Can You Wear Red to a Wedding? (2024)

Wedding guest dress codes aren’t always easy to parse out. (What exactly does “rodeo chic” or “upscale Coachella cool” even mean, anyway?) Still, no matter the level of formality of the event, there is one golden rule all guests need to follow: your attire should never upstage the couple. Event planner Denise Lillie O’Neal agrees unequivocally, sharing that “properwedding guest etiquettehas always been to avoid outshining or disrespecting a couple on their special day.”

For a long time, this placedcertain colors at the top of the “do not wear” list, with red being a hue many wedding guests were told to avoid at most celebrations. But as dress codes continue to evolve, the concept of red being a taboo shade has consequentially shifted, causing many to now ask: Can you wear red to a wedding?

Meet the Expert

  • Denise Lillie O’Neal is the founder of Denise Lillie Engagements. Based in Sunnyvale, California, she specializes in fusion and cultural weddings and is a Brides Best Wedding Planner.
  • Based in L.A. and N.Y.C., Gabrielle Hurwitz is the founder of Gabrielle Hurwitz Bridal Styling. She helps brides and grooms curate their wedding wardrobe, and also styles for commercial and editorial clients.

Ahead, read on to find out when the color red is appropriate for wedding guest attire, and, more importantly, when you should steer clear of this hue.

What Not to Wear to a Wedding as a Guest

Can You Wear Red to a Wedding?

Whether or not you can wear red to a wedding depends on the wedding itself and the fashion specifications dictated by the couple. Nonetheless, it is largely no longer considered afaux pasto wear red to most Western and secular nuptials. According to bridal fashion stylist Gabrielle Hurwitz, “As couples get more creative with their wedding designs, they’re alsogetting more creative with their dress codes.” This expansion of our understanding of what a wedding can look like has likewise expanded our choices in wedding guest attire.

“If the wedding or the couple is less traditional, or the dress code is a little more creative, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wearing red as a wedding guest,” adds Hurwitz. And while you might see rumors floating around the web that wearing red means you had a fling with the groom, ignore those. There are no hidden meanings to any colors of wedding guest attire.

When to Avoid Wearing Red to a Wedding

In certain cultures, notably South Asian and East Asian cultures, red is considered lucky and auspicious, and thus, has been traditionally incorporated into wedding day attire the same way white dominates bridalwear in Western cultures. This means that if you are attending an Indian, Chinese, or South Asian Muslim Wedding, or any other wedding where the color may have significant cultural meaning, “avoid wearing red because it could be part of the couples’ attire,” says O’Neal. At the same time, O’Neal notes that you may want to avoid shades of white, as some non-Western cultures associate the hue with death and periods of mourning.

When it comes to Western weddings, in particular, if you really want to err on the side of caution—or, as Hurwitz puts it, “avoid stares from the older guests”—it may be best to keep away from wearing red in churches, country clubs, and other more traditional settings."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.”

Additional Wedding Guest Style Tips

Now that you understand the basics, for those planning to wear red to a wedding, there are a few style tips to know in order to appropriately dress for the celebration. Specifically, Hurwitz points out that “for a fall or winter wedding, look for moodier shades of red like cranberry, crimson, ruby, or wine." Rich, heavy textures, such as velvet and jacquard, will also heighten the luxury of your look—especially for a formal or black-tie wedding.

On the other hand, for spring and summer nuptials, "consider brighter, happier shades of red like cherry, tomato, or orange-red,” Hurwitz suggests. What's more, floral and abstract patterns will bring a hint of whimsy to garden and vineyard settings, while flowy, lightweight fabrics such as chiffon and organza will feel romantic no matter the venue.

Lastly, the stylist recommends sporting subtle accessories and makeup to balance out a fully red look. “If you’re planning on wearing red to a wedding but want to be more subtle about it, consider toning down your accessories and beauty look,” she shares. “Avoid statement pieces that will draw even more attention to your outfit and keep your makeup more natural than over-the-top glam.”

Wearing White to a Wedding: Cool or Not Cool?

Can You Wear Red to a Wedding? (2024)


Can You Wear Red to a Wedding? ›

Maybe it'll take some easing into, but my conclusion is that it is okay to wear red to a wedding as long as it's culturally appropriate to do so.

Is red acceptable to wear to a wedding? ›

"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.”

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

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 a red dress to a black tie wedding? ›

Black-Tie Attire for Women

As for colors, all colors are fair game except for white, off-white, or anything else that's even close to white. Apart from that, the only hue you might want to avoid is the color the bride has chosen for her bridesmaid dresses.

Can you wear red to a wedding on Reddit? ›

Red can be fine but I personally don't like bright reds for weddings. This is almost orange because it's been washed, faded, etc.

Why can't guests wear red to weddings? ›

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 does wearing red to a wedding mean? ›

What does red symbolize in a wedding? There's an old wives' tale that wearing red to a wedding means you've slept with the groom or at least wanted to. It's a wedding myth that shouldn't prevent you from wearing whatever you want. However, people perceive the red colour as naughty or alluring.

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

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

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.

Can I have bare legs at a wedding? ›

I have advised readers that while bare legs are fine even at the most formal events, hosiery also is perfectly acceptable as long as it's skin tone and sheer. I've just returned from a wedding where I wore my new bargain ($10!) black sequined mini and consignment store jeweled black shoes (also $10).

Can I wear bright red? ›

True clear bright red will always look fabulous. Winters (or Summers) who have a touch of warmth to them, like the Toasted or Deep Winters (or Sunlit or Toasted Summers), should find their touch of warmth in other places instead of their reds. Blush, eyeshadow, or some gold jewelry will be enough warmth for them.

When to wear a red dress? ›

Across the board, experts agree that a first date presents the perfect opportunity to wear red. After all, this color is associated with love, romance, and passion. "There's no better occasion to express your vivacious personality than a first date, and red is just the color to do that," De Noyer explains.

What colors not to wear to a black tie wedding? ›

The only real color that's off-limits as a wedding guest is white, but there are some color schemes that work best for black tie weddings. "Most guests will stick to darker hues like burgundy, black, navy and gray.

Is it okay to wear red to a Mexican wedding? ›

You should avoid wearing white or red by any means to any Mexican wedding. Wearing white is considered rude to the bride since they will definitely be wearing white, so choosing to wear the same color on their special day is considered rude.

Can you wear red shoes to a wedding as a guest? ›

One wedding guest rule has always stuck out to me as being nonnegotiable: Thou must not wear red. I first learned about it when I entered adulthood and subsequently began attending weddings. The idea was simple—don't wear a flashy color that could potentially distract from the couple.

Can I wear red to a Chinese wedding? ›

While red is the most common color for to-be-weds to wear at their own wedding, guests should avoid the hue. "If you are attending a Chinese wedding, wearing red is not recommended in most cases," advises Qiao. "While the color red is auspicious in Chinese culture, it is typically reserved for brides.

What does wearing red mean? ›

The Color Red Symbolizes Passion and Desire

But red does not always signal danger and aggression. Perhaps not surprisingly, red also symbolizes passion, love, and desire. These associations could explain why people wearing red are consistently rated as more attractive by the opposite sex.

Can you wear a red dress to a black tie event? ›

You don't always need to wear a black dress; you can add a burst of colour with emerald green velvet, deep ruby red silk and sumptuous purple shades – by opting to wear deeper jewel tones you'll keep your outfit looking opulent.

Is it okay to wear red to a funeral? ›

Wearing dark grey or deep blue is just as appropriate as black, while brown and lighter greys are suitable for the vast majority of funeral services. However, unless specifically requested by the deceased or their family, you should avoid any bright colors such as yellows, oranges, pinks, and reds.

Why is red the color of power? ›

Adopting the color was also a way for kings in the Middle Ages to show their God-given right to rule. Red became the color of regal majesty and power: Charlemagne wore red shoes at his coronation as a visible symbol of his authority, as did Louis XIV in his official portraits.

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