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Time and place play a key role selecting an outfit.

Grace Haynes

Though most wedding invitations provide a suggested dress code for guests, decoding it can sometimes be a challenge. Take “dressy casual,” for instance. Should a guest’s outfit lean more towards “dressy” or “casual”? Because selecting the perfect dress or suit can be just as exciting as attending the wedding itself, follow this list of guidelines for following the event’s attire requirements.

White Tie.

This is the fanciest of the fancy dress codes. Men should wear a tuxedo with tails, black shoes, and can even choose to wear white gloves. Women should wear a long formal evening gown.

Black Tie.

A step down from white tie, black tie is still very fancy. Usually all weddings held at 6:30 p.m. or after are understood as black tie affairs. Men should wear a tuxedo. In some parts of the South, men are encouraged to wear white dinner jackets to black tie weddings in the summer. Women should wear a fancier cocktail dress or long evening gown.

Formal/Black Tie Optional. 

Men should wear a tuxedo or dark suit. Women should wear either a cocktail dress or long dress. “Optional” provides guests with more flexibility.

Dressy Casual. 

Men should wear a suit and tie. Women should wear a nice dress or skirt and blouse.

Casual. 

Men should wear a sport coat, button-down shirt, khakis or dress pants, and loafers. Women should wear a dress, a skirt and a blouse, or pants and a blouse. Though the dress code is casual, jeans or shorts shouldn’t be worn.

Beach Casual. 

Men should wear a linen suit or a button-down shirt with dress pants or khakis. Women should wear a sundress.

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But of course, the most important part of a wedding is celebrating the bride and groom. Brush up on a few wedding etiquette tips and how to be a well-mannered guest.