Should a Guest Wear White to a Wedding?

guest attire to a spring wedding

All right all you wedding guests out there. This one is for you today.

Someone recently asked my friend if it was OK for guests to wear white to a wedding, and she responded: Depends on the bride. I say: Absolutely not. Never ever ever do that.

I am from the South. We have strong feelings about these things.

Certainly, the rules for guest attire have relaxed over the years. Black used to be a big no-no for weddings as well, but now it’s acceptable for evening weddings.

And you likely won’t raise any eyebrows if you wear a patterned dress with white in it, like the one above. It’s clearly not at all bridal-like.

But all-white is considered the bride’s color, so avoid it and anything similar to it: off-white, ecru, eggshell, etc. And no, a white cocktail dress with a ribbon or a shawl in another color is not OK. You’re still wearing what most would describe as a white dress.

True, some brides won’t mind. But the likelihood that someone will mind is high. Maybe the bride’s mother or grandmother will be bothered. You don’t want to upset them either. Or maybe the families won’t mind, but there could still be guests who will look at your outfit and think you’re trying to steal the spotlight from the bride. Why put yourself in that position?

So, in closing: Don’t wear white! There are many, many, many other colors out there in the world. Just wear one of those.

But what do you think?

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.


  1. PLEASE tell everyone that it is also not proper for the mothers (or stepmothers)-in-law to wear the same color as the bridesmaids with few exceptions (maybe black to an evening wedding). But my children’s stepmother wore the same color as the bridesmaids for two of my children’s weddings (luckily, one was already married before she became their father’s wife) and it made it look like she was trying far too hard to fit in. My children really do not have a relationship with this woman and she made herself look more than a little desperate, not to mention tacky.

  2. Hi Sandra — You know, I SHOULD do a post on mother-of-the-bride/groom attire. My brother got married this summer, and my mother felt at a complete loss of what to wear. It’s tricky because you have to walk that fine line of not wearing the same color as the bridesmaids but not clashing with them either. Maybe I’ll do a photo gallery….

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