Black Dress For A Wedding Guest? Our Guide To The Right Outfit

Can you wear a black dress to a wedding? Here’s a basic guide to proper attire.

For most people, weddings are an occasion to celebrate. For others? It’s a source of stress. As soon as you get a wedding invitation, the dreaded question pops into your head: what do I wear?

There’s nothing more embarrassing than wearing a totally tasteless or inappropriate outfit to a wedding. You want to be comfortable, but you don’t want to accidentally offend the bride by wearing the wrong colour, or make guests do a double-take when they see your hemline.

Clueless about what you should wear to a wedding? This Q&A has all the basic rules to help you decide how to put your outfit together.

Can You Wear A Black Dress To A Wedding?

Yes. Wearing black to a wedding is now acceptable. Just don’t wear a dress that looks like funeral attire! Pick something that looks a little festive, or has a sophisticated cut—then can you wear black to a wedding as much as you like. Eyelet fabric, tulle skirts and floaty hems are good choices.

Black wedding dress
(Credit: Getty)

Is It Rude To Wear White To A Wedding?

Yes. It doesn’t matter what accessories you add on—this is a bad idea! Unless the bride and groom say that guests are allowed to wear white, avoid wearing this colour.

Can The Mother Of The Bride Or Groom Wear Black?

Yes. Back in the day, black was a bad colour to wear because it meant you didn’t approve of the match. Nowadays, black has become a chic option perfect for semi-formal and formal weddings.

What Colour Shoes Should I Wear With My Dress?

As a general rule, you can’t go wrong with metallic shoes—they work with every dress colour. If you’re wearing neutral tones or a simple dress, liven your outfit up with statement shoes in a fun print or a bold colour. Try pairing floral wedges with summer outfits, or wearing bright red pumps with an outfit that’s all black.

Metallic shoes
(Credit: Getty)

Is It Ok To Wear Flats To A Wedding?

It depends. Check the dress code first. If it’s a black tie or formal wedding, it’s generally better to stick to heels. Remember that flat shoes can dress down an outfit, so if you really want to wear flats, consider wearing a fancier pair. Lace flats, or flats with formal details like jewelled accents, are dressier options.

What Should I Wear To A Summer Wedding?

Floaty or light fabrics are great options, preferably in pastels or subtle floral prints. Brighter colours are appropriate for summer weddings as well—just don’t pick anything too neon. Suggested hues include canary yellow, sky blue, and peach.

Summery wedding dresses
(Credit: Getty)

What Should I Wear To a Winter Wedding?

If you’re worried about catching a chill, pick a maxi dress to cover your legs, or a dress with sleeves. Darker colours and thicker materials are perfect. Consider the length and cut of any appropriate outerwear you plan to bring with you in case it gets too cold.

What Do I Wear If There’s No Dress Code?

Keep two things in mind: season and venue. There’s no point wearing heels to a beach wedding, or sticking out in a minidress when the reception is at a formal ballroom. As a rule of thumb, a  cocktail dress in a season-appropriate colour or print will be the correct choice. The lack of a dress code is not an invitation to wear jeans, shorts, or sneakers, no matter where that wedding is going to be!

What Should Men Wear If There’s No Dress Code?

The season and venue rule still applies, although it’s a lot easier for men! You can’t go wrong with a suit and tie. If it’s a summer wedding, men can wear suits made with lighter fabrics like linen. Lighter colours are also acceptable.

If it’s a black tie or winter wedding, suits in dark colours like navy blue or black are best. Not sure what colour your tie should be? You could coordinate your tie colour to what your wife will wear. A subtle diamond pattern or swiss dots are classic options if you want to wear a printed tie.

What Bag Should I Bring To A Wedding?

As a rule, you should only bring a small bag—clutches are the bag of choice for weddings. Small crossbody bags are a nice choice if you want to keep your hands free. Make sure that your bag is colour or print coordinated with your shoes! When in doubt, a metallic bag that goes with your jewellery and shoes is timeless.

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