You’ve dreamed of the perfect wedding reception for years. You know exactly what you want and you’ve envisioned all the details from what the cake looks like to what the guests are wearing. But how do you make sure the guests wear the attire you’d like them to wear? Well, you could ask them.
Invitations often have a line added that mentions attire, such as “formal attire” or “casual attire”, and wedding invitations are no exception. What follows is a list of different attire labels and their descriptions.
This means pretty much anything is acceptable without being trashy or inappropriate for public viewing. This might be your choice if you are having an informal backyard barbeque reception.
When you want them to dress nicer than they would dress for “everyday”, dressy casual means slacks, button-down shirt and perhaps a blazer for the men, and dressy pants and a nice blouse for the women.
This attire is definitely more dressy than casual or dressy casual. The men should wear suits and ties whereas the women should wear short dresses.
Same as semi-formal.
Really the same as dressy casual except they might wear darker “night time” colors. A nice shirt and slacks on the guys and dressy pants and a pretty blouse for the gals.
Using this label means you want your guests to come formally attired in tuxes and long gowns or very dressy cocktail dresses with elegant bling.
Same as black tie attire.
Black Tie Optional
This means tuxes or dark suits with ties for the men, and long dress, cocktail dress, or dressy pantsuit for the women. If they don’t wear tuxes and long dresses, they should still be very dressed up.
Cocktail attire calls for short dresses and heels for the ladies and dark suits for the gentlemen.
This attire comes in to play at times such as Christmas. Females get to wear extra theme-appropriate bling or sparkly blouses or sweaters, and males might add a Santa tie to their suit.
Time for people to pull out their cutoffs, tank tops, and flip flops and slap on a couple temporary tattoos!
In case you were wondering, putting the preferred attire on the invitation is not pushy; many people are relieved to know how you would like them to dress. If you decide not to put it on the invitation, people will generally look at the time of day and the wedding reception location for clues.
If it’s an afternoon wedding guys will probably wear sports coats and casual slacks while women wear dresses ranging from informal sun dresses to cocktail dresses.
If it’s an evening wedding expect to see more dark suits on the men and cocktail dresses on the ladies.
Keep in mind that even if you put your desired attire on the invitation it does not guarantee everyone will follow it. Remember that you are merely giving a suggestion and even though there are those who will wear what they want, your wedding and reception will still be the magical event you dreamed of.
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