In the last week or so, a few of my wedding guests have asked about the dress code for the Big Day, which is this weekend.
In my experience attending weddings, the only dress code line I've ever seen on an invitation is for a black-tie wedding. It never even occurred to me to include a dress code on my invitation, but wedding planner Mindy Weiss says that it is helpful to your guests.
If I had it to do again, which obviously I don't, Mindy would recommend including attire on the invitation.
"I always suggest you include attire/dress code," she said. "It does eliminate some guests from calling you asking 'What should we wear?' But often, even when you do put it on the invite you may still get those that don't understand."
The wedding dress code is one area where the "anything goes" attitude of modern life can actually make things more difficult and confusing.
In "The Wedding Book," Mindy writes that "in more formal days, you didn't need to specify a dress code: A wedding after 6 p.m. was always black-tie."
But today, "with all these options comes a certain degree of uncertainty, and that's where the dress code comes in."
The dress code specification should go at the bottom of the invitation if the ceremony and reception are held in the same location, but if the reception venue is separate, it would go on the reception card.
Wedding Dress Code
Mindy says the major categories are:
White-tie: Tails for men and long gowns for women.
Black-tie: Tuxedos for men, formal gowns of any length for women.
Black-tie Optional or Formal Attire: Dark suits or tuxedos for men, dresses or formal evening pants for women.
Cocktail Attire: Suits for men, dresses or dressy pants for women. (For my wedding she would have suggested cocktail attire.)
Avoid "the cryptic dress code," Weiss writes, citing examples such as "resort formal," "beachside chic" or "country club casual," which only serve to further confuse your guests.
Some people also ask if it's ok for women to wear white or black to a wedding.
White is only appropriate "if it is required," Mindy said, "for example, a black and white attire."
Black, on the other hand, "is the most common color I see at weddings."
For the bridal party, we decided to follow the old-fashioned etiquette rules of attire. Because our ceremony is in a church and begins in the afternoon, the groom and groomsmen are wearing morning coats, not tuxedos. Etiquette dictates that morning coats are worn if the wedding ceremony begins before 6 p.m. Plus, I just love the way they look and wish people wore them more often.
The most important thing, Mindy says, is that the bride and groom look like they belong together, and that the bridal party is as formally dressed or more formally dressed than the guests.
The 30-Day Wedding Countdown
Day 30: What's the proper invitation response etiquette? CLICK HERE to find out.
Day 29: What are Mindy Weiss' top 10 tips for the final month before your wedding?CLICK HERE for more.
Day 26: Great gift ideas for bridesmaids, groomsmen and other attendants, and how much you should spend. CLICK HERE to read.
Day 25: Seating chart strategy. CLICK HERE to read.
Day 24: Little things that make a big difference on your Big Day, from eating lunch to saying thank you. CLICK HERE.
Day 23: Juggling wedding planning with work, without losing your mind. CLICK HERE.
Day 22: Planning your wedding day timeline. CLICK HERE.
Day 19: Unique guest book ideas. CLICK HERE.
Day 18: Gifts for the bride and groom to buy for one another. CLICK HERE.
The 30-Day Wedding Countdown
Day 17: Tips for the photographer. CLICK HERE.
Day 16: Advice on toasts and speeches at your wedding. CLICK HERE.
Day 15: The Big Dance on the Big Day. CLICK HERE.
Day 12: Finding the perfect dress and getting it altered. CLICK HERE.
Day 11: What should be in every bride's emergency kit. CLICK HERE.
Day 10: Mindy's answers to readers' questions. CLICK HERE.
Day 9: The budget and the band. CLICK HERE.
Day 8: Happy Mother's Day to the mother of the bride. CLICK HERE.
Day 5: Honeymoon help. CLICK HERE.