From the beach to the
ballroom, we have every ceremony covered

by LilyAnne Rice
It’s undoubtedly awesome to
get an invite to a wedding. There’s a little partying, some music, an open
bar–the works. But unless you’re the groom or the best man, there’s always the
underlying question: What are you supposed to wear? When you’re not the one
getting hitched, there’s a lot of gray area when it comes to figuring out a
surefire ensemble. However, with a little consideration and a little know-how,
you can figure out a perfect, stylish, and appropriate look for any wedding, no
matter how casual or fancy. Consider these tips and tricks the next time you’re
invited to a wedding and you’ll be good to go!
Dos and Don’ts of Wedding
Guest Attire

Check the invitation

If you only just skimmed your
wedding invitation, go back and give it another look. Your friends may have
included a tip-off of what attire they want you showing up in, from a theme
like “beach wear” or “black tie,” to a more broad category like “casual.” If
there’s no dress code on the invitation at all, it’s likely that semi-formal
dress will be a safe bet.

Consider the venue

If the invitation’s lacking in
details, scope out the location of the wedding. Beach and backyard weddings
mean you’ll be wearing more relaxed clothing, but dress it up for indoor venues
like churches and ballrooms.

It’s all in the timing

Weddings that occur earlier in
the day tend to lean to the more casual side, while evening weddings usually
call for more formal attire. So it’s likely that you can get away with less
dressy duds in the morning, but be sure to pull out that suit and tie for
anything after dusk.

It doesn’t hurt to ask

If you’re still not sure, then
why not simply ask? Either ask the bride- or groom-to-be, or any of your friends
that are also planning to attend. Trust us, it’s way less embarrassing to ask
the soon-to-be-weds directly than to show up at a black tie affair in shorts.

If you don’t have it, rent it

An invite to a more formal wedding
might have you stressing out over the cost of a good tuxedo. If there’s not a
tuxedo conveniently hung up in your closet, don’t sweat it. Places like The
Black Tux rent out formal wear for a fraction of the purchase price.

Things to Never Wear To A Wedding

Your Canadian tuxedo

Anything denim should stay
far, far away from your wedding getup. Even if the dress code says casual,
jeans are still taboo. When it comes to pants, the most casual we would
consider appropriate would be a pair of navy or khaki chinos — and even those
we aren’t sure about.
Anything you would wear to the

Beach weddings may be
commonplace, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to break out your summer threads.
If you would be comfortable wearing it while sitting in a beach chair, it
shouldn’t be making an appearance at anyone’s nuptials.  This means no flip-flops, shorts, or hats of
any sort. And the Hawaiian t-shirt you think is a hit? Stay far, far away.
Something that will upstage
the bride (or groom)

If your formalwear makes heads
turn, this might not be the day to break it out. Anything that’s going to draw
focus away from the people you’re celebrating is an absolute no-go. You’re a
guest and your job is to support the people who invited you. You definitely
don’t want to be the person sticking out in photos because of what you have on.
Deciphering Wedding Dress

White Tie

The pinnacle of all things
fancy, white tie weddings will require you to break out your dressiest of duds.
Because of the strict dress code, little can be left to interpretation, which
makes your job that much easier. A black dress coat – yes, that means one with
tails – is required for this formal event, along with black patent leather
dress shoes. The trousers should be made of the same fabric as the tailcoat,
and the dress shirt is always white. Pair it with a white bow tie and optional
white or black gloves.


  • Black tuxedo
  • White dress shirt
  • White silk bow tie
  • White pocket square
  • Three button vest
  • Black leather dress shoes
Black Tie

Black tie weddings are likely
going to be fancy evening affairs, so this is still a chance to dress to the
nines. Now, while the nomenclature may suggest a tie, “Black Tie” affairs
actually call for black bow-ties (confusing, right?). Along with that, a formal
black tuxedo is an absolute must. If the weather is too hot, consider a white
tuxedo and black bow tie for a formal ensemble with a twist.

We realize black tie attire
can be a little daunting, but luckily we’ve summed it all up in one handy
formal dress code guide.

  • Black tuxedo
  • Black silk bow tie
  • White pocket square
  • White dress shirt
  • Black leather dress shoes

For formal weddings, you can
still opt for the tuxedo if you wish, but sporting a simple suit is just as
acceptable in this situation. A dark suit can be worn in place of a tuxedo, but
a suit is still necessary. Bow-ties can be replaced with ties. Stay away from
light colors if possible (though accenting with colored ties and pocket squares
is fine).


  • Black, navy or charcoal suits
  • Black or darkly-colored silk
    bow tie or tie
  • White dress shirt
  • Black or brown leather dress
Creative or Festive

Creative black tie still
requires formal attire, but gives some wiggle room to add unexpected touches to
the outfit and display your personal style. You can get crazy with cufflinks, a
cool bow tie, or choose an unconventionally colored undershirt or tie. You can
play with materials as well – a velvet jacket is a popular and fashion-forward
choice for adding some creative flair. Festive formal weddings often have a
predominant theme, so take this opportunity to coordinate your accessories to match.


  • Colored suits or suits in
    different fabrics
  • Burgundy, navy, or charcoal
  • Printed dress shirt
  • Colorful bow tie or tie
  • Black, brown or colorful dress

Also known as dressy casual,
this category tends to be the broadest because it represents the flimsy line
between formal and casual. In other words, you can get away with a whole
breadth of ensembles at a semi-formal wedding. To narrow all the choices down
and figure out what you will wear, pay attention to the time of day of the
wedding: Earlier in the day, lighter colors fly. Later in the evening, darker
shades will do.


  • Navy, gray, or tan suits
  • Suits without jackets
  • Solid or printed dress shirt
  • Colorful tie or bow ties
  • Black or brown dress shoes
Beach Formal

Beach formal is what it sounds
like: formal attire you’d wear to the beach (um, right. Yes). What makes it
complicated is the weather. To avoid melting under the sun, go for light fabrics
like linen or seersucker that will keep you cool, literally and figuratively.
The host will understand that you’re dressing to brave the elements, so an
outfit you might wear to a nice restaurant will do well in this scenario.


  • Linen or light-colored suits
  • Tans, light grays, and light
    blue pieces
  • White dress shirts
  • Brown dress shoes

Again, you might think jeans
are casual – but your friends are tying the knot, and that’s still an occasion
to dress nicely for. Think business casual. You can sport a pair of khakis and
a button-down or polo t-shirt and call it a day. Ties and other niceties are
completely optional (but if you’re feeling it, by all means wear a tie).


  • Suit separates
  • Oxford button-down shirts
  • Cotton ties
  • Vests
  • Chinos
  • Brown dress shoes or boots
What To Wear To A Seasonal

Dressing for a spring wedding

Spring weddings are some of
the easiest to dress for and often have the least predictable weather. If
you’re attending a wedding with one of the more flexible dress codes, we
suggest being sure to have a jacket if there are any outdoor portions of the
ceremony or reception. You can always take it off if you end up being too warm.
Sring is a great time to break out light colors like tans or light grays in
suits and pastels for any suiting accessories.


  • Gray or tan suits
  • Printed dress shirts
  • Pastel ties, bow ties, or
    pocket squares
  • Brown dress leather shoes
Dressing for a summer wedding

When you’re in a certain age
range, it feels like you’re attending a wedding every other week during the
summer months. You definitely don’t need to break out a whole new outfit at
every ceremony you go to — small changes like switching up your dress shirt and
tie combo go a long way. In the summer months, focus on staying cool while
still adhering to dress codes. Try out a linen suit and keep the colors you’re
as light as possible. If you’re going to a more formal wedding, be sure to wear
an undershirt. The all-white look isn’t too forgiving in the heat.


  • Linen or lightly-colored suits
  • Printed dress shirts
  • Bright or pastel ties, bow
    ties, and pocket squares
  • Brown dress leather shoes
Dressing for a fall wedding

Just like dressing for fall,
dressing for a fall wedding means layering up and working with color. Burgundy,
charcoal, and navy suits are especially popular at this time. No matter the
dress code, when a wedding takes place during the colder months, scaling up
formality is perfectly acceptable. If you go for a more traditionally colored
suit, try accessories in jewel tones or incorporate some fall fabrics like wool
and flannel.


  • Charcoal, navy, and burgundy
  • Jewel-toned ties, bow ties,
    and pocket squares
  • Wool or velvet pieces
  • Brown or black dress leather
Dressing for a winter wedding

When it comes to dressing for
winter weddings, we say keep it classic and prepare for the elements. A crisp
black or navy suit will keep you warm if you’re outdoors at any point and the
classic nature is an instant hit. In case you’re faced with any weather like
snow on the ground or an afternoon sprinkle of rain, make sure your shoes are
weather-treated and prepped for the elements. If you’re nervous you’ll get too
cold, don’t be afraid to bring a jacket. However, this should be a peacoat or another
style of an overcoat — anything you’d wear on the slopes should stay at home.


  • Black or charcoal suits
  • White dress shirts
  • Black or brown leather dress
  • Wool overcoats
Crack the Wedding Dress Code

When you don the right outfit,
you’ll be looking smart and feeling fresh. Now that you’ve got the dress code
down pat, all you’ve got left to do is enjoy an evening free of wardrobe
worries, and check out that open bar, while you’re at.
LilyAnne Rice
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.