Can You Wear Jeans to a Wedding? (6 Essential Tips on What to Wear)

can you wear jeans to a wedding

Receiving an invitation to a wedding is a huge honor. It means your friends want you to share in their special day with them and help them celebrate their new life together.

Aside from RSVPing and buying a gift, you have one more important responsibility as a guest: choosing your outfit. 

Most weddings are semi-formal or formal occasions on which the bride and groom have spent thousands of dollars — and that means they have the right to expect at least a bit of formality from their guests. 

But what if the wedding is being held on the beach or in the country? Can you wear jeans to a wedding if the venue isn’t formal? In a word? No. Denim is not an option unless your invitation specifically says jeans are OK.

Are Jeans Ever Acceptable as Wedding Attire?

In most cases, jeans are too casual for a wedding. So, what should you wear?

Your wedding invitation should give you a good idea about what kind of outfit will be required. Most invites will indicate how formal the wedding is. Let’s take a look at what is acceptable attire for each style of wedding.

White tie

White-tie is the most formal style of wedding. It is also the least common. Men are required to wear tuxedos with tails with a white bowtie while women are expected to wear a floor-length evening gown. The ladies may also be expected to wear elbow-length gloves.

White tie women’s attire examples:

White tie men’s attire examples:

Black tie

A black tie affair means a full-length evening gown for the ladies and a black tuxedo and bowtie for the men. This style of wedding is also rare.

Black tie women’s attire examples:

Black tie men’s attire examples:

Formal (black tie optional)

Formal attire means a tuxedo or a dark suit for men and an evening gown or cocktail dress for the ladies. This style of wedding is common at fancy venues.

Formal women’s attire examples:

Formal men’s attire examples:

Semi-formal (or cocktail)

The most popular of all the dress codes, semi-formal requires men to wear a suit or dress pants and sport coat. Women can wear a cocktail dress, a garden party dress or a fancy jumpsuit. Hemlines should not be shorter than an inch or two above the knee. That means no minis!

Semi-formal women’s attire examples:

Semi-formal men’s attire examples:

Dressy Casual

Dressy casual is slightly more relaxed than semi-formal and is the second most popular option for weddings. Men can wear a sports coat or blazer with a nice pair of trousers. Ties are optional. Women can wear garden party dresses, a skirt and top ensemble or a semi-fancy jumpsuit.

Dressy casual women’s attire examples:

Dressy casual men’s attire examples:

Casual

A casual wedding typically means men can forgo the jacket in favor of a nice button down and khakis or trousers. Unless the invitation gives permission, jeans, sandals and shorts are a no-go. Women can wear a pretty knee-length sundress or a maxi dress. Jumpsuits are also an option.

Casual women’s attire examples:

Casual men’s attire examples:

No style stated

If your wedding invitation doesn’t indicate the dress code, you can get in touch with the bride or groom for clarification. If you’re not able to reach them, go by the venue where the wedding is being held. 

If it’s being held in a ballroom, you can assume attire is formal. If it’s being held in a barn, garden or lodge, opt for semi-formal. Beach weddings and other super casual venues are likely dressy casual. And remember, it’s always better to dress up than down.

Can You Wear Jeans to a Wedding? (Exceptions to the No-Denim Rule)

While jeans are a no-no for most weddings, there are a few exceptions to the rule. While not the norm, some brides and grooms opt for a casual cowboy theme or a glitzy diamonds and denim theme.

But what is the difference between the two? Can you wear anything you want? Let’s take a look at what you can wear to these two denim-themed styles of wedding.

Cowboy Casual 

Cowboy casual weddings may be more casual than a traditional semi-formal or dressy casual affair, but you still need to put some thought into your outfit.

No matter what style the wedding is, you always need to look well-put-together. Here are a few outfit ideas for the ladies and the gents.

Cowboy casual for ladies:

  • Maxi dress and cowboy boots
    Comfy, yet pretty, a maxi dress paired with cowboy boots is a classic western look. If you don’t have cowboy boots, you can wear tall boots or wedge or flat dressy sandals.
  • Denim shirt, skirt and cowboy boots
    The classic pairing of a denim shirt and skirt is perfect for a cowboy-style wedding. To make the look more interesting, why not opt for a floral print skirt with a pretty ruffle feature, like this simple midi.

Cowboy casual for men:

  • Jeans, white shirt and blazer
    For men who don’t want to appear too casual, a blazer atop your western shirt and jeans is the perfect finishing touch. Add a hat, belt and boots and you’re good to go.
  • Jeans, dress shirt and vest
    If it’s too hot for a blazer, donning a vest over your dress shirt is a great idea. You can dress up your ensemble with a bolo tie for a true cowboy vibe, or go without.

Diamonds and Denim

If you’re invited to a Diamonds and Denim wedding, you can expect the event to be a little more casual yet still upscale. And that means you can’t just throw on your favorite jeans, a T-shirt and a bit of diamond jewelry and call it a day.

The bride and groom will definitely be expecting you to look your best and that means your usual casual attire just won’t cut it.

Need some ideas on what to wear? We’ve got you covered. Here are some great outfits for men and women so you can impress your hosts.

Diamonds and denim looks for the ladies:

  • La Femme dark wash a-line gown
    If you really want to go all out, this a-line dress with floral embellishments would be great with some diamond accessories.
  • Tulle skirt and denim jacket
    While we wouldn’t suggest you choose a white skirt for a wedding, choosing a tulle skirt in sky blue, light mint or blush and pairing it with a denim jacket and diamond jewelry will have you looking adorable.
  • Denim and lace
    A denim jacket with a lace dress or skirt will make sure you look super cute, especially when paired with sparkly sandals and clutch and some diamond earrings or a bracelet.
  • Embellished denim jacket
    Worn with a dress or a skirt, a rhinestone-embellished jacket gives off that diamond vibe. Pair with some wedge or heeled sandals and some diamond earrings to complete the look.

Diamonds and denim ideas for the men:

  • Dark jeans
    A staple in any stylish man’s wardrobe, dark wash jeans are perfect to wear to a diamonds and denim event. Paired with a dress shirt and dress shoes, a pair of dark wash jeans look dressy and elegant. For the sparkle, look for a watch with a bit of bling.
  • Dress pants and denim shirt
    A pair of plain or pinstripe dress pants looks great with a denim shirt. You can pair it with a tie or bowtie and a pair of dress shoes for a polished look. As for the bling, try finding some cufflinks with a bit of sparkle.
  • Black jeans, blazer and bowtie or regular tie
    Straight cut black jeans paired with a button-down shirt and blazer with a bit of shine can look really high-end, especially if you add a bowtie or regular tie to the mix as well as a pocket square for the pocket of your blazer.

Denim Dos and Don’ts

denim dos and donts

If you’re invited to a Diamonds and Denim wedding or a Cowboy Casual ceremony, then you’ve officially got the green light to don your denim.

Even if wearing jeans is OK with the bride and groom, there are still a few matters of etiquette to keep in mind.

1. Avoid bleached denim

Light-colored denim is way too casual for a wedding, even if it’s rodeo-themed. Stick to darker washes for a more sophisticated look.

2. Avoid jeans with rips, tears or stains

Your jeans should be devoid of any rips, tears or stains — no matter how on-trend that might be at the moment. You want to look like you put some effort into your appearance and jeans with your knees sticking out simply don’t send the right message.

3. Avoid skin-tight jeans

While we’re all for a pair of slim-cut jeans, avoid skinny jeans and jeggings for a wedding. Skin-tight jeans may look great at the bar, but they have no place at a more formal setting like a wedding.