(Closed) Black tie and military uniform

posted 7 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
12244 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2013

Assuming “mess dress” is his branch of the military’s formal attire, I’m pretty sure it’s a perfectly appropriate thing to wear to a wedding.

Post # 4
1041 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

It is my understanding that mess dress is the equivalant  of black tie. So yes, he can wear it. Honestly, I don’t really think it is your place to stipulate how your guests may dress, provided it is appropriate.


Post # 5
47458 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

@Janielum:  My understanding is that it is appropriate for a member of the military to wear mess dress to a black tie wedding.

Relax. No one is going to take attention away from the bride.

Post # 7
224 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2015

Mess Dress is their equivalent of formal evening dress, I know, you hear the word ‘mess’ and it doesn’t sound very formal, but I assure you it is. I think it would be totally appropriate. It is your day. I’m sure all the attention will still be on you. 🙂

ETA: My brother is in the military, and although I don’t know the HE personally would wear his Mess Dress to my wedding (if it were black tie), I would feel very bad telling him he shouldn’t if he really wanted to. Because it is certainly appropriate aparrel wise.

Post # 8
543 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

@Janielum:   IMO it depends on a lot of factors. If this guy is choosing to wear his mess dress over a suit he has/ can afford, it is a bit rude. You can rent a suit for $100 bucks and buy one for double. Mess dress uniforms can cost upwards of $500, before alterations and upkeep. If all he has is his mess dress (we call them dinner dress in the USN), then I think thats more acceptable. Depending on what branch he is. It won’t look too different from a standard tuxedo with some “bells and whistles”.Disclaimerl: I can only speak for myself, but as a servicemember, anytime I can wear civvies I do, I love the uniform but its nice to be Mrs. NaijaPuertoDorian sometimes as opposed to Petty Officer NaijaPuertoDorian.

Post # 9
1181 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

@Janielum:  It is perfectly acceptable for him to wear it. To ask him not to, would be insulting (it would be the same as you telling your friend that their evening gown was not fancy enough). 

Have you even googled the current standard mess dress for his division? Some of them are quite stunning and not as military designed as you would think. 


While I see your point of view, I do not agree with it. He will not be taking attention away. 

Post # 10
1041 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

View original reply
@Janielum:  It is essentially the same as a tuxedo, have you seen them? They are quite spiffy! They certainly are not more casual than black tie. And, no one is going to take attention away from the bride and groom. They are all here for you guys. I think you are worrying about something that will not end up being a big deal, and who likes worrying?

Post # 12
1833 posts
Buzzing bee

I am a 26 yr vet and a mob. mess dress is the equivalent of a tux and I promise he won’t steal any attention from you. People will spend about 2 nanoseconds looking at him and then move along. my dad was a lifer too and my brother was a die hard hippy who was proud of my service. we don’t have to have prior approval from hippies to wear our uniform. They are allowed to have their opinion, but we aren’t going to hide from  mthem. we chose to wear the uniform, they did not. we were each true to ourselves. also, you said most of.your guests own a tux which is not cheap! a true mess dress uniform is way more expensive than a good tux. please don’t worry about this, it is fine. sorry for the typos, using my phone.

Post # 13
14492 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

Mess dress is formal and appropriate. No one takes the attention away from the bride and groom, that just doesn’t happen for a uniform. If anyone were to take offense at a man in uniform, who is willing to put his life on the line for their freedoms, that makes them look small, immature, disrespectful, and petty, not the soldier. Mess dress is reserved for the nicest occasions, he’s honoring you by wearing it. It takes teeth pulling or direct military orders to get the men in my family into their Mess Dress.

Post # 14
1181 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

View original reply
@Janielum:  Some people eat, breathe and live 24/7 in uniform or apparel affliated with their branch. I am not from a miliary family or anything but it is a huge deal for some people and families. 

I mean you could ask, but do you plan on asking every single one of your guests what they plan on wearing, to make sure its up to your standards? It would be awfuly rude. You did place this in the etiquete section. He would not be rude wearing his mess dress. Asking him not to wear it, would be highly insensitive and rude. 

I too am having a black tie affair, I understand why you would be concerned.  What a guest wears, is ultimately up to them. You can say black tie all you want, if your guest shows up in semi-formal attire, as a gracious hostess you ignore it. 

Post # 15
9950 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

Etiquette Snob here… lol

When it comes to “formal wear” … Military Mess Dress is the utmost of perfect.

Sorry… altho your vision is one that might not have included a military uniform in the mix… it is the chance you take when you issue an Invite for a Black Tie affair.

(Not to mention the fact that someone could also make the choice to wear their Country’s National Clothing… ie think a Guy in a Formal Kilt & Jacket rig)

In all honesty…

Perhaps… you truly should have done more research in regards to Black Tie before you got set in this direction

On the other hand…

I know many men in the Military who also own a tuxedo… and will opt to wear that instead for Weddings (vs a Public function).  But the choice is theirs to make.

Etiquette is pretty strict about the rules of Dress Codes.

You can issue a request of “Black Tie” but in the end you really cannot control what people choose to wear.

I suggest that you take a look at the Black Tie Guide for more info:


The Military Dress Kit might not be entirely what you envision… some Divisions look actually quite much like “standard formal wear”… witness these Canadian Officers:

As someone who has been to many Black Tie affairs, your issue is truly as they say a “first world one”.  Most Brides are more worried about the Male Guest who is going to show up in jeans or kahkis with Runners… or the Female Guest who is going to go for Club Wear, and being showing waaaay too much skin (not elegant = skanky)

Hon, you need to relax a bit.  All will be fine.

Hope this helps,

PS… Lol, Hippies are my generation and I think you’ll find they are usually more “reserved” in their old age than they ever were in their youth.  They know what is and isn’t proper, and I doubt very much they’d make a scene at your Wedding.  So I wouldn’t worry too much about that happening.


Post # 16
535 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2014

For active military, mess dress is equivalent to black tie, and to insist he not wear it is an insult. It would be like telling a guest her dress was the wrong color. You really can’t micromanage what your guests wear.

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