Dress Codes for Weddings (Ultimate Guide)
Dress Codes for Weddings 101
Come a wedding invite, and the first thing that probably runs through your mind, is the choice of attire. Whoever said women had it easy right?
In fact, it’s the other way round, if you ask us, as all men need to do is show up in a tuxedo and has everyone complimenting them on how nice they clean up! But the man vs woman rant we will save for another time! In this article, we will take you through the dress code for women in weddings.
Formal Wedding Attire for Women
If you get a wedding invite with a formal dress code, it is likely that it will be mentioned that it is either a white tie event or a black tie one. A white tie wedding or any white tie event is the fanciest that there is on the list.
Evidently, you have some friends or relatives of some prominence and get to be in such places. For a woman, a white tie wedding means you need to show up in your fanciest formal wear, think Cinderella’s ball ladies. Go all out for the full length evening gown.
The evening gown is an attire that never really goes out of trend, but if you have a recent event coming up, here are some ideas for your formal attire. First up, don’t be scared to experiment with the top.
The open shoulders gown is trending with an extra flouncy or fluffy skirt. Reminiscent of a vintage attire, the good thing about this kind of attire is that that you can choose the brightest of colors such as yellow, orange, pink.
Lace is a material that is in for the evening dresses. Do not be hesitant to give it a spin in a formal dressing, because of its inherent transparency.
There are a whole range of evening lace dresses that are modern and yet look every bit modest and stylish. A dark color such as a navy or a burgundy or even a scarlet would be a perfect choice for an evening. You are sure to stand out if you have the confidence to carry off lace!
Other choices for evening gown materials are silk, chiffon, muslin and organza. These are materials that are largely popular for evening gowns because they fall in a soft, wavelike fashion and are kind on your silhouette.
Keep these dresses simple and traditional. If you don’t want to draw undue attention to your curves, you embolden the top half of the dress. The accessories too play a very important role if you are choosing a dress like this.
You can use jewelry such as bracelets and earrings to adorn your attire. Diamond or any other precious gem that augments that color of your gown is a good choice. The key is to keep it minimalist with the jewelry that does not draw too much attention by itself but compliments your attire.
Black Tie Wedding Attire for Ladies
If the wedding invite mentions that it is a black tie event, you can break out from the evening gown mode to an attire that is a little less traditional yet formal. Here are some latest trends that you can explore if you are attending a black tie wedding in the near future.
One interesting trend in 2019 for formal dresses, is the mermaid attire. So if you have the perfect hour glass figure it may be time to invoke your inner Ariel sparkles et all! Another trend for the year is the bandeau or bustier dresses.
Such dresses usually have an open top, but you can chose to close the open areas with shawls, stoles, boa depending upon your comfort level.
The autumn-winter period calls for bright colors. Don’t be shy to flash the brightest yellows, oranges or fuchsia. Bold cut necklines and high cuts are taking precedence this year.
Tailoring materials such as satin, silk and guipure are in fashion. A sheath dress may thus be your attire of choice for a black tie event. A sheath dress has a semi adjacent silhouette and vertical tucks on the back.
A sheath dress has the effect of pulling the silhouette down and thus makes you look very slender. Even if you are a plus sized girl, you can use shapewear to rock a sheath wear for the upcoming wedding you are all set to attend.
Dresses with a high waist are also trending in 2019. Apart from the fact that they are superbly attractive, high waist are utterly feminine and can sweep you away with its charm.
Lastly, but not the least, retro style attires are making a comeback in 2019 and how!
So if you are secretly in love with your grand mum’s closet, it may be time to raid it for inspiration and for the first time it need not be for a costume party but a wedding as well! Shades of golden, yellow with a touch of mustard, wine, sky blue, soft purple and ashen pink are some colors that you can explore for black tie weddings.
Semi Formal Wedding Attire for Women
In semi-formal weddings, your hosts are telling you that they don’t want to go all out with evening gowns and red-carpet attires, and yet are setting standards of tradition to some extent.
What they want really is some version of “dressy casual”. If you are planning on attending such a wedding, your choice of attire will depend on whether you are attending a day time or an evening event.
A classy semi-formal look that is sophisticated and making quite a splash in 2019 are what are called the “tea length dresses”. The definition of tea length dress is a dress with a hemline that falls just below the knee. Satin and chiffon are preferred materials for dresses such as these.
For example, you can opt for a simple V-neck dress with a satin empire waist belt, with a layered chiffon skirt that falls below the knee. Dark colors such as navy, teal, deep purple or bottle green could be colors you could explore for this dress. A similar faux wrapped ruched V-neckline with a beaded belt could be a variation of this style.
Have gorgeous shoulders you want to rock? Choose an open top A-line dress with a fitted bodice and a wide satin sash. Needless to say if you have a slender frame, this is an attire that will give you a lot of attention.
If you don’t want to go all the way with an open top, you may choose a high halter bodice with crisscross spaghetti straps with a hi-low faux wrap skirt and a satin ribbon waistband.
A variation of this can be, an A-line bridesmaid dress with a faux wrapped ruched bodice with a V-neckline, spaghetti straps and a hi-lo hem. A sweetheart neckline and a sash accent with an empire waist could be considered as another variation of this dress with a hi-lo hem.
Yet another option can be a strapless A-line bridesmaid dress in chiffon with a faux ruched bodice, a front pleat skirt, a sweetheart neckline and a high-lo tea length dress. It is best to choose dark colors for dresses in this style for it to really stand out.
Another style of tea length dresses making waves this season is the tea length dress with a bateau neckline, sheer back with a keyhole, a front bodice, a sash tie with an asymmetric ruffle and a layered skirt. This is a perfect dress for a day wedding and is great is soft colors or even floral prints.
Not a fan of the bateau neckline? Opt for a knee length chiffon tea length dress. You can opt for halter straps and wide back neck ties. Since lace is a material that is in, you can opt for gathered lace A-line skirt with a knee length hem.
The one-shoulder tea length dress is very much a trend in 2019. You can consider a satin and chiffon A-line bridesmaid dress with a rauched one shoulder bodice. It can have an a broad satin belt or a bow or flower at one end. A dark color such as brown or a teal is perfect fit for a dress like this.
You can opt for a knee length hem or a hi-lo length depending upon your preferences. A variation of this is pretty much the same dress with an asymmetrical front ruffle panel. Soft colors such as peach, pink and purple and best suited for dresses in this style.
Cocktail Dresses for Wedding Guest
A wedding invitation of a close friend or a relative will have an event where you will be required to show up in a cocktail dress. Let’s take you through the top cocktail dress trends in 2019. A popular cocktail dress this season is a knit cocktail dress, that offers a close and comfortable fit.
This dress has short sleeves and a deep V-neckline. This is a pullover style dress where the bodice gathers to a wide waistband. An ankle length floral skirt gives you all the extra oomph you can ask for!
The asymmetrical hem is also trending for just about all dresses in 2019. So why would a cocktail dress be left out? You can consider a cocktail dress that features an empire waist and a bodice that is cinched at the center.
Keep the shoulder straps wide to adjust the back for a perfect fit. The beauty of the dress is in the skirt that flares at the hem with a length that can go from knee to mid-calf. Bold stripes or floral prints are best suited for a dress like this.
Lace is a tailoring material of choice in 2019. So a perfect choice for a cocktail dress can be a sleeveless lace dress with a scoop neckline that has a strapless lining. The beauty of this dress is that you can choose from any lace color that is a perfect match with your skin tone. Avoid white though, lest you steal the thunder from the bride!
The other advantage of this dress is its versatility. Even after the wedding event is over, it need not lie relegated to one corner of your closet! Just throw on a jacket over it and it is as good as office wear ready to transform into a dress that goes great with an evening out after work!
A variation to the lace dress is a bodycon cocktail dress that has fitted sleeves at the elbow, then a flared sheer ruffle at the wrist. Add in a deep scoop hemline and you may be getting more compliments than the lady of the hour, the bride!
Cocktail dresses with elastic fabric can be quite a head turner during a cocktail hosted in the honor of the bride and groom. A cocktail dress with a few daring cutout details in the middle with a scoop neckline is sure to mark you as different.
The mini length of this dress along with long sleeves offers quite a bit of dramatic contrast. Add a pair of heels in stark contrast to the color of your dress and you are ready to be the center of attention at any party.
Casual Wedding Dress Code
This is perhaps the most complicated and confusing dress code that women are literally intimidated by! You never quite know where to draw the line between keeping it too casual like showing up in a pair of jeans and top to a sexy dress that may be getting you attention for all the wrong reasons!
If you are facing a similar dilemma, let us put you at ease with some easy breezy outfit ideas that are a perfect fit with the casual wedding dress code.
Opt for a colorful frock (think mustard, burgundy, green) with exaggerated puffed sleeves and a plunging V neck tied off at a high waist with an accentuated bow, and an ankle length hemline.
It gives you a summery structured feel and is a perfect fit in a casual wedding event. Thanks to a material like poplin, it gives you the confidence that your dress is in place without weighing you down heavily.
Speaking of puffs, another trend that is a definite hit in 2019 is the floral minis, aka The Marvelous Mrs Maisel style that is straight up cute and is a crowd pleaser. A little puff a sweetheart neckline with a belt of the same fabric is just the pretty little thing you need. Not a fan of puffed sleeves?
Opt for a similar floral mini with ruffles or large sleeves that is another trend this. You could also have a similar dress tailormade in a solid color or pastel shade. Pair it with strappy low heel sandals and you are ready to rock a casual wedding.
Want to ditch the whole dress look altogether? Here are some options for you!
Guess what? When you are not into dresses, a dressy pant suit can look just as elegant, chique and feminine. As we have been talking about lace as a material of choice throughout, let’s begin with your choices in lace.
Firstly, you can opt for a three piece lace trousers set with a shorter jacket and flared pants. There are many color options available in this outfit, though light colors such as jade blue, lilac and blushing pink make for excellent choices. A variation of this 3 piece would be a slightly longer jacket with pants with a greater flair.
Another great option is a two piece pant suit in chiffon. The top is tiered asymmetrically with a jewel neck. The pants are a straight fit, since the top is already layered.
You can opt for a variety of designs in tops such as one with a bateau neck with some hand beading embellishment at the neckline, an overlay top pants suit or one with a jewel neckline and ankle length trousers. A beaded poncho jumpsuit is also a great idea to keep it casual and classy at a wedding that demands a casual wedding attire.
When you opt for outfits as the ones we have just listed out for you, there is no taking away from you glamour quotient than the woman next to you in a dress.
Outdoor Wedding Dress Code
Here is another category of wedding invitation that can see quite confusing. It is given that you will have to navigate through grass, sand or mud, so obviously you can’t show up with a dress with a long trail! But just as you know that jeans are a big no-no in a wedding, you also don’t want to dress down to a great extent.
The couple and their families have obviously put in a lot of thought and effort in setting up the outdoor venue, so you don’t want an attire that clashes with the theme and makes you stick out like a sore thumb!
To make your life easier, here are some options we have listed our for your benefit for you to choose the perfect wedding guest attire based on the choice of location and season.
Garden Wedding – Spring
No surprises here, for when the flowers are a blooming, a super floral dress is the perfect choice for this wedding. A lot of ruffles, layers and asymmetrical hem lines are in, so take your pick from the above and have a blast!
A special note on the footwear here. Since the ground in the garden may be uneven or muddy, ditch the stilettos for wedges or flats to avoid embarrassing accidents!
Lake Wedding – Fall
Fall is the time when the temperatures begin to get cool and it may be just a bit chilly by the lake. It is therefore a good idea to opt for dresses that offer longer length. You can choose an ankle length dress, or a knee length dress with longer sleeves.
Fall colors are a natural choice for outfits. For instance, you can consider colors such as olive green, mustard yellow or even a deep burgundy. Here too, you got to take care of your feet. Opt for chic ankle length boots that look uber fashionable and keep you warm.
Winter Woodland Wedding
A winter woodland wedding is just as dreamy as it sounds and if you have a choice to attend one, don’t give it a pass for lack of clothing. All you have to do is pick a dress in a heavier fabric such as warm wooly tweed or soft velvet in gorgeous winter colors such as garnet red, hunter green or dark blue.
Beach Wedding Dress Code – Summer/Spring
This is arguably the most popular outdoor wedding venue, with couples finding it most romantic to exchange their vows with the beautiful sea as a backdrop. The options are endless with a beach wedding.
You can opt for anything like a tea length dress, like the ones we described above, or a pretty floral dress, a dress with solid colors and stripes or one with polka dots. Opt for strappy sandals instead of flats and wedges and do remember to go in for a pedicure right before the event!
The makeup and hairstyle needs just as much attention as your attire at a beach wedding. Keep the make up light and minimal as you don’t want sweat to run down your foundation or blush. The last thing you want is runny make up ruining the event and the enjoyment at a beach wedding.
Now that we have taken you through various wedding dress codes for women, here is a quick list of do’s and don’ts as a wedding guest attire:
- Do wear you nicest clothing
- Do dress for comfort along with style
- Do ask the host when in doubt about the dress code
- Do opt for clothing that makes you feel the best in
- Don’t wear white as that is a color reserved for the bride on her D-day
- Don’t wear dirty or ripped clothing. Check a million times before you are heading out
- Don’t be afraid to wear black. But bear in mind that it should not be too sombre as it an occasion of joy!