Should a Wedding Guest Wear Black to the Wedding?

Should a Wedding Guest Wear Black to the Wedding?

Should I wear black to a wedding? Should a wedding guest wear black to the wedding? What about red or white?

Your question is a common one. What is appropriate to wear to a wedding? In the past none of these colors were appropriate, but modern day etiquette has a different view.

Black used to be considered the color of mourning. It is for this reason that a guest wearing black to a wedding was said to be mourning the marriage of the couple. Now, black is worn everyday and for almost any occasion. It is still associated with mourning, but not to the extent that it used to be. Black is acceptable to most couples (and etiquette guru’s) at weddings now. It is still, however; somewhat uncommon.

Red is a color that was once said to draw attention away from the bride. It was also considered a bit risqué. It, like black, is now a common color as well. It is a color that is worn more frequently to weddings than black, but still is uncommon.

White is said to draw attention away from the bride. Since the wedding is considered her day for getting attention, white was not worn. White is a more complicated question to answer than either red or black. The reason for this is that many brides no longer wear white as part of their wedding ensemble. There are now many color options available to them, such as ivory, pale pink, soft white, etc. It’s often impossible to predict what color the bride will be wearing. In most cases though, the bride will be wearing either white, ivory or a soft pastel. This is one area where etiquette experts still cling to the old views. They believe that it is improper for a guest to wear white…as they may take attention away from the bride. Consider that a male guest may wear whatever color he chooses even if it is the same color as the groom. The best illustration of this is if the event is either formal or ultra formal and male guests wear tuxes…just like the groom.

In my opinion, it depends on the couple (rather than the bride alone). If the couple feels uncomfortable with a guest wearing a certain color, they can gently explain this to their guests. If they feel comfortable with guests wearing these colors, then nothing need be said. Finally, even with an informal wedding, it is rare to make a mistake concerning the identity of the bride (or the groom). She will be the one that is surrounded by well-wishers as will he. She and he will be the ones being married in front of all of the guests. She and he will both stand out, regardless of what their guests are wearing.


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