How To Dress For A Wedding

The three dress codes for weddings

“What do I wear to the wedding?” It’s the common question that gets us all stressed and confused the moment we receive a wedding invitation. But before you panic, have a look for the dress code on the invitation. What does it say? Smart casual, cocktail, formal… the list goes on. But what does this all mean?


Smart Casual

Generally speaking, couples will choose a smart casual dress code for their wedding if it is a more relaxed setting and a relatively informal wedding. Smart casual gives you the opportunity to dress smart and neat, without going too dressy or too casual. It’s essentially in-between formal and informal. For a male, a smart pair of brown or blue trousers is a great choice for this dress code. Pair it will a white shirt and loafers or dress shoes. You don’t have to worry about a tie or blazer. Just keep it neat and simple. For women, you could wear a pair of tailored pants, pencil skirt, mid-length skirt with a nice shirt or a stylish dress. You could opt for flats or a low heel.


Cocktail is perfect for a semi-formal wedding. It is more dressy than smart casual wear, but it doesn’t mean you need to wear a ball gown. For a male, black or navy blue trousers with a shirt and blazer is your best option. You can wear a tie as well with cocktail dress code, but it’s optional. Pair your suit with a classy pair of men’s dress shoes. A little tip, it doesn’t hurt asking what your family or friends are wearing that way you don’t get a shock when your the only one without a tie at the wedding.

For women, a pretty dress, short or around ankle length, is a great choice. A skirt paired with a skirt and blazer is a great outfit too. If your not the skirt or dress type of gal, wear a tailored blazer and trousers with a sophisticated blouse and pair of heels.


Formal wear is on the dressier end for a wedding and is quite similar to black tie dress code. For men, a suit- the classic dark coloured trousers and blazer paired with a white shirt and tie. For women, a short or floor length formal dress, a dressy set or pantsuit are great options for a formal wedding.

Helpful Hints

Often, the wedding venue can give you helpful hints about the dress code. For example, a wedding ceremony at a church may suggest more cocktail or formal attire, whereas a beach wedding may be more smart casual to cocktail.

Another thing to consider is whether there are any dress restrictions. For instance, with some cultures you are required to have your shoulders covered for church weddings. Knowing a bit more about the venue and culture can help you best organise your outfit.

Are you stuck on where to buy your outfits from?

If you don’t want to buy a suit or dress, their are plenty of hire boutiques or second hand suit stores that offer relatively affordable options.

For men’s suits, check out:

For all you ladies, here are some great stores and brands to shop at:

  • Kookai- great for a cocktail dress or pantsuit.

  • Mossman- they have sophisticated styles with lace or something more simplistic.

  • Bardot- great for a smart casual dress or pretty skirt and top set.

  • Bec and Bridge- this is a popular Australian designer label for a classic cocktail or formal piece.

  • Portmans- they have sophisticated pieces from trousers, blazers and pencil skirts to elegant shirts.

  • David Jones and Myer- these two department stores stock a lot of brands that provide wedding appropriate clothing.


When it comes to shopping for a wedding, it all depends on your budget, time and personal preference. Having a browse around a few different stores to get an idea is probably your best option, especially if your shopping a few months before the wedding. And when you see something you really like, the one you would be excited to wear and would loose sleep over if you didn’t buy it… you know that’s the winner!

Feel free to comment your thoughts in the comments below.