Wearing Color to a Wedding

Wedding guests watch as the bride and groom stand at the alter during the ceremony.

“Can I wear ___________ To a Wedding?”

A Guide to Color Selection

We all adore weddings as a time to celebrate love with friends and family—and then there’s the added bonus of getting to dress up! However, picking out an outfit as a wedding guest comes with a few hurdles. In addition to adhering to the couple’s dress code, there are unwritten rules that dictate which colors are appropriate to wear to a wedding. Whether you’re questioning if you can wear all black to a wedding or are curious to know how bad it would be to wear a white flowy dress, we’ve got answers for you. (Bottom line: if you have doubts, move on to another outfit!)

White

“Can I wear white?”
Short answer? No, you cannot wear white to a wedding. (Unless the bride wants everyone to show up in white, then you do you!) This is one of the most commonly asked questions from wedding guests, swiftly followed by the rules for wearing beige, cream, or printed white dresses.

“Okay, what about beige? It’s not ACTUALLY white!”
It’s best to keep your distance from softer versions of white like cream, ivory, or beige—no matter how good you look in the dress, you’ll run the risk of upstaging the bride. No one wants to be remembered as the person who wore all white to someone else’s wedding.

“What if it’s a white dress with a pattern?”
When it comes to printed or patterned dresses, try to avoid any with a white base color, especially if the pattern is also a lighter color. Allover floral patterns or embellished gowns are okay to wear as long as the main color is not white.

“Can I wear a white cover up?”
As for white accessories (like a cardigan or shoes), you may want to pick something else. You don’t want to end up blending in with the bridal party!

Black

“Can I wear a black dress?”
For those who love a darker color palette, not being able to wear black to a wedding rules out their go-to looks. Even though it’s a classic shade (see: the iconic LBD), some consider wearing black to a wedding as a bad omen. As modern wedding etiquette has evolved, wearing a black dress to a wedding has become less linked to superstition, but the preferred aesthetic is more Audrey Hepburn and less Morticia Addams (unless it’s a Halloween wedding, of course!). Black dresses are perfectly acceptable for formal and black tie dress codes, especially if embellished or paired with another color. (The key is to look like you’re not coming straight from a funeral.)

“Is it appropriate to wear black to a beach wedding?”
For this universally flattering shade, keeping it dress code appropriate comes down to the fabric and cut. For example, a black taffeta ballgown may not be the best choice for a beach wedding. You’ll want to reach for a breathable fabric, such as cotton or linen, in a flowy silhouette.

“How about a black and white dress?”
We advise against wearing all white to weddings, but a printed frock with a hint of white or ivory is definitely approved. A black and white dress is a classic choice, as long as the pattern isn’t too distracting (no zebra print, please!).

Red

“Can you wear red to a wedding?”
While red isn’t the worst color to wear to a wedding, keep in mind that it is eye-catching. Imagine being a bride going through your wedding photos and your eye keeps getting pulled to a vivid scarlet dress. You’ll be remembered as a guest, but perhaps not in the best light.

“Fine, what about pink? Can I wear light pink to a wedding?”
Blush and other shades of light pink have a chance of looking too similar to the bridesmaids, or getting washed out and looking white in photos. If you’re set on wearing light pink, break up the color with patterns or vibrant accessories. Deeper reds, like crimson or oxblood, are a safe wedding choice (plus, they’re universally flattering!).

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