Wedding Dress Code 101

Style Observer

Wedding Dress Code 101

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

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Weddings, these days, have fewer fashion rules because couples are just way more open-minded than they traditionally were a few years ago.

There are plenty of other dress codes that may appear on a wedding invitation. Formal, semi-formal, beach-formal, black-tie optional — honestly, the dress code language can be tricky to decipher if you are completely clueless about the rules that apply to them.

I recommend that couples mention the dress code on the wedding invitation. It will ensure your wedding remains as formal or as casual as you want, and it's helpful for guests to know exactly what is expected of them for attire.

What if the couple didn't put the wedding dress code on the invitation? You can use the time of day and venue to help guide your decision as to what to wear. Consider the sights, sounds, and temperatures that will surround you during the event.

Regardless of what the dress code is, there are just two rules of wedding guest fashion: Never wear white to a wedding and don't upstage the bride. Trust me, you don't want to be the victim of multiple side-eyes!

If the invite requests casual (let's say for an outdoor wedding), don't be afraid of shorter hemlines, perhaps a floral midi dress or a knee-length style — these are also great for a morning wedding. For cocktail attire, embrace slip dresses — or stand out in a jumpsuit. Bring some drama for an evening black-tie dress code, which calls for formal gowns and mid-to-floor-length ensembles.

There is no denying we live on a tropical island and an outdoor or beach wedding will call for a completely different thought process here in Jamaica.

Not only are we decoding the dress code, but we're also sharing the best colours, fabrics, and shoes to complete your beach wedding guest outfit!

Tropical wedding attire: Best fabrics

Women — Light fabrics that do not cling to the body are best. Materials like linen, chiffon and cotton blends or lace are light but elegant.

Men — Consider wearing linen or cotton attire, whether slacks and a button-down shirt or a suit, depending on the dress code.

Beach semi-formal attire

Women should consider long, elegant, loose-fitting gowns that sweep easily across the beach.


The ideal beach attire is slacks and a button-down shirt. You can also wear a jacket minus a tie.

TIP: Now, ladies, let's make sure that you don't wear a dress that is too short and loose/flared that may cause you to end up inadvertently flashing everyone with just the slightest gust of wind.

Deciding what to wear to a wedding isn't always easy so let's figure out dress codes.


Casual dress code means we recommend a summer dress for the women and dress pants with a button-down shirt for the men.

Cocktail, semi-formal or dressy casual

All three of these dress codes ask guests to dress somewhere between formal and casual. We recommend a cocktail dress for the ladies and a suit and tie or a sport coat for the gents.

Beach formal

When people hear beach wedding they tend to automatically think casual, that's why they tack the word “formal” at the end. However, it remains an elegant affair. We recommend a formal summer sundress with flats for women and a summer suit with a linen shirt, linen pants or khakis for men.

Formal attire or black-tie optional

These two indicate that the wedding party will be in formal wedding attire, and it's optional for all guests. We recommend a dark suit or tux for the men and formal eveningwear (floor-length dresses or evening pantsuits) for the women.


Black-tie usually indicates an evening affair where the men wear tuxedos and the women wear formal gowns.

For those who need to know where to place the dress code on the wedding invitation, the wedding dress code should be printed at the bottom right or bottom centre of your invitation.

I hope these tips were helpful. Select an outfit that will not only make you look great but feel great too!

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