Can You Wear a Black Dress to a Wedding? 3 Experts Weigh In (2024)

While understanding a wedding's dress code can sometimes present a challenge—what exactly counts as "creative black tie"?—you no longer need to worry that donning a black dress will make you look like you're headed for a funeral instead of a celebration.

"The rules around the color have definitely softened in recent years," says Laurie Arons of Laurie Arons Special Events. 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.

As a general rule, "wearing black is totally acceptable, as the hue is very versatile," says bridal stylist Julie Sabatino of The Stylish Bride. Make the shade work for you—at any type of wedding—with these ideas for choosing the right fabrice, length, and accessories.

Simple, Beautiful Black-and-White Wedding Ideas

Consider the Location

"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 she suggests wearing a colorful dress to a wedding in this region.

If you're lucky enough to attend a destination wedding in European or tropical locales, Arons recommends looking 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 call for something regal, like jewel tones.

Consider Fabric and Length

Not all black dresses are created equal, says New York-based bridal stylist Jackie Avrumson. "You can always wear black, no matter where you are, but it depends on how it's executed," she says. "Black is the most versatile and flattering color for any woman to wear. But because black absorbs heat, if you wear it to a beach wedding you’ll want to wear a light fabric."

If you are going to a less formal affair and your go-to color is black, "check the length and the cut of the dress," says Avrumson. "Black is super chic, but sometimes it will feel overdressed. You want the length and the fabric to be appropriate based on time of year and the location."

Keep It Festive

Black is unequivocally practical, but that doesn't mean the mid-length crepe dress you wear for work dinners is right for a wedding. "If you put on your dress and you feel like you can still go to the office or you're ready for an interview, that's when it's time to pick another one," says Avrumson. "Depending on what the wedding calls for, you can wear a long or short black dress to a wedding and treat it like any other color. "

Account for Tradition

In some cultures, black is less common for weddings. "Certain cultures, such as Indian and Chinese cultures, tend to stay away from black because it represents being in mourning. You want to take an extra thought if you are attending a more traditional wedding to be respectful," says Avrumson. "If you wear black to an event where it's not traditional to do so, you may want to incorporate as much color as possible [with accessories]."

Think About the Wedding's Formality

In a relaxed country setting or a beach location, black may seem too serious; a splashy pastel or punchy pattern might be expected. "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.

If black is your first choice, though, go with it. "You can always wear black, no matter where you are, but you'll want to check the vibe of the wedding first so the style will fit with the setting," says Avrumson. "After all, you want to be comfortable!"

Add Colorful Accessories

Keep your look fun and party-ready by incorporating metallics, bright colors, and memorable jewelry alongside subtle black dresses or gowns. "Black dresses are essentially a blank slate. Have fun with it and make it unique to your own style," says Avrumson. "Wear your favorite bold jewelry such as drop earrings, a bracelet stack or a single bangle, or a statement necklace. A pop of color in your clutch is also a great touch that will brighten up your black. Your shoes do not have to be black, so have some fun with them, whether they are metallic or your favorite color!"

Can You Wear a Black Dress to a Wedding? 3 Experts Weigh In (2024)


Is wearing a black dress to a wedding acceptable? ›

Since nuptials are celebratory occasions, the dark hue was labeled off-limits for attendees in the past. However, in today's modern-day age, wearing black to a wedding is completely acceptable, and in many cases, it's even encouraged.

Can you wear a black wedding dress yes or no? ›

For many cultures, black clothing has long been associated with mourning and death, and sometimes even bad luck and misfortune. Though black wedding dresses are no longer considered taboo, certain individuals might not find them fitting for a celebratory occasion.

What colors are not appropriate to wear to a wedding? ›

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.

Can you wear a black and gold dress to a wedding? ›

I was at a wedding this weekend and a couple of guests were wearing black dresses with gold patterns. I think its absolutely fine. I wore Pewter and gold to the last one I went to.

What color shoes to wear with a black dress to a wedding? ›

White shoes are always a classic choice, and they'll contrast beautifully with a black dress. Silver or gray shoes will also look stunning with a black dress, and they'll add a touch of shimmer and sophistication to your outfit. For a bolder look, try choosing shoes in a bright color, like red or yellow.

Is it okay to wear all black? ›

Black has an innate elegance and sophistication. It can effortlessly elevate any look, making it suitable for both casual and formal occasions. By wearing all black, you can ensure you always look chic and put together.

What does a black wedding dress symbolize? ›

Some may be concerned about what it means to wear a black wedding dress. While the traditional white wedding dress was meant to symbolize innocence, a black wedding dress depicts elegance, power, mystery, and individuality.

What to wear to a wedding as a guest female? ›

Women wedding guests should wear full-length dresses, be it a ballgown, a sheath or an A-line dress. High heels are strongly recommended.

Is it okay to wear red to a wedding? ›

Summary. To answer the main question of the article, yes you can wear red to a wedding in most circ*mstances. However, in some situations you may want to check with the marrying couple that red is acceptable to wear as a guest and it won't go against their culture or distract from their big day.

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

A friend mentioned to me the other day she had heard you're not supposed to wear green to a wedding. That was news to me. A quick Google revealed that, according to Irish tradition, the colour green attracts the fairies and they could bring mischief and mayhem to the event.

What is the best color dress code for a wedding? ›

If you're looking for something classic and timeless, dark colors like navy blue or black are always appropriate. For a more glamorous look, pastels such as lavender, light pink, or pale blue will add a touch of elegance to your outfit.

Can you wear royal blue to a wedding? ›

To help you figure this out, “Look at the invitation because it's the first source of information for what colors you should or shouldn't wear to a wedding,” Swann shares. So if you notice a repetitive royal blue or fern green, it's probably best to avoid those colors and any similar shade.

Can you wear black and white polka dots to a wedding? ›

Classic Black & White: Timeless and sophisticated, black and white polka dot dresses are a go-to choice for winter weddings.

Can I wear gold jewelry with a black dress? ›

Consider the dress's undertones when choosing gold jewelry for a black dress. Yellow gold pairs well with warm tones, while white gold complements cool tones. Whether it's a pair of gold earrings, a delicate bracelet, or a statement necklace, incorporating gold into your look creates a timeless and refined aesthetic.

Can you wear floral to a formal wedding? ›

Can you wear a floral dress to a formal wedding? The short answer: Yes! Floral wedding guest dresses come in so many different styles, from festive frocks to sexy slips. No matter the dress code of the event you're attending, you're bound to find a floral wedding guest dress that's perfect for the occasion.

How do I ask guests to wear black to a wedding? ›

If you're going to request a certain dress code or color from your guests, be upfront about this from the beginning. That means notifying them of this on the invitation or even the save the date. This gives guests time to find an appropriate outfit or bow out if they're not able to follow it.

What to wear to a 5 pm wedding? ›

The staff suggests that if a wedding is taking place at 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., you should wear something that easily transitions from day to night; any ceremony after 6 p.m. should be strictly co*cktail.

Can you wear black to a Catholic wedding? ›

If you're attending a black-tie or formal wedding, you can wear anything black. However, wearing a black outfit to a Catholic wedding in the casual countryside, where the bridal dress code is not formal, may appear overly solemn. Likewise, outdoor weddings can sometimes be less formal and demand more casual dress.

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