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Men's guide to interpreting the Wedding Invitation: What do I wear?

Trust me, the groom isn't the only guy confused
Trust me, the groom isn't the only guy confused

Summer is a very popular season for weddings, and most guys will no doubt be either directly invited to one or asked to accompany their significant other to one. This is usually where most guys will ask the one question they’ve never had to ask: “What do I wear?”

Women ask this question all the time, they obsess over it. But for most men, the wardrobe choices are so simple and routine that it’s usually an afterthought. We wear a suit and tie to work, a nice sports jacket to dinner and our favorite jeans and t-shirt on the weekends. But wedding invitations have this annoying habit of being vague and even misleading: Semi-formal, Informal, Cocktail Attire, Formal, Business, Business Casual, etc. So how does a guy know what the difference is between Cocktail Attire (am I going to a bar?) and Business (what is this, a job interview)? Here are a few pointers courtesy of my favorite authors John Bridges and Bryan Curtis of A Gentleman Gets Dressed Up:

Business Casual means you wear a Sport Coat; wearing a tie is optional so you can opt for a button-up or solid color polo shirt.
Business Attire means you wear a dark Suit and tie. No exceptions.
Cocktail Attire means you wear a dressy suit, almost always dark blue or gray (but never black), or a dressy Sport Coat.
Festive Informal means you wear a suit, light or dark and a bright colored, festive tie. The tie can be a necktie or bowtie.
Semi-formal means you wear a dark suit, just not a black one.
Formal is a tricky invitation term. It usually means you wear a tuxedo with no tie, but it’s also universally accepted that you can wear a dark suit, even a black one.
Black-Tie means you wear a tuxedo, and it should go without saying, but the tuxedo should be black.
White-Tie means you wear a white tie, white waist-coat (commonly called a vest) and a black coat with tails.

And of course, every now and then you may receive an invitation with no mention of specific attire. When in doubt, unless the wedding is during the day, wear a dark suit. If it is during the day, you can get away with a blazer or sport coat and slacks.


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