Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

March 2023

Should You Have a Wedding Dress Code?

Should you include a wedding dress code on your wedding invitations? We say yes, and here’s why.

If you’ve ever agonised over what to wear to a wedding, you’ll agree that a wedding dress code is a helpful inclusion on a wedding invitation. Especially for weddings at unusual venues (what does one wear to a solemnisation in a zoo?!), or at unconventional times (is a brunch wedding more casual than a dinner?), a wedding dress code will help let guests know what kind of attire is expected at the event. A dress code will prevent guest confusion and embarrassment, and will also improve your wedding aesthetic and atmosphere as everyone looks more cohesive.

What Wedding Dress Codes Mean

Black-tie, semi-formal, cocktail–dress codes can be confusing. We decipher modern wedding dress codes so you know what information to include on your wedding invitations.


This is the most formal wedding dress code possible, so unless you’re marrying royalty, you’re unlikely to be using this one. Used for very formal events such as a state dinner at the White House, a white-tie dress code requires women to wear a formal floor-length evening gown, and men to wear a tuxedo with tails, a formal white shirt, white vest and bow tie, white or grey gloves, and formal footwear such as oxfords.


At a black-tie event, guests are expected to wear formal attire such as floor-length gowns , sophisticated cocktail-length dresses, or elegant pantsuits for the women, and tuxedos for the men.

Grace and David's Dreamy Wedding at The Clifford PierGrace and David’s Dreamy Wedding at The Clifford Pier by Antelope Studios


While many Singaporeans interpret a formal wedding dress code to mean a maxi dress or a button-down shirt, that is far from the case. A formal dress code is actually very similar to a black-tie dress code. The choices for women are still a floor-length gown, a fancy cocktail dress, or a dressy pantsuit. For men, the options are a tuxedo or a dark suit with a white shirt and conservative tie.

Yanyee and Zenas’s Industrial Boho Wedding at Singapore Wine Vault with Warm Earthy Tones by Smittenpixels Co.


A balance between elegance and comfort, the cocktail wedding dress code is a popular one overseas. It’s less dressy than black-tie and formal attire, so you have more versatility to express your style. Women wear a midi or knee-length dress instead of a floor-length one, although a maxi dress could pass for cocktail attire if the fabric and silhouette read more “dress” than “gown” (think flowy silhouettes and matte fabrics instead of fitted ones and satin). Men wear a suit and tie. Overall, the look is polished without being too embellished and fancy, so that you don’t outshine the newlywed couple.

Patricia and Martijn’s Island Luxe Wedding in Khayangan Estate, Bali by Terralogical

Semi-Formal or Smart Casual

A common dress code for local weddings, the smart casual wedding dress code can be confusing with its many options. The semi-formal dress code is a flexible one, as long as you don’t dress too casually. Wear darker, more formal tones and fabrics with a sheen for an evening celebration, and opt for lighter colours, bright prints, and more lightweight fabrics for a day wedding. A below the knee dress, dressy separates, or a jumpsuit are appropriate for ladies, and can be paired with less formal shoes such as wedges or formal flats. Men wear a dress shirt and slacks, and can wear a blazer or sports jacket if they like.

Katrina and Naresh’s Sunshine Yellow Wildflower Wedding at The Alkaff Mansion by Lydia K Photography


Couples getting married on the beach or in a cafe might include a casual wedding dress code. A knee-length dress for women and long khaki pants with a button-down shirt in linen or cotton would be appropriate. Although the dress code is casual, it’s probably still not appropriate to wear shorts, and definitely not flip-flops or even very casual sandals and canvas sneakers!

Kathy and Sanee’s Epic Costume Wedding in PARKROYAL on Beach Road by The Curious Light


Some couples opt for a themed dress code to achieve their wedding concept. For example, a 1920s themed wedding might have vintage as its dress code, or a costume party wedding could invite every guest to turn up in costume. Some couples ask their guests to all wear one colour, such as an all-white dress code.

Chloe and Victor’s Bright and Citrusy Wedding at Wheeler’s Estate by Arture Photography

Where to Include the Wedding Dress Code

Most wedding dress codes are stated on the wedding invitations. A short phrase such as Dress Code: Cocktail after the venue and date details will suffice.

What If There’s Isn’t a Wedding Dress Code?

If you receive a wedding invitation without a dress code, base your level of dressiness on context clues such as the style of the wedding invitations (elegant or funky?) and formality of the wording (“request the honour of your presence” or “join us for the best day ever”?), the wedding venue, and from the time of the day.

Do’s and Don’ts to Wear to a Wedding

No matter what the wedding dress code, wedding guests should respect the importance of the occasion. Turning up in shorts and slippers just because it’s a beach wedding or a restaurant wedding is simply disrespectful to the couple and their families.

Another big rule is to avoid wearing a white or other bridal colour dress such as ivory, champagne, or blush, unless the couple specially requests it. It’s the bride’s special day, so don’t be a Gina and turn up in a floor-length white gown!

If you have to wonder whether your outfit is dressy enough, it probably isn’t. Styling plays a big part in your look too, so dressing up your outfit with jewellery, makeup, heels, and a clutch for the women, and a tie and pocket square for the men, makes a big difference to how appropriate you look at the wedding.

On the other hand, being too dressy is also a big no-no. Just like how you don’t want to wear white to draw attention away from the bride, you don’t want to wear an overly glamorous gown, something too revealing, or anything too outrageous. The spotlight should be firmly on the couple whose love you are there to celebrate, not your fabulous outfit.

Feature image from Kathy and Sanee’s Epic Costume Wedding in PARKROYAL on Beach Road by The Curious Light

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Should You Have a Wedding Dress Code?