We’ve all been there. You receive an invitation to be a guest at a wedding, and while the invite clearly lays out the who, when, and where, you’re left guessing what to wear. Use these helpful guidelines to know what wedding guest attire to wear when attending everything from a formal white tie affair to a more casual wedding.

White Tie Invited

The most formal type of attire for a wedding is White Tie Invited, so you should adhere to the rules on this one.

Men should wear a black tailcoat, a white formal shirt, and a white pique vest and bow tie. Black formal shoes and even white gloves are appropriate.

Ladies should wear a formal, full-length evening gown in neutral colors like black or navy.

Black Tie Invited

Black Tie Invited is the next most formal type of affair, and the guidelines are fairly straight-forward for the men.

A black tuxedo and matching trousers are appropriate. Gentlemen should accessorize with a black tie and matching black vest or cummerbund. During the summer months or in warm-weather climates, a white dinner jacket and black tuxedo pants are also acceptable.

Women can choose to go a bit dressier with a formal floor length gown, or they can choose a short, dressy cocktail dress.

Black Tie Invited Berkeley Slim Fit Tuxedo by Michael Kors A Guide to Wedding Guest Attire
Berkeley Slim Fit Tuxedo by Michael Kors

Black Tie Optional or Formal

This wording suggests something slightly less formal than black tie. While the event doesn’t require a tuxedo be worn, it is still formal enough for one to be appropriate.

Men should wear a tuxedo or a dark formal suit. White shirts and neutral colored ties are appropriate.

Ladies can choose a full-length gown, a dressy cocktail dress, or a dressy suit in neutral tones like black, grey or navy.

Black Tie Optional or Formal The Genesis Slim Fit Tuxedo by Tony Bowls A Guide to Wedding Guest Attire
The Genesis Slim Fit Tuxedo by Tony Bowls


For a semi-formal wedding, you’ll want to dress somewhere between formal and casual depending on the time and location of the event. Wear darker, more formal colors for an evening event, and choose lighter colors and fabrics for daytime weddings.

Men should wear a suit and tie, dark or light depending on the season and the time of day.

Generally, the women’s dress length should be cocktail length – at or just below the knees, but maxi dresses or separates are also appropriate.

Semi-Formal Michael Kors Navy Sterling Wedding Suit A Guide to Wedding Guest Attire
Michael Kors Navy Sterling Wedding Suit

Beach Formal

Wedding guests should take into consideration the venue, weather, and season when choosing attire for a beach wedding. Beach Formal suggests an elegant beach wedding, so dress to impress, but also dress for the elements. Bathing suits should not be worn (even under your attire) unless specifically requested.

Men can choose a summer suit with a colorful linen shirt, linen pants or khakis, and sandals. No ties are required, but bright, colorful ties or bowties would definitely add variety to your look.

Ladies can wear a sundress, casual maxi dress, or dress shirt and skirt. Flat shoes are a must since you’ll likely be walking on uneven terrain.

Beach Formal Tan Havana Slim Fit Suit With Coral Plaid Bow Tie
Tan Havana Slim Fit Suit With Coral Plaid Bow Tie


A casual wedding held outdoors or on the beach is much more laid-back, especially when it comes to attire. With that being said, jeans, tank tops, and shorts are still likely a no-no unless the invite specifically calls them out. Assume business casual to be safe.

Men can’t go wrong with a nice button-down shirt with a tie and dress pants. Add a sports jacket if you choose, but you might also see men wearing polo shirts and dress pants.

For the ladies, a summer sundress or a skirt or pants with a nice blouse will do.

Casual Colorful Bow Tie and Suspenders
Accessorize any ensemble with colorful bow ties and suspenders

While these guidelines should keep you from embarrassment on the wedding day, if you have any questions about what’s appropriate wedding guest attire for the upcoming nuptials, don’t be afraid to reach out to the bride or groom with questions.