Two experts—a wedding planner and a bridal stylist—weigh in on this potentially tricky topic.
Selecting the right wedding attire can be somewhat challenging; you may, for example, wonder whether it's appropriate to wear black. The short answer? It depends on the wedding. "The rules around the color have definitely softened in recent years," says Laurie Arons of Laurie Arons Special Events, adding that it's no longer a faux pas to wear a color so closely associated with mourning to weddings and other joyous occasions. "Nowadays you even see bridesmaids in chic black gowns of their own choosing," she points out.
To help you determine whether black is appropriate for the wedding you're attending, we turned to Arons and bridal stylist Julie Sabatino for key considerations.
"In the metropolitan Northeast (think New York and Boston), it's very common to see women in little black dresses or evening gowns at weddings," Arons explains. In the South, however, it's much less common, which is why Arons would suggest wearing a colorful dress to a wedding in this region of the United States. If you're lucky enough to attend a destination wedding in European or tropical locales, she notes that avoiding black is still highly recommended. Instead, look to the region's surroundings to inform your outfit: An oceanside event in the Bahamas, for example, calls for bright, punchy colors, while an affair at a castle in France might require something regal, like jewel tones.
Think About the Wedding's Formality
"If the couple is hosting a black-tie wedding at a formal venue, such as an elegant ballroom or grand museum, it's suitable for a guest to wear black," Arons says. In a relaxed country setting or a beach location, black would seem far too serious and out of place; a splashy pastel or punchy pattern is much more appropriate.
Consider the Time of Day
"Traditional etiquette states that black-tie dress is appropriate for receptions starting at 6:00 p.m. or later, with suits or morning suits recommended for the afternoon hours," Arons says. Though not every wedding follows these rules, she explains that ladies can still follow suit (pun intended!) by choosing lighter and brighter colors for daytime events, and deeper, more formal tones for the evening.
Whatever You Do, Don't Wear White
As a general rule, "wearing black is totally acceptable, as the hue is very versatile," Sabatino affirms. However, you should avoid wearing white unless you are told otherwise. That shade, she says, is reserved exclusively for the bride.
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Generally, wearing black to a wedding is appropriate. "Guests can absolutely wear black to a wedding," says Shawne Jacobs, President and Creative Director of Anne Barge. "In the past, black was a color typically worn for mourning.Can you wear black to a wedding yes or no? ›
As a general rule, "wearing black is totally acceptable, as the hue is very versatile," Sabatino affirms. However, you should avoid wearing white unless you are told otherwise. That shade, she says, is reserved exclusively for the bride.How do you ask a wedding guest not to wear black? ›
- Be Upfront from the Beginning. If you're going to request a certain dress code or color from your guests, be upfront about this from the beginning. ...
- Be Clear and Concise. ...
- Give Options. ...
- Consider Guests Preferences. ...
- Make Exceptions as Needed.
The annual return to light and airy hues begs the question: Can you wear black to a spring wedding? According to our experts, the answer is yes. "Black can be worn to a formal wedding even if it's during the spring," says Coleman.How do you tell someone to wear black to your wedding? ›
Include the dress code on your wedding invitations: You can include a line on your wedding invitations that indicates the dress code, such as "Black-Tie" or "Black Attire Requested". This lets your guests know the expectations for the dress code and that you would prefer if they wore black.Is there a color you shouldn't wear to a wedding? ›
Steer clear of off-white, eggshell, beige, champagne, cream, or any other super light color that could be mistaken for white. There are so many dress options available in a variety of hues, so steering clear of these shades should not be a major issue.How do you dress a black dress for a wedding? ›
Choose a style that feels comfortable and doesn't steal the limelight from the bride. So, avoid sequins and over-the-top plunging necklines and trains. Style your black dress with pops of color using statement jewelry or a bold hat or fascinator and add extra detail with the perfect pair of shoes.What is the color code for wedding guests? ›
You may choose to wear any color except black or white. The guest's goal should be to blend in with the surroundings and let the bride shine. As her guest, you should avoid attire that could be considered informal or in bad taste. Pastels, jewel tones and earth tones are excellent choices, as are most primary colors.Can you tell your wedding guests what color to wear? ›
Yes, you can definitely ask your wedding guests to wear a certain color! This is a great way to help tie your wedding together and create a cohesive look. Plus, it can be really fun for your guests to get to dress up in their best duds!Why do people say not to wear black to a wedding? ›
In the past, wearing black to a wedding was frowned upon, because black was a colour traditionally worn at funerals and when in mourning.
"Guests can absolutely wear black to a wedding," says Shawne Jacobs, President and Creative Director of Anne Barge. "In the past, black was a color typically worn for mourning. However, over the years couples have been more open to breaking the rules and opting for non-traditional, modern wedding dress codes.What should a female guest wear to a wedding? ›
Semi-formal might be the most common wedding dress code. Think date night at the nicest restaurant in your town. Men should definitely wear slacks and a dress shirt but they can choose if they'd like to wear a tie and sport jacket or not. Women should wear a nice dress, skirt, or pants.What is a black attire wedding? ›
What Is Black Tie Attire? Black-tie attire is a dress code reserved for formal evening events. Guests commonly choose floor-length gowns and suits or tuxedos when attending a black-tie event.Can I wear a black dress to a summer wedding? ›
Black Clothing is the Key to Effortless Chic
Is a black dress appropriate for a summer wedding? Our resounding answer is yes! When you style black right, you certainly can! A black dress or skirt is effortlessly elegant.
“Tradition dictates guests avoid wearing red out of fear that it could take attention away from the happy couple,” explains Hurwitz. “Visually, it's quite bold. In a photo, your eye is immediately drawn to the color, especially if it's next to neutrals like white, black, gray, or beige.”Can I wear a black and white dress to a wedding? ›
“How about a black-and-white dress?” We advise against wearing white to weddings, but a printed dress 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.What should I avoid wearing to a wedding? ›
It doesn't matter if the dress code requests "casual" attire; jeans, T-Shirts, shorts, 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 colors should not be worn together? ›
- Yellow and green. Yellow and green are two of the most popular colors in the world. ...
- Brown and orange. ...
- Red and green. ...
- Neon and Neon. ...
- Purple and yellow. ...
- Red and purple. ...
- Black and Navy.
The wedding colours are for the wedding party, not guests
Unless you're in that bridal party, you'd be best to steer clear of trying to match them. Think of it a bit like a stage show. The actors, in this case the bridal party, all wear the same colour to identify themselves as being in the cast.
You may choose to wear any color except black or white. The guest's goal should be to blend in with the surroundings and let the bride shine. As her guest, you should avoid attire that could be considered informal or in bad taste. Pastels, jewel tones and earth tones are excellent choices, as are most primary colors.
“Tradition dictates guests avoid wearing red out of fear that it could take attention away from the happy couple,” explains Hurwitz. “Visually, it's quite bold. In a photo, your eye is immediately drawn to the color, especially if it's next to neutrals like white, black, gray, or beige.”