Wedding Etiquette Forum

Is my wedding formal enough for a "formal" dress code?

Hello! My fiancé and I have tried to balance tradition and modernity while planning our wedding and it has left me feeling a little stuck about the dress code. We wanted the day to feel special and elegant without feeling stuffy. Guests have been asking what the dress code for the event is. I have told a few people "formal" but now I worry that the event itself isn't formal enough to warrant the formal dress code request. I want guests to feel comfortable and not worry that they are underdressed/overdressed! Here are some details - maybe you can help me figure it out!  :#

Ceremony begins at 4:00pm, it is outdoors but at a beautiful historic estate on the ocean
Groom/groomsmen/FOB/FOG in tuxedos
My gown has a chapel train and I am wearing a floor length veil
Bridesmaids and MOB/MOG in floor length dresses made in more formal materials/styles
Live music
ornate flowers
champagne passed on trays to guests while they wait

Cocktail hour begins at 5:00pm, it is at the country club in town. 
Cocktail hour is on the covered patio with garden views
Lots of flowers and candles 
Real linens, china, silverware, glassware 
Live music
styled and attended food stations
full open bar w/ top shelf options and styled cocktail menu as well 
Servers in black pants/white button down shirts 

Dinner begins at 6:30pm, in the indoor dining room 
This is the only part of the day without live music to provide the band with a break and chance to eat 
Again lots of flowers and candles
Also real linens, china, silverware, glassware 
Assigned seating at tables of 8-10 with escort cards and place cards 
Dinner is being served family-style, beautifully arranged and garnished (not heaping plates of barbecue or anything like that) on the tables in 3 courses (salads first, then mains/sides, then cheese & fruit course to finish)
Wine selection and pour by bartenders during dinner service 

After dinner we will move to the floored and lit tent for more live music, continued bar service, coffee and dessert stations. Still lots of flowers and candles for decor, real linens, china, etc. 

It might be worth mentioning that our wedding is very small and intimate, we are having between 50-60 guests. Im not sure if guest count changes formality level....

What do you think? It will be July. With the groom/WP in tuxedos I worry about saying the dress code is "cocktail" but I think a lot of aspects of the event are of a cocktail-level of formality with some formal-level aspects in the mix. I was thinking about saying "summer formal" but didn't want to confuse people!

Re: Is my wedding formal enough for a "formal" dress code?

  • I wouldn't publish anything about the dress code.  I think if you describe it to people that should help.  Then if asked further say, "If I were attending this as a guest I'd wear..."  The time of the year may also push for shorter dresses for women and a slight relaxation of attire from tuxes to suits or suited separates but I think this is one of those areas to not worry about.  It sounds like you're providing a great wedding and those who are interested are asking.

    Believe me - the people who didn't ask me were the one who SHOULD have and never would.   
  • You really shouldn't have a published dress code for your wedding. I agree with @banana468 advice and just answer people if they ask. Usually the invitation, time and venue will tell people how formal to dress along with weather since it is an outside event. There is no such thing as summer formal so that would be confusing. I have never been to wedding where the guests wore tuxedoes just because the WP and fathers did. If it were black tie that would be a whole other matter.
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