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guest wearing black at wedding

Can You Wear Black to a Wedding as a Guest?

Weddings are events that have a lot of rules and etiquette surrounding them. Knowing what you should and should not wear to a wedding can make your experience less stressful and more enjoyable.

There are many common, “unwritten” rules regarding the attire of a wedding. There are also some misconceptions about what is and isn’t appropriate. In this article, we will answer a common question that pops around the wedding season: can you wear black to a wedding?

Can Wedding Guests Wear Black?

woman in black dress

While guests should take great care never to wear white to someone else’s wedding (unless you have instructions to do so), wearing black to a wedding is almost always a free game. Black is an inclusive default color to wear during most special events. 

In the past, black was considered a color for mourning, and was therefore not appropriate for the joyful event that is a wedding.

Now, however, black is considered sleek, modern, and classy, and for most, the connotation of black as a color of mourning is less relevant. As a wedding guest, you can wear black to a wedding as long as it fits the dress code.

For men, what to wear as a wedding guest is usually pretty simple: a suit or a tux, most commonly in black. Wearing black to a wedding is common for most men. Regardless of the wedding’s dress code, a black suit with a white shirt is safe for a male wedding guest. 

For women, black dresses are also appropriate. It may be good to consider the dress code, time of day, and season fo the wedding when choosing to wear a black dress, but it is an appropriate choice regardless.

One of the greatest qualities about the color black is that you can match black with almost any style or look. Black can have sophistication, and it can also have simplicity. There are several ways that one can incorporate black into one’s wedding attire.

 

Is It Rude to Wear Black to a Wedding?

It is not rude to wear black to a wedding. Even though black is a dark shade, black clothing can be fairly discrete and unnoticeable when you are in a group of people.

Wearing white or other bright shades can be more of a distraction than wearing black, depending on if there is a theme to the wedding or not. It’s bad etiquette to match the bride, so it would actually be more of a faux pas to wear white as opposed to black.

However, despite the versatility of the color, there are a few situations in which you will want to avoid wearing black to someone’s wedding.

 

When To Avoid Wearing Black as a Wedding Guest

At one point in time, black was a mourning color. Those who wore black to a funeral did so to symbolize that they were mourning the loss of someone. As a result, wearing black to a wedding was seen as the wrong thing to do.

While the objection of wearing black clothing to a wedding has become obsolete, if you are attending a traditional wedding, you may want to skip out on the black wedding guest dresses. If you know that the bride and groom or their families are very old-fashioned, it may be best to avoid wearing

Even if the wedding is very modern, the groom and bride of the wedding may have specific dress requirements that prohibit you from donning the hue. Always stay true to the dress code requirements that your bride put in place.

 

Do You Wear Black to a Black Tie Wedding?

black tie champagne toast

A black-tie wedding or event is highly formal, a step below a white-tie event. Guests of a black-tie wedding should wear elegant and modest clothing. While there is no limitation to the colors on feminine clothing (e.g., dresses, skirts, and pantsuits), masculine clothing such as vests and bowties should be black.

For a black tie optional wedding, the same rules apply, although they tend to be slightly less formal.

A formal event shows more focus on the style and professionalism of your clothes rather than the color. However, many people consider black to be an elegant shade that you can wear in a lot of formal nuptials.

 

What to Consider When Choosing Wedding Attire

non traditional wedding dresses

When it comes to choosing wedding fashion, there are a few factors that you will want to consider before making your final selection.

Weddings can take place at any time of the year and in many different locations around the world. The etiquette of the wedding that you are going to attend can also play a large part in the wedding guest attire you are going to wear. Wearing black to a wedding is typically fair game, but consider the following factors. 

 

Formality

How formal the dress code is for a wedding depends entirely on the couple who are having the wedding. While almost all weddings have some level of formality, many couples choose to go a more casual route.

If you are attending a casual wedding, then you are likely not feeling a lot of pressure on how good your wedding outfit is. You will still want to look nice, however, for the big day. At a casual wedding, you can still wear black, whether you wear a black dress or jumpsuit or a classic black suit.

Formal and black-tie weddings can pose difficulties in choosing an outfit due to restrictions on style and colors. Formal weddings will often require specific dresses and tuxedos that guests will have to wear to keep the wedding uniform and cohesive.

Some wedding dress codes may even ask that you wear black, like black and white only events.

Luckily, black is a hue that works well in both formal and casual events. Check your wedding invitation for any notes on guest attire!

 

Season

black wedding dress

While weddings will typically happen during the spring and fall months, they can happen any time. The weather is another factor you will need to consider when you are selecting a wedding outfit.

Whether you’re wearing black to a wedding or another color, you’ll have to consider the temperature. If the wedding will occur during the late fall and winter months, you may want to lean towards wearing long sleeves to stay warm. You can wear even a sweater.

However, if the wedding is happening during the spring or summer, short sleeves or thin fabric may be the best way to go. Otherwise, you run the risk of overheating during a long ceremony.

Color schemes may also vary depending on the season of the wedding. In terms of fashion, autumn is a great season for donning purples and different shades of red. Winter will often see lighter colors, such as silvers and light blues.

The time of day is also definitely something to consider. During a daytime wedding ceremony and after party, you probably wouldn’t wear a full length black dress. You can still wear black during the daytime, but consider something more casual, like a chic midi dress.

While black is a good color to wear throughout the year, the color does have a major disadvantage during the summer. Black and other dark colors are known to absorb heat much faster than lighter colors. As a result, you may want to think twice before wearing all black to an outside wedding in the summer.

Black wedding guest dresses may also look a bit out of place at certain seasonal weddings, like a beach wedding. If you’re attending a destination wedding in a tropical location, it might be off-theme to wear a black dress. Guest attir should always account for season and setting. 

 

Location and Venue

outdoor wedding venue in spring

The location of a wedding can play a large part in what the guests of a wedding are wearing. Guests will often want to match their wedding attire to their surroundings, as well as other guests.

For example, if a couple is holding a winter wedding outside, it may look a bit odd for the guests to be wearing pink and yellow clothing. Likewise, you’re attending a sunny and colorful beach wedding, wearing all black may cause too much contrast.

Picking the perfect wedding outfit requires an understanding of the wedding theme and matching colors with the weather and environment. Black is a color that you can adjust to fit the formality (or lack of) at nearly any event you attend.

 

Final Thoughts

So, is it okay if you plan to wear black to a wedding? The answer, in most cases, is yes.

Check the wedding invitation or the wedding website for details about what guests should wear, or ask the couple or someone involved with the wedding, like bridesmaids, directly if you want to be sure that your style is appropriate.

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