6 Things Guests Should Never Wear to a Wedding (2024)

Choosing what to wear to a wedding can be downright taxing, especially as wedding guest dress codes become more and more confusing. But whether an invitation calls for formal, co*cktail, or garden attire, guests can prevent the most serious fashion faux pas with these universal wedding style rules. From skimpy skirts and scene-stealing sequins to bridal white and casual jeans, keep these six items tucked away in your closet as you opt instead for wedding wear that won't end up as the most talked-about part of the celebration.

Clothing Outside the Dress Code

"You show up to the wedding to honor the couple. Your appearance should reflect that," says Julie Sabatino, a wedding fashion stylist at The Stylish Bride. Take the extra effort to ensure you understand what you should and shouldn't wear to a particular ceremony.

Bridal stylist Jackie Avrumson agrees. If you can't figure out exactly what "beachy chic" or "festive casual" entails, ask a bridesmaid—or the couple—for help. "I have no doubt that they would be more than happy to tell you, as they want their day to be picture perfect," says Avrumson.

Anything Loud and Flashy

One of the biggest rules of dressing for a wedding is to never outshine the couple. Avoid sequined ball gowns, sparkly tiaras, sky-high platform heels, or other articles of clothing that will draw attention away from the bride. A wedding isn't the proper time to make a bold fashion statement.

If you're at a complete loss for an outfit, Sabatino suggests sticking with a long or short black dress. Find a piece with flattering cut, and dress it up for the occasion. "There's a way to make a black dress look good in the Hamptons, and a way to make it look good in a ballroom in New York City," says Sabatino.

A White Dress

Unless you're the bride, wearing a white dress to a wedding is (still) a major faux pas. Leave all white, ivory, and champagne-hued shades alone, unless the invitation specifically designates an all-white dress code. "White and ivory are such a stark, prominent color that when you are the only one, as the bride, wearing it, all eyes are on you," says Avrumson. "It's also the day in which a bride waits to wear this color for her life event, and it's been an emotional journey getting there."

If you think a short, white co*cktail dress will pass the etiquette test, think again: As an increasing number of brides change into second looks for their reception, even a more casual frock will steal the spotlight. "Of course, nobody can mistake the bride on their day," says Avrumson. "But in the long term, this will also affect the photos, as the bride should be the pinnacle in white."

Your Everyday Attire

It doesn't matter if the dress code requests "casual" attire, jeans, T-shirts, shorts, flip-flops, and sneakers are never appropriate to wear as a wedding guest. Show respect for the bride and groom by dressing formally. Sabatino suggests that men show up in a jacket and tie, even when the invitation says casual. "That is honoring the occasion in my mind," she says.

At Avrumson's own wedding, where the temperatures topped 90 degrees, a male guest wore a T-shirt under his suit. "I couldn't really be upset over it because of the weather, and because it’s more important that everyone have a good time," she says. However, she does draw the line at too-casual bags. "Big faux pas for me: If you're going to be in a beautiful dress, I beg that you have a proper handbag and not the same bag you go shopping with," she says.

Revealing Outfits

"Never wear something with a lot of exposed skin," says Sabatino. Crop tops, dresses with mesh on the sides, short skirts, plunging necklines, and form-fitting gowns are more appropriate for a night out than a wedding. A skimpy outfit will attract negative attention from other guests and take attention away from the bride; it also doesn't match the solemnity of the occasion.

"It would be good to take into consideration that family members and elders are there and you’re going to a wedding, not the club," says Avrumson. "A wedding ceremony is sacred and should be respected. If you’re going to wear something low cut, make sure that the length is appropriate so you’re not overexposed."

Uncomfortable Shoes

"Think about what's appropriate for the setting and the venue," says Sabatino. If the wedding will take place on a natural landscape, consider ditching the heels for a pair of cute flats. There's no need to be in struggling with stiletto heels in grass all night, or have to go home early because of painful and insensible footwear.

6 Things Guests Should Never Wear to a Wedding (2024)


6 Things Guests Should Never Wear to a Wedding? ›

It doesn't matter if the dress code requests "casual" attire, jeans, T-shirts, shorts, flip-flops, and sneakers are never appropriate to wear as a wedding guest. Show respect for the bride and groom by dressing formally. Sabatino suggests that men show up in a jacket and tie, even when the invitation says casual.

What's something you should never wear as a wedding guest? ›

Anything Too Casual

We get it, no one wants to quit their coziest clothing like yoga pants, slippers, and jeans, but it's important to remember that these have no place at a wedding. Even if the celebration is casual and relaxed, guests should always err on the side of formal.

What is acceptable to wear to a wedding as a guest? ›

Semi-Formal: For daytime weddings, women can wear a knee-length or midi dress, while men can wear a lighter-colored suit. For evening events, opt for darker colors and more formal attire. Dressy Casual: Women can wear a casual dress or separates, while men should wear dress pants with a collared shirt and blazer.

What is the taboo color for wedding guests? ›

It turns out that white is still the main color you can't wear to a wedding. Eighty percent of brides wear white to their wedding, and it's important that a bride stands out at her wedding. Even if it isn't the intent, a guest wearing white can be seen as an attempt to upstage the bride—and that's definitely a no-no.

Why can't you wear red to a wedding? ›

Turns out, wearing red to a wedding means to some that “you've slept with the groom.” “Old Wives' Tale, but yeah,” Mitchell explained. However, both wedding planners agreed on a more modern reason for not wearing red: It could be seen as a way to grab the attention away from the bride.

What is too casual to wear to a wedding? ›

Don't go *too* casual.

Even if the wedding has a more low-key dress code, I promise you: It is not that casual. Meaning no sweats, shorts, jeans, T-shirts—you get my point. "If you have to choose between being underdressed or overdressed, it's always better to be overdressed," Swann explains.

What do ladies wear to weddings as a guest? ›

Women wedding guests should wear full-length dresses, be it a ballgown, a sheath or an A-line dress. High heels are strongly recommended. Feel free to accessorize with opulent jewelry and even elbow-length white silk gloves.

Is it OK not to wear pantyhose to a wedding? ›

If your dress has white in the print or texture, that's okay. Hose are dated, and unless you are Kate Middleton, it's not necessarily your friend.

Can a woman wear pants to a wedding? ›

Pants are totally acceptable. Here are some ways to wear pants to a wedding with confidence.

What is the safest color to wear to a wedding? ›

Neutral shades are timeless options that won't detract from the wedding's formal atmosphere. For a more colorful look, consider wearing shades of blue, lavender, or pink to show that you're in the celebratory spirit. If the wedding is in a tropical destination, opt for colors like yellow, orange, and green.

What does it mean to wear blue to a wedding? ›

Traditionally, blue was a color that symbolized fidelity and loyalty, especially to one's spouse. Some say the bride needed blue to ward off the evil eye or prevent bad luck. The color doesn't have to be on your body or person to check the 'traditions' box.

What should a 80 year old woman wear to a wedding? ›

Pantsuits, jumpsuits, and dresses are appropriate choices for casual weddings. Women over 60 can choose knee-length, tea-length, or full-length dresses for most wedding themes. A full-length gown is the most suitable choice for formal or black-tie events.

What is taboo to wear to a wedding? ›

It doesn't matter if the dress code requests "casual" attire, jeans, T-shirts, shorts, flip-flops, and sneakers are never appropriate to wear as a wedding guest. Show respect for the bride and groom by dressing formally. Sabatino suggests that men show up in a jacket and tie, even when the invitation says casual.

What is the most popular color for weddings? ›

#1: Dark Blue

From navy or dusty blue bridesmaid dresses and royal blue suits, this flattering color was a great addition to any wedding theme or aesthetic. It also allowed couples to play up creative "something blue" wedding ideas.

Is it OK to wear pink to a wedding? ›

Look no further than hot pink! This bold and bright hue is perfect for adding a pop of color to any wedding guest outfit. But with so many different styles, fabrics, and designs to choose from, it can be overwhelming to find the perfect hot pink dress for you.

Is it OK to wear black to a wedding? ›

As long as it's not considered culturally inappropriate or against the dress code, you can wear black to a wedding. Depending on where the couple is exchanging vows, which season their special day is taking place in, and what time of day everything begins, black may or may not be your best color option.

Do people have dress codes for weddings? ›

Not all nuptials are black-tie affairs, and you want to ensure your attire as a wedding guest is appropriate for the occasion. If a dress code isn't specified on the wedding invitation, you can generally gauge the type of soirée — and, therefore, how to dress for the wedding — based on the reception venue.

Why can't you wear jeans to a wedding? ›

According to Lisa Lyons, an event planner and etiquette advisor, jeans are inappropriate to wear as they're generally deemed as casual and informal. "Weddings are typically formal or semi-formal events, and wearing jeans may be seen as disrespectful and not in line with the dress code," she explains.

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