I have worked in the bridal industry for fifteen years, so as you can imagine, I have seen a lot of beautiful weddings. I can't tell you the amount of times I have looked at photographs of a stunningly dressed bride and groom, and then looked at the guests standing next to them, and thought, 'what are they wearing?'

I know as a wedding guest myself that it is not always easy to find the perfect outfit, but if there is a dress code on the invitation, it should be fairly straightforward, or is it?

Don't worry because I have compiled a guide to what every wedding dress code means...

In case you are interested in what the dress code was for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding, it was Dress: Uniform, Morning Coat or Lounge Suit. Obviously their wedding guests came from far and wide i.e. royalty, military, friends, so they had to cater for them all. The majority of wedding dress codes will be as follows:


Photo: formal dresses online

Morning Suit

A 'Morning Suit' dress code is for a very traditional formal wedding. If men do wear 'morning suits' for the ceremony, many change into black tie for the reception later.

For men: The outfit would comprise of a morning coat in black or grey, striped trousers, turndown collar shirt, waistcoat (optional top hat) and black shoes.

For ladies: Women should opt for a dress and jacket or skirt. Neither should the dress or skirt be too short, and ideally they should be worn with a jacket. Hats are expected.

Black Tie

This is as you would imagine, a very formal dress code, and normally would indicate that the event is an afternoon/evening event.

For men: This is the most straightforward, a black bow tie (although I know you can get away with a normal black tie), white shirt, black trousers, black jacket and black shoes.

For ladies: A formal floor-length evening gown is appropriate, but also a cocktail dress (just above the knee), would be suitable. Anything too short will not be appropriate and you will stand out for all the wrong reasons.

Lounge Suit

This is obviously not as formal a wedding as a black tie affair.

For men: A lounge suit is basically a suit, don't let the word 'lounge' fool you.

For Ladies: A cocktail dress, a long evening dress might be a little 'over the top'

All wedding invitations tend to state a dress code. If none of the above dress codes are listed on the invitation you receive, whatever you do, don't be hesitant about asking the bride/groom or member of the bridal party. It only takes a simple phone call or text to find out what to wear. The last thing you will want to do is make a mistake and wear something inappropriate. Remember a wedding can last for many hours, so all you will end up doing is hiding in the corner and feeling very uncomfortable.

See also: long formal dresses