Sim Says:

I am attending a friend’s wedding in a few weeks – the wedding service is in the afternoon and the reception in the evening, and the invite requested that we dress “formally”.

I read on a website that formal generally means “black tie”, and a tux is in order. But the same site suggested that a tux should never be worn before 6pm and a dark suit would be more appropriate for a day function.

I don’t really want to be hiring both a suit and a tux – perhaps you can do some tips on wedding attire etiquette ?

Black Tuxedo Without Tails - Ring Bearer/Pageant

Sim – I think you bring up some good points. My advice for you is to wear a dark suit, not a tuxedo. That way you are good for both the day and evening. For everyone else, I am going to outline some basic attire tips.

What is formal wear?

Formal wear is just a fashion term used to describe clothing suitable for formal events like weddings. This describes several modes of dress but basically means suits or tuxedos, high quality shirts, ties, and polished dress shoes.

When should you wear more formal wear such as a tux?

Typically, if a bride or the wedding party want you in that tux, they’ll let you know. There is usually a whole bunch of clothing hints: semi-formal, formal, black tie. When you see that black tie trigger, don that tuxedo.

Semi-formal – something you feel comfortable in, but you can consider the blazer or the tie optional. I’d throw in one or the other, but don’t loose both. It’s a wedding, after all.

Formal – wear a clean-cut, well styled suit. Usually darker suits are preferred. Formal shirts are required, as are ties. Formal wear has several categories in the traditional sense, but unless noted, just stick with this.

Black Tie – tuxedo. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Do you wear something different for afternoon vs. evening?

This really depends on whether or not the wedding is traditional or contemporary. If you know the wedding will be ultra-strict, there are regulations. I have read that before 6pm you must wear gray formalwear, but after black is ok. I really don’t think many people conform to these standards anymore, so suggest wearing black whenever you are unsure.

As a rule of thumb, morning and afternoon weddings are more casual – lighter in colour. Still put on that suit or sport coat, and even a tie.

Consider an evening wedding as more formal, and put on your best suit. Something you’d wear to impress. Something darker with a better fabric choice or style and a crisp white shirt.

Are outdoor weddings different?

Yes. Outside weddings are typically more informal just based on this setting. Check the invitation to see if the attire is semi-formal or formal.