Ask the Experts: Help with Wedding Dress Codes

by Marta
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Ask the Experts is your chance to get all of your wedding questions answered by a panel of wedding professionals. If you have a question for the panel write

Dear Experts
I’m having an early evening wedding. I’d like people to dress up a little, but not feel like they need to wear suits and ties or long dresses. Basically, I don’t want jeans and sundresses. What should I put on the website, or what should I tell people the dress code is? I think the phrase “dressy casual” is confusing, but is this what I want to say?

Not to Dressy

Ariana of Iris Fields says:
The issue of attire is always confusing for any event unless you are going with standard "black tie" or "formal." For what you are trying to accomplish I like "cocktail chic." This implies that your guests should dress up but the men don't need to wear a suit. However, one thing I do know from years of planning is that, no matter what you write you will get questions!

Heidi and Leslie of Three Graces Design say:
As custom invitation designers, we often get asked how to word dress code information for wedding guests. The phrase we would suggest for your event is “smart casual.” Smart casual indicates a together look without being overly dressy, while definitely ruling out jeans. Women can wear a pretty dress, or a blouse with dress pants or a skirt. Men can wear a dress shirt and trousers, sport coat and tie are optional.

About our Experts:
The co-owners of Three Graces Design, a custom-design invitation business in Oak Park, Illinois, Heidi and Leslie have years of experience in design and event planning.

Ariana Gordon Stecker is the co-founder and Lead Planner for Iris Fields, Inc. She is a seasoned New York City event professional who has been featured on MTV, Fox News, and the New York Times.