How to Determine the Best Dress Code for Your Wedding Day

Edgy and Colorful DIY Wedding
photo by Cari Hughes Photography as seen in this DIY Leap Year Wedding

Let’s talk dress code! Sometimes it’s easy and you know what you want your guests to wear. Do you want all your guests in cocktail attire? Are you picturing semi-formal attire for your guests? Maybe you dream of all your guests in black or white and the two of you will really pop from all your guests! Maybe you want your guests to dress in the colors of the rainbow! Or you want them to wear their best party attire! There are SO many ideas! We get how it can feel overwhelming on what to select. If you are struggling with what your guests should wear, have no worries! We reached out to some of the experts to see what tips they had…hopefully this helps come up with your perfect dress code!

How to Determine the Best Dress Code for Your Wedding Day

Colorful Disco Rock n Roll Wedding
photo by Hannah Pickle as seen in this Disco Meets Rock Wedding


“First things first: DO YOU! Yes, you heard me well! Don’t shy away from enforcing a dress code on your wedding day. Your dress code can be a way of expressing your unique sense of style and your personality through your vision for your wedding. There are multiple things to consider when deciding on a dress code. For example, consider your wedding décor and theme. If you are going for a chic indoor wedding, you could ask your guests to wear something more formal or black-tie. This will for sure set the vibe and the atmosphere in the room with all of your guests all dressed up!” – Sarah Alouache, Creative Director, Designer & Founder of Sarah Alouache Bridal

Match your dress code to your venue.

“One easy way to determine your wedding’s dress code is to match the formality level to your venue. For example, if you’re getting married in a glittering ballroom dripping with chandeliers, a more formal or cocktail dress code would match beautifully. Alternately, if you’re getting married on a white-sand beach in the middle of summer, a more casual or tropical dress code will keep your guests feeling cool and comfortable. You’ll also need to consider whether your venue is indoors or outdoors. If the latter, let guests know the anticipated weather forecast for your wedding date and suggest attire and/or accessories that will help them feel their best. This may include sunglasses, sweaters, umbrellas, or encouraging a certain type of footwear for sandy or uneven surfaces.” – Jenna Miller, Creative Director of Here Comes The Guide

Modern Elegant San Francisco Wedding
photo by D. Lillian Photography as seen in this Modern Art Wedding

Close your eyes and picture the wedding you want.

“Choosing a dress code may feel like a daunting task, but I always have my couples start with closing their eyes and telling me what they see their guests in. Does the idea of denim at their event make them want to gag? Are we seeing guests in full tuxedos and floor length gowns? Ideally, the formality of your celebration is decided early on through details like invitations, what type of dinner service your guests will be experiencing, and venue choice. After that, we can design the rest of the celebration around those items to really elevate the day.” – Ashley Lachney, Owner of Alston Mayger Events

Consider the time of day and year you’re getting married.

“If you’re getting married in a tent during the summer, perhaps dressy cocktail is better for your guests than a formal black tie dress code, where guests are sure to be hot and uncomfortable. Whereas if you’re having an evening wedding in a luxe hotel ballroom, black tie is most appropriate!” – Stephanie Sadowski, SRS Events 

Put yourself back in your guests’ shoes.

“When deciding on dress code, be sure to put yourself back in your guests’ shoes (pun very much intended!) and imagine what attire you would want to dance the night away in. If your guests seem like the type to get down and groovy on the dance floor, black tie might not make the most sense for a full night of celebrations.” – Ari Busch, Operations Manager and Lead Planner, Bridal Bliss

South Africa Green Wedding Dress
photo by Hugo Coelho as seen in this Boho Chic South Africa Wedding where the bride and groom wore green and all the guests wore white!

Think about your wedding photos and desired aesthetics.

“Another aspect to consider is your wedding photos. Suppose you are looking to have a certain aesthetic for your wedding pictures. Don’t be afraid to ask your photographer about it and seek their professional advice. If you chose a specific type of photographer, it’s undoubtedly for their unique sense of style, so don’t be afraid to ask them what colors and styles would be nice in the photos. Then ask your guests to wear something in that range of colors or in that style. Trust me, this will take your photos to the next level and make your photos aesthetically pleasing to the eye.” – Sarah Alouache, Creative Director, Designer & Founder of Sarah Alouache Bridal

Match your wedding dress code to your own style.

“Are you a relax on beach person, or a fancy night on the town person? Whatever your style, your wedding should match who you are, and the dress code will really drive it home. If you want a formal look, then go black tie with classic tuxedos. Maybe you want formal, but not that formal. If so, choose a nice dark blue or gray suit and a complete the look with a vest for that formal feel. If you’re going with a destination wedding or day at the beach, dress it down with a tan or bright blue suit, and lose the vest a tie for a casual, but dressed up feel. It’s easy to match your dress code to your wedding theme. Don’t be afraid to lean on your wedding planner or vendors for advice.” – Matt Ramirez, SVP of Marketing, Generation Tux

Studio 54 Meets Texas Wedding
photo by Caroline’s Collective as seen in this Texas Ranch Wedding

Remember that your invitations help set the tone.

“Whether you choose a formal black tie affair or a more casual fête, your invitations will help set the tone of your event. Yes, right down to the attire you choose for your wedding day. Clearly listing your preferred attire on your invitations will help set the formality and expectations right from the start. This is particularly essential if you’re worried that some guests may not dress appropriately.” – Meghan Shaughnessy, Lace and Belle

When in doubt, remember the four planning factors for your dress code.

“The first is how formal the attire is of the marrying couple. A bride’s formal ball gown with a cathedral train or a groom choosing to wear a white dinner jacket typically sets the tone for a black-tie or formal wedding. The time of day a couple chooses to say “I do” also plays a factor. Morning and early afternoon weddings tend to be more casual in nature, while evening weddings are oftentimes more formal. The third is the venue: it sets the stage for the big day. A beach wedding generally calls for more casual or semi-formal attire, where a wedding at a trendy metropolitan venue may be perfect for cocktail attire, and a wedding at a castle invites bringing out your most formal attire. The last thing to consider is the overall wedding budget. The most important thing is to set it early on in the planning process and determine how you want to allocate that money. Doing this exercise brings clarity to your wedding vision and the details like attire, venue and the time of day you’ll get married.” – Maya Holihan, CEO and Founder, EWedded

If you’re still not sure which way to go, take a look at some of our past real weddings, and perhaps that will help!