Choosing A Dress Code For Your Big Day

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Picking a dress code is important so your guests know what to wear at your wedding. We have a helpful guide to help you decide!

When planning your wedding it’s important to consider how you want your guests to dress. Not only will you want people to be looking their best for photos throughout the day, but you want them to feel comfortable and at ease when enjoying your nuptials.

Choosing a dress code should be fairly easy and most people will have an idea in their mind before they even start planning, but there are a couple of things you should consider when informing your guests on what to wear.

1. Venue

The venue will be the main factor in dictating what you would like your guests to wear to your wedding.

If you have hired out a grand ballroom for your reception, it wouldn’t seem quite right if people are dressed in smart-casual attire.

By the same token, if you have chosen a small ceremony in a little, country church, black-tie won’t fit the vibes of your day.

If you are getting married outdoors or on a beach, tell the women to ditch those heels! It would simply be uncomfortable to make your guests hobble about on sand in stilettos.

Another thing to consider is that some venues will have dress codes upon entry. For example, some clubs may enforce a jacket and tie rule for the gentlemen, so be sure to ask your venue of their rules and inform your guests accordingly.

2. Time of day

Generally day time weddings are considered to be more casual than evening weddings. For weddings that start at midday, clothing anywhere from smart-casual to jacket and tie would be acceptable.

Weddings that begin from 6pm onwards are considered more formal and so cocktail or black-tie would be appropriate.

Most guests will have an understanding of this without you needing to tell them, so really  you are only required to mention it if you plan on going against the norm for your wedding.

3. Expense

While your wedding is all about you, keep in mind that it isn’t cheap for your guests to celebrate with you. Consider your friendship groups and what they would be able to afford. If you think they might be struggling with money, setting a black-tie theme might not be so considerate. To help with this, make suggestive hints about clothing, but don’t be direct. By stating ‘black-tie optional’ you are telling your friends that formal wear is preferred, but if you can’t adhere to that then cocktail is fine.

4. Theme

If your wedding is a Winter Wonderland theme, it wouldn’t really work if your guests turn up in bright and colourful sundresses. Make sure your guests fit your theme by making it clear on the invitation, and providing some suggestions on how they could dress to impress.

Don’t expect everyone to go all out though! Costumes can take more time to organise that people have.

5. Weather

Consider the weather when deciding your dress code. If you are getting married outside on a mid-summers day, it would be torture to make your guests wear black-tie (especially the men in those suits!).

So you have picked out your dress code, but how do you ask your guests to dress a certain way without sounding like a controlling Bride-zilla?

A cute little P.S. on the end of the invitation

It’s important to be clear to guests if you expect them to dress a certain way. A short note at the bottom of the message is a nice way to ask them to dress a certain way, without putting seeming overbearing or intimidating. From there each guest will interpret your message, so make sure you aren’t too cryptic.  

A Pinterest page to help guide your guests

Some brides, especially for themed weddings, put together a moodboard online or a Pinterest to give guests an idea of what to wear. You can share it through your social media accounts or provide the link on the invitation. Make sure you put a range of ideas up so that guests still have a choice about their clothes.

Always be willing to talk to a guest who isn’t quite sure what to wear

If you want to set a theme, you have to be willing to help people out. Most guests just want to do right by you on your special day, so if they are asking for specifics, don’t ignore them or get frustrated. Politely give them some guidance, or inform them that you don’t mind so much if they can’t fit the code.

Encourage, but don’t enforce

This is the most important. At the end of the day, your guests have been invited to your wedding to share the day with you. It shouldn’t matter if they look a bit silly in your photos or didn’t quite fit the theme. Their presence is the most important thing, and you don’t want to push them away by being too dogmatic about the dress code.


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