What Not to Wear to a Wedding as a Guest (2024)

Regardless of the type of wedding you've been invited to attend, there's always a set of fashion etiquette rules you're typically required to follow. No matter if it's a ballroom, destination, or rooftop affair, these rules are in place to guide your outfit selections, while keeping the couple happy and satisfied on their special day.

For starters, dress codes are a way to help guests choose their day-of attire, and following these pre-determined guidelines is absolutely necessary when it comes to your wedding fashion choices. Outside of that, however, there are certain garments all guests should stay away from, no matter what the dress code dictates.

Ahead, with the help of a few experts, we've outlined what not to wear to a wedding for every type of celebration. From avoiding the color white to sticking to formal attire, here's everything you need to know.

Here's What Every Guest Should Avoid Wearing to a Wedding

According to etiquette expert Lisa Grotts, there's not much a couple can do about what guests wear to their wedding other than state the dress code on the invitation. “If the guests and couple are close friends, they will respect the dress code," she shares. Therefore, as a guest, it's your job to ensure that you're respectful of the couple's wishes, while also steering clear of the below wedding guest fashion mistakes.

Anything White

This should go without saying, but it is never okay to wear white to a wedding. This also includes attire in lighter shades that might come across as white and white garments with prints. "We also think it’s important to avoid soft colors in general, such as pale yellow or blue, as these can read white in low light situations," shares Sydney Watters Dunbar, style director at Watters.

When in doubt, ask someone for their advice on whether or not your ensemble is the right shade for a wedding. "You can talk to the bride about what she would like people to wear, or connect with one of the attendees to help,” says etiquette expert Elaine Swann. Dunbar also adds, "Our general rule for a wedding is that if we are even questioning if we should wear a certain outfit or not, we won’t! This way we don’t have to be worrying about it (or what other guests are thinking) and can enjoy our night."

A Look That Matches the Wedding Party

As a guest, you don’t want to blend in with the wedding party (or even mimic it), so try to get intel ahead of time about what shades and colors the bridal party and the groomsmen will be wearing. From there, select an outfit that's completely opposite from their tones.

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.

Attire That Is Too Revealing

It’s one thing to select an outfit that makes you feel confident, empowered, and sexy, but it's another situation if you show up to a wedding in a look that could potentially offend other guests and children. “You’ll want to consider the wedding’s dress code for guidance on how formal or casual your selection should be. From there, choose something that will make you look and feel your best,” notes BHLDN senior stylist Lindsey Love, without showing off too much skin. Simply put, keep your selections modest, with little hints of playful sexiness through slits, mesh, and open-back dresses.

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. No flip, flops, shorts, or jeans should ever be on your list of options to wear.

What Not to Wear to a Wedding as a Guest (2024)


What is an inappropriate dress for a wedding guest? ›

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.

What color not to 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.

What do ladies wear to weddings as a guest? ›

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 the number one rule as a wedding guest? ›

Unbreakable Rule #1: RSVP Promptly

If you're one of the chosen few to be invited, make sure you respond promptly.

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.”

What is the taboo color for wedding guests? ›

When attending a wedding, it is important to avoid wearing any color that might be too close to white or off-white. The most common shades that should be avoided are: Ivory: A pale-yellowish shade of white. Champagne: A warm beige color with a hint of gold.

Should never 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 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.

Is black ok to wear to a wedding? ›

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.

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 4pm 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 is the 2 2 2 rule wedding? ›

What if a simple framework for spending more time together could potentially improve your relationship with your spouse or significant other? Enter the 2-2-2 rule: Try and swing a date night every two weeks, a weekend away every two months and a week away every two years.

How to stand out as a wedding guest? ›

Wear a nice brand: If you're looking to stand-out from the crowd, Vogue recommends you 'name-drop a brand that's reassuringly niche'. Avoid fascinators: Vogue believes they 'only ever look half-hearted' so instead, suggests wearing 'crystal-frosted hair clips' or 'spectacular pillbox hats'.

How to look beautiful as a wedding guest? ›

Wedding Guest Beauty Guide: 10 Tips To Look Effortlessly Stunning
  1. Select an outfit that makes you feel confident. ...
  2. Keep up with your skincare routine. ...
  3. Get radiant skin with body care. ...
  4. Prime your skin for a flawless complexion. ...
  5. Apply sunscreen for sun protection. ...
  6. Make your eyes pop. ...
  7. Get glowy with blush and bronzer.
May 25, 2023

What kind of dress should I not wear to a wedding? ›

Don't wear white.

Swann says that lighter colors tend to photograph white, and knowing how your look will photograph is just a general thing to be aware of, BTW. Avoiding white should be a no-brainer, but it still bears saying—unless the bride has specifically requested that guests wear it.

What is inappropriate dress code? ›

Clothing should be clean - no torn, dirty or excessively wrinkled items. Clothing with offensive or distracting words or pictures would remain out of the workplace. Overly revealing apparel exposing too much skin or undergarments is also inappropriate in the workplace.

What is the dress code for a guest at a wedding? ›

1) Do Consider the Wedding Dress Code

Black Tie: floor length gowns, black ties, tuxedos. Formal: floor length gowns, tuxedos optional, black suits acceptable. Semi-Formal: below the knee dresses, dress shirts, slacks. Casual: sundresses, collared shirts, khakis.

How do you know if a dress is appropriate for a wedding? ›

Semi-Formal, Dressy Casual, or co*cktail

For the women, formal pantsuits or co*cktail dresses are great, but keep in mind the dress length should be just above the knee or longer. Take the time of day into account, as well: darker fabrics for evening weddings, lighter colors and fabrics are OK for daytime events.

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