What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

After more than a year’s worth of postponed nuptials, the summer 2021 wedding season is likely to be busy - and fun. Some invitations include straightforward wording in regard to the dress code, and others require interpretation. Here, we’ll cover traditional choices as well as those that are a bit more creative so you’ll know exactly what to wear to a summer wedding.  

Abide by the Code

When it comes to choosing your wedding guest attire, there are two rules that must be stated up front:

1. Follow the Dress Code. The wedding couple will have spent a great deal of time deciding on the details of their big day. The dress code they select will be in keeping with their location and venue, a theme they may draw inspiration from, and the time of day for the ceremony and reception. 

Groomsmen dress code at summer wedding


2. Don’t Upstage the Happy Couple. Tradition dictates that the bride be the only lady in white, and etiquette requires that the groom be the most dapper of the gentlemen. If a dress code encourages personal flair - like Beach Chic or Garden Party - take the bait, but keep it classy.   

If you’re unsure about what’s appropriate, contact the family. Let’s start with the least formal and work our way up:

What to Wear to an Outdoor Wedding 

An outdoor summer wedding - whether on the beach, in the backyard, or on a vineyard - will likely come with a prescribed dress code.

From Beach Formal and Smart Casual to Festive & Fabulous, these dress codes can be a bit perplexing. Consider the temperature as you craft your look - and, if you opt for a necktie, don’t forget a tie clip to keep your neckwear out of the breeze. 

Hot weather calls for light-colored suiting in linen, seersucker and cotton or, if venue-appropriate, slacks or chinos with or without a jacket. Pastel and bright accessories in the yellow, pink and blue families make for an easy win, such as our all-silk Sequoia Medallions pieces:

Summer Wedding Bow tie

Daytime events in cooler temps may call for the same with an added layer for comfort, whereas evening events may reincorporate darker colors, including browns, navy and black. 

How Casual is Casual Attire?

Casual is a relative term when it comes to wedding attire. It can be less buttoned up than business casual, but it does not usually green-light jeans, shorts or anything less than a collared shirt. Chinos and a blazer or sport coat are certainly appropriate, as are other handsome choices like a waistcoat and rolled sleeves. 

A Casual Attire dress code also signals that neckties are acceptable. Our Spring 2021 Collection has a gorgeous array of warm-weather bow tie and necktie options, including our all-silk Dogwood Medallions series, available in navy and violet.


Tie for Summer Wedding

Cocktail Attire Dress Code

With a Cocktail Attire dress code comes the indication of a party vibe, and license to spiff up to your own style specifications.

Usually an evening event, opt for a dark suit and shoes - but don’t be afraid to color outside of the traditional lines of evening wear. Show your personality with creative bow tie and pocket square pairings and with pocket square folds that offer more visual interest and movement.


[Read our Complete Style Guide to Cocktail Attire for Men


Black Tie & Black Tie Optional

Black Tie is the second most formal dress code and is often reserved for evening events.

Black Tie demands specific clothing choices, including a tuxedo, white tuxedo shirt, patent leather shoes, white pocket square and a bow tie. While it’s undeniably sharp, an actual black bow tie is not mandatory. 

Black Tie Dress Code Options

Black Tie Optional - and the increasingly popular Black Tie Creative - allows the choice between tuxedo and a two- or three-piece suit. Elegance is still the order of the day, so darker suit colors like black, charcoal, and navy are preferable to lighter options.  

White Tie Dress Code

White Tie is the most formal of all dress codes and is very rarely requested for weddings.

It does require a specific ensemble: a tuxedo jacket with tails and tuxedo trousers, waistcoat, white tuxedo shirt, patent leather shoes and, of course, a white bow tie or tie.

 White Bow Tie or Tie Dress Code for Summer Wedding

White Tie is less popular today than it was years ago, but it hasn’t fallen out of fashion.

If you receive an invitation to a White Tie affair, know that the time you put into making sure your tux and fine accessories are perfect will pay off as it suggests a no-expense-spared party. 


Contact us if you need help getting gussied up, and be sure to show us your stuff on social by tagging #RHanauer. Check out our Instagram, Facebook and YouTube feeds for ideas, inspiration and essential how-tos.