What Do Dress Codes Actually Mean?

It’s easy to see how so many guests get lost between white tie and black tie events. After all, most of us are not born to wear clothes according to a dress code. If you add this to the fact that most etiquette rules are getting more and more relaxed, you can definitely see why a lot of people don’t actually understand what all those dress codes stand for.

So, what do they actually mean and how to guide your guests towards attires that are 100% suitable for your Big Day? Here are some tips both you and your guests will appreciate:


  • White Tie. Contrary to the popular belief, this is actually the most elegant dress code there is. Men are expected to wear a tuxedo and a white bow-tie, while ladies are expected to be ultra-formal in floor-length gowns that don’t exude too much of anything.
  • Black Tie. Slightly more relaxed than white tie events, these weddings require men to wear simple tuxedoes, while ladies are allowed to show a little more skin (but still wear floor-length gowns).
  • Black Tie Optional/ Formal. This is one of the most confusing dress codes in Western culture and fashion. In broad terms, this means your guests are allowed to wear either a suit or a tuxedo, respectively either a cocktail dress or a long formal gown. Some of them might even strike the perfect balance between the two (e.g. : a cascading gown with a shorter front and a longer back will be suitable for this type of wedding).


  • Dressy Casual. For the ladies, this means they can wear a dress slightly over the knees. For the gents, this dress code allows for a little more freedom (e.g. they might want to wear a vest and a pair of dress pants, without the coat).
  • This is the most relaxed dress code there is – but keep in mind, it does NOT mean anyone is allowed to wear jeans. Generally, men will be seen wearing casual pants and button-down shirts, while ladies will wear cocktail dresses (and even shorter dresses, without trespassing the border to clubbing outfits).


Looking for a wedding planner experienced in the art of bringing together stunning details, for an even more amazing Big Day? Contact Tamara Wendt Events and we will make sure your wedding is absolutely awe-inspiring!