What dress code to put on invitations?

What dress code should I put on my invitations and what does that dress code really mean?

I often get asked the above by curious brides and grooms. Here is quick guide to the main dress codes and what they really mean.

White Tie Formal Dress Code

Black Tie
A black tie
dress code is appropriate for a formal event (and would usually indicate an evening affair), where men wear a tuxedo and women wear a stylish evening gown or cocktail style dress.

White Tie
A white tie dress code is for an ultra formal event. It is more formal than black tie and calls for the most glamorous attire. This might include a ball-gown for ladies, gloves ,stole, a clutch or evening bag and glamorous hair and make-up. For the men, it might include an evening tail coat, white shirt, white waistcoat and white bow-tie. Ultra-glam indeed! This is a chance to go all out!

Semi-Formal
A semi-formal dress code calls for well…semi-formal attire as the name suggests. It is somewhere between casual and formal. This dress code would allow men to wear a dark suit, and ladies a cocktail dress (tuxedos and long dresses are not necessary).  Sometimes this dress code can be a little ambiguous when written on an invitation, and can be interpreted differently from person to person.

Lounge Suit
The lounge suit dress code indicates an event which is not as formal as some of the other dress codes, yet it is still expected that guests dress stylishly. Men can get away with a coloured  business suit and shirt while women can don a cocktail style dress or fitted dress.

Cocktail
A cocktail dress code has typically been interpreted as being a dark suit for men and an elegant dress for ladies-brighter colours would also be suitable here. Currently, shorter knee-length cocktail dresses are quite the trend.

Smart Casual
A Smart casual dress code does not necessarily mean jeans and a t-shirt. For the women, smart casual calls for a pretty dress (cocktail or other), tailored pants or a skirt with a stylish top. For the men- a suit and shirt- which can be both dark or light. A tie is optional at this style of wedding.

Casual
A casual dress code really says that anything goes. Feel free to frock up in a dress (for ladies) or casual shirt and pants for the men.  But do be aware that even though the dress code states “Casual”, don’t forget that you are attending someone’s wedding,  so do dress casual but appropriately.

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