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The Complete Style Guide for 7 Wedding Dress Codes

an image of a wedding venue

So you’re invited to a wedding (yay!) But you have zero clue on what to wear (ugh). The first step is to look at the invitation, but it says…black tie optional? What does that even mean? Is it less fancy than black tie? Are short dresses acceptable? Ugh, why do dress codes even exist??

Girl, we understand the struggle. Whether you need to brush up or are already up to code, scroll below for our crash course on wedding dress codes, plus exactly what to wear for each. On your mark, get set, decode.

White Tie

a long emerald prom dress

Oh you fancy, huh? A white tie dress code is as formal as it gets, meaning a long evening dress is mandatory (no minis in sight!) Get swept up in glam with a gorgeous satin off the shoulder ballgown in pretty emerald. Don’t forget the jewelry; try chandelier earrings and a rhinestone bracelet to match the elegant waistband.

Black Tie

a long black illusion evening dress

Chances are you’ve heard of this one before! A black tie dress code is common for an evening event, so dress to the nines in a black sophisticated gown with pretty embellishments, like this fitted off the shoulder style. And bonus: the beaded panels on the sides make your curves look fire.

Black Tie Optional

Strapless Cuff Front Slit Dress by Camille La Vie

A step down from black tie, black tie optional is more about the men’s dress code, so simply read this as a typical black tie event. You can, however go a bit easier on the embellishments and opt for a simpler style; this strapless red slit dress is subtle yet still makes a statement. Plus, the leg slit shows off a killer pair of heels.


a short blue homecoming dress

No need to go as fancy as a gown here; a cocktail invite = a short, chic style. Keep your dress up to code by choosing one with elegant detailing, like lace or beading. This navy two tone fit and flare is a perfect match.

Beach Formal

a light pink prom dress

Ahh, sun, sand, and sea. For a wedding in the elements, choosing a dress that’s breathable and non-constricting is key. A flowy gown bearing 3-D florals and an illusion skirt transitions seamlessly from sunny shore to ceremony under the stars. Pair it with fancy flats for day and heels for night.


a short black and pink cocktail dress

Semi-formal means finding a happy medium between formal and casual. This style does just that; the black bodice keeps it simple while the satin skirt adds a dose of dressy. Now where’s the dance floor?!


a short green cocktail dress

Because it may take place entirely outside, a daytime wedding has the most laid back dress code of all. But this isn’t the time to pull out the jeans and shorts-remember, it’s still a wedding! A sundress or simple solid style like this halter fit and flare effortlessly complements a day event.

Looking for more? No matter the dress code, always be the best dressed in a style by Camille La Vie. Browse wedding guest dresses here!