• How to Dress Up Your Wedding Dress Code

    How to Dress Up Your Wedding Dress Code

    Dress code ideas that cover everything from fancy to fantasy.


While traditional dress codes can feel stiff and impersonal, you don’t want to leave your cherished guests floundering about what to wear to your celebration of forever-love. These days, personality is a HUGE part of tying the knot, so here are a few happily-ever-after hacks to help you customize your clothing dos and don’ts.

Put a personal spin on the traditional guidelines.

Most people know how to follow traditional dress codes like black tie, formal and semiformal. You can make it easy for your guests to dress right by pairing the conventional language with your unique theme or color. If your venue is an intimate spot tucked away in a forest, you could recommend semiformal whimsy. Then you won’t end up with chic, modern patterns that spoil your woodland fantasy. Or maybe you want dress-to-impress without the stuffiness. Try something like: anything-but-black tie. Sometimes couples want guests to all dress in a similar color palette, like formal white. (Just make sure your guests know it’s not a faux pas­—you want others in white!) When in doubt, be as specific as possible and provide more detailed guidelines on your wedding website.

At a loss for where to start? Here are a few ideas:

Give cues on your invitation.

It’s always in fashion to share “I do” details like location, conditions and itinerary—and your invitation is a great place to start. Beyond being explicit with the dress code, let the design of your invitation be implicit—and set the visual tone. If you’re planning a semiformal beach ceremony, choose neutral tones and keep it simple. Luau theme? You could pick a note with Hawaiian flowers to emphasize the island vibe, perhaps dubbing your look “Aloha Crisp.” Maybe include a lil’ cowboy boot to hint toward a Southern county affair or ranch-inspired festivities, thereby signaling to your guests that less formal footwear is A-OK. Or let folks know your affair is a fancy-schmancy one with decadent details such as glitter, glossiness or embossed lettering. While subtle, these clues help convey the feel of your wedding to your guests—you know, in the way that a picture or perhaps a font or design doodle is worth a thousand ideas of how to dress (and what not to wear).

Add a photo gallery to your wedding website.

Photo galleries come in handy for themed weddings—and your wedding website is a great place to supplement the dress code info and inferences offered by your invitation. If you want your guests in themed dress—say, 1920s Gatsby, fancy fairytale or a night at the Yule Ball—you might opt for a little show and tell. Consider taking pictures of you and your sweetheart modeling a few easy options and provide links to accessories people can buy online. Plus, your mini photo shoot will be a fun reprieve from pre-wedding stress.

Couples can also deploy galleries to show dress code dos and don’ts. Some venues, especially outdoor venues like parks and golf courses, have strict rules about footwear. Snap a few photos showing appropriate and inappropriate shoes, so your guests will have a clear sense of what will pass—or is convenient. You know, to stiletto or not to stiletto, that may be a question.

Another tip? Your second-in-command (maid of honor, best man, mother of the bride, etc.) will be a go-to for friends and family, so be sure they are prepped to answer any last-minute style questions your guests may have on the day of.

With clear communication about dress code expectations, you can have a tailor-made celebration where everyone’s dressed the part.

SEE MORE: 4 Ways to Give Your Wedding Personality

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