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Have you ever received a wedding invitation that gives no insight into what you should wear to the ceremony or reception? If you did, you probably stressed out for days on what to wear. Once you finally picked something, you probably stressed even more whether what you selected was appropriate. That’s why it’s essential to include a dress code on your wedding invitations. It ensures that your event will stay as formal or casual as you want.

But how do you choose? There are so many different types of guest dress codes to choose from. Here, we’ll break down a few of the most popular dress codes and how you should pick one.

Types of Dress Codes

From black tie to casual, there are many different dress codes for wedding guests. Picking a dress code for your guests may be more challenging than planning the rest of the wedding. Formal attire is the most common, but there are plenty of other options to choose from.

Black Tie

Black tie usually means that the wedding is an evening event, and it’s one of the most formal dress codes. Women should wear a formal floor-length dress or an elegant pantsuit. A cocktail dress may suffice if the wedding is on the line between formal and black-tie formal. Men, on the other hand, do not have as much flexibility. They must wear a tuxedo. For summer weddings, though, a white jacket is acceptable.


Also known as black tie optional, formal provides a little more flexibility in dress code to your guests. Women can still wear a floor-length gown, a fancy cocktail dress, or a pantsuit. But now they have the option of wearing a slightly shorter dress. Men, however, have more flexibility as a suit is now acceptable.


This dress code option is a balance between elegant and comfortable. Instead of gowns, women can wear knee-length or midi dresses. Men are still required to wear a nice suit and tie. However, they now have the option of wearing other colors depending on the time of year.


Casual dress codes are becoming more common for summer and outdoor tent weddings. The event is usually more laid back, especially when it comes to the attire. However, jeans, shorts, and tank tops are probably not acceptable. Instead, a summer dress is appropriate, paired with sandals or wedges. For men, khakis and a dress shirt is an excellent go-to option. Feel free to wear a tie or a sports jacket, but they’re not necessary.

Tropical or Destination

If you see tropical or destination on the wedding invitation, it almost always means hot and humid, and you have to dress for the weather. Women should look for breathable dresses. You can top off your look with a nice sun hat if the wedding is outside. It’s acceptable for men to wear short-sleeved, button-down shirts.

How Do I Choose My Wedding Dress Code?

Choosing a dress code for your guests is challenging. There are many different options to pick from. One easy way to decide on a dress code is to have your guests wear what you and your spouse would wear to someone else’s wedding. This may mean a nice dress for women and a suit for men. If you’re going for a certain aesthetic, ask your guests to wear a specific color like black or white. You could even have guests match your wedding’s theme or base the dress code on the season you’re in. Just make sure you’re not asking guests to wear something you wouldn’t want to wear to a wedding.

Plan Your Outdoor Tent Wedding at Windows on the Water

Windows on the Water is an established outdoor wedding venue with 86 acres of forestry in Central New Jersey. Whether you’re planning a lake wedding venue or an intimate tent reception, we can help you create a romantic backdrop for your special day. Call us today at (609) 208-9475 or complete our contact form to speak with an experienced wedding planner today. We’re eager to help make the tent wedding of your dreams a reality.