You're Invited...to Decipher This Invitation

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The first time I got a Save the Date in the mail, I was ecstatic. It made me feel so grown up, and made me realize we were entering a whole new phase in our lives, one where the girl who used to dance on the bar at Kam's in college was going to be hosting dinner parties for her adult friends, and possibly have her own little girl she would encourage not to dance on bars. Little did I know that a Save the Date does not a grown-up make, and that every wedding tends to have at least a few, if not the a majority, of guests who take the open bar as an opportunity to re-visit their college years--but that's another entry for another time. After the Save the Date comes the invitation, and that's where things can get a little bit tricky.  

In a series of posts surrounding wedding invitations, I will deconstruct the thought process that actually goes behind the wording--and trust me, it's more than you think. From the order of the bride and groom's names to the placement of their parents, and even the proper writing of the address itself, let's take a look at some of the confusion, and hopefully some of the clarity wedding invitations can provide if you know what to look for.

First off, let's take a look at one of my favorite topics: what to wear. Typically, if you get an invite with "black tie" on it, you know right away that renting a tux or buying a new dress is in order, but what about everything else in between?

Wendy Beard, owner of All She Wrote stationary and gifts, lent some advice for several different wardrobe directions on invites:

1. White Tie: This is the most formal you can go--think floor-length gowns (yes, gowns) for women and white ties, wing collars and tail coats for men.

2. Black Tie: A step down from white, men should wear tuxes or dark suits while women can wear their best cocktail dresses (but they don't necessarily have to be floor-length gowns).

3. Black Tie Optional/Black Tie Invited: This is pretty much the same as black tie, and Wendy actually encourages her brides to just assume Black Tie is optional, as some men don't own a tux. Whether you get black tie optional, black tie, or black tie invite, a tux or dark suit and fancy dress is a safe bet.

4. Creative Black Tie: While I have never seen this, I would love to be a part of it--this opens the door for interpretation, such as louder shirts or a dark shirt with no tie.

5. Semi-Formal: Tuxes are not mandatory. However, if it's an evening wedding (after 6 pm) men should wear dark suits and women should still opt on the side of cocktail dresses.

6. Cocktail Attire: One of my faves--short, fancy dresses for the ladies, and dark, handsome suits for the guys.

7. Garden Attire: This is a close second personal favorite of mine--girls can wear colorful or floral lightweight dresses and men can wear blazers or light colored suits. Some ladies might want to bring flats if they're worried about heels sinking into the grass. I imagine this to be an afternoon party held by Gatsby, but that's just me, right?

8. Festive Attire: Typically around the holidays, this invite wording encourages ladies to wear sequins or other fun party attire. Men should still wear a nice suit, possibly with a bright tie.

9. Casual Attire: Even though this is much less fancy, remember you're still attending a wedding. Please don't show up in jeans like a guest did to my friend's wedding. Chances are, you will be asked to leave. In this case, guys can wear button down dress shirts with khakis and women can don casual skirts, dresses or even nice pants.

So there you have it--a wide range of options, some I had never even heard of myself! Have you ever been invited to a unique wedding in terms of wardrobe? What is your favorite type of wedding-wear?

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