Black Tie Wedding Guest Style Guide

There are so many ways a couple can create their perfect summer black tie wedding. Each situation – all beautiful in their own right – means a certain sort of style, and not just for the wedding party! As a guest at a black tie wedding, there are certain expectations for what you should wear. Today, we’re partnering with our friends at The Black Tux to help you pick the perfect wedding guest style for that black tie wedding this summer!

A good indicator of what to wear comes from the wedding invitation itself. If nothing is specified on the invitation, wedding website, or communication with the bride and groom, take cues from the venue location, time of ceremony, and how formal the look of the invitation as you decide what to wear. The more formal the invitation, the more formal the dress code; with evening weddings beginning at 6pm or later, you should assume the event to be a formal affair.


Photo by Kat of Chaz Cruz.

For the woman attending a black tie or black tie optional wedding, we recommend going with a timeless look! A cocktail dress or floor length evening gown are perfect for the occasion. For a day wedding, consider a lighter color palette or subtle patterns for your cocktail dress. Most black tie weddings are evening events, though, and for those we recommend that you go with a neutral such as black, grey or navy and a longer length gown. If you don’t own a suitable gown for the event, consider renting one from a service like Rent The Runway or visit stores like Nordstrom and J.Crew to find your new favorite formal dress! Pair with a statement necklace, some embellished heels and a matching clutch for a gorgeously put-together look.


Photo by Nikki Santerre.

For the gentleman wanting to look dapper at a black tie or black tie optional event, we recommend classic formal attire. Your best fitted suit with a crisp tie is a great starting point; however for a black tie wedding, we suggest you to consider a tuxedo. We recommend one in classic black or a deep navy blue with a bow tie. If you don’t own a tuxedo of your own, renting one is a great option. The Black Tux offers everything you need to dress for the occasion – from suits and tuxedos to cufflinks, neckwear and shoes. You can even rent a complete outfit with everything you need from head to toe, curated by one of their stylists!

Looking for more tips on what to wear as a guest? The Wedding Guest Style Guide by The Black Tux is perfect “cheat sheet” to help you and the well groomed gentlemen in your life navigate what to wear in a variety of wedding situations. Enjoy!


October 30, 2016 - 8:39 am

joe DeFabis - black is classic and timeless

August 6, 2017 - 10:49 am

Cass - Hi! Thanks for putting together this guide. I’m going to a super formal wedding in a few weeks where I don’t know really anyone. Dresses make me uncomfortable and I haven’t worn one in 3 years. Do I have to break down and wear one? Do you think a jumpsuit could work? Or could I wear a black suit and tie? Thanks!

August 8, 2017 - 8:47 pm

marymarantz - Traditionally, you would wear a floor-length gown to a black tie wedding. For a black tie optional wedding, you would have the option of wearing a formal cocktail dress or floor-length gown. A good rule of thumb is to wear something that would not look out of place next to a man in a tuxedo. So if you had a formal jumpsuit, you could possibly make that work if a dress is out of the question. Pay attention to fabrics and your accessories to ensure you look and feel formal enough for the occasion.

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