I understand that traditionally an after six wedding would indicate formal attire. What does this mean for the groomsmen and bridesmaids? Then in terms of guests’ attire, it is okay to indicate on the invitation that something less than formal is okay, such as semi-formal or even casual? I don’t want everyone to think they must wear a tuxedo or gown since the wedding is at 6:00pm.
For a formal wedding at 6:00 in the evening, the groom and his attendants would wear either white-tie with tails or black-tie with tuxedos. For a slightly less formal wedding, they could stick with black-tie and tuxedos, or they could wear dark suits. For the bridal attendants, if you’re going formal, they would wear long gowns in formal fabrics and colors (think dupioni, brocade or taffeta in black, navy or deep purple). If you’re going less formal, they can wear ankle-, mid-calf- or knee-length dresses in less formal combinations (like crepe, organza or chiffon in blues, pinks or greens).
A few other things can influence the attire as well. Time of year and location will also help determine what’s appropriate for attendants. For example, a beach wedding in August certainly doesn’t call for tuxedos, even if it’s at 6:00. But a November wedding in the city probably does. So you should take those factors into consideration as well.
In terms of the wording for guests’ attire, normally you would not see something about that on the actual invitation, but there are a few other things you can do to indicate that it’s a less formal affair. First, in the opening lines of the invitation, you can say “request the pleasure of your company” (instead of “request the honour of your presence”), indicating that the wedding will be less formal.
Another way to handle this is to have a separate card with details about the reception: time, place, directions and attire. In that case you wouldn’t list any details about the reception on the invitation, just end with the ceremony information. Also, we find that many brides now have wedding websites, so that’s also an excellent place to indicate to guests what attire would be appropriate. Further, make sure your wedding party knows what to tell people – many details like this end up getting communicated through word-of-mouth, so it’s important to get attendants and parents all on the same page.