Every Wedding Guest Dress Code Explained

Have you ever received a wedding invitation that left you uncertain about the wedding guest dress code? Between "black-tie ", "semi-formal," or "cocktail" It can be tricky to decide what to wear. 

Formal attire may be the most common, but there are other dress codes such as Formal, Semi-formal and Cocktail.

One of the best ways to decide what to wear is to do some research on the venue. As a guest, we would recommend thinking of the wedding location. For example. a google search of the venue can give you a feel of the wedding style, and the venue will have photos of past weddings that can inspire you.

Example: Crown Casino Palladium in Melbourne is quite a formal venue- so we would recommend wearing a full length gown. 

We recommend wearing more formal colours and gowns with beautiful intricate beading or embellishments for an evening wedding VS wearing lighter colours or floral fabrics for a daytime event. 

Formal or Black-Tie 

There's not much of a difference between Formal or Black-tie attire, it's more acceptable to wear a full length dress for a Formal event or a Black-tie event vs a casual daytime wedding. Men have the option of wearing a tuxedo, or they can wear a formal dark suit, shirt, and conservative tie.


A small step above semi formal though not as formal as black-tie or formal. It's a balance between elegant and comfortable, and typically is more formal than a day wedding but more casual than a night celebration. Instead of a floor-length dress, you could opt for a tea-length, knee-length, or midi dress. Men are required to wear a suit and tie, regardless of the wedding's setting. 


Part of dressing for a semiformal or dressy casual wedding is taking the time of the wedding into account. Floor-length gowns are perfectly okay however, perhaps opt for a less beaded option if it was an outdoor wedding or at a restaurant. 

If the ceremony is being held outdoors and you'll be walking across a lawn, avoid traditional heels that will likely get stuck in the grass. Men should wear a dress shirt and slacks, dark or light depending on the time of day, with the option to wear a tie. Semi formal gives you flexibility on comfort, but be sure not to dress too casual, after all its still a wedding!

How Not to Dress for a Wedding

There are a few rules that apply to all dress codes across the board. Whether you are wearing casual or black-tie attire, try to avoid the following: 

Wearing White

Pick any other colour to wear to the wedding. "It’s still frowned upon for guests to wear any white/cream/ivory variation to a wedding unless specifically requested by the couple. As the trend remains for the bride’s gown to be white/ivory, this color remains for the bride, and now even the groom sometimes!" says Mae.

Wearing white will have heads turning in your direction for all of the wrong reasons. Plus, it will most likely upset the bride, who won't want to feel anything but pleased by her guests throughout the night. The only exception, of course, is if the couple has specifically asked all guests to wear white - in which case, respect their request and find yourself a white outfit.

Picking a Dress That Looks Like the Bridesmaid Dress

If you can get a heads up on the style and colour of the dress the bridesmaids will be wearing, try to avoid wearing anything similar. If not, you may have to spend the night explaining to everyone that you're not a bridesmaid and you didn't mean to dress like one.


Whether or not the dress code is black-tie, try not to under-dress for the wedding. 

Dressing for the Club

It's a party, so you might be tempted to dress like you're heading out to a nightclub, but remember for a wedding, you should keep it classy. You'll be surrounded by someone else's family and friends, so its best to keep it appropriate.