The style of your wedding, time of day, location and season are all factors for wedding dress code.

How to Set Dress Requirements for the Guests at Your Wedding

by Jennifer J. Petrini

Whether you are having a traditional religious ceremony, an outdoor beach affair or a themed nuptial, you want to make sure your guests dress appropriately for your wedding celebration. Keeping your guests as informed as possible is very important, but can seem concerning when following proper etiquette. Include your dress code within these outlets to encourage your guests to look their best for your big day.

Save-the-Date Invite

Sending a save-the-date card is the precursor to the official invitation and is indicative of the style of wedding one is hosting. Oftentimes, if guests are invited from out of town or for a destination wedding, it’s a good idea to inform them of the wedding date as soon as possible. While this is the first announcement regarding the event, include verbiage regarding what type of dress will be encouraged. Perhaps you are having a ranch-styled reception outdoors, phrase at the bottom of the invite, “Cowboy Boots Preferred.” Or, for a special religious service, “Church Attire, Please Keep Shoulders Covered.”

Invitation Suite

The official invitation can be the first impression your guests have on the manner of your wedding festivities, especially if you did not send out a save-the-date card. Invitation suites often include the official invitation, a reply card, directions and registry information. The styling of the invite and location listed should be a clue as to the type of wedding being celebrating. Adding a brief postscript with the dress code at the bottom of the invitation announcement will alert your guests as to what they should wear. Terms such as "Black-Tie Only," "Cocktail Attire" and "Business Casual" are basic phrases, but feel free to be clever -- “Summer Chic” or “Flip Flops Recommended" -- especially for special locations or weddings hosted at a specific time of day. If the wedding is themed or a location-driven event, including a full dress code card is helpful if your budget allows, as it gives much more space and freedom to explain the encouraged attire.

Wedding Websites

Many couples choose to share their special day, along with the additional celebrations surrounding the wedding, with their very own wedding website, otherwise known as a wedsite. If you choose to have a wedsite, this would be a great place to indicate the dress code for the ceremony and reception while explaining any special themes, if need be. You can even post pictures of suggested attire if you are concerned your guests may not understand the encouraged style.

Bridal Party Word of Mouth

Just in case you are still concerned about the dress code, inform your parents and bridal party on the style of dress and ask them to spread the word. While the couple may want to stay out of the conversation, let the best man and maid of honor do the dirty work, since that’s their job anyways.

About the Author

Jennifer J. Petrini has been a writer, stylist and fashion show producer since 2001, contributing to "Ceremony Magazine," "MANIAC" and various websites. She is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where she earned a Bachelor of Humanities and Arts in creative/professional writing and drama.

Photo Credits

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