terminologies I understand how it can be overwhelming at times (Formal, Semi-Formal, Dress-Casual, Cocktail, etc.). This is why I bring you, “Wedding Guest Attire: Explained,” along with dresses for you to shop from.


Black-Tie is the most formal of wedding attire (behind White-Tie). There typically isn’t as much wiggle room when it comes to what you wear but this also leaves less to question.

Men: tuxedo
Women: long formal dress or gown

black tie wedding dresses
left dress | center dress | right dress

Formal (or Black-Tie Optional)

Formal (or sometimes black-tie optional) typically means the bridal party will be in long dresses and tuxedos. This doesn’t mean guests have to do the same though. Formal is typically at “notch down” on the fancy scale from black-tie.

Men: tuxedo or dark suit
Women: long dress, dressy pantsuit, or (longer) formal cocktail-dress

formal wedding guest dresses
left dress | center dress | right dress


Cocktail and Semi-Formal to me, are one in the same. It’s not casual but it’s not formal either. Definitely still considered on the dressier side, but tuxedos are not required (and would probably be considered over-dressed), and floor-length dresses are not required either.

Men: suit of any color
Women: pantsuit, romper, or cocktail dress

cocktail semi formal wedding guest dresses
left dress | center dress | right dress


Destination/Beach Formal can be a little tricky, so I would suggest speaking with other guests, checking the wedding website, or asking the bride or groom what they’re recommending for guests. For most beach destination weddings, beach formal most resemble cocktail/semi-formal but with a “casual beach twist.”

Men: pants and a button-up shirt. the pants can be cotton or linen and depending on the shirt, you may be able to get away with a short-sleeve button-up, just keep in mind the weather and dress code!
Women: dressier sun-dress or romper

beach formal/destination wedding guest dresses
left romper | center dress | right dress


Casual can also mean a lot of things, but unless otherwise noted, it does not mean jeans.
Men: dress pants with button-down shirt or polo
Women: dressier sun-dress or romper

casual wedding guest dresses
left dress | center dress | right dress

if you have any other suggestions or additions, drop them below <3

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