Wedding Styles: Formal or Informal

Very Formal Wedding

  • Attire: This style of wedding adheres to strict wedding etiquette.  The wedding gown should be elegant and traditional, with a long train and veil in a complementary length for the bride.  6-12 bridesmaids wearing floor-length dresses.  Mothers of the bridge and groom also wear floor-length dresses.  The groom and all the men in the wedding party wear formal attire.  If your wedding is scheduled for daytime, cutaways are appropriate.  Evening weddings require white tie and tails.
  • Stationery: Plain white or ecru invitations with enclosure cards (reception and respond cards) that are engraved, thermographed or letterpressed in black ink.  Your wedding stationery should not have any accent colors or decorations (embossed flowers, hearts, etc.).  A blind embossed or debossed bevel border is acceptable.
  • Ceremony & Reception: The ceremony should take place at high noon, late afternoon or evening, with 200 or more guests invited.  The ceremony is followed by a large, lavish reception.

Formal Wedding

  • Attire: A traditional wedding gown with a chapel or sweep train and a veil for the bride.  2-6 bridesmaids wearing floor- or ankle-length dresses.  The mothers of the bride and groom also wear elaborate floor- or ankle-length dresses.  The groom and all the men in the wedding party wear formal clothes.  Stroller jackets with striped trousers are appropriate for daytime weddings, while evening weddings attire should be black tie.
  • Stationery: Your stationery should be the same as for a very formal wedding.
  • Ceremony & Reception: The ceremony can take place at any hour of the day, with at least 100 guests.  The ceremony is followed by a festive reception.

Semi-Formal Wedding

  • Attire: A simple floor- or ankle-length dress for the bride with a hat or short veil for the bride.  1-2 bridal attendants wearing ankle-length dresses.  The mothers of the bride and groom also wear ankle-length dresses.  The groom and all the men in the wedding party wear dark suits.
  • Stationery: Invitations with accent colors and designs (flowers, hearts, etc.).  They can be printed in raised, letterpressed or matte ink in a color of your choice.  Enclosure cards, including map or direction cards are enclosed with the invitations.
  • Ceremony: The ceremony can take place at any hour of the day, with fewer than 100 guests.  The ceremony is followed by a festive reception.

Informal Wedding

  • Attire: Informal wedding attire is usually characterized by a suit with a dress that falls just below the knee.  The bride has one attendant, usually a maid or matron of honor, wearing a dress that falls just below the knee or a nice pantsuit.  The groom and his best man both wear a suit, which can be accented with a colored tie.
  • Stationery: A handwritten invitation announcing the location of the ceremony and reception.  Send announcements to those who were not invited to your small ceremony.
  • Ceremony: The ceremony is held during the daytime.  The list is small and only includes relatives and close friends.  The reception is usually small, held at a local restaurant or at someone’s home.

Please keep in mind that this is just a guideline, not a rule book.  You can use your own unique ideas to create the wedding of your dreams.  Today’s couples are mixing some of the very formal traditions with the semi-formal.  The most important thing to remember is to plan a wedding that will make you happy and one that you can look back on with fondness.

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