What to Wear to a Black Tie or Formal Wedding

I’ve covered the beach wedding and cocktail attire earlier in my summer wedding series, so now it’s time for the more formal wedding dress code: black tie. For these particular dress codes, you should go a bit dressier than normal.

For black tie weddings specifically, wear a long, floor length gown (typically referred to as a “formal gown”). You can’t go wrong with classic black dresses (some black tie weddings actually require you to wear dark colors), but any other dark color is acceptable as well. Avoid anything too light, neon, flashy, or short. For accessories, heels and a nice clutch are must-haves. For jewelry, feel free to don your best diamonds (real or fake, we’re not judging) to dress up your look.

For a formal wedding, long gowns are an option, but shorter cocktail dresses are also usually acceptable if they are formal enough in color, style, and material. Think decadent jewel tones, fancy lace, and chiffon details as more formal options.

As always, if you’re unsure of the specifics of what to wear to a black tie or formal wedding, ask the bride! Some brides have very different ideas of what constitutes as “formal”, whereas “black tie” is usually easier to define.

What to Wear to a Black Tie or Formal Wedding

black tie formal wedding
Dresses:  ASOS Maxi Dress  |  Strapless Brown Dress  |  Black Lace Dress  |  One Shoulder Gown

Shoes:  Michael Kors Nude Platforms  |  Nina Forbes Bow Heels

Bag:  Red Evening Bag

Jewelry:  Cubic Zirconia Necklace  |  Deco Drop Earrings  |  Nina Silvana Bracelet

Best Places to Buy Dresses for a Black Tie or Formal Wedding

Nordstrom – Nordstrom carries hundreds of formal dresses and gowns ranging from $100 to $1000, including brands like La Femme, Dessy, Eliza J, French Connection, and more.

Bloomingdales – Bloomingdales carries all sorts of formal dresses ranging from simple black gowns to floral patterned long dresses.

Macy’s – Macy’s carries affordable options for black tie and formal wedding dress codes, with sizes ranging from Junior’s to Plus.

David’s Bridal – Many bridesmaid dresses can be repurposed as wedding guest dresses for more formal dress codes. Just make sure you aren’t wearing the same color (or dress!) as the bridesmaids.

Dillards – Dillards is another great option for floor-length dresses in just about every color.

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