Guest’s Attire- Virginia Wedding Inspiration

Guest’s Attire- Virginia Wedding Inspiration

Every bride has a distinct vision for their wedding, and the dress code can greatly help or hurt the execution of that vision. It can be difficult to choose the correct attire designation for your guests, but even harder for guests to decode what the couple really wants. Here’s a guide to what common dress codes really mean and how relay your vision to guests.

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Black Tie

The most formal option, black tie, will provide a timeless, traditional and classy atmosphere for your big day! If you’re choosing this option, your wedding should begin after 6 p.m. and most likely offer a plated dinner service. Men should opt for tuxedos and women for floor length gowns or dress cocktail dresses.

Black-Tie Optional (or Formal)

A black-tie optional dress code is a bit more flexible than standard black tie. This may also be called formal on invitations. This is a great choice if the couple wants an elevated look without the utmost formality that standard black tie provides. Men are requested to wear tuxedos, but dark suits are also acceptable. For women, floor length gowns, cocktail dresses, or a little black dress are all welcome.


A middle-of-the-road option, this is a good choice if you don’t have strong feelings about the attire of your guests. Tuxedos aren’t a must for men; a tailored suit with or without a tie is perfectly fine. For women a short, cocktail style dress is great! Typically, sundresses are a bit too casual for this dress code.

Semiformal (or Dressy Casual)

While “dressy casual” may seem like an oxymoron, a semiformal dress code is a nice balance between casualness and formality. This is a good option for an upscale outdoor wedding. Women can wear short cocktail dresses or a long skirt and matching blouse, while men can sport a blazer or sport coat, dress shirt or polo shirt, and slacks. Consider ties optional.


Arguably the least formal dress code, this is a nice option for weddings occurring in the afternoon or at the beach, in a barn, or other more casual location. Nice jeans, long or short skirts, or sundresses are good for women; men typically wear khakis, a button down or polo shirt, and boat shoes. Shorts are also acceptable depending on the climate and venue.

Invitations and the wedding website are the perfect place to put the dress code so guests know how they’re expected to dress. If you want to be extra specific, consider including example in an “FAQ” section of your website.

If you are planning a wedding in Roanoke Virginia, Richmond Virginia, Fredericksburg/Northern Virginia, The Shenandoah Valley, Coastal Virginia or in Charlottesville/ Lynchburg Va. we can help with your wedding planning and ideas.