What Makes a Wedding Formal?

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Many engaged couples wonder what makes a wedding formal, semi-formal, or informal. They often ask “what does it mean that the wedding is formal?” The easy answer is “whatever you want it to mean.” Ok. I know that’s not the answer most couples are looking for.

Of course there is a difference between formal, semi-formal, and informal. But with today’s weddings being more personalized and unique to each couple, there is less strict following of the “rules” and more picking and choosing elements that hold meaning and represent the couple.

With that in mind, below are the traditional guidelines and criteria that have long been used to define what makes a wedding “Formal.”

Traditional Guidelines for a Formal Wedding

  • The ceremony is held in a church, synagogue, or luxury hotel
  • The reception is held in a luxury hotel, private club or private estate
  • There are 100 or more guests
  • Invitations are engraved with traditional wording
  • The bride wears a floor-length gown with a chapel-length or sweeping train
  • The bride’s veil is at least fingertip length
  • The bride may wear gloves
  • The groom wears a cutaway (before 6 pm) or white tie and tails (after 6 pm)
  • Female attendants wear floor-length gowns
  • Male attendants wear matching cutaways or tails
  • Guests wear formal attire or evening wear
  • The reception features a sit-down dinner
  • There is live entertainment
  • There is elaborate floral and event design
  • There is luxury transportation

Ultra formal weddings follow the same guidelines as formal weddings, but with a heightened sense of formality and drama. It is typically larger, with 200 or more guests, up to 10 or 12 attendants, and a white tie dress code. The bride’s gown as well the wedding party’s attire, and the guests’ should reflect this very formal style.

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Photo credit: Jeff Schaefer Photography

Hearts, Joy, Love!

Do you have questions or are looking for unique ideas for your wedding? Weddings From The Heart can help. Contact me today at jean@weddingsfromtheheart.net or at 937-235-2586 or 937-581-3647!

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