Decoding the Dress Code || How to Dress for Any Wedding

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Decoding the Wedding Dress Code

I recently attended the wedding of a good friend from high school. I actually wrote about their proposal (and how I almost ruined it) in this post here

Anyway, theirs is the first wedding I’m attending this year and it got me thinking that it’s wedding season again! I know I’ve been invited to a couple this year so I can imagine how many my more social readers have been invited to (#teamloner) so I thought I’d write a post on how to dress for various dress codes. For those of you at a loss as what to wear to these various weddings, I have a few dresses in mind, mostly from ethical or sustainable brands, so that you can arrive in style, no matter the dress code.


black tie wedding dress code

If you get invited to this type of wedding, it usually means you’re going to want to go pretty formal. Think ball gowns or floor-length dresses. Men will usually be in tuxedos so think of looks to match. I am not going to lie - the first wedding I was invited to as an adult, I was really underdressed for the occasion. The invite called for “black tie optional” and I thought that meant that, like it said on the invite, black tie attire was “optional.” I found out that it’s a yes and no sort of situation. Yes it is technically “optional,” but most people will probably wearing actual black tie attire so unless you want to look the most casual there (like I did - embarrassing!), I would opt for your best gowns. Here’s a dress I’ve worn to black tie weddings. I bought it at ASOS two years ago and it’s served me well. Here are a couple of sustainable brand options though.



Get out your chic dresses because this kind of wedding is all about the food, fun, and dancing! Cocktail dress code is a bit less formal than black tie. Knee-length to floor-length dresses are acceptable, though a ball gown may be a bit too formal. Cocktail dress codes usually indicate that this is an evening event so floral dresses may not be the most appropriate, but a bright-colored dress is perfectly acceptable. Also acceptable: jumpsuits! Here’s an ASOS dress I wore a few years back to a wedding with a cocktail dress code to give you an idea of what this might look like.


Daytime Semiformal wedding dress code

This is an interesting dress code but I have been invited to such a wedding. Think garden party or country club wedding! lightweight tea-length dresses and floral prints are absolutely okay!  Here’s a jumpsuit I wore on a date night that would definitely work for a daytime wedding. The light blue color works in a way that it just wouldn’t at night.


Casual Wedding Dress Code

This may seem obvious to some but not to others so I'm going to go ahead and get this out of the way: Just because the word "casual" is on the invite, doesn't mean you can wear jeans unless specifically stated.  Now that that’s out of the way, I want to focus on what you can wear to a casual wedding. You can wear dresses that aren’t super formal. You can wear pants (again, not jeans). You could probably get away with wearing a romper too. Check with the bride or her bridesmaid though before you decide to wear shorts though. Just stay away from denim. The dress I’m wearing here is a dress I wore to the black tie optional wedding I mentioned earlier. It’s actually way more suited for a casual wedding (facepalm) but I’m here to share my fashion mishaps with you along with my fashion successes.


Beach wedding dress code

A beach, or any tropical destination, wedding is going to have more relaxed rules. Think tropical or floral maxi dresses and sandals that won’t sink in the sand. For hemlines, you can go long (the aforementioned maxi dress) or short (but not too scandalous). I’ve personally never been to a beach wedding but this would be the kind of dress I wear to it. The black may seem a bit dark for a tropical wedding but the asymmetrical hemline more than makes up for it. Here are a couple other ideas for such an occasion

I do want to acknowledge that a lot of the dresses I’m recommending are expensive. It’s no secret that ethical and sustainable clothing brands to tend to run more expensive and this high cost does tend to to be a barrier to entry. I’ve tried to include more sale items but I also completely understand if your budget doesn’t support an ethical wardrobe right now. I’ve mentioned this in my post describing my year-long shopping ban that my quest towards sustainability doesn’t include shaming anyone who isn’t in a position to do the same right now. I just wanted to give you guys an idea of the kinds of outfits to consider for a wedding. If you can’t afford the ethical options, get the cheaper version. If you can get the ethical version, you should. I will say though, that once you buy some of these dresses, you should be able to wear them to a lot of different weddings so the cost per wear would be a bit cheaper for you. Just something to take into consideration.

DeborahOutfits, Lifestyle