Are Gowns Required at Black-Tie Weddings?

Oh, the dreaded black-tie wedding. Not because it’s not fun, but because guests are often at a loss for what to wear. It’s not like many girls and guys have gowns and tuxes lying around — so what is appropriate attire when attending a black-tie wedding? Here our etiquette experts outline an acceptable wardrobe.

All wedding invitations should denote the formality of the reception — especially when they’re throwing a black-tie wedding. If you receive an invitation for an evening wedding that’s engraved and has that black-tie marker at the bottom right corner know you’re in for a swanky night. But while black-tie calls for formal dress, that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank or look like you’re on the Oscar red carpet.

See more: 10 Ways to Ensure Your Guests Have the Absolute Best Time

For women, the rule of thumb should be a floor-length dress or a very formal cocktail dress (think A-line, metallic, or rich embellishments). Again, this doesn’t have to be a trumpet or ball gown, but it should be very dressy (sheaths are always a great go-to!). While guys are traditionally expected to wear a tuxedo, they should at the very least don a nice suit, preferably black, with a black tie (because, you know). For a formal evening wedding without the mention of “black tie”, the rules are slightly more lax, but women should still wear longer or more formal cocktail dresses and men should be in the nicest suit they own. After all, you are able to wear what you want, just don’t show up in a sundress or khaki slacks with a cotton button-up and you’re all good.

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