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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I haven't posted here in a long time - the last time I did was nearly seven years ago before my wedding, I believe. I think I received excellent advice. I still turn to this site when we have menswear questions and I'm proud to say that my husband has a versatile, quality wardrobe.

We are invited to a wedding taking place soon. The couple has a website, and an attire section, which I had checked a month or so ago. Based on what I know of the bride, I was not surprised to see that it stated semi-formal, and then explained what that was in the accurate and traditional sense. My husband dusted off his tux and I purchased a not inexpensive silk gown (could probably pass at a white tie event as well), and we were both fairly excited about having an elegant event to attend.

Well, I checked the website again a few days ago for registry information and found that the attire section had been completely changed. It now stated that the wedding was "formal" and that women should wear floor length or formal cocktail dresses/suits and men should wear a formal suit, and that the groom and groomsmen were wearing formal suits and cufflinks.

I have so many questions about the use of the word formal here, but I can only guess that everything was changed to accommodate someone (s). My husband contacted the groom and he said it was preferred for women to wear floor-length dresses and men to wear formal suits and cufflinks, but he could wear a tux if he didn't own such a suit.

I'm not terribly keen on wearing an long gown while my husband wears his standard suit and tie, but should I? I bought it and had it altered. But I think I'll feel silly in a silk column gown while my husband wears a suit. But there's no time left to buy a new dress and get it altered. I'm obviously really irritated that the couple changed the attire after the invitations went out, but there's nothing to be done. Is there anything we can do with his suit (charcoal) and attire to make it less casual?
 

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My advice? Just retcon this by pretending you never "checked the website again" and show up in the dress defined by the invitation: that's what's binding (for want of a better term).

Either that, or just don't attend; I CERTAINLY wouldn't go out and buy another gown to satisfy whatever whimsies drive the bride (presumably). It might even change again.

People really need to calm down and understand that weddings are for the GUESTS, not for the bride and groom (who already understand that they're together). Keep it light, fun, and simple.

DH
 

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My advice? Just retcon this by pretending you never "checked the website again" and show up in the dress defined by the invitation: that's what's binding (for want of a better term).

Either that, or just don't attend; I CERTAINLY wouldn't go out and buy another gown to satisfy whatever whimsies drive the bride (presumably). It might even change again.

People really need to calm down and understand that weddings are for the GUESTS, not for the bride and groom (who already understand that they're together). Keep it light, fun, and simple.

DH
What is a formal suit?

P.S. Are the couple middle class?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What is a formal suit?

P.S. Are the couple middle class?
I'd love to know!!

I'd say upper-middle class white collar types...not 1%-ers but certainly 5%. Newly minted professionals. Someone obviously knew what actual "semiformal" meant since they went on to describe it as tuxedos and gowns/fine cocktail dress for ladies before they altered the site, so I'm kind of baffled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My advice? Just retcon this by pretending you never "checked the website again" and show up in the dress defined by the invitation: that's what's binding (for want of a better term).

Either that, or just don't attend; I CERTAINLY wouldn't go out and buy another gown to satisfy whatever whimsies drive the bride (presumably). It might even change again.

People really need to calm down and understand that weddings are for the GUESTS, not for the bride and groom (who already understand that they're together). Keep it light, fun, and simple.

DH
That's a bold suggestion. It did occur to me, though. In their particular circle of friends and family... We wouldn't be the only ones who have a tux in the closet, and there are probably several who didn't double-check the site and may show up in it.

It's VERY soon so there's no backing out at this point with the RSVP in for a month now.
 

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There's so much confusion of terms.
It's an evening wedding.
Men's formal evening wear is a black tail coat with matching trousers, white formal vest and white tie worn with a wing collar. I suspect that your host is misusing the term in an attempt to imply a plain dark lounge suit. If so, this suit could be black, charcoal or very dark navy worn with a white shirt with spread collar, french cuffs and a plain or discreetly patterned silk tie. I like solid satin ties such as pale blue or silver for such occasions. Shoes should be plain black calf oxfords.

Sorry, I'm on very shaky ground regarding the intricacies of ladies' dress, and shall refrain from misleading. I'm afraid I have no idea if the lovely gown you've gotten should be considered appropriate. But my inclination would be, to heck with them, wear it anyway given the circumstances. I'm sure you'll find a surprising diversity of dress among the guests.
 

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Wear what you originally planned to wear. If the bethrothed couple wasn't absolutely sure of the dress code for their wedding, they should never have put the details on the website. Once they posted the original dress code details, they should be prepared to live with it. Frankly, given the noted change, they strike me as pretty damned ignorant! :angry:
 

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How close are you to the couple getting married? Just ignore the invitation or decline attending. Seriously, I'm not kidding. Just don't go.

You're supposed to be a guest. Part of the pleasure and privilege of being a guest is that you don't have to think. Just show up. If some form of proper attire is required, then it is the hosts' responsibility to go through the pains of describing exactly what they want, to include putting up pictures of exactly what they want.

They haven't so just don't go.
 

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I have a similar situation however the bride and groom have not changed the requested attire. The invitation indicates semi formal for a 4:30 PM wedding at a Country Club in Annapolis with drinks, dinner and dancing afterward. It's my wifes family and my wife is a "great aunt". A couple of months ago after receiving the hold the date card, I asked the grandfather of the bride if it was black tie and he said he didn't think so but that nobody had told him anything up to that point. I believe we are far enough away from "direct family" not to be considered a part of the wedding party. I think I'll end up wearing a navy BB Madison suit, black shoes, a more formal looking navy Prince of Wales tie and spread collar white shirt. I suspect that the grandfather will be similarly suited. I do not have a tux, by the way, and hesitate to wear full dress Kilt as it would most likely detract from the brides show. I also wouldn't be surprised to see others in the audience including some family in boat shoes and blazers.
These things do tend to get convoluted!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Wear what you originally planned to wear. If the bethrothed couple wasn't absolutely sure of the dress code for their wedding, they should never have put the details on the website. Once they posted the original dress code details, they should be prepared to live with it. Frankly, given the noted change, they strike me as pretty damned ignorant! :angry:
I think I'll definitely wear the dress... I could probably find an alternative, but I'm really not inclined to do so after having it tailored and planning around it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
How close are you to the couple getting married? Just ignore the invitation or decline attending. Seriously, I'm not kidding. Just don't go.

You're supposed to be a guest. Part of the pleasure and privilege of being a guest is that you don't have to think. Just show up. If some form of proper attire is required, then it is the hosts' responsibility to go through the pains of describing exactly what they want, to include putting up pictures of exactly what they want.

They haven't so just don't go.
I wish! My husband and the groom are close enough that he attended his bachelor party.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
There's so much confusion of terms.

Men's formal evening wear is a black tail coat with matching trousers, white formal vest and white tie worn with a wing collar. I suspect that your host is misusing the term in an attempt to imply a plain dark lounge suit. If so, this suit could be black, charcoal or very dark navy worn with a white shirt with spread collar, french cuffs and a plain or discreetly patterned silk tie. I like solid satin ties such as pale blue or silver for such occasions. Shoes should be plain black calf oxfords.

Sorry, I'm on very shaky ground regarding the intricacies of ladies' dress, and shall refrain from misleading. I'm afraid I have no idea if the lovely gown you've gotten should be considered appropriate. But my inclination would be, to heck with them, wear it anyway given the circumstances. I'm sure you'll find a surprising diversity of dress among the guests.
Would french cuffs be considered more formal than not? Thank you for the advice. I'm fond of my husband in his lounge suit, though I had hoped to see him in a tuxedo instead.

My dress is definitely semiformal at minimum; it could also be worn to a formal event with men in tail coats as you describe; hence, my irritation at the thought of wearing it while my husband is dressed for a business meeting.
 

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Cracking the Dress Code - article linked from the home page:
https://askandyaboutclothes.com/clothing/style-tips/cracking-the-dress-code/

DAY FORMAL: (Very formal diplomatic receptions) Black or Gray tailcoat, with matching trousers, gray double breasted vest, long gray tie, gray gloves, white boutonniere, gray homburg hat, pearl cufflinks and studs.

DAY SEMI-FORMAL: (weddings) Gray morning coat (cutaway), black or gray striped trousers, gray double breasted vest, gray long tie or pinned ascot, gray gloves, white boutonniere, gray top hat, spats, pearl cufflinks, and studs.​

Evening means after 6 PM. Wearing any of these before 6 PM is inappropriate!

EVENING FORMAL: (The Opera, charity ball) White tie and tails (black tailcoat), black trousers with two satin seams on the outside leg, white pique vest, white bow tie, white kid gloves, white boutonniere, black top hat, white silk scarf, black or gold cufflinks and studs.

EVENING SEMI-FORMAL: (weddings, theatre opening nights) Black dinner jacket or white in summer (tuxedo), black trousers with one satin seam on the outside leg, black vest or cummerbund, black bow tie, white silk scarf, black or gold cufflinks and studs.

DAY or EVENING INFORMAL (Don't think casual!) also COCKTAIL, or BUSINESS ATTIRE: This requires a business suit, necktie, lace-up shoes, and for evening occasions a non-button-down collar dress shirt. Make certain that the person sending out the invitations really means informal and not casual since this is a common misconception!​
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I have a similar situation however the bride and groom have not changed the requested attire. The invitation indicates semi formal for a 4:30 PM wedding at a Country Club in Annapolis with drinks, dinner and dancing afterward. It's my wifes family and my wife is a "great aunt". A couple of months ago after receiving the hold the date card, I asked the grandfather of the bride if it was black tie and he said he didn't think so but that nobody had told him anything up to that point. I believe we are far enough away from "direct family" not to be considered a part of the wedding party. I think I'll end up wearing a navy BB Madison suit, black shoes, a more formal looking navy Prince of Wales tie and spread collar white shirt. I suspect that the grandfather will be similarly suited. I do not have a tux, by the way, and hesitate to wear full dress Kilt as it would most likely detract from the brides show. I also wouldn't be surprised to see others in the audience including some family in boat shoes and blazers.
These things do tend to get convoluted!
They really do. I like dress code standards because they make it so no one is confused. I've been to plenty of weddings where there are men in khaki pants and polo shirts and men in lounge suits. I think a lounge suit for men and cocktail dress for myself is always safe at most weddings nowadays, with the exception of beach affairs...even if you're surrounded by boat shoes. But I don't mind being a tad overdressed as long as my husband matches me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So the working theory my husband and I have is that family and friends were confused by their initial use of the word "semiformal" and "tuxedos"in the same sentence and they had a lot of questions and/or complaints, so they decided to change it to the unfortunately common, modern use of "formal," which is basically business attire.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Cracking the Dress Code - article linked from the home page:
https://askandyaboutclothes.com/clothing/style-tips/cracking-the-dress-code/

DAY FORMAL: (Very formal diplomatic receptions) Black or Gray tailcoat, with matching trousers, gray double breasted vest, long gray tie, gray gloves, white boutonniere, gray homburg hat, pearl cufflinks and studs.

DAY SEMI-FORMAL: (weddings) Gray morning coat (cutaway), black or gray striped trousers, gray double breasted vest, gray long tie or pinned ascot, gray gloves, white boutonniere, gray top hat, spats, pearl cufflinks, and studs.​

Evening means after 6 PM. Wearing any of these before 6 PM is inappropriate!

EVENING FORMAL: (The Opera, charity ball) White tie and tails (black tailcoat), black trousers with two satin seams on the outside leg, white pique vest, white bow tie, white kid gloves, white boutonniere, black top hat, white silk scarf, black or gold cufflinks and studs.

EVENING SEMI-FORMAL: (weddings, theatre opening nights) Black dinner jacket or white in summer (tuxedo), black trousers with one satin seam on the outside leg, black vest or cummerbund, black bow tie, white silk scarf, black or gold cufflinks and studs.

DAY or EVENING INFORMAL (Don't think casual!) also COCKTAIL, or BUSINESS ATTIRE: This requires a business suit, necktie, lace-up shoes, and for evening occasions a non-button-down collar dress shirt. Make certain that the person sending out the invitations really means informal and not casual since this is a common misconception!​
If only people followed these rules that prevent confusion...words and meaning have become diluted so as to be useless.

My father is an impeccable dresser with a classic men's wardrobe, and I grew up around my parents' circle of similarly tasteful friends...a dying breed, sadly. I think my husband is probably the only one among his friends, all white collar professionals, that doesn't look like a misguided teenager most days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
A wedding should not be this complicated.
It shouldn't, no. I'm going to wear the dress, despite the potential to be the most formal one besides the bride and to not match my husband; husband has decided to wear a business suit so he won't upstage the groom (wearing a "dark suit") by wearing a tuxedo.
 
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