Does a dress code offend you?

I spend a lot of time lurking on E and there are frequent conversations about how you can't tell your guests how to dress.  I get it, it's rude.  But does seeing "Black Tie Optional" or "Semi-Formal Attire Requested" on an invitation really offend you?

I'm already married so it doesn't matter, but I recently got an invitation where "Black Tie Optional" was written and it didn't offend me, I actually got sort of excited for the excuse to buy a new fancier dress.

So I was just wondering if it offends anyone on here.
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Re: Does a dress code offend you?

  • I agree with both of you.
  • I don't think it's rude at all. People now a days think they can go places in sweat pants lol. Not that I don't love a good day wearing sweat pants but unless something its on the invite people might show up in jeans. I wouldn't be offended.

    The lady wanting no black that just ridiculous lol.
  • I'm not offended but I roll my eyes when a dress code other than black tie is on an invitation.

    My eye rolling turns to annoyance when I get to an event with a required dress code that doesn't hold up to what was stated. DH and I went to a wedding that requested semiformal attire that was casual at best.
  • Ours says black tie optional. We're having a pretty formal event and I don't want people showing up in jeans and a t-shirt...I agree with mandafly84, I like having an excuse to dress up!
  • The issue with black tie optional though is if the hosts don't do their job. It isn't just about dressed up guests.
  • Well my fiancé is a marine so he'll be wearing his dress blues, I don't know of any uniform more formal than that! And the groomsmen will either be wearing blues or tuxes and the bms long dresses. At least I can say our wedding party will be appropriately dressed. I would have preferred to have the invitation say black tie, but we put the optional because we knew we have some guests (close family) who already own suits and truly can't afford the extra money to rent a which case I have to just let it go unless I want to be paying for that too!
  • It's not just the attire though. Will you have gloved wait staff serving the apps? Is the meal many courses and plated (no buffet/stations)? Will you have a band vs. a DJ? Does the event start at six or later? Will the cars be parked by valet? Do you have a top shelf open bar? Are your invitations engraved or letter pressed?

    These are among the responsibilities of the hosts when specifying that the event is black tie. If they don't do those things that's when I'm annoyed because as a guest, I've incurred an extra expense for attire when the hosts didn't do what they were supposed to do.
  • Yes I would be offended. I'm 33 years old, I know how to dress, thanks.


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    image 59 Invited
    image 36 Yes
    image 2 No
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  • I wouldn't be offended at all! I go to events all the time (non weddings) and it's really helpful to know whether it's cocktail attire or black tie.  There is a big difference between what I would wear to each - basically a LBD vs. a gown. (or a suit vs. a tux for guys). 

    Also agreed on the other points about having a black tie event. The event itself has to warrant the "black tie" label - I would expect an upscale more formal event.  I WOULD be offended if I'm in a gown and he in a tux and we're eating buffet stations at the local wedding factory.


  • @banana468, yes to all of the above except a band because we prefer a DJ since we like a very wide variety of music and want to be able to hear them all at our wedding. Most bands just can't play country, rock, and rap all very well...we do have a string quartet for the ceremony and cocktail hour. @buddysmom80, just because you know how to dress doesn't mean everyone does. I have been to many weddings where people were not appropriately dressed. I've never been offended by an invitation specifying dress, I too find it helpful to know if a cocktail dress is appropriate or if I should/can dress up more. I would not want to wear a long formal dress and show up to find everyone else in short semi-formal dresses...or vice versa. Anyhow, I see it pointless to argue over as people are going to dislike or be offended by something you do no matter what choices you make. My invites say black tie optional. If my lack of band makes my wedding unworthy, oh well, Maybe the after party and brunch I'm shelling out extra money for can make up for that. Or the whisky and cigar bar, or flip flops and pashminas for every female guest. I see your point but I don't agree that all your above requirements have to be met to make an event black tie worthy...
  • If you're using a DJ he just needs to be at the top of his game.   A lot of DJs (not mine - he was awesome!) can be rather "canned" and make the wedding feel like it's part of a mass-produced event.

    It sounds like your wedding fits the bill.   The issues that were brought up on the E board is that you'll have guests in tuxes but some not in tuxes.   That could create a "class" situation with those who opted to NOT dress in the black tie attire.    The other issue is that some people just don't get it even if the dress code is printed in front of them.    At my company, the dress code is in the handbook but plenty of people pay it no mind and take business casual to mean WAY TO FREAKIN' CASUAL.   Some people will dress poorly no matter what and you can't change that.

    The only other caution would be if this is outside the realm of comfort for your guests.   Even if a black tie wedding was what DH and I wanted, it would not have been OK for most of our guests who would have considered it to be a financial burden to attend.    

    I'm not saying that any of the above is directly applying to you - it's more directed to those who think that black tie = dressy guests only. 
  • I agree some people are rather clueless. I was concerned if we didn't at least say black tie optional we literally would have some people showing up in jeans, and I worked too hard for this wedding to have that! Oh well, hopefully not too many of my guests get offended by it lol. I honestly never thought it would be offensive to anyone, we've gotten quite a few invites that specified dress code and I never saw it as offensive, but again there is always some part of your wedding that upsets or offends someone. With two sets of parents each and 10 siblings we gave up on pleasing anyone but ourselves a long time ago!
  • FWIW, as long as the people I loved were at my wedding, I don't care what they were wearing. That's why we're not specifying a dress code because I want my guests to feel comfortable.

    At the end of the day, your guest's comfort is what is important at your reception, not how you want your guests to look.

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    image 59 Invited
    image 36 Yes
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  • I personally don't get offended by much--I'm grateful to be invited to celebrate someone's special day. It doesn't hurt my feelings if they demand black tie attire, don't give favors, or even (gasp!) decide to have a cash bar. That's not to say that I would be so forgiving about my own wedding; I think that the wedding world would be a better place if we all worked on being kind, gracious guests and polite, generous hosts.
    With that said, I am actually very appreciative when an invitation suggests a type of attire. If it doesn't, I will usually end up calling the bride and asking more details about the wedding to figure out what I should wear (most brides are eager to gossip about the wedding anyway). I'll even try to dress in a color that complements her scheme, but I'm a weirdo and I would NEVER expect my guests to do that. And in regards to the bride who didn't want anyone to wear black, I have plenty of friends who feel most comfortable in black (universally figure-flattering!) and almost every girl has a LBD on hand, so that seems especially unfair.
    "Black tie optional" lets guests know that they should err on the side of overdressed, which I think most people would appreciate. And black tie attire does not have to be expensive. But I agree that the wedding should match and manage guests' expectations appropriately; I don't think it's okay to issue a black tie dress code for a very casual affair. I once wore a very fancy dress to a "black tie affair" that had a buffet and a DJ playing club music and not much else, and quite frankly I felt pretty ridiculous all night in that gown.
  • Also, on this topic:
    I have seen a lot of sites suggesting that for a "period wedding", i.e. the ever-trending Gatsby wedding, the invitation should suggest that guests should wear period-appropriate clothing.
    Do you guys think this is fun, and adds a different spin on the wedding, like a costume party? Or is it inconvenient and inconsiderate to guests? (I would imagine that most women would not have a Roaring '20s outfit on hand that was also wedding-appropriate and not some kind of sequined flapper costume).
  • @buddysmom80 to each their own, I'll agree to disagree because clearly we have different views on this. I don't think asking my guests to dress nicely is asking too much. @lebeers I agree I'd feel more uncomfortable NOT knowing how to dress. I actually feel much more comfortable in a long formal gown than a short cocktail dress...probably because I am always cold. I think if you had a small wedding you could get away with a period wedding, but I'd say make it optional so only people who enjoy that kind of thing have to dress up. Personally I'd love it. Any excuse to get all dressed up excites me because let's face it, business casual every day gets pretty old!
  • I think I would be really uncomfortable at a wedding where guests were dressing along with a theme like roaring 20s or Gatsby. For a Halloween party sure, great! But if it was an optional thing at a wedding, I'd be uncomfortable for not participating (and feeling like I stood out because of it), and if it was mandatory, I'd probably just sadly decline to attend.
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  • I have no desire to buy attire I'll never wear again because a couple wants a period themed wedding. At least if I had to buy a gown I could wear it to another formal event.

  • I love love love knowing what I should be wearing and wouldn't get offended. I don't want to be the overdressed guest or the under dressed guests.  I also won't purchase something that I won't wear about but being told that everyone else is dressing up, would let me know that I may need to step it up notch.  
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  • The thing is though, black tie optional doesn't tell you to dress up. It says you can but you don't have to. The argument on the etiquette board is that you may wind up with a divided group of guests with those in black tie and those who opted not to be in it at all. If your event is formal (by date, venue, invitation style, etc) then those things convey the correct formality without confusing guests.
  • hyechica81hyechica81 member
    Seventh Anniversary 1000 Comments 100 Love Its First Answer
    edited February 2014
    you should never put what the dress code is its black tie or its not. your invites should always set the tone for what your event is if you have a informal invite expect guess to come dress casual

    if you have a some what formal invite expect guess to get a little dressed up more not semi formal not formal but a really  nice cocktail dress long or short

    and if your invite is supper formal expect guest to dress up fancy like black tie most people will look up the venue to get a feel for what it looks like

    it is also rude to say on your invites not to come in jeans pants or teeshirts. its also rude to say please dont come dressed in black or the colors of the wedding party.

    banana468 said:
    I have no desire to buy attire I'll never wear again because a couple wants a period themed wedding. At least if I had to buy a gown I could wear it to another formal event.

    I'm pretty sure for a Gatsby/20's wedding you could wear the gown again.  That's pretty much the hottest dress trend going right now.

    @lebeers- I would personally be so, so excited to get an invitation like that!  But from reading others opinions, I think mine is in the minority. 

     I would never mandate that people wear anything to my wedding, but would it be so wrong to invite guests to join in the theme?  Just for those like me (and many friends) who would be delighted to do so?


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  • I don't think it's wrong, exactly, I just think a lot of people would be thrown off. Years ago, the older brother of a girl I went to high school with got married and had a Star Wars themed wedding. Everyone was in costume, it was borderline a cosplay convention with a ceremony thrown in. Quite honestly, I never would have attended because #1, I don't have a Star Wars costume and I'm not going to buy one and #2, even if I did attend in my normal clothes, I'd stick out like a sore thumb and feel terribly awkward. I know this isn't the same as the Gatsby trend, but you get the idea.
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  • The Gatsby attire may be on trend but if I haven't been invited to occasions warranting that type of attire yet I think any period attire purchased would be off to Goodwill.

  • Good point, some themes would certainly be easier to work with than others, and so much of it is subjective.


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