What to Wear to a Wedding

The question of what to wear to a wedding is probably the source of more wardrobe dilemmas than anything else. Weddings are great fun, sure, but they’re also one of the relatively few times in modern life when people are actually expected to “dress up” – and, for some people, that can be a source of some anxiety.

Well, today I’m here to answer the question ‘What to Wear to a Wedding’, and the good news, is, it’s actually pretty straightforward. Obviously all weddings are different, and some will be more or less formal than others, but here are some basic guidelines to help you decide what to wear to a wedding:

what to wear to a wedding




“Don’t wear white to a wedding” is one of those rules that’s pretty ingrained in most of us, and yet, for some reason, a lot of people seem to want to challenge it, by wondering if they can wear a white dress. The answer? Er, probably not. It might sound very old fashioned, and it’s true than many brides are eschewing the traditional white these days in favour of other colours, but even so white is traditionally the “bridal” colour, and it’s still considered bad form to turn up at someone’s wedding dressed in a way that will potentially take attention away from the bride herself. Some brides, of course, will be absolutely fine with this, and if the wedding you’re attending is very non-traditional, then your white dress might be fine – but personally I wouldn’t risk it. There are SO many other colours you could wear instead, and so many other opportunities to wear a white dress, why risk upsetting someone by insisting on wearing it to a wedding?


Again, this is a bit of an obvious one, but as a wedding guest, you don’t want to look like you really wish you part of the bridal party, so it’s a good idea to avoid the kind of dresses that are most often described as “bridesmaid dresses”. This one can actually be quite tricky, as there’s a trend now for bridesmaids to wear less formal dresses, not all of which will match each other, so if in doubt, ask the bride (or the chief bridesmaid, even) if there’s a colour or style you should avoid, just so people don’t think you’re one of the bridesmaid.


No matter how hot you look in that bodycon mini dress with the cut-outs at the stomach, remember that weddings are formal occasions, and the kind of clothes that might be appropriate for the club might be less appropriate for church – or wherever the wedding is being held.


I get seriously depressed by the number of times people find this (and my other) websites having Googled the phrase “Can I wear jeans to a wedding?” Seriously: I know dressing up isn’t for everyone, and not everyone can afford to buy a brand new outfit just because they’ve been invited to a wedding, but it’s important to remember that no  matter how insignificant it might seem to you, a wedding is someone’s special day – probably one of the most important days of their life. The bride and groom will have spent a long time planning for it, and they’ve probably spent a lot of money on it, too: even if they haven’t, however, it’s still incredibly important to them, and that’s why if they’ve invited you to join them, you should behave as if it’s important to YOU, too – and that means dressing appropriately. You don’t have to spend a fortune, and you don’t even have to dress to the nines – but leave the jeans, jogging pants and other casual clothes at home: you’ll have plenty of other opportunities to wear them.

As for all of the other “rules” associated with what to wear to a wedding (“green is unlucky!” “You should never wear black!”), these days most of them can be safely disregarded, unless the couple getting married are very, very traditional. Wearing black, for instance, is no longer a big “no-no” – as long as you don’t look like you’re going to a funeral, rather than a wedding, a little black dress can be perfectly appropriate. As for the “unlucky” green, meanwhile – I hadn’t even heard of this one until a few years ago, and a quick straw poll of my friends revealed that none of them had, either. (Which was a huge relief to me, because by that point I’d already attended several of their weddings, dressed in my favourite colour…) While this “rule” doesn’t seem to be well-known in this part of the world, however, I guess it could be elsewhere, and the golden rule here is that if you’re at all in doubt, just ask. The bride herself, or any other member of the wedding party, should be able to let you know if they’re superstitious enough to take offence at a guest in a particular colour – and asking them will be much less embarrassing than causing offence on the day!

1 Comment

  • I was just at a wedding where the bridesmaids wore strapless black gowns and pearls with a large diamond accent. Hair was up in a sort of 30’s marcelled look. The bride wore a strapless white satin with jewels in her hair and pearls with an heirloom blue brooch.

    Groom and groomsmen wore black tuxes with green satin vests and black & white shoes. It was all very elegant, except the little ringbearer wore black & white converse sneakers with his tiny tux.

    Anyway, the invitation said “formal” and I worried about what to wear, but a maxi dress worked fine.

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