So you just received a wedding invitation, and you’re shocked (and THRILLED) that it says “casual dress code.”
Yes! Finally, a wedding where you can wear your favorite T-shirt and jeans!
Or can you?
While we all know what casual clothes are, there are a few things you should know about casual wedding attire. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t necessarily mean T-shirts and jeans).
For instance, what’s appropriate to wear? How do you choose the perfect look?
We reveal both and more in our guide on what to wear to a casual wedding.
What Does Casual Wedding Attire Mean?
Photo: Shelby Seaber
The casual wedding dress code is informal yet still neat and clean. It’s the least formal dress code for weddings. So unlike cocktail attire, semi-formal wedding attire, and black-tie wedding attire, there’s no need to rent a tuxedo, put on a suit and tie, or buy a brand-new evening gown.
Here are a few outfit options that are perfect for a casual wedding:
Depending on the climate, you might even want to wear shorts!
But before you pick your favorite casual look, double-check the wedding invitation one more time and make sure it doesn’t say “dressy casual.” That’s a different dress code altogether.
Dressy casual calls for:
While casual dress codes vary slightly, one rule still holds true: there is no need to wear a tie!
Do you want to keep things “caz” for your nuptials? Check out the entire Bella Bridesmaids collection, featuring hundreds of bridesmaid dress styles — including more casual options!
Casual Wedding Attire = Comfortable Wedding Attire
Casual looks should be comfortable, but they should never, ever be sloppy. After all, it’s someone’s wedding! So no matter how laid-back your outfit, the goal is to look neat and well-put-together.
The trick is finding a balance between what’s reasonable for the occasion and what’s appropriate for the venue, time of day, and season.
Don’t Be TOO Casual
Photo: Alyssa Fisher
Unless the couple specifically asks you to wear a certain look, there are a few items that aren’t great choices for a wedding.
Avoid sweatpants, sweatshirts, tracksuits, and yoga pants. If you would wear it while lounging at home, working out, or running errands, it’s not appropriate wedding guest attire.
Don’t wear a graphic tee with a novelty print or a logo. With a pair of chinos and loafers or as a layering piece under a jacket, a solid plain tee is a fine choice for a casual spring wedding. But graphic tees … not so much.
Unless it’s a beach wedding, don’t wear flip-flops. Flip-flops are okay if you’re attending an outdoor wedding on the sand, but if the wedding venue is indoors, leave your flip-flops and other pool shoes at home.
The same thing goes for shorts. If you’re heading to an outdoor summer wedding in a steamy hot climate, shorts might make sense.
Sporty looks, like team jerseys and basketball shorts, aren’t appropriate wedding attire. The only exception is if the couple is throwing a team-themed event.
Sneakers aren’t an ideal choice either, but they can work with the right outfit as long as they’re slightly dressier.
Here’s the bottom line:
When in doubt, dress more along the lines of “business casual” than lazy Sunday afternoon watching football on the couch casual. If it looks or feels sloppy, it’s the wrong choice.
Consider the Location When Deciding What To Wear
Photo: Mirelle Carmichael
The wedding venue can also help steer you in the right direction as to what to wear.
For example, jeans might seem like an inappropriate choice for most weddings. Yet, jeans paired with cowboy boots might be the perfect look for a country-themed wedding in a barn!
(... and they're definitely the perfect look for a cowboy-themed wedding).
If the wedding is a backyard party with a luau theme, a Hawaiian shirt and a pair of shorts or a casual maxi dress with cute sandals are great options.
For indoor receptions, you can’t go wrong with a casual suit or a nice pair of pants and a dress shirt — without the tie.
Remember that suits in light colors, such as tan, light gray, and pale blue, tend to look more casual, while dark suits give off a more formal vibe.
Choose Your Outfit Based on the Time of the Event
Even when the invitation says the dress code is casual, evening events are almost always dressier. So consider the time of day when choosing a casual wedding outfit.
A dress is always a safe choice, and short dresses, midi dresses, and long dresses all work for a day or night event.
For a daytime wedding, consider a floral print midi dress or maxi dress with a pair of wedges or flat sandals. For the evening, a little black dress or a stylish midi dress with a chunky block heel is a great look!
For the guys, a short sleeve polo shirt is an easy way to look polished and put together for a casual daytime event. For an evening reception, a long sleeve button-down shirt can make you look wedding-appropriate while still giving off a casual, laid-back vibe.
Tips for Choosing the Right Casual Look
If you’re really stumped on what to wear, there are a few things you can do to help figure it out.
The best place to start is with the couple’s wedding website. Their wedding website might include more details on the theme or dress code than the invitation does.
Another option is to consult with other guests and ask them what they plan to wear. For example, if everyone else intends to wear a casual suit or a dress, you probably don’t want to be the only one in jeans.
A third option is to ask members of the wedding party what they’re wearing to help you get some outfit ideas. If the plan is for the groomsmen to wear nautical tees and seersucker shorts, you don’t need to show up in a suit!
The casual dress code doesn’t require you to wear a cocktail dress, a tux, or even dress pants with a collared shirt and tie. However, there’s still a standard you’ll want to meet.
Whatever look you choose, it should be laid-back and relaxed yet still neat and well-put-together.
Finding that look doesn’t have to be complicated, either.
Just pick an outfit that you love that fits the theme and vibe of the wedding. As long as it meets the moment and expresses your personal sense of style, you can’t go wrong!