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Ask Harry: What Do I Wear to A Wedding?

Our Guide to Deciphering the Wedding Dress Code

By: Harry Rosen Staff

Attending a wedding and figuring out what to wear can be a daunting task, as different weddings call for different dress codes. Knowing the appropriate dress code can help you dress appropriately for the occasion and avoid any embarrassing outfit choices.

But at the end of the day, you want to show respect at a wedding and a tailored jacket is the ideal way to do that, even when dressed-down on the beach. Here’s are some wedding guest outfit ideas that will have you upstaging everyone (except the groom, of course) no matter the wedding dress code.

Have a sartorial problem on your mind? Send us a message on Instagram @harryroseninc, and we’ll answer it here next time.


For men, black-tie means a black tuxedo jacket and pants (although a dinner jacket is also acceptable), a white dress shirt (studs are recommended), a black black bow tie, and black patent dress shoes. The bow tie can be satin or grosgrain, but should match the material of your lapels. This goes for the optional vest or cummerbund. It's important to note that a black suit is not considered black tie. It’s also not appropriate to wear a necktie or other colored accessories.

Semi-Formal (“Black-Tie Optional”) 

For a semi-formal wedding, men can wear a dark suit (black, navy, or gray) with a dress shirt and tie. The tie can be a bit more playful than a black-tie wedding, but it should still be dressy. This means a muted colour with a subtle pattern (leave the Loony Tunes tie at home). Brown dress shoes for a wedding can be appropriate, but black is always a safe choice.

Garden Party 

For garden or farmyard weddings (weddings with unique sounding dress codes like “Farmhouse Chic” or “Rustic Elegance”) you can be more relaxed than the aforementioned, but you should still look put-together. A sports jacket is still key here. A tie can be a solid option but feel free to go without. Pair that sports jacket with a light-coloured cotton dress pant and brown dress shoes or suede or leather loafers are appropriate and you’re off to the races.

Destination / Beach 

For a destination or beach wedding, men can opt for a more relaxed look.

“I was in Barbados recently and was watching a beach wedding where everyone was dressed very formally, but meanwhile there’s a buffet the right of them and a volleyball game to the left, don’t forget where you are and don’t be afraid to relax a little.” 

-Raymond Mosley, Clothing Advisor

Two things you want to keep in mind are: comfort and heat. A linen or linen blend suit will allow for that tropical breeze to reach your skin (choosing a light, reflective colour such as tan will help with this as well). A dress shirt can be worn without a tie (opt for a pocket square to add more personality), or a casual button up shirt can be paired with dress pants. White is the default, but you could opt for a sharp tropical-print shirt if the wedding is on the more casual side of beach. loafers or boat shoes can complete the outfit. It's important to note that shorts and sandals are generally not appropriate for a wedding, even if it's on sand. 

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