Wedding Dress Code Cheat Sheet

If you're planning a wedding or any other big event, you’ll want to make sure your guests know just what to wear, and as an attendee you don’t want to show up in casuals when everyone else is white tie. The shame of it, can you imagine?!

So what do all these occasion wear and wedding dress codes mean?

Here’s the Redlane Cheat Sheet for occasion wear, that you need to know before your big event.

“White Tie”

This is the most formal of all wedding dress codes – think state dinners and award ceremonies. Like, super fancy award ceremonies. In fact, dress for the Oscars.

What to wear: A formal, full-length ball gown, with full on dramatic makeup, an elaborate upstyle for your hair, and glamorous jewellery.

“Black Tie”

Most like an evening event, this is the most formal dress code most of us will see. 

What to wear: A floor length evening gown is necessary here. You can play a little with patterns, colour, or cut-outs… but don’t take it too far off formal.

“Formal” or “Black Tie Optional”

The main difference here is that a tuxedo becomes optional for the guys, and you can get away with being a little less formal.

What to wear: You get the option here of a floor or tea length or a really dressy suit.

“Cocktail Attire”

This means you’re aiming for well dressed, a little fancy, but not overly formal. We’d skip the floor length dresses for this one.

What to wear: A cocktail dress or dressy separates, or jumpsuit. The classic ‘little black dress’ fits perfectly here!

“Beach Formal”, “Garden Attire”, or “Summer Formal”

This suggests an elegant outdoors event — the goal is to achieve a classy look while also keeping any outdoor weather conditions in mind (sun, rain, sand, grass, wind, and water).

What to wear: A formal summer sundress with sandals, or a jumpsuit that’s light and dressy. TOP TIP: avoid heels, unless they’re wedges, or you’ll be sinking in/aerating the lawn!

“Semi-Formal” or “Dressy Casual”

This is a nice balance between formal and casual.

What to wear: Choices here will depend on the event timing. Generally, try an afternoon dress, dressy skirt and top, or a fancy jumpsuit… but aim for light colors and fabrics for daytime, with darker, more formal hues reserved for the evenings.

“Festive” or “Themed”

This is a relatively new direction but growing in popularity, especially with the range of venues now available, so you’re going to see this more often.

What to wear: Similar to formal or cocktail, but with an added quirk that ties with the stated theme (eg. Retro, Alice in Wonderland, Space Age, Harry Potter… we’re seeing it all these days!). If there is no specific theme, this can also mean adding more flair to a typical formal outfit. Feel free to break out those glitter platforms and flower crowns.

“Casual” or “Daytime”

This can be interpreted as ‘anything goes’, but we’d still suggest not showing up in ripped skinnies, or floral shorts and a tank top. Those look great elsewhere, but for an event it’s safer to assume ‘business casual’ or ‘smart casual’ as a general rule.

What to wear: A summer sundress, or skirt/pants with a blouse. Makeup and hair should be natural.

You can shop our dress collection here and don't forget to get in touch with one of our friendly stylists if you've any questions! 

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