Summer Wedding Dress Codes

Stipulating a dress code on your invitations is optional and will inevitably serve to confuse guests. But it's advisable for summer weddings, which often take place outdoors or on the beach (and, you know, someone might show up in a caftan—or shorts!). Many guests will wonder "How casual can I go here?" and "Is it okay to wear a beaded burgundy number at a 4 p.m. ceremony when the sun's still blazing?" so we've outlined the four most common dress codes for a range of receptions. Decide which one fits your vision and use the (hopefully super-clear) lingo we've provided.

Most of your guests will feel at ease seeing "semiformal" on your invite. This indicates the kind of attire they're most familiar with for evening weddings: cocktail or festive, dinner party-appropriate attire they can find in the eveningwear section of a department store. We're talking knee-length, "big-night-out" dresses of the sort they might wear to a New Year's Eve party or on a special date. "Semiformal" is the reason why the little black dress exists, although at a summer wedding, color feels more seasonally-appropriate (from pastels to jewel tones). Men in the business world also have an easy time with "semiformal" as they can wear a suit-and-tie combo appropriate for the office. To put a festive spin on the standard, men might also consider pairing shirts (how about some stripes?) with vibrant and/or patterned summer ties.

NEXT: Daytime Semiformal Wedding Dress Code

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