A Man’s Guide to all Wedding Dress Codes

by Healthy American Male Staff

Wedding dress codes aim to be a good idea, but they aren’t really that good of an idea. Hear me out on this one.

Wedding dress codes are put in place to tell you what you should wear to a particular wedding. For example, if you’re going to a casual wedding, the wedding dress codes will tell you what’s acceptable to put on. Same goes for a formal wedding, and so on, and so on. Every wedding has a different code, that’s why it’s so difficult to determine what each code really requires you to wear.

It’s okay, I’m here to end that confusion for you. I’ve gathered the most common of the codes you’ll find yourself abiding by and I’ve displayed them all below for your reference. Check it out, learn from it, hell, print it for your buddies to see, too.

Let’s get started.

White Tie Code

The white tie code is extremely formal. In fact, it’s probably the most formal of all the wedding codes to abide by.

The suit itself consists of a tailcoat and fancy trousers. It’s basically a tux, but 10x fancier than a tuxedo.

There are tons of accessories that should be added to the white tie suit to make it even fancier. The list can be found below:

  • Suit jacket
  • Underpinnings
  • Suit Vest
  • Wing-collared shirt

All of the above accessories should be white. You’ll also need the following add-ons to make your wedding attire complete:

  • Studs
  • Cufflinks
  • Polished black shoes (go to your local shoe store for some solid advice in this department)

Black Tie Code

The black tie code is high on the formality scale. The black tie code really just means tuxedo, if you’re looking for a simpler definition.

The suit itself is traditionally black. However, there are times where you can spice up the tuxedo. For example, red carpet events welcome different styles and different colors all the time. Such add-ons are not welcomed when it comes to a traditional wedding. So, if you really have to wonder what type of tuxedo to wear, just stick with black.

A tuxedo’s most common accessory is a bow tie. Some men may opt for a necktie instead, but this is not recommended. In addition, other add-ons include:

  • French cuffs – you can add cufflinks if you’d like, it’s not a necessity
  • Studs for your shirt
  • Optional pocket square (always choose a white one)
  • Waistcoat

As for the shoes, choose a black pair and get them polished. Be sure to wear black socks, too.

Black Tie Optional Code

The level of formality for a black-tie optional code is moderately high. In simpler terms, the black tie optional code means you have the option of a black tie suit or another type of formal suit.

The suit itself can be either a black tie suit or another type of formal suit, as I just said. If you’re going with the black tie option, follow the above black tie code. If you’re going with another type of formal suit, always try to stick with a dark color. Specifically speaking, aim to buy a black, navy, or dark gray suit. Keep in mind the darker the suit, the better the look, especially when it comes to this code.

Semiformal Code

Semiformal wedding codes have a moderately high level of formality with them. Typically, a suit and tie are welcomed within this code.

If you’re wearing this suit to a wedding, you can spice it up depending on the time of the year it is. For example, if the semiformal code is used during the winter months, darker colors are recommended; If the semiformal code is used during the warmer months, you’re allowed to get away with colors like beige or light gray.

Always make sure the entire suit matches if you’re mixing colors together and always wear a tie with this code. In addition, be sure to have a tie on that matches your shoes; it looks classier this way.

Cocktail Code

The cocktail code is just like the semiformal code; it’s moderately high on the formality scale. If you do have the option to use a cocktail code, keep in mind that you are allowed to have some fun with it, just not too much fun.

As far as the suit goes, you’re allowed to mix and match different pieces. For example, you can have black pants with a gray blazer. Don’t go too light or bright with the blazer though, seeing as cocktail codes almost always encourage the use of dark colors.

A few tips to keep in mind? Always wear a shirt with a collar when sporting the cocktail code. Also, you do have the option to wear, or to not wear, a tie. As for shoes, always go with a polished loafer; never use sneakers, no matter how fancy they are!

Beach Formal Code

The beach formal code keeps the trend going; it’s also moderately high on the formality scale.

Keep in mind, when the word “formal” is in a wedding code, go with a suit and tie for your outfit.

As tradition goes, the darker the suit, the more formal it is. However, when it comes to a beach wedding, you’re allowed to play around with the colors. Opt for some nice light colored suits, like a sandy tan.

Seeing as it’s a wedding on a beach, you can also play around with other aspects of your outfit. Seek advice from the shoe experts when it comes to foot attire. As for everything else, just make sure it matches!

Dressy Casual Code

The dressy casual code is ranked medium on the scale of formality. The term “dressy” is your go-to information, telling you not to wear sneakers or shorts, even if they’re dressy.

Also, keep in mind that a tie is not required; technically, no tie is preferred. Google some images, you’ll get my drift.

Lastly, the Casual Code does not need to be put into bold print, as I’m sure you understand the definition of casual. Keep in mind you are attending a wedding, so you are not allowed to wear clothing such as shorts. Just make sure your outfit is polished and you’ll be in the clear.

Hope you liked my advice! Until next time.


By Jenny Lyn

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