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 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:
- Jules and Cleo Off-the-Shoulder Sweetheart Ball Gown
- Jovani Long Mermaid Gown
- Mac Duggal Yvette Dress
- Ever Pretty Shiny Sequin Bodice Off the Shoulder Maxi Tulle Evening Dress
White tie men’s attire examples:
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:
- Blush Mark Romantic Adventure Maxi Dress
- BHLDN Lacie Maxi Dress
- Ever Pretty Shiny Sequin Bodice Off the Shoulder Maxi Tulle Evening Dress
- Faviana V-Neck Ruched Open-Back Floor Length Dress
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:
- Blush Mark Off-the-Shoulder Lace Dress
- Tadashi Shoji Sterne Lace and Fringe Dress
- Ever Pretty Striped Sequin Sweetheart Floor-Length Evening Dress
- ASOS Design Halter Cross Waist Velvet Pleated Maxi Dress
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:
- Ever Pretty Ruched Asymmetrical Hem Midi Chiffon Dress
- Unique Vintage 1920s Style Black Mesh Ruffle Leonardo Midi Dress
- Reformation Birch Dress
- Eliza J Floral Ruched Chiffon Faux Wrap Dress
Semi-formal men’s attire examples:
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:
- Lulu’s French Countryside White Floral Print High-Low Dress
- Fame and Partners Ramona Jumpsuit
- Cassie Floral Lace Fit & Flare Halter Dress
- BooHoo Satin Floral Cowl Flute Hem Slip Dress
Dressy casual men’s attire examples:
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:
- Lulu’s Still the One Sage Green Floral Print Satin Maxi Dress
- Lulu’s My Favorite Day Ivory Floral Print Tulip Skirt Midi Dress
- Reformation Alfred Jumpsuit
- Free People Get To You Printed Maxi Slip
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 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.
- Short dress and cowboy boots
A light, breezy dress that comes to just above the knee is super cute with cowboy boots and, if you wish, a denim jacket. You can also wear it with a light cardigan.
- 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.
- Lace top, tiered skirt and cowboy boots
A tiered skirt and lace top are just dressy enough to work for a wedding while the cowboy boots, and, if you like, a denim jacket are a nod to the cowboy theme.
- Denim jacket, long skirt and cowboy boots
A long, tiered floral skirt is just the ticket for a cowboy wedding, especially paired with a simple top and denim jacket. Don a pair of cowboy boots and you’re all set.
Cowboy casual for men:
- Jeans, western shirt, cowboy hat and boots
A white western shirt with dark wash jeans, your favorite belt and some cowboy boots are perfect for a cowboy casual wedding.
- 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:
- Ashley Lauren stretch denim gown
Paired with a sparkly clutch, shoes and the right jewelry, this plain gown is perfect for a Diamonds and Denim wedding.
- 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.
- Sequin skirt and denim shirt
Your invitation may say diamonds, but you can wear anything with bling to make your denim more formal. So, why not sequins? This sequin skirt would look adorable with this denim shirt.
- Jumpsuit and denim jacket
A jumpsuit is comfortable and stylish and as long as you choose one that is made for evening wear, it’s perfect for this style of wedding. A sparkly jumpsuit and a denim jacket with a pair of heels is always a sophisticated 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.
- Tuxedo-stripe pants
If you want to take your denim to the next level, these black jeans are the answer. You can also wear tuxedo stripe trousers paired with a denim shirt.
Denim Dos and Don’ts
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.