Now that the lockdown has lifted, albeit with plenty of strings attached, you might find that your social calendar is beginning to fill with small weddings once again. Summer weddings might demand a surprising variety of clothing. What’s right for one occasion might not be right for another, and so you’ll want to put in the effort to figure out what’s expected of you.

Check the invitation: you’ll normally find some guidance there. But it might not be immediately clear what that guidance even means so with this in mind, here’s a short glossary that’ll talk you through all of the terms you might encounter and a look at the trends for 2020.

What’s on-trend for a summer wedding in 2020?

Of course, whatever level of formality the occasion calls for, you’ll need to make sure that you stay on-trend. This year, small bags and are better than large ones; they should provide room for your purse and a few other key items. Jumpsuits are a perfectly acceptable alternative to a dress, and patterns are not only a stylish choice but one that will neatly distinguish you from the bridesmaids, even if they happen to choose the same colour as you do.

White Tie

A white-tie event is about as formal as it gets. The expectations are very specific, and if you don’t fulfil the brief then you’ll stand out like the sorest of sore thumbs. Ladies will need a full-length ballgown and gloves, while men will need a tailcoat with a white waistcoat and bow-tie, and black shoes. Turn up in brown ones and you’ll look completely eccentric.

Black Tie

Black tie is similar, except that men will need black jackets and ties, and women can get away with something knee-length.

Morning Dress

Morning dress is something a little more traditional. For men, it’s a black morning coat, striped trousers, a waistcoat, black shoes. You might even go for an optional top hat. Women can wear pretty much whatever they might wear to a white or black-tie event.

Semi Casual

The phrase ‘smart-casual’ is enough to inspire dread from wedding guests because its exact meaning is something that few of us can really agree on. Aim for something short of formal dress wear, but bear in mind that it’s better to overdress than to underdress. You can always take off a tie or change your shoes.

If the invitation says ‘lounge suit’, then you’re going somewhere slightly more formal than smart casual, but you don’t need to wear any particular sort of suit, and you’ll have the freedom to stray from black or white.


At a wedding, there’s no such thing as really casual. Basically, you’ll be wearing anything that you might wear to impress at one of those fancy gastropubs. In some cases, even jeans are appropriate – but you’ll want to check with the couple first.

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