Planning a destination wedding in the enchanting landscapes of Italy is a dream come true for many couples. From historic villas to picturesque vineyards, Italy offers a plethora of stunning backdrops for your special day. As you prepare to celebrate amidst the beauty of this romantic destination, one crucial aspect to consider is setting the dress code for your wedding. Crafting attire guidelines ensures that your guests feel comfortable and appropriately dressed for the occasion, while also complementing the aesthetic of your wedding vision and venue. In this comprehensive blog, we’ll delve into how to write a dress code for your destination wedding in Italy, covering everything from wedding dress codes to black-tie attire.

Setting the Tone

Before diving into specific dress codes, consider the overall tone and vibe of your wedding. Are you envisioning a relaxed and casual affair or a sophisticated and elegant celebration? Your chosen venue, theme, and personal style preferences will help dictate the appropriate dress code for your wedding. Of course, there is no “right or wrong” dress code – it is your wedding and your special day, not anyone else’s – but that being said, it is important to be mindful of your dress requirements.

Formal Attire

For a classic and timeless wedding, consider opting for a formal dress code. Encourage guests to don their finest attire, such as suits and cocktail dresses.

White Tie

A specification of “White Tie” is suggestive of a White House dinner or formal Royal affair – no ifs, ands or buts!  When you see “White Tie”, there is no such thing as overdressed.  A tuxedo (usually with tails), a crisp white shirt, vest, bow tie, and possible even a hat and gloves. Women have a bit more leeway when it comes to options, but not much. In general (and historically) the dress must be floor length, covering the ankles, chic and made from an elegant fabric such a silk or organza. Jewelry is expected to be noticeable but elegant and a stylish clutch purse completes the look.

Black Tie

Gentlemen are gifted a bit more freedom in regard to their rigid styling over white tie. With “Black tie”, it still carries with it a significant air of formality, usually indicating, again, a tuxedo, white shirt, black tie and the works. Women are again recommended to wear a floor length, elegant gown. However, there are some cases in which a formal cocktail dress or elegant pantsuit will suffice, with the blessing of the bride of course.  

Formal or Black Tie Optional

As the title would suggest, we find ourselves dropping down a teeny-tiny bit on the formality scale. However, it leaves space in case you are so inclined to wear a tuxedo, it is fine, or a finely tailored suit, you should be fine. For women, again, the preferred style is floor length couture, although at this level, chic cocktail dresses begin to be more acceptable.

Cocktail Attire

This is known as the “sweet spot” between refined elegance, the possibility of comfort – it is still fancy, but there is a slight chance you might actually have something in your closet that fits the bill. Gentlemen, while still required to wear a suit and tie are free to play with some fun colors and fabrics, making their own fashion statement but still upholding the wishes of the bride and groom. This is a fun category because it allows guests to really show off their own panache and style while still holding tight to the dress code. Women can sport a tea-length or even possibly a knee-length dress, provided it still fits the vibe of formality.

Semiformal Dress Code

If you’re aiming for a slightly more relaxed atmosphere, a semi-formal dress code strikes the perfect balance between elegance and comfort. For men, this may entail wearing suit or dress trousers paired with a dress shirt and tie. Women can opt for chic cocktail attire or dressy separates, such as a skirt and blouse. This dress code allows guests to express their personal style while still maintaining a polished appearance.

Festive Attire

This one is usually a real head-scratcher. What is “Festive?” (When I think “festive”, I think of a Santa Clause suit or a Halloween costume of a doughnut and sprinkles – but  somehow, I doubt that is what they mean.) I know you are thinking, “What am I supposed to do with that suggestion?!?” I am with you 100%. But I am also here as the voice of reason. Festive = fun! Period. Gents, this gives you free reign to wear some snazzy pants, pastel shirts, an ascot, linen suites, whatever you think is still with an heir of formality – if it had a fun and outgoing personality! Ladies! Think of a more casual dress, length knees or longer (sorry, I am old school and will never say a minidress is appropriate at a wedding, ever, or anything I could mistake for lingerie, but that is just the opinion of one writer). Think fun colors, fun prints, fun fabrics.  Go bold! Go playful! Just don’t show up in shorts or a miniskirt and halter… or a Santa outfit to doughnut costume!


This one seems super simple and easy to comprehend… but in the world of fashion, nothing is really ever THAT straightforward. Gentlemen can sprot some comfortable khakis, or linen trousers, and a nice button-down shirt. Pair it with a pair of nice loafers and you are golden. Ladies, now is the time to pull out your favorite dress that has been waiting, poised in your closet for this moment. Think tropical and sunny, big floral prints or richly textured fabrics, paired with a pair of beautiful (and most importantly ‘comfortable) sandals or wedges and a fun purse.  


This is a catch-all category that spans the fashion wardrobe from one end to the other. This is also a decision that was decided by the couple with great care and sticking to their vision is very important. A themed wedding could include a “white attire” in which you wear all white. (Not white with blue flowers, not a creamy khaki that might look white in certain light. They mean white. Period. Head to toe.

This is also where cultural themes come into play. If the couple are Indian or Asian, then the dress code is 100% set in stone. This is not a time to stretch your fashionista legs and try for a mash-up of east meets west .It means exactly what the invitation says. No Exceptions.

One time that you will find a bit of leeway is with the good old Scotts. You know that if you receive an invitation from a couple where at least one is Scottish, then kilts are a fun addition. It doesn’t mean that you are expected to go out and buy a kilt. (I mean the couple might love it if you do) but this is purely an example of, “if you’ve got it, wear it”!

Italian Cultural Considerations

An important side note of cultural consideration is to keep in mind any cultural or regional customs that may influence attire choices for your wedding in Italy. Embrace the timeless elegance of Italian fashion by incorporating elements of Italian style into your dress code recommendations. Encourage guests to wear attire that reflects the chic and sophisticated aesthetic of Italian fashion, such as tailored suits for men and elegant dresses for women.

If you will be attending a ceremony that take place in a church, you are generally required to keep your knees and shoulders covered at all times. While this might seem a bit archaic by US standards, you are a guest in their country, and they have some very long standing traditions that you do not want to overturn. Please be mindful. It is only for a short time and then you can throw your shawl to the wind! (Although it does get cool at night, so don’t throw it too far afield!)

Communication is Key

Once you’ve decided on the dress code for your destination wedding in Italy, communicate the guidelines clearly and concisely to your guests. Include dress code information on your wedding website, invitation inserts, or save-the-date cards to ensure guests are aware of the attire expectations well in advance. Provide helpful tips and suggestions for navigating attire choices in a foreign country, such as packing versatile pieces that can transition seamlessly from day to night. However, it is also important to be patient… with so many different levels of formality out there, be prepared for a long list of texts asking “Is this one okay?”

In conclusion, crafting the perfect dress code for your destination wedding in Italy is an exciting opportunity to set the tone for your celebration and ensure that guests feel stylish and appropriately dressed for the occasion. By considering the overall vibe of your wedding, cultural influences, and guest comfort, you can create attire guidelines that reflect your vision and enhance the beauty of your chosen venue. With clear communication and thoughtful planning, your wedding dress code will set the stage for a truly unforgettable celebration of love amidst the stunning landscapes of Italy.

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