Paste your Bing Webmaster Tools verification code here

Real Talk | Wedding Attire Explained



Learn more

Hi there! Welcome to The Nouveau Romantics journal, where we share our work, creative process, travel, and adventures. Stay a while and say hello!

Hi, I'm elizabeth.



Everyone knows the golden rule: don’t wear white. Beyond this, trying to decipher all of the different dress codes can seem a bit daunting. Here, we’ve decoded the most common wedding dress codes so that you arrive appropriately — and confidently — to the celebration.

White Tie

The most formal of all dress codes. Think of the Oscars or dinner at the White House. Men should wear a tailcoat, a formal white shirt, white pique vest, and a bow tie. Black, formal shoes and even white gloves for dancing are appropriate. Female guests should wear a formal floor-length ball gown. Glamorous makeup and dramatic jewelry and hair are also appropriate.


Brooks Brothers Tails //  Vika Gazinskaya Gown // Marni Earrings // Tamara Mellon Heels


Black Tie

The next formal of dress codes. This usually indicates that the wedding is an evening affair. Men should wear a tuxedo. A cummerbund, black bow tie, and patent leather shoes are also suggested. For women, there are two options: a formal cocktail dress or a floor-length evening gown.


Brooks Brothers Tuxedo // Marchesa Notte Dress // Percossi Pappi Earrings // Jimmy Choo Heels 


Formal or “Black Tie Optional”

This language suggests the affair is slightly less formal than Black Tie. A tuxedo isn’t required, but the event is still formal enough for one to be appropriate. For gentleman who want to go a bit more casual, they can wear a white shirt with a dark suit and tie. Women are free to wear a long dress, formal separates, a dressy suit, or a chic cocktail-length dress. 


 Brooks Brothers Suit // Alice + Olivia Crop Top // Alice + Olivia Skirt // Jennifer Behr Headband // René Caovilla Heels


Semi-formal or Cocktail

Depending on the time of the event, semi-formal is somewhere in between formal and casual. If a wedding is taking place at 4 or 5 p.m., you should wear something that easily transitions from day to night. A dark suit and tie are appropriate for men, while a cocktail dress or a long skirt and top combination would work perfectly for women.  If the invitation does not make note of a specific attire, these are the guidelines guests should follow. 


Brooks Brothers Navy Suit // Vilshenko Dress // EF Collection Ear Crawler // Aquazuura Heels



Casual attire often times means anything goes, however staying away from jeans, tank tops, and shorts is a safe bet unless specifically requested. Men should wear dress pants with a button down or polo and women should wear a sundress or a skirt or pant with a nice blouse.


Brooks Brothers Shirt and Trousers // Paul and Joe Dress // Maria Black Necklace // Jennifer Fisher Cuff // Gianvito Rossi Sandals



Photo Credits: Header Image by The Nichols // White Tie Wedding by Norman Jean Roy // Black Tie Wedding by Tec Petaja // Formal Wedding by The Nichols //  Semi-formal Wedding by Johannes Huebl // Casual Wedding via Gallery Hip

reader faves

browse by category


creative process






Learn more

This is the spot where we share our wedding work, creative process, travel, and adventures. Stay a while and say hello!

and welome to the journal!



© the nouveau romantics 2021