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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been invited to a wedding where the dress code is listed as semi-formal. However, I am still confused on what to wear. I know most of you guys would be correct in translating this to be a black tie event. However, it seems most people these days just assume this means a suit and tie. I really don’t want to be out of place at this event by wearing a tuxedo. I have tried to contact the host/hostess but they are in the military and not prompt to respond. This gives me only two weeks to get a tuxedo together if necessary. Any advice would be appreciated.
 

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I have been invited to a wedding where the dress code is listed as semi-formal.

...

I have tried to contact the host/hostess but they are in the military and not prompt to respond.
Suit. If somebody wanted either black tie or white tie, they would let you know about it very clearly. I could imagine that "semi-formal" is even blazer and tie territory - but a suit is clearly the safest route.

My guess (and I'm sure somebody could clear this up) is that "semi-formal" has a very specific dress code in military circles (i.e. there may well be a 'semi formal' uniform), and that's the target audience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Suit. If somebody wanted either black tie or white tie, they would let you know about it very clearly. I could imagine that "semi-formal" is even blazer and tie territory - but a suit is clearly the safest route.
You are probably right about that. I think a dark suit will be the safe way to go. If it were any one of my good friends I would assume a suit and tie to be fine but the bride is a high brow kind of girl so it had me worried. I do not know the groom.

P.S. The wedding is in the evening which also had me concerned. I probably should not be too worried. At most weddings I see some pretty poorly dresses people show up these days.
 

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The military equivelent of semi-formal is mess dress which is either a class A or formal uniform worn with a black bow tie.

Why is eveyone trying to divine the hosts intent?

The intent is clear, (evening, semi-formal) so why not just do what the invitation says and wear black tie.
 

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The military equivelent of semi-formal is mess dress which is either a class A or formal uniform worn with a black bow tie.

Why is eveyone trying to divine the hosts intent?

The intent is clear, (evening, semi-formal) so why not just do what the invitation says and wear black tie.
Black tie would be formal these days noit semi formal so the suit is in fact correct.
 

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The military equivelent of semi-formal is mess dress which is either a class A or formal uniform worn with a black bow tie.
In the U.S. Navy and I think the Royal Navy also, mess dress is equivalent to white tie while mess undress is the black tie equivalent.

The intent is clear, (evening, semi-formal) so why not just do what the invitation says and wear black tie.
Probably because most think that isn't what the hosts mean, despite the wording. In the U.S. very few people would interpret semi-formal to mean black tie. The issue isn't who is right or wrong, but what is the most appropriate thing to do when it's someone else's wedding.

My fear would be that my showing up in a tuxedo would be embarrassing to the hosts if everyone else is in a suit because I would then be compelled to explain the meaning of semi-formal to people (because they are going to ask about the tuxedo) which would make the hosts look like they didn't know what they were doing. And even if they didn't know what they were doing when they said semi-formal, I would not want to publicly embarrass them this way by drawing attention to their lack of sartorial knowledge.

The best thing to do is to try to find out exactly what is being requested. If I couldn't find out ahead of time I would wear a suit because that is what most will wear even if the hosts mean black tie. I would much rather be wrong this way than to risk being the only person in a tuxedo at someone else's wedding.

Cruiser
 

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Cruiser has it right as to the advice for a civilian in this case.

However, his statement about the uniform equivalent needs a little clarification, in my opinion.

Dress mess, at least for the U. S. Army, can be either white tie (formal) or black tie (semi-formal). A white piquet vest is worn with the white piquet tie, or a black (or branch color - only to unit "dining in") satin cummerbund, with the pleats down (!), is worn with black satin tie. That goes for either Blue Dress Mess or White Dress Mess (summer) uniforms.

Class A, which used to be the Army green uniform, and now is basically the same as the old dress blues, can be worn with a black bow tie to semi-formal events after retreat (6:00 p. m., cummerbund superfluous, as the coat is never worn unbuttoned, even while sitting). However, that uniform can't be worn with a white tie to formal events.
 

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Unfortunately for those of us who work with the military on a daily basis, since this is a time of war, they pretty much wear flight suits (coveralls) and Army Combat Uniforms to the office w/ chunky boots, looking pretty sloppy. I believe the people I work with have been given carte blanche to wear BDUs/ACUs, or battle dress uniforms, which are barely office wear and more appropriate for outdoor use.

I've grown to be really disgusted by the half-unzipped flight suit w/ green tshirt underneath and no pants.

So theorhetically the military should really know their uniforms and dress sharply, in practice there's a lot of 22 year old Larry the Cable Guys out there.
 

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However, his statement about the uniform equivalent needs a little clarification, in my opinion.
I should have been more clear in that I was only referring to the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, and the Royal Navy I think. Something about the sea going services makes them want to be just a little different in almost everything. :icon_smile:

Cruiser
 

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If the wedding is after 6 in the South East, it is semi-formal, even if that is not stated, it is understood. Now if the invitation tells you it is semi-formal, then you have to assume it is. Almost evey male I know over the age of 18 owns a dinner jacket. It is not at all unusual in this part of the world.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
If the wedding is after 6 in the South East, it is semi-formal, even if that is not stated, it is understood. Now if the invitation tells you it is semi-formal, then you have to assume it is. Almost evey male I know over the age of 18 owns a dinner jacket. It is not at all unusual in this part of the world.
Kind of the opposite here.
 

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If the wedding is after 6 in the South East, it is semi-formal, even if that is not stated, it is understood. Now if the invitation tells you it is semi-formal, then you have to assume it is. Almost evey male I know over the age of 18 owns a dinner jacket. It is not at all unusual in this part of the world.
Over the past 60 years I have lived in Beaufort, South Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; and Jacksonville, Florida; in addition to spending a considerable amount of time in Atlanta, Georgia. The majority of guys that I know do not own tuxedos and I have routinely seen semi-formal interpreted to mean a suit. I can only assume that you hang with a very select group of people, but they certainly aren't the norm.

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the invitation doesn't mean black tie. I'm just saying that based on my personal experiences I would not interpret it that way. And like I said, I am very familiar with the South East.

Cruiser
 

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your mileage may vary

prep school crowd, but nothing unusual

semi-formal in:
Atlanta, GA
Augusta, GA
Greenville, SC
Spartanburg, SC
Columbia, SC
Effingham, SC
Florence, SC
Charleston, SC
Asheville, NC
Charlotte, NC
New York, NY

suit in PA

parka and blue jeans in NH
 

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I work with a young guy who was in a fraternity at Auburn and spends his weekends at a country club in the suburbs. There is a southern variation on old money trad which I've seen locally based on golf and fraternities. This guy is extraordinarily mannered to the point where:
1. I see almost for the first time in my life where the term southern hospitality comes from
2. I have no idea what he thinks about anything because he will not speak on any topic requiring an opinion
3. He appears unflappably sure of his place in society

This is opposed to another coworker I know who is from Kentucky Horse Country who is virtually nouveau riche in comparison to this guy and making me seem like a rube who struck oil in his back yard.

I can only think the "ubiquitous dinner jacket" crowd is part of that, but even there...
 
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