Getting dressed for a wedding is not the bride’s problem alone. If you have been invited to a wedding party and the dress code indicated on the invitation has left you clueless, it’s your responsibility to know the meaning behind it.

Possibly, adding to the difficulty is the little knowledge you have  about acceptable wedding ensembles and even if you do, you have probably noticed that the formality varies in each. So, to save you from the confusion of deciding what to wear to a wedding, Farm Hills Garden created this guide in an attempt to provide an in-depth interpretation of the most common wedding dress codes.

Ahead, find out what white tie, formal, casual and more imply in the context of wedding guest attire.  But first, let’s start by shedding light on why a dress code is printed on invitations.

Why a Dress Code is Necessary

More than providing guidance as to what guests should wear on a wedding, a dress code is a convenient way to encourage guests to dress according to the wedding’s theme and style. It also offers an idea of how formal or informal a wedding is going to be. However, one should not expect that all the guests will heed these guidelines strictly.

The Explanation Behind Wedding Dress Codes

White Tie

White tie (also called full evening dress) is the most formal and strict of all dress codes. If you’re invited to this type of wedding, dressing the part is necessary. The options may vary but for women, a long, formal dress or a ball gown is a safe choice. Evening length gloves may also be preferred.

Men, on the other hand, should come in an evening tailcoat, white waistcoat, white shirt, white bow tie and trousers. For the feet, they will be expected to wear patent shoes.

Black Tie

Black tie is the second most formal dress code and is usually reserved for evening weddings. Here, full-length gowns, sparkly jewelry, statement clutches for women and tuxedos or dark three-piece suits for men are deemed appropriate.

There are many variations of black tie that can be confusing to some. These include the black tie optional and creative black tie.

Black tie optional simply means the dress code is a black tie but guests don’t have to strictly adhere to it.

Creative black tie, on the other hand, allows for the addition of flashy accents to a black tie ensemble.


A formal affair calls for an ensemble that is somewhere between black tie and cocktail. When it comes to this dress code, think business attire: a formal dress, a pantsuit or separates for women and a suit and tie for men. A traditional barong is also an ideal option.


A cocktail is a dress code that isn’t overly formal but a little step above smart casual. It is often required in garden weddings and typically calls for mid-calf to knee-length dresses for women and a suit paired with a muted color shirt and optional tie for men.


The definition of casual varies and can depend on factors including the location and time of day. But, no matter what, guests are assumed to look elegant. For men, button-downs, sweaters, chinos and shorts are usually fine. Women, on the other hand, can get away with sundresses and sandals or flats.


In today’s age, brides have taken wedding dress codes up a notch by requesting that guests wear attire that aligns with a specific theme. In some instances, this dress code may call for a festive ensemble or outfits with certain patterns such as floral or colors like pastel and neutral hues.

This dress code guide is a great starting point. However, it pays to know that an attire a certain wedding will require still vary based on specific circumstances such as the season, time of day and venue. It always helps to consult the engaged couple directly for clarification.

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Author Bio:

Micah de Jesus is the SEO Director of Growthscout SEO Services, a digital marketing firm in Quezon City, that caters to the online marketing needs of clients in a range of industry, including event venues, marketing, education, and more.

Company Bio:

Farm Hills Garden is a prime garden venue in Tagaytay for events such as weddings, debuts and corporate events. Located at the Tagaytay Farm Hills in Silang, Cavite, Farm Hills is approximately a 2-hour drive from the metro. It offers sophisticated architecture and beautiful garden landscapes that serves as a beautiful backdrop for your event.