With today’s fashion being so vast, it’s not surprising that more than ever guests are left in the lurch when considering what to wear to a wedding. Between lavish downtown nuptials, rustic barn weddings, golf course ceremonies, and elaborate rooftop soirees, there’s a lot more to guest attire than “formal” or “casual”. Being specific with wedding dress codes is good for everyone.  After all, no one wants to be the one to walk into a black-tie affair in a polo and their best denim duds. 

To save yourself a million unnecessary questions and those invited undue stress, we suggest skipping the ambiguity and putting your preference in with the invitation. Not only does this set the stage for what you expect, but also gives them plenty of time to find just the right outfit to flaunt. We’ve put together this quick guide to decipher each level of attire, ranked in order from casual to fancy. 

Come As You Are

If your event is laid-back and your priority is for your guests to feel their best, this option gives them free rein and creative liberty to wear whatever makes them feel like a million bucks. This works well for low-key affairs, perhaps a backyard or micro-wedding.

Themed Events

Themes are no longer reserved for Halloween weddings. In fact, more couples are incorporating shared interests into their day in the name of uniqueness. The advantage here is that letting your guests in on the theme not only makes it more fun for you and your pictures, but it also allows them to feel even more connected to your big day. This is definitely an instance where you want to be specific about your wedding dress codes.

Destination Style

Everyone loves a good destination “I do,” but what should a guest pack? Since most destination weddings take place in more tropical locales, unless stated otherwise, guests should be safe with linen pants and a button-up for him and a sundress with sandals for her. Be sure to communicate the preferred attire for your destination wedding so guests won’t have to shop while on vacation.  


This is a sure indication of a laid-back event. And a high likelihood of it being outdoors. This is not an invitation for your guests to dust off their “jorts” and a tee. It recommends an outfit like khaki pants and a nice polo or a casual dress. Guests tend to err on the side of over versus under-dressed.


This is a popular category and for good reason. While it insinuates elegance and an evening event, it still offers balance and a level of comfort. And if the word “festive” is included, guests can feel free to get creative. Whether through pops of color or eye-catching accessories, guests are encouraged to get a little edgy with their garb. Sure, the foundation of this is suit and tie for men and everything above tea-length for women, but where they go from there is up to the wearer. 


This is where the line in the sand is drawn when it comes to wedding dress codes. When you want to get fancy but still give your guests the option to forgo a full tuxedo, you list the event as “formal.” Formal attire invites women to wear everything from a floor-length gown to a sequined cocktail stunner. Men can rock a suit with a pop of color in their tie. 

Black Tie

Indicative of an evening event, this term translates to tuxedo required. And if guests really follow etiquette, they’ll invest in some patent leather shoes, a bowtie, and cummerbund. Meanwhile, women are encouraged to shine in long gowns (or elegant pantsuits if a dress isn’t their cup of tea). This is the type of event you’ll want to give your guests plenty of notice on so they have plenty of time to be prepared.

White Tie

Contrary to popular belief, there is something more formal than black-tie chic. Considered as formal as it gets, White Tie events require women to wear floor-length ball gowns, and the men to have even steeper stipulations. We’re talking white gloves, tuxedos with tails, white bow ties, and formal footwear. No exceptions to the rule, so if you go this route, make sure your guests know what they are signing up for before they RSVP.

Enjoy Wedding Dress Codes? Ready to start finding vendors for your wedding? Check out our collection of Kansas City Wedding Vendors.