Wedding Dress Codes Explained (With Pictures)

Wedding Dress Codes Explained (With Pictures)

November 17, 2022
By Katerina Katakalides

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Dress codes might seem mundane and boring, but wedding dress codes are some of the most important you’ll encounter! We have dress codes for a variety of reasons and wedding dress codes are no exception. These dress codes ensure that everyone creates an aesthetic cohesion during the special day and that nobody stands out for unfortunate reasons. We all know we’re never supposed to wear white at a wedding, but what about other colors, silhouettes, and styles? This is where the wedding dress code comes in!

Wedding dress codes will typically indicate the level of formality or any type of themed attire you should wear. Nobody wants to show up in a cocktail dress to a black tie event and you wouldn’t want to be stuck in a velvet evening gown during a beach ceremony. Wedding dress codes can help you pick the perfect wedding guest attire that will fit both the theme and formality. Here are the most popular wedding dress codes in order from most to least formal:

○ White-Tie
○ Black-Tie
○ Black-Tie Optional
○ Cocktail
○ Sunday Best
○ Dressy Casual or Smart Casual
○ Beach Formal
○ Daytime or Casual

Now it’s time for the big question: what do wedding dress codes mean? Each dress code will provide you with unique guidelines that will help you dress the part. Dress codes are there for a reason, so don’t be tempted to try something else that doesn’t work with the dress code. We don’t need any drama on the wedding day, so let’s go over what you should wear for every wedding dress code.


Lucky you! You were invited to a white-tie wedding! A white-tie wedding might be the most formal event you attend, so be sure to dress the part. It’s expected that everyone wears a fancy, floor-length gown and embraces an overarching element of elegance. Accessories like pearl necklaces, diamond earrings, and elbow length gloves will help you achieve a white-tie look!

What do I wear to a white-tie wedding?

White-tie weddings are the most formal you can attend! A white-tie dress code means wearing a glamorous floor-length dress or elegant evening gown. Think red carpet inspired!


Black-tie weddings are a bit less formal than white-tie celebrations, but they’re still very fancy! You’ll still need to wear a floor-length gown, but it doesn’t have to be quite as glamorous as a white-tie gown. You won’t need to wear as many elegant accessories with a black-tie look, but it’s still important to look your best!

What do I wear to a black-tie wedding?

Black-tie weddings are very formal events, so you should dress the part! Floor-length gowns are always required and some of the most popular black-tie styles include mermaid dresses, a-line dresses, and gowns with side slits.

Black-tie optional

Black-tie optional weddings are exactly that! If you happen to have an evening gown or other floor-length dress in your closet, then you can stop your search there. If super formal dresses aren’t your style, then you can wear an elegant tea-length dress with some eye-catching accessories that will elevate your overall look.

What do I wear to a black-tie optional wedding?

Black-tie optional wedding dress codes give you a bit more range in what you can wear. You can wear a floor-length dress, formal jumpsuit, or evening gown to a black-tie optional wedding.


Cocktail attire is one of the most popular dress codes requested at any party. Cocktail style dresses are the perfect balance between effortlessly elegant and casually cute. These fun, flirty, short dresses are perfect for dancing the night away and being comfortable all night long. With so many cute cocktail styles to choose from, you’ll be sure to find the perfect wedding guest dress!

What do I wear to a cocktail wedding?

Cocktail attire is one of the most common wedding dress codes. Formal short dresses (also known as cocktail dresses) are the perfect option for a wedding that requests cocktail attire. These dresses should hit above the knee or higher.

Sunday Best

It’s time to bring out your Sunday best! Once you get to Sunday best dress codes, things start getting a bit more casual. Instead of wearing a dress with rhinestones or sparkles, you should go for a more casual style.

What do I wear to a Sunday Best wedding?

Sunday best wedding attire means that you should dress your best but still keep it somewhat casual. Think of an outfit you would wear to church or a fancy family brunch.

Dressy casual or smart casual

Dressy casual might seem like an oxymoron, but it’s a real wedding dress code! Dressy casual, also referred to as smart casual, is a laid-back style that combines looking cute with feeling comfortable. While you still want to dress up, keep in mind that there’s an emphasis on the word “casual.”

What do I wear to a dressy casual wedding?

Dressy casual (also known as smart casual) weddings mean dressing up while still being “dressed down.” Think of dresses you’ve worn to upscale restaurants or fancy brunches.

Beach formal

Who doesn’t love a destination wedding?! Combining a celebration full of love with a beautiful beach is the perfect way to have a memorable, special day. Even though you’re going to the beach, you won’t be wearing a bikini! It’s still important to dress as if you’re attending a wedding, but make sure you still bring the beachy vibes. A floral sundress or boho-chic gown would be perfect options for a beach formal wedding!

What do I wear to a beach formal wedding?

You should wear a dress or jumpsuit that brings beachy vibes! Beach formal weddings are still formal events, but you should be sure to dress for the location.

Daytime or Casual

Daytime weddings are usually small, sweet ceremonies that are meant to celebrate love in a more intimate way. These ceremonies are more casual than most, which is why day time wedding dress codes are also known as casual wedding dress codes! A casual dress or jumpsuit would be perfect options for a laid-back wedding like this.

What do I wear to a daytime wedding?

Daytime (also known as casual) weddings are more lowkey events. You should consider wearing a casual dress or jumpsuit to your next daytime weddings.

Shopping for a wedding guest dress should be a breeze! A queen like you deserves the royal treatment whether she’s buying a new dress online or shopping secondhand. At Queenly, we’ve committed ourselves to promoting sustainable fashion while making it affordable for everyone. Join our community of Queens who have listed outfits in their online closet. It’s as easy as signing up for a free account, snapping some pics, and uploading the details- that’s it!

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