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Madison
Dedicated August 2020

The dreaded attire question

Madison, on November 10, 2019 at 11:59 PM Posted in Wedding Attire 0 19
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So, we got our Save the Dates our a couple weeks ago (yay!), and now things are starting to get real including the flood of questions. The one I’m struggling to answer is the “what is the dress code” question that I didn’t think would come up so much. Honestly, I’ve always seen weddings as more formal events unless otherwise stated, so the amount I’ve been asked has caught me by surprise.

By no means is our wedding going to be black tie, but we have some selections that lend it to not be a super casual event. The details:
Garden Ceremony (Weather Permitting) - it’s all paved, no grass to walk through. Begins at 4pm
followed by Cocktail Hour with passed hors d’oeuvres
Loft Reception (pic below)
Plated Meal
Groom/Groomsmen wearing tuxes, Bridesmaids in gowns
Open Beer & Wine bar
DJ at Reception, String Quartet at Ceremony & Cocktail Hour

My first thought when people ask is “Formal Cocktail” but that’s not a thing. We went to a couple weddings that were more casual that said “Semi Formal” and the results were mixed (Khakis, untucked shirts, beach style dresses, flip flops). I know at the end of the day, people will wear what they want, but I want to be clear to those who ask without making them think they need to go out their way for long fancy gowns and tuxes. What do you think?

19 Comments

Latest activity by Nicole, on November 15, 2019 at 10:59 AM
  • M
    Expert October 2021
    Megan ·
    • Flag

    Totally understand the confusion. Honestly, I've never seen "semi formal" used when the couple meant for khakis and flip flops, that seems insane. I'd definitely put "semi formal" or "cocktail attire," (perhaps cocktail attire would be more appropriate since it may send a clearer message?)

    • Reply
  • Madison
    Dedicated August 2020
    Madison ·
    • Flag
    Forgot to attach loft pic with it all dressed up!

    The dreaded attire question 1
    • Reply
  • M
    Devoted September 2019
    McKenzie ·
    • Flag

    I'd state that it's cocktail attire and when chatting with folks give examples if they seem interested.

    • Reply
  • V
    Champion July 2019
    Veronica ·
    • Flag
    Ours was cocktail attire. We had a very elegant wedding. On our wedding website, we kindly asked people not to wear jeans, sandals, or shorts. No one did. My grandmother handled telling my uncle not to wear jeans because he would have and she knew I didn't want anyone in jeans. My brother's wedding was 4 months before so he had purchased an outfit for that wedding so he worn the same outfit for both.
    • Reply
  • Kara
    Dedicated September 2020
    Kara ·
    • Flag
    As others have said, I agree it seems as if you want cocktail attire - which technically is more formal than you may think - men should have jackets and in cocktail short dresses (rather than long gowns) are still acceptable.
    • Reply
  • MOB So Cal
    January 2019
    MOB So Cal ·
    • Flag

    Daughter listed "cocktail attire" on the website. Almost all men came in a shirt & tie, most wore jackets. With very few exceptions, women wore dressy dresses. There were one or two people who were a bit underdressed, but even in photos it's not really noticeable. Her venue was a country club that had some dress code restrictions (e.g., no denim, required collared shirts, etc.), so she listed that as a separate note under the suggested attire.

    • Reply
  • Hannah
    Dedicated November 2019
    Hannah ·
    • Flag
    I was surprised everyone asked too! My wedding was casual, but I wanted everyone looking nice. So I gave everyone a “shade” to wear: wine to blush, and dark to light grey.

    Every guy who asked about dress code understood semiformal meant a nice suit.

    two ladies were bridesmaids, so they were dressed.

    my mom didn’t feel comfortable in a dress because of her illness, but she had my sister sew her a headscarf to dress it up.

    my sister in the grey dress went shopping with me day before to find something suitable,

    and my two non-family guests: one wore a cocktail style dress, and the other went relaxed business casual.

    it all ended up ok, but even with a dress code, people kept texting pictures and asking what would look good.

    The dreaded attire question 2
    • Reply
  • Sarah
    Dedicated May 2021
    Sarah ·
    • Flag

    This is a great question... Do you identify the dress code on the invitation?

    • Reply
  • Amber
    Master February 2020
    Amber ·
    • Flag

    I'm putting "semi-formal" on our wedding website. If someone were to google "semi-formal wedding dress code", it definitely wouldn't say flip flops or beach wear, that would fall under "beach casual". I did specify no jeans on our wedding website FAQs

    • Reply
  • Amber
    Master February 2020
    Amber ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment

    I wouldn't include dress code on the invitations. I'm including it on our wedding website. If you aren't having a website, you could spread the word by mouth or maybe on the details card included with the invitation Smiley smile

    • Reply
  • Madison
    Dedicated August 2020
    Madison ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Yes, this is exactly what I’m thinking. I saw on a couple searches that cocktail = semi formal. But after our experience seeing how that turned out, I was worried about that!
    • Reply
  • Madison
    Dedicated August 2020
    Madison ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Nope, just on the website.
    • Reply
  • L
    Devoted August 2019
    Leaves232 ·
    • Flag
    The dress code for my wedding was "black tie optional" and here's what people wore - I was surprised by the range!

    Women: mostly cocktail dresses, some floor length dresses, and a few in separates (skirt, blouse, jacket).

    Men: mostly suits and ties, some tuxedos, a few in dress shirts and khakis (with or without ties).
    • Reply
  • KiwiDerbyBride
    VIP May 2015
    KiwiDerbyBride ·
    • Flag

    I agree that cocktail attire is probably the way to go.

    • Reply
  • Emma
    Devoted March 2021
    Emma ·
    • Flag

    I used this page from a podcast. I liked that it breaks it down a little further and has a description under each one so I could use that to describe to my guests what I have in mind.

    https://www.onefabday.com/wedding-dress-codes/


    • Reply
  • A
    Super August 2020
    Alex ·
    • Flag

    If you want formal with out requiring floor length dress, you are looking for Black Tie Optional. This means guys need to wear dark conservative suits or tuxs and women need to wear more anything from nice cocktail dress to formal gown.

    • Reply
  • K
    Expert September 2021
    Ka-Rina ·
    • Flag
    We will be having our party at a fine dining restaurant so though not exactly formal it will be a very nice/upscalish environment. We will be saying Business Casual. Slacks, nice shirts, optional ties for guys, cocktail dresses for girls. Our guests are aware that it means no jeans, no flip flops, no tshirts... Smiley smile Hopefully
    • Reply
  • Meghan
    Master October 2019
    Meghan ·
    • Flag
    We looked at your venue! It’s so pretty! We had a wedding similar to what you are describing and a few people asked us about dress code (it was listed on our website, so that may have prevented more from asking). We said “cocktail attire” and that seemed to do the trick. Everyone showed up dresses appropriately.


    • Reply
  • Nicole
    Savvy November 2019
    Nicole ·
    • Flag

    We had a beach ceremony and then a more formal reception in a ballroom so we were nervous about this too. We essentially wanted to avoid people showing up in t shirts and khaki shorts thinking it was "beach attire". We put "Semi-formal and Cocktail Attire". Yes I put both, to no care of etiquette, but in the end it all worked out. Girls wore dresses or jumpsuits, guys wore nice button ups or full suits. Our groomsmen were in tuxes and my girls were in pretty gowns.

    • Reply

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