Is it OK for guests to wear black to a wedding? (2024)

We're constantly fielding questions onwedding guest outfits, so it's clear that there's lots of confusion about what's appropriate and what's not! In the past, wearing black to a wedding was frowned upon, because black was a colour traditionally worn at funerals and when in mourning. But these days, do the same rules apply? Can you wear black to a wedding? Well, that's exactly what we're going to explore!

But First, a Disclaimer!

Our advice is based on years of chats with brides, couples and guests, and we stand by it. That said, we're aware that most of our experience is with laid-back Western couples, and that, in some cultures, religions and even certain social circles, wearing black takes on a deeper meaning than it does for many of those couples and their families. We're also aware that some people are particularly sensitive about tradition, and that this can be difficult to predict, regardless of how well you think you know them. So while our official stance on wearing black to weddings is that it's easy, it's elegant and it's okay, it's a safer option to avoid wearing black to a wedding if there's any uncertainty. So, if you're worried, and able to find a suitable alternative to your black dress, we recommend you go for it, to bypass this outfit dilemma entirely!

Is it OK for guests to wear black to a wedding? (2)

Can You Wear Black to a Wedding?

Can you wear a black dress or ensemble to a wedding? In short, yes, but the key is in the styling. You want to avoid looking like you dressed for a funeral, and your outfit should feel like it was chosen with a special occasion in mind! Women who love to wear black and are confident in their personal style can pull off a really simple, Parisian look, featuring a black dress and simple accessories, but for the rest of us, we can add a celebratory twist to our black ensemble. Here are a few easy ways to do it;

  • Wear a jumpsuit or playsuit
  • Wear a short, knee-length or midi-length dress
  • Incorporate a splash of colour via your accessories, for example vibrant heels, handbag or headpiece
  • Wear a print, e.g. polka dot or floral
  • Up the occasionwear factor via texture with lace, tulle or feathers
  • Wear sequins or embellishment, or a metallic fabric

It's also important to think about the style of wedding you're attending - in particular,the time of year, time of day and the location - when putting your wedding guest look together, which brings us on to our next point...

Is it OK for guests to wear black to a wedding? (3)

What About a Black Tie Wedding? A Beach Wedding? A Conservative Wedding?

We've seen guests rock black at all kinds of weddings, from garden party-style bashes to traditional golf club affairs.There's one instance when you should feel extra confident wearing black to a wedding, and that's when it's a black tie wedding, or a wedding with a formal dress code - a black, full-length gown fits effortlessly with this aesthetic. In the same vein, a little black dress will suit a city or restaurant wedding, especially one taking place in winter.

Is it OK for guests to wear black to a wedding? (4)

Beach weddings, garden party weddings, destination weddings and festival weddings are a little different, as we tend to naturally reach for lighter colours for in the daytime and when the weather is warm. In this case, a splash of colour, a flowing or ruffled fabric, or a casual style will go a long way. Black is generally appropriate for conservative or traditional weddings, too, just bear in mind the point we made at the beginning of this feature - a non-black dress is always the safer option (unless it's white, of course!).

Is it OK for guests to wear black to a wedding? (5)

Can a Male Guest Wear Black to a Wedding?

As a general rule, it's fine for a male guest to wear black to a wedding, unless the wedding is going to be exceptionally informal - black suits read as more formal than the same suit in blue or grey. There's also a chance that a black suit might feel too stuffy for a summer or destination wedding, but again, this is more about the level of formality than the season. The invitation, the venue and the dress code, if any, should help you figure out how casual the wedding is going to be. If you think it's going to be a really casual affair, and would like to err on the safe side, we'd recommend a navy, light blue or grey suit instead.

So a black dress is okay, but what about a white dress? We tackled that topic here!

Is it OK for guests to wear black to a wedding? (2024)


Is it OK for guests to wear black to a wedding? ›

However, in today's modern-day age, wearing black to a wedding is completely acceptable, and in many cases, it's even encouraged. “Black is often considered the most formal, polished, and flattering color,” explains wedding expert Ashley Smith.

Can I wear black to a wedding as a guest? ›

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.

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.

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.

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.

Is it fashionable to wear black to a wedding? ›

Black is the basic element of fashion, the oxygen and hydrogen of a wardrobe. It's never not chic. It never goes out of style, because it's the amalgamation of all colors at once. It speaks every language.

What should you not wear as a wedding guest? ›

Anything Too Casual

Even if the celebration is casual and relaxed, guests should always err on the side of formal. No flip, flops, shorts, or jeans should ever be on your list of options to wear.

Why can't you wear red 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.”

Should you avoid wedding colors as a guest? ›

The colour scheme, when it comes to what to wear, is designed for the bridal party i.e. the groom, groomsmen, bridesmaids, pageboys etc. 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.

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

Basically, wedding guests are off the hook if they absolutely cannot wear a tuxedo. A dark suit and tie would be acceptable black tie optional wedding attire for men, but wear a tux if you can. Prefer to dress it down? Try a black satin necktie or a black and white bow tie in a pattern.

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

Be Upfront 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. List it next to the dress code. For example: “Formal attire requested.

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 should a 60 year old woman wear to a wedding? ›

Fit-and-flare Wedding Guest Dresses For Women Over 60

Fit-and-flare dresses whether knee-length or longer are chic and flattering. It has a defined waistline and fits closer to the body but is not too tight which makes it uncomfortable. This forgiving silhouette fits every body type.

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).

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.

What should a female guest wear to a summer wedding? ›

Casual weddings are all about relaxed style. Pick from cotton, linen, or viscose dresses and jumpsuits, but remember, no jeans or t-shirts. Dress up your fanciest everyday outfit, like pairing a silk camisole with summer trousers.

How to add color to a black dress for a wedding? ›

Consider bold and colorful jewelry pieces such as oversized earrings, statement necklaces, or stackable bracelets. These accessories can provide a pop of color or unique shapes that contrast with the black dress, creating a chic and playful vibe. Additionally, don't underestimate the power of a stylish belt or sash.

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

In terms of color, black is a safe and classic choice, but don't be afraid to experiment with other hues. Nude, metallic, and red shoes can all add a pop of color and interest to your outfit. Remember to also consider the length and style of your dress.

How much money should you give at a wedding? ›

If it's a co-worker or a distant friend, recommends guests give at least $75-$100 on the wedding present. If your guest is a relative or a friend, the wedding website suggests somewhere between $100 and $125.

Can you wear black to a Greek wedding as a guest? ›

Black, never for a day time wedding (or anytime of day in Greece where, like most mediterranian countries, black is for funerals; and not white because you do not want to compete with the bride.

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