One of the first major decisions you will make for your wedding is how formal you want your wedding to be. There is no wrong choice here- some want their weddings to be ultimately laid-back, others want all the pomp and circumstance.. Though no wedding may fit into the four categories below exactly, try to find out roughly what type of wedding you want by thinking about the following options on the formality scale.
Level 1-Laid Back:
A casual wedding focuses on a highly relaxed atmosphere, eschewing many more formal traditions. The bride and groom may wear nice, everyday clothes, and may or may not have friends stand up with them at the ceremony. If there is a reception, it may be a meal at a restaurant or a casual brunch, lunch, or dinner at a private home. There may be a simple cake, but typical vendor services such as entertainment, formal photography, and florist services may not be included. This type of wedding is best for couples that wish to mark the occasion of their marriage without going to a lot of fuss.
Level 2- Casual:
Casual weddings can take place at a private home or simple public location, such as a public beach or state park. The couple may wear casual wedding clothes- a knee-length dress for the bride and a nice pair of khakis and button-down shirt for the groom, perhaps. If there is a wedding party, clothes might include matching, casual clothes or simply nice personal clothes. The reception may or may not be catered, and might take place at a public venue, private home, or small gathering hall. The couple may follow some wedding traditions, such as having a cake or doing a first dance, but the atmosphere is focused on simple enjoyment and a relaxed party instead of formal concerns.
Level 3- Semi-Formal:
A semi-formal wedding will typically incorporate more of the traditional elements common to weddings. Brides may wear long, traditional gowns, grooms are typically in suits. Guests tend to choose cocktail wear, such as dresses, skirts, or nice suits, for this type of event. The ceremony may take place in a church or at a wedding venue, with a catered reception following. At a semi-formal wedding, vendors such as photographers and florists may be more common. Couples may follow popular wedding traditions, such as cutting the cake, having toasts, and dancing a first dance. Because of the dress code, semi-formal weddings generally take place in the afternoon or evening.
A formal wedding involves a heavy emphasis on tradition and the importance of the event. Clothes for the wedding party and the guests might include long, formal gowns and tuxedos. Formal events are typically held at elaborate wedding venues, such as a vineyard, historic home, or private estate. At the reception, the meal is often plated and served by staff, as opposed to less-formal options like buffet service. Entertainment may be provided by live musicians, and a professional photographer and videographer may be used. Cultural and popular wedding traditions are generally strictly observed.