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What is formal attire for a wedding mean?

Weddings are one of the most special occasions that we celebrate in life. It is a day when two people promise to spend their life together, and it is a day where families and friends gather to celebrate their loved ones. But with every wedding, there comes the question- What to wear? Deciding what to wear to a wedding can be confusing, especially when the dress code mentioned is ‘formal attire’. What exactly does that mean? In this blog post, let’s take a closer look at what formal attire means for a wedding and how to dress up for it.

What is Formal Attire for a Wedding?

A formal wedding dress code is one step below a black-tie dress code and requires guests to wear elegant and sophisticated attire. Formal attire is a dress code that highlights the importance of the event. What you wear depends on the timing of the wedding and the level of formality. Generally, formal attire is appropriate for evening weddings that start after 6 pm. That said, there are different types of wedding formal attire.

Men’s Formal Attire for a Wedding

Men can generally choose between a tuxedo or a formal dark suit when it comes to formal wedding attire. If the wedding invitation asks for black-tie optional attire, a dark-colored suit with a white shirt and dress shoes would suffice.

Most men prefer wearing tuxedos for formal attire. The tuxedo should always be black, navy blue, or charcoal gray. Choose a tuxedo with a single-breasted jacket and a black or silk lapel. A pair of black patent leather dress shoes, a black bow tie, cummerbund, and a white dress shirt will complete the look. Wearing a cummerbund is optional, but it is a good idea to wear one as it helps with the proportion of the overall look.

Women’s Formal Attire for a Wedding

When it comes to women’s formal attire, the options are plenty. Women can choose from a variety of floor-length gowns, cocktail dresses, and dressy separates. Like men, there are certain formal attire guidelines for women to follow.

An evening gown is a perfect choice for formal attire. It should be long and made of luxurious materials like silk, chiffon, or velvet, and must have a formal look. The dress’s color should complement the wedding’s color scheme, but it should be in dark shades such as black, navy blue or maroon. If you prefer something shorter, a formal cocktail dress is the perfect option. The cocktail dress should have a classic silhouette, and the hemline should fall around the knee or just above it.

When considering formal attire for women, it is essential to pay attention to the shoes. Go for dressy pumps or heeled sandals that match the dress’s color, material, and formality. Avoid stiletto heels as they may sink in grassy locations.

Additional Tips for Formal Wedding Attire

Even though we have covered the basics of formal attire for weddings, there are still some additional tips that you can keep in mind to ensure you look your best.

Consider the Season and Time of Day

It is essential to consider the time of day and the season when selecting formal attire. For instance, a velvet jacket may be suitable for a winter evening wedding, but not for a summer daytime wedding.

Pick Appropriate Accessories

Accessories are an essential part of a formal attire look. Men should consider adding cufflinks, a pocket square, and a watch to their look. Women can accessorize with statement jewelry, a clutch, and a hat or fascinator if the wedding is in the daytime.

Pay Attention to the Invitation Wording

The wedding invitation can give you a lot of clues about what to wear. If the dress code mentioned is ‘formal attire,’ ‘black-tie optional,’ or ‘black-tie,’ then you know that it is essential to dress up formally.

Check with the Couple or Wedding Party

If you are unsure about what to wear, it is always better to check with the couple or the wedding party. They can guide you on the dress code and what would be appropriate.


Attending a wedding is an exciting event, but it can also be stressful, especially when it comes to deciding what to wear. However, with the guidelines mentioned above, you can be sure to dress appropriately for a formal wedding attire. Remember, when it comes to formal attire, the key is to keep it elegant, polished, and sophisticated.


What is considered formal attire?

Formal attire refers to the type of dress code appropriate for formal events, such as weddings, black-tie parties, galas, or business formal settings. The concept of formal attire is rooted in social norms and conventions that dictate what clothing is deemed appropriate for certain occasions.

When it comes to business formal attire, it typically calls for a full matching business suit, including a jacket and dress pants or a dress skirt. The colors can range from black, dark blue, or gray, with muted or conservative patterns. The jacket should be single-breasted with two or three buttons, and the trousers should be tailored to fit and have a proper length that hits the top of the shoe.

For men, formal attire includes a collared dress shirt with long sleeves and a conservative tie that complements the suit. Shoes should be dress shoes, such as oxfords, derbies, or loafers, with dark socks that match the suit. Avoid wearing sandals, sneakers, or bright-colored socks that stand out.

Women’s business formal attire is less rigid than men’s, but it should still convey a professional and polished image. A pant or skirt suit is still considered the standard, with blouses or dress shirts that offer full coverage. Skirts should be knee-length or longer, and stockings are optional. Shoes should be closed-toe, with a moderate heel that is comfortable to walk in.

Lastly, for formal events such as weddings or black-tie events, formal attire is a bit more elaborate and often requires a black-tie dress code. This type of attire typically includes a formal dress for women, with a floor-length gown or a dressy cocktail dress. For men, it calls for a black tuxedo with a matching black bow tie, a white dress shirt, and black dress shoes.

Formal attire varies depending on the occasion, but typically involves conservative, matching attire that conveys professional or elegant elegance, depending on the situation.

Do you have to wear a suit to a formal wedding?

Attending a wedding is always an exciting event, but it can also be a bit overwhelming, especially when it comes to choosing what to wear. It’s not uncommon to feel a bit stressed and confused about what to wear to a formal wedding. The question that often pops up in many people’s minds is whether they have to wear a suit to a formal wedding.

Traditionally, weddings are considered formal events, and it’s expected that guests dress accordingly. This means that men are expected to wear a suit jacket with a matching pair of trousers, a collared dress shirt, dress shoes, and a tie. Women, on the other hand, are expected to dress in formal attire, such as a long dress, skirt or pantsuit paired with a blouse.

However, the dress code for a wedding can vary depending on location, time of the day, and overall formality of the event. For instance, a wedding that’s taking place in the morning or early afternoon is generally less formal than one that’s taking place in the evening. Similarly, a beach or garden wedding is usually more casual than a wedding held in a five-star hotel ballroom.

It’s essential to consider the invitation and the couple’s preferences when choosing what to wear to a formal wedding. Some wedding invitations explicitly state the dress code, which can make choosing an appropriate outfit much easier.

If the invitation doesn’t state the dress code, it’s important to consider the formality of the event and dress appropriately. For example, if the wedding is taking place in the evening, it is better to err on the side of formality and wear a suit. If you’re not comfortable with wearing a suit, you can opt for a nice dress shirt and trousers paired with a dress shoe to keep the look formal.

Wearing a suit to a formal wedding is usually the safest bet, but as long as you dress appropriately and within the parameters set by the couple, you’ll be just fine. Remember, the most critical thing is to show up and enjoy the occasion.

What should I wear to a wedding not formal?

When attending a wedding, it is essential to remember that it is a special occasion and should be treated as such, regardless of the dress code specified. Typically, non-formal weddings can encompass different styles, from beach weddings to backyard weddings, making it tricky to choose the right attire. However, the general rule when it comes to non-formal weddings is to dress with respect.

For ladies attending a non-formal wedding, a casual dress is an excellent option. Dresses with fun prints and patterns, midi or maxi-length, are a perfect choice for such weddings. Avoid wearing anything too revealing or too short, as a wedding is a formal occasion. A comfortable pair of sandals or low heels will complete the look.

Gentlemen attending a non-formal wedding should opt for dress pants or khakis paired with a relaxed shirt. A polo shirt, button-up shirt, or even a dress shirt (without a tie) can be appropriate. Steer clear of shorts, jeans, or anything too casual; even if you are attending a beach wedding, shorts are not an option. Shoes should be comfortable, yet dressy, so leave those flip-flops at home.

It is also advisable to consider the wedding theme. If the couple has chosen a particular theme, you may want to dress to complement the theme. A beach wedding, for example, may require less formal attire, so you may want to dress in lighter fabrics and colors.

It is essential to remember to dress with respect when attending a non-formal wedding. No flip flops, shorts, or jeans should be on your list of options to wear. Instead, ladies find a casual dress, and men wear a nice pair of pants with a relaxed shirt. Remember to consider the wedding theme and dress accordingly.