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Etiquette Series | Guest Attire

Heather O'Brien Design | Wedding Etiquette Series | Guest Attire | Ashley Steeby Photography

When going through the invitation process with clients, I have them fill out a long questionnaire with all of the wedding details. The Who, What, When, Where, Why type of questions. That is what I use to help me put together the proper wording for the invitation, response card and any additional cards. One thing that I recently added was a line for what type of attire the wedding would be. I found that most people weren’t including it otherwise. Either because they didn’t think about it, or they weren’t sure what “type” to put, or they were worried about “telling” their guest what to wear.

I’ll go ahead say this now, it’s OKAY to put the attire on a wedding invitation! Trust me, your guests will appreciate it. They want to know that when they’re getting ready for your wedding that they aren’t going to be over or under dressed for your big day. They’ll know ahead of time and can plan accordingly and can be comfortable with their choice.

So today I figured I would explain the different types of attire that can be listed on a wedding invitation so there is no guessing game when you’re trying to figure out what you want to tell your guests.

Casual Attire:

Casual attire is just that, casual. However, this would not include jeans, shorts or t-shirts. Think “Sunday Best”. Khaki’s, polo’s, button downs and summer dresses and sandals. This is common for a more casual, outdoor weddings.


This is probably the most common type of attire. This would be suits for men, preferably with a jacket (especially for an evening wedding) and a cocktail style dress or skirt/top for women. For day time weddings, you can do lighter colors and for evening weddings you can do darker hues.

Formal or Black-Tie Optional:

This attire is a more formal style, but not necessarily a full black-tie wedding. For men this would mean a full suite and tie, preferably in a darker color. Men can also get away with a tuxedo. Women could wear a long cocktail length dress or a formal suite, darker colors preferred as well.


This would be considered the most formal style of wedding attire. Men should wear tuxedos with a black bow tie and optional cummerbund. Women would dress along the same lines as Formal or Black-Tie Optional, a long classic dress or a gown, in darker colors.

Sometimes if you are having a very specific style wedding, for instance, a beach wedding, it is ok to include something along the lines of where it will be. You could say something like “Beach Casual” so they know not to wear heels or to dress lighter for the weather.

It is also nice to let guests know if it is an outdoor wedding so they can dress accordingly as well.

I hope this has helped answer some questions about wedding attire for you!


Photography by Ashley Steeby

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