Community & Advice

Etiquette Guide To… Dress Codes

It’s an age-old question, what exactly is ‘Smart Casual’? There’s nothing worse than feeling over-or-under dressed at an event you have spent time (and money) planning your outfit for.

Do your guests (and yourselves) a favour, and provide a clear dress code for your wedding. 

Deciding on a dress code ensures everyone wears something that is suitable and enhances the tone, theme, or mood you want on your big day. Your guests will know exactly what is expected of them and can plan accordingly- making their lives easier too!

Deciding on your dress code

Other than what will look good in your wedding photos, there are a few factors to consider when deciding on a dress code:

  • Season and time of day– There is no way to predict the weather, even if you’re having a destination wedding. Make sure your dress code is adaptable to any relevance (rain, snow or sunshine!)
  • Type of guest– Evening guests may see your celebration as more of a party. If you’d like them to keep in-line with the formality and style of your day guests, make sure you let them know.
  • Venue– Your venue type and decor may lean toward a certain style and ‘theme’. Even if you decide not to share a complete dress code request with guests, let them know if they will be expected to spend time outside and things like flooring type (especially grass or uneven surfaces). This can help them make appropriate choices of clothing and footwear.
  • Activities– Want your guests to join in with a line dance or take part in garden games? Then make sure your dress code allows them to do so comfortably!
  • Heritage and tradition– Whether it’s formal tartan or Aso-Ebi; your family and wedding party will probably know exactly what is expected of them. However, consider providing guests from other backgrounds and cultures an idea of what is appropriate for them to wear.
  • Wearing white– Tradition dictates that guests avoid wearing a white/cream ensemble when attending a wedding. However, if the Bride has selected a different colour outfit, or, as our Real GM+ couple Andrew and Shaun put it ‘there is no bride to upstage after all!’- make it known that you are happy for guests to break the ‘norm’ and wear white.

Be specific

Phrases like “dress to impress” mean something different to everyone, so give guests pointers and be specific. Providing an example colour palette or clothing type is a sure fire way to ensure your requests are met. Remember that being specific doesn’t mean setting limits.

It’s also important to let guests know what you don’t want! Are trainers and jeans are a no-go? Are certain colours reserved for your wedding party? Then make this clear.

GM+ couple Andrew and Shaun managed to set the tone perfectly:

Make it easy

If you’re giving a dress code, be mindful people may not have an appropriate outfit and may not want to buy one. Rental companies like ByRotation and Something Borrowed have wonderful wedding guest outfits at a fraction of the price (check out your Offers & Discounts page to share even more savings with your guests!).

Making accommodations on the day of your wedding can be really helpful for your guests- whether it’s a basket of ‘Dancing Shoes’ (flip flops or slippers), or storage space for hats, headpieces and any outdoor clothing. Providing additional amenities in bathrooms is also an extra-special addition that your guests will love.

If you’re anticipating outfit changes or lots of outdoor clothes, check that your venue has space for your guests to change and store any other clothes. They may also be able to provide things like blankets, umbrellas and heel guards if you’re going to be outdoors.