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There Are Only Two Acceptable Wedding Dress Codes

Photo: Kena Betancur / Stringer (Getty)

Yesterday, I was having a nice coffee outside with a friend who was telling me about an upcoming trip. He and his girlfriend were going to a wedding in Austin. I, a famous lover a good wedding, wanted details. There’s a moment when you ask people who wear dresses about weddings that never comes up with people who wear suits and yet here he was making a face and saying, “we’re really excited to go, but the dress code is ‘garden something.’”

This is a problem I know a lot about. As the wedding industrial complex grows, everyone in their quest to have a unique and special beginning to their marriage has begun to use insane terms to tell people how to dress.

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Here are a few dress codes that people have used for actual events related to weddings: formal, black tie, black tie formal, black tie optional, black tie casual, white tie, semi formal, dressy casual, cocktail, chic cocktail, chic cocktail casual, cocktail formal, beach formal, casual, wedding casual, daytime, garden casual, island, daytime semiformal, WINE COUNTRY CASUAL, Connecticut casual, bolo tie optional, Texas formal, garden formal, and yacht party.

There are dozens of websites devoted to helping wedding guests try and translate these terms (many of which mean nothing) into actual wearable options. This is a waste of everyone’s time, and as Emily Post has not joined us in this 21st century hellscape, I am here to declare a wedding edict.

There are only two dress codes for weddings.

1) Very Fancy

2) Just Look Nice

What about semi formal??? Some of you with June weddings are saying. NO. Semi-formal, just like all of these other terms means absolutely nothing. None of these words mean anything. There are only these two.

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That’s it. Either you want everyone to be very fancy (while I’m making rules, if you’re requiring people to wear heels you are not allowed to have a cash bar) or you want them to just not wear jeans. There is no need to confuse your guests with insane terminology that means absolutely nothing. There is no need to try and corral your guests into wearing what you think might look nice for photos. No amount of adjectives is going to keep your second cousin Carol from wearing what is essentially a white dress with a small print on it if she has decided upon it. No carefully crafted words will make absolutely sure that no one shows up in flip flops.

Your wedding doesn’t need an exception. No weddings are that special. Just pick one of these two and save everyone from this misery.

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About the author

Kelsey McKinney

Kelsey McKinney is a staff writer for Deadspin.