Getting invited to a wedding can tend to be stressful and time consuming. Maybe traveling expenses are involved or you’re worrying about picking out the perfect wedding gift. One thing you probably don’t worry about too much when you get invited to a wedding is what you’ll wear. After all, a decent suit is all that most weddings will require. When it comes to outdoor wedding attire though, the rules aren’t always quite as clear cut.

That’s because outdoor weddings with a dress code can be hard to decipher. Does cocktail attire mean linen is appropriate, or do you have to go for wool? And what does that dreaded casual attire label really mean?

Keep reading to learn more about outdoor wedding attire and what to wear for every potential dress code. You may still have those travel expenses, but at least you’ll know what to wear for the big event.

Black Tie

As painful as it might be when the temperature outside could easily be in the mid-90s, black tie means the same thing all year round. Show up in a navy blue suit and you’re probably going to look really out of place, even if navy is a perfectly appropriate outdoor wedding attire for most events.

What can you do about the heat? The answer is that you probably can’t do much. One option, if you can pull it off, is to find a tropical wool tuxedo. It will breathe better than most, and if you’re buying one for the first time, it could be a smart pick for year-round wear since most of the time you’ll be indoors.

While black tie might not seem like fun, try not to sweat it. You might find that they’ve spared no expense to make sure it isn’t miserable for you by providing some shade, a short ceremony and a place to chill out before and after the outdoor portion of the event.

After all, black tie weddings are usually quite expensive and well-planned, so you may not suffer quite as much as you think.

Formal, Black Tie Optional

Black tie optional means you can obviously go in black tie attire, but that may not sound very appealing when it’s 90-degrees outside. We’re right there with you in that thinking.

So what are you supposed to wear for this type of event? The basics are best, including navy, charcoal and even black – if you can find a suit that’s light enough for that type of summer wear.

Your outdoor wedding attire for this type of event generally needs to be more on the subdued side, so go for a crisp white shirt, plain or striped tie and a pair of polished black shoes. Accessories are fine, but keep them to a minimum.

That means no more than one or two metal items like a watch, cufflinks or tie bar, and your pick of one accessory like a solid silk pocket square or lapel flower.

Cocktail Attire, Semi-Formal

Cocktail attire, or the less common semi-formal attire, is pretty popular these days. For the most part, that’s because wedding-goers are wary of formal events, but the couple doesn’t want everybody to look like a slob on their big day.

For men, outdoor wedding attire that fits cocktail or semi-formal is actually pretty simple and you probably already have what you need. For the summer months, consider it anything you might wear to a fancy dinner or event.

Examples include high blue suits, navy, gray, charcoal and even colors like olive green, brown and brick red. Men wearing a more common colored suit can pull off a sky blue or pale-colored shirt, but if you go with a unique colored suit, opt for a white shirt.

Keep accessories to a minimum, but don’t be afraid to show off your favorite pair of cufflinks or patterned pocket square for this type of event. A basic, stylish look with a little bit of your own personality added is perfect outdoor wedding attire for a cocktail or semi-formal dress code.

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Festive Attire

Festive attire really just means anything that you think is fun. Go for something lively like a brightly-colored suit. If you want to wear basics like navy or charcoal, opt for a colorful shirt, a bold pocket square and skip the tie altogether, unless it happens to be a particularly “festive” one.

Beach Dress

Like festive attire, beach dress is one of the hardest to figure out for most men. We’re not sure about you, but when we go to the beach, we hardly ever wear long pants and lace-up Oxfords. Still, your host won’t want you to show up in a pair of swim trunks with starfish on the front.

For beach dress or beach formal wear, go for a quality linen or cotton suit that’s unstructured. Linen in cream, taupe or khaki is always a good choice. Plus, if you like to wear suits or just have plenty of occasions to do so, you’ll get a lot of use out of one.

Pair your beach dress outdoor wedding attire with a pink, sky blue or colorful shirt and skip the tie. Add a pocket square, lapel flower, or even an ascot for that extra touch.

Dressy Casual

Dressy casual is an infuriating term, isn’t it? Still, it’s one of the many terms you’ll see on invitations these days and if you’re going to go to the wedding, you need the right outdoor wedding attire.

For this type of event, your best decision is to go with the best suit you’ve got that fits the weather. Skip the black, but keep it basic since you might not be sure what the hosts really want you to look like.

Add a colorful shirt and a fun pocket square, tie or lapel flower for extra flair.

Casual

Usually, casual means blue jeans and a t-shirt – maybe even something with a collar like a Polo shirt. However, that’s not what the couple getting hitched wants you to wear.

For a casual event, wear a pair of slacks, a dress shirt and a blazer. If the weather is hot, go ahead and take the blazer off. You might even be able to roll up your sleeves if other guys are doing it.

If you want to be really bold, go for a printed shirt under a solid blazer.

A photo posted by GQ (@gq) on

men's fashion advice

Ralph Lauretta

About Ralph Lauretta

Ralph is a co-owner of Sal Lauretta for Men. His areas of expertise include custom clothing as well as being the primary clothing buyer for the store. When not at work you can find him hanging out with his family, reorganizing his garage or watching a Denver Broncos game.