Rules for Dresses at Weddings (not Rules for Wedding Dresses)

I was lucky enough to attend a lovely, lovely wedding yesterday. The bride and groom were glowing with happiness; their families and friends were there to support them and share their joy; and the bride chose (and wore with élan) a perfectly suitable and elegantly simple gown.

I was also pleased to see how many people were following the rules for dresses at weddings (that is, rules for the dresses that are not the Wedding Dress–the Wedding Dress has its own rules that are beyond the scope of this blog). However, seeing so many people dressed beautifully and appropriately reminded me of the many weddings I've attended where many were not, so here is a refresher for those who need it.

One: do not wear black. I can hear somebody whining that she only has one nice dress, and it NEEDS to be black because she has to wear it on New Year's Eve, and besides, black is slimming. I am not listening to you. You do not wear black to weddings. You do not wear black to weddings because wearing black at weddings means you disapprove of the marriage. You do not wear black to weddings because someday, god forbid, you might actually WANT to wear black to a wedding in order to show your disapproval and your deep grief over somebody's ill-advised nuptials, and no one will know that this is what you intended because there will be a roomful of women in LBDs dancing barefoot to "We Are Family" and your grand gesture will be for naught. MARK MY WORDS. (Besides, black is BOR-ing. And not as slimming as you might think.) Black and white prints are allowable if they would be unsuitable for a funeral.

Two: do not wear red. Wearing red is an attention-grabber, and it is rude to try to take attention from the bride. (A corollary of the "do not wear red" rule is "do not wear dresses cut down to (or slit up to) THERE".) This rule goes double for the groom's ex-girlfriends. This rule goes triple for the groom's ex-girlfriends who are there as the "and Guest" of somebody else.

Three: do I even have to tell you not to wear white? And yes, ivory, candlelight, pale shell pink, and pearl grey all count as white. Better safe than sorry. If you have to ask why you can't wear white, you are no longer allowed to attend any weddings at all. If you are the mother of the groom and you wear white or a whitish shade, you will not be allowed to ask "why? why?" when the newlyweds move someplace you need a visa to visit.

Four: if you are wearing a dress with spaghetti straps or no straps at all, or one that is far enough off the shoulder to need special undergarments, AND the ceremony is in a place of worship, please bring a shawl, a wrap, or something to cover up with. Yes, I know that God doesn't care, but churches are usually cold (it's all the stone) and goosebumps are unbecoming.

The general idea is that a wedding is NOT simply a fancy party to which you wear your fancy-party clothes; a wedding is a wedding, and it has its own rules. (However — if you are a bridesmaid, and the bride asks you to break any of these rules, you suck it up and say "yes, whatever you like, it's your day." Without eye-rolling where she can see you.)

Now I can hear that same somebody asking, "Well, what CAN I wear?" Weddings, especially summer afternoon weddings, are the place to wear dresses. A simple sheath in a bright color or print is nearly always flattering, appropriate, and pretty. An A-line or full-skirted dress will be a pleasure to wear while dancing. (I myself use nearly every wedding as an excuse to sew a new dress–if they care enough to invite me, I should make my best effort, shouldn't I?) Summer weddings are one of the last places where a frivolously pretty dress is recommended, if not required — why ruin it by crowding out the dresses with sparkly cocktail gowns and business suits? They have their own turf.

218 thoughts on “Rules for Dresses at Weddings (not Rules for Wedding Dresses)

  1. Thats a pretty close minded blog. I am married, happily for 7 years, I wanted people to wear whatever they were comfortable in. I wanted them to come and have a great time, come and celebrate. I did not want them to feel like they had to go out and buy something. And no matter what the author of that blog made you feel, God doesnt care what you wear to a wedding, a reception or anywhere else for that matter.

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  2. I walked in my cousins winter wedding, for her bridesmaids, she chose a halter style top with a floor lenght a-line skirt in a beautiful shade of red. The groomsmen wore tuxedos with black and silver vests. Her wedding was absolutley gorgeous. Some rules are made to be broken, and if the BRIDE AND GROOM invite you to a wedding, it is because they want you there because they love you and want to share one of the most important days of their lives with you. And as long as you dress decently, not like you are going barhopping on Bourbon Street, I think that most brides will be happy you are there not matter what color you are wearing

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  3. I had a Sunday Brunch at a lovely inn for my reception, and I pretty much left it open to everyone to wear their version of tasteful and appropriate. If that meant a black dress or red dress, that was fine with me. My ex-sister-in-law attended (my niece and my nieces half-sister were my bridal party) and she brought a date, who happened to be my brothers friend. He showed up in a flannel shirt and John Deere hat! Now Im pretty easy-going, but honestly, I didnt think I had to spell out tasteful and appropriate. After all, this was a wedding, not a day at the Combine Derby!

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  4. THANK YOU for upholding the no black rule. I hate that people think it no longer applies. It is disrespectful, tacky and shows ignorance. I once saw a girl in stained t-shirt and sweats at a wedding (in church, not even the reception) and it was less offensive than the idiots wearing black.

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  5. What if the bride wanted the wedding party in black?That being said, I had the best mans date show up in a WHITE dress two sizes too small…and wearing a bright blue thong underneath…she was quite the topic of the who brought the rent-a-date conversations.

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  6. Your rules all sound fine IF you are not, A) poor and live in Disability, 2) are not full-figured In those categories, you get Black and Black!!! Even my girls on their incomes get choices in our small neck of the woods, Black and Black~!!! I did enjoy your Blog, however; made me laugh out loud a couple of times!

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  7. We broke most of the rules at our wedding….my bridesmaids wore red and my mother wore a beautiful champagne gold. However, I was more than annoyed with my husbands ex, who showed up wearing a white mini-skirt paired with a white tank top. You cant convince me that wasnt on purpose.

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  8. YEP! NEVER Wear BLACK to a wedding .. except seems like that rule is gone because at least more than half of the weddings Ive been to lately have had BRIDESMAIDs and even CHILDREN dressed in BLACK now!?!?WHY? Who knows? Especially children which used to NEVER be allowed to wear BLACK until they were at LEAST 16 or 18 years old!!!Times have changed .. and guess whatever makes the BRIDE happy really is ALL that should count.Many very good reasons were given by others for wearing black .. such as lack of funds for fancy dresses which couldnt be worn again… etc .. totally makes sense.

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  9. Im surprised at the lack of etiquette suggested in the comments to this post. Manners are not some complicated list of rules meant to distinguish the good from the tacky. If you are at any social occasion (this includes weddings) and someone commits an innocent faux pas, any response that is less than gracious is TACKY. This is especially true for the hosts of the event (the bride and groom). That means no hissy fits or throwing people out because of their clothes. If I attended a wedding where the bride or groom complained or stared daggers at a guest due to their attire, I leave early and make a note to avoid the rude snob. Its your wedding- not an opportunity to act like a classless brat.

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  10. OK, Ive heard of most of these rules…but not wearing black to a wedding?? Ive never heard that. I got married in the fall and several of our female guests wore black dresses. I think wearing black looks elegant and classic. Besides you can wear anything with black so its easy to just accessorize with colored jewelry or pumps. Besides, it used to be traditional to wear only black to funerals but thats no longer true. So you say that black cant be worn at weddings seems very outdated. Especially saying that it means you disapprove of the marriage. Come on! And to the person who said wearing a stained t-shirt and sweats at a wedding is less offensive than wearing black– are you serious?

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  11. @ Sarah_boss comment from June 20, 2009. Seriously, that link you included must be a joke. That dress looks like something youd wear to a nightclub in Vegas or on the street corner to advertise your goods for sale. That dress is wholely inappropriate for ANY wedding. It screams SEX APPEAL and LOOK AT ME–neither of which is appropriate to a WEDDING where the BRIDE is the star, not her best friend or any other guest.

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  12. Actually black is of all colors and very appropriate for celebrations such as weddings… white on the other hand I wear to funerals, so why would anyone wear a white wedding dress. Look to the older customs of your family if you want to be authentic in your wedding attire.

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  13. for my wedding my hubbie wore his army greens and so did one of his groomsman, the other one wore his air force blues. my father walked me down in his air force blues and the usher was my uncle in his air force blues. SO with all this blue and dark green going on I had my bridesmaids in a long black dress that wrapped around their neck and left their shoulders bare. my dress was an A-line white gown, my flowers were calla lillies and mini roses with black silk wrapped around the stems holding it together and hanging down a little infront of my dress. i picked out my moms outfit which was a black and white tuxedo dress that looked beautiful on her. my brothers wife showed up in a black dress and since the wedding was black and white it looked GREAT in the photos even with the blues and greens of the mens uniforms. my little flower girl was in white with a black sash (complete with baby crown on her head) and had a black and white basket with black and white petals to throw, and the ring bearer was in a little white tux holding a white with black lace pillow. i had cousins showing up in jeans(she had called me before to ask if her wearing this would bother me and I was fine with this. She is a bigger girl and doesnt wear dresses or get dressed up, yes she wore jeans but had a very nice shirt on, hair done, and even make-up on for a change) BUT having one of my cousins show up in a strapless BRIGHT RED dress that had slits up to the thighs was like hmmmm but the part about that outfit that made me go WTF was the dark red/black pushup bra WITH straps that she had on underneath the STRAPLESS dress drew much attention. so now just make sure you dont show up looking like a hooker and you should be fine to wear black if the wedding is done in black and white. and if the redding is done in reds wear red to fit in with the brides colors.

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  14. My DD got married in the 80s. Red is her favorite color, so she chose red lace tea length dresses for her attendants. The groom wore white tails with black pants and the groomsmen wore black tuxes. I found a $100 dress on sale for $13. It was cream lace and fit me perfectly. My DD encouraged me to get it, so I did. No one seemed to think it was tacky. Everyone said it was a beautiful wedding.On the other hand, my BFs DD had a rainbow wedding. The grooms mother wore a bright gold and black dress that did not match anything in the wedding party. Talk about standing out like a sore thumb.I also think you have to think about where you live. Here in the midwest things are much more relaxed than on the east coast. The only thing I have a problem with is jeans and a tee shirt.And for my funeral, bright colors can be worn. This is my going home celebration.

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  15. September 5, 2009: I have a question for you: I am 55, my husband 62. We married in Las Vegas last year at the Chapel in the Monte Carlo Hotel. My matron of honor was my daughter-in-law my husbands son was his best man. We had 2 addl couples as guests to dinner in the hotel restaurant Andres afterward. I suggested everyone to wear a black cocktail dress for the occasion men to wear a dark suit. Since this was a 2nd marriage in LV very small (10-people) was this okay?

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  16. In wouldnt wear ANYTHING thats very bright! I had a friend get married and in all the pictures you could see this woman in a bright yellow dress with bright yellow shoes, and bright red hair! It was very distracting.

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  17. I found this to reinforce rules I knew, although I would clarify you are discussing no fire engine red, not a deep merlot or dark burgundy. And ivory or cream being off limits makes sense. I am also of the school of thought that too many women wear black. Summer weddings are for pretty pastels or lovely prints – say yellow or prink or lime floral on navy. Checks and medium plaids can be great casual alternatives. If you have a print dress with balck in it, then use another neutral or colr from it for the accessories like tan or metallic. Sinter wedding can use the same color pallette but with heavier fabrics. And for those who cant find the right dress, buy a great skirt and lovely top. I also think sleevelss should be out unless you are thin and under 30 or live wear both the temperature for the outdoor wedding AND humidity will be over 90. A little cap sleeve is okay and there are beautiful 3/4 sleeve tops and dresses with stretchy lace. I also agree that too much cleavage is being shown. Save it – men really do like the mystery. A little bit is fine but if youre not sure, dont ask your freind who has 3 kids with her still boyfirend not husband. Ask an older woman what she thinks is okay. Money should not be a problem. If you choose wisely you can also change up the accessories for going out. I love color and would like to see the guests in blues, pinks, peach, salmon, rose, greens, soft yellows, and deep khaki. For fall and winter think deep rich colors like royal blue, dark plum, and emerald green in velvet, lace, silk, amd cable knits. If the wedding is in a warm climate in fall or winter, use might be able to wear a medium or darker tone in a light fabic. I once wore a brown, tan black rayon graphic print dress with a tan jacket, belt and shoes. The same dress with a dark brown throw, boots and bag would have changed up the outfit for a different climate. Think ladies think. Just because the bride wants to be trendy and have her attendants wear black doesnt mean you should. A medium blue slack set in slinky fabric with 3/4 sleeves will get you through several weddings, job interviews, meetings at work, dinner parties, and parties or dates because it can be so versatile. Buy a couple basic outfits then learn to accessorize – long strand of pearls, one chunky fab bracelet, great handbag, pin and matching earrings in silver or gold (both changing the color of the jewelery and going from bold to delicate pieces will do the trick) or adding a scarf will expand the options for that outfit, You just dont want to wear the same clothes with the same items each time. That is how you rework a wardrobe.

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  18. I agree with MOST of what you say about choosing appropriate clothing for special events- and weddings, funerals, and job interviews are among the few SPECIAL events still recognized by dress. BUT… two important things neeed to be said:1. the most important item to wear well is your attitude– smile, modesty,deference to the bride,guests and location, etc…2. Cultures have different customs. In Mexico, and among Latinos in the US, black is one of the dressiest and most appropriate things to wear at a wedding. Blatant Advertising immodest dresses are avoided; overly-casual I don;t care dressing is rude,Ex-girlfriends and those who disapprove of the wedding should just not come. Thats the only SINCERE form of disapproval, since the wedding is a celebration of the marriage, not a jury to approve or disapprove.

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  19. re: a wedding I attended twelve or so years ago. The only thing I remember about the wedding is the attire of the mother of the groom. The wedding was held in a cathedral at high noon and the mother of the groom wore a scarlet red, backless (just below the waist) evening gown which plunged in front, as well. I, and all of the other guests were in shock. All other guests were dressed appropriately, and the reception included a sit down dinner, but what a douzy! I do not even remember who the bride was.

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  20. HELP! I have a wedding to attend in October. I live in South Dakota, where early Oct. can be warm or chilly. The wedding is at 2:00PM with reception at 5:00PM.The wedding colors are Irish green and white. What should I wear? With the ceremony at 2, and reception at 5, do I wear simple and basic, or long evening gown?

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  21. I just have to comment on this: Besides, it used to be traditional to wear only black to funerals but thats no longer true.Thats a contradiction! Traditional is, by definition, what everyone used to doNowadays, people are choosing to BREAK WITH TRADITION… but that doesnt mean that what used to be traditional no longer is.

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  22. Im going to a wedding today.Im wearing a shortish flouncy light grey (nearly white) dress with red cardigan and red accesories – Im such a rebel xD

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  23. The wedding I am invited to is a strictly black, red white wedding and the guests are expected to wear the colours!! So really breaking every wedding outfit rule available…I would like to say I approve and this was done purposely. However, I think the case is more that it is a young bride who does not always thinks things through.I personally will be wearing black and red (disapproval and attention seeking).

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  24. Hi Erin, great post!Tthe very wise and sensible advice I learned was to not wear black because a wedding is a happy, festive occasion. You have been invited to celebrate with the couple, and your side of the bargain is to make the day fun, bright and happy for them. Save the black frock for cocktails and seduction.

    This came in very handy when my sister asked if I minded if she wore a black dress because she didn’t want to buy a new one. I said yes I did mind, because as my sister she would be beside me much of the day and in my photos and I didn’t want a black crow hanging over me (ok, I said it way nicer than that). I’m sure she’s still annoyed about it – but she looked awesome in a red dress instead.

    A wedding is about the couple, not you. Make it happy with colour!

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  25. Erin, I’m glad you relinked this column. As I re-read the comments, I’m startled to see how many people insist that they need to wear black because it is the only all-purpose color. There are also many mis-interpretations of the rules/traditions. And yes, the rules Erin posted are for western cultures. I know other cultures have other rules.

    The BRIDE can choose any color she wants for herself and her wedding party! And if she encourages her guests to join the color theme, that is HER choice. So using black (or red) bridesmaid dresses as an excuse for a guest’s choice to wear black (or red) is a red herring, not a logical argument. And people, “black tie” does NOT mean women must wear black! Very boring and lazy-minded. (Katja, 5-31-07 explained the traditional rule.) This year there are finally many more colors available in fashions in stores. Go try some, you might be surprised.

    Or, here’s a thought — SEW SOMETHING! A plain sheath in your favorite color of cotton twill, or a flared skirt in a pretty print that you pair with a dressy blouse, is easy to make, does not cost much in materials, and you can dress it up with belt, scarf, shawl, jewelry, shoes . . .

    Wedding attire rules for guests boil down to 1) do not compete with the bride, 2) do not look (nor act!) like a hooker, 3) do not dress as somberly as for a funeral, 4) wear something appropriate for the venue and time of day.
    If you own no decent outfit, are truly dead broke and cannot even find something at a thrift shop or to borrow, at least be CLEAN AND NEAT.

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  26. ***SIGH***
    This post makes me sad. WHERE have all of our manners gone?
    Many of the comments said, “The bride told me I can wear whatever I want to”. THAT is BS my friends. First of all have some couth. The bride who gives you that answer is simply taking the pressure off of you her dear guest/friend. (With friends like you, poor thing). She doesn’t want to hurt your feelings nor “force” you to spend money on a new outfit. After all you have already had to purchase a gift and take time out of your precious schedule to attend her wedding!
    The brides who say, “Oh I just want my friends/family to be there – no matter what they are wearing” – tell me that in 10 years when you are looking at your wedding pictures with cousin Sarah dressed like a hooker. Apparently some brides don’t even have enough respect for the occasion *sigh*.
    The guest who “only” has black-red, broaden your horizons. And stop being selfish for just one day!
    Funeral appareal apparently seems to be changing as well. I went to one a month ago & was shocked at the utter TRASHY dress. Don’t get me started.
    Back to weddings – one of my guests DID wear white. Not only was her dress white – the cut/design was exactly the same as mine – except she wore a bright colored sash on her waist and a matching shrug!!! This girl has more dresses than Imelda Marcos has shoes! I WAS shocked & a wee ticked off (I would have thought she knew better, I actually felt sorry for her for not knowing. Apparently another guest said something to her & she turned beet red). Did it ruin my day? No, but to this day friends that didn’t know her ask me, “Who was that girl in the WHITE dress at your wedding?”

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      • Thank you, Elle, for your reply. I did wear the dress and shrug, but wore black wedge sandals with it instead. I did not feel like it was inappropriate. Actually, one lady wore an all white strapless form-fitting dress. I did not feel at all like I was dressed inappropriately. I appreciate your thoughtfulness in answering my question.

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  27. Wow, a lot of people won’t speak their mind and use their names – so their opinions don’t much matter. If a person wants to be taken seriously they should at least have the courage to use their name!
    When I got married almost every guest wore black. I honestly felt like I was dead and at my funeral. It was awful. I wear purple, floral, bias-cut dresses to weddings. They are pretty, dressy, comfortable – and I always stand out in the sea of black. I feel kind of bad for those who don’t have the confidence to wear color. Colors make people’s faces more alive!

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  28. At my winter afternoon wedding (second wedding for both of us) I wore a very pale cream suit with pearl embroidered collar and cuffs.We had invited the groom’s ex-wife and her new fiance,partly to show the groom’s small children that everyone could be civil and that they still had 2 parents.She wore an all-white suit and had her hair “done” up with white ribbons in it! I was too astonished to be annoyed.

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    • You could wear a darker pink or a white or off-white pashmina. Shoes could be the color of the dress or of the pashmina. Don’t worry about wearing flats; there are many reasons some women can’t wear heels.

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  29. I wish I’d seen this before I got married. I would have sent it to everyone with the invitations. My mother wore all black, my husband’s step mother wore pedal pushers(!) and scuffs, my brother wore jeans and the tattiest moth eaten jumper ever. One guest turned up in a denim skirt and doc marten boots, her son wore his school uniform, on Saturday. To the brides that said they didn’t notice what people were wearing – they must have got it right. All I can remember is what little respect these people have.

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  30. This was really obnoxious to read, and nearly all of your rules are out dated. God forbid someone wears black or pale pink. You should judge people a little less at weddings.

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    • Amen to that Brittany! Everyone wears blk nowadays. At least to all of the recent weddings ive attended. And most ppl.don’t wear it for the rule this blog had. Ppl wear it bcuz blk looks classy. Be happy it isn’t white and that they look dressed nicely.

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  31. I am attending the evening of a friend of my boyfriend who iv never met before I have bought a yellow dress it is fairly bright do you think this will be appropriate?
    Thanks

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  32. Hello,
    My husband, son, and I are attending a 3:00 p.m. summer wedding (held in a church with dinner to follow at the civic center). Both my husband and son have only one black suit each and they also each have a very nice navy blazer. Will it be approriate for them to wear their navy blazers to the wedding? or do they need to wear suits? Thanks for any ideas.

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  33. Are you guys all 70 years old? This is 2013. When you go to a wedding, ALL eyes on the the bride. I don’t care if someone is wearing red, or bright green, or neon pink, or blinking lights for that matter. You should wear what makes you feel pretty… and it won’t matter because the attention is on the bride anyway – any bride who has a problem with her wedding guests wearing a certain color ( with the exception of white), is obviously not focused on the importance of her day.

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    • I was just thinking the same thing as I read the article and most of the comments. It almost made me feel bad for wearing a black dress to a wedding a few weeks ago (I didn’t realize there was a “rule” against it). But then I remembered that culture changes, and nostalgia for the past, and all it’s “rules”, is useless. The rules are passing away whether anyone likes it or not. Let these women live in the past and judge others. The rest of us will enjoy the freedom of wearing what we want and celebrating, without antiquated restrictions, the weddings of those we care about.

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  34. Well, no wonder you dress so frumpy to weddings. You “sew” your own clothes! How “old” are you? Oops! I mean, old-fashioned? And why isn’t black a “slimming” color for you? Perhaps you wear a tent to a wedding? Not a white, circus tent, of course. And, if a bride is so insecure about what her guests are wearing at her wedding that they might upstage her, even though she looks like a cream puff with the cherry on top (provided she is a virgin who is allowed to wear white since we’re talking 1800’s bridal etiquette here, perhaps the bride shouldn’t invite anyone who is attractive.

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  35. Helpful tips. But I’ve been to quite a few weddings and the no blk rule does not apply anymore (well obviously not in the cases of the weddings I went to) but the no white should ALWAYS apply. Everything else u mentioned. I’d disagree. :/

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  36. Amen to that Brittany! Everyone wears blk nowadays. At least to all of the recent weddings ive attended. And most ppl.don’t wear it for the rule this blog had. Ppl wear it bcuz blk looks classy. Be happy it isn’t white and that they look dressed nicely.

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  37. Help! My husbands daughter ( she was 24 when we got married, so not really my step-daughter) is getting married this Saturday. They are getting married in the church, so I will be wearing a lovely print street length dress.The reception is not until 3 hours later, and my ankles are very puffy by the end of the day, so I decided to wear a long dress to the reception, it is jade green, an empire cut, sleeveless and very flowing. Does this seem appropriate to you?

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  38. I’ve read that the mother of the groom’s role in the wedding is to “shut up, show up and wear beige”! So, I think in keeping with that some mother’s will wear beige… but his mother isn’t lol. My son recently told me “mom, it’s not a traditional wedding. there are no rules and it’s just going to be one big party”. So, I decided since it’s just going to be an informal, relaxed, one big party out door wedding… I will wear what I want to wear! My son isn’t even wearing a tux. He’s wearing a suit with a vest, but no tie. I ordered my dress today. It’s teal. It’s lace. It’s knee length. and It’s what I want and what I will feel comfortable in. Am I wrong in ordering without consulting anyone? I don’t think so, not after what my son has told me!

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  39. Not wearing red seems very outdated to me and is based in part of the sexist idea that a “lady in red” is of low moral standing. I am a 54-year-old woman and am planning to wear red to one of the summer weddings I am attending this year. I will not outshine the bride but I look good in red and the red dress I have is flattering and age-appropriate and perfect for a wedding.

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  40. How old are u people. Are u kidding me. All weddings I go to 95 percent women wear black. As far as red goes it’s also fine. The only thing u shouldn’t wear is white or beige. Never heard of anything so ridiculous in my life. Don’t wear black and trust me u will be the oddball. Wear whatever makes u comfortable except white or beige. That simple.

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  41. My mother taught these rules when I was a child in the 70s but I frequently see them broken at weddings without causing disruption or offence. But I still keep them in case someone does mind, because it is the wedding couples day not mine. Any other day I would stand up for MY right to wear what suits me (well apart from funerals). And its really not that hard to find something tasteful to wear that doesn’t make me and oddball even if all the other women do turn out to be wearing black.

    Good manners work both ways and I agree that it would be rude of the bride to ask someone to leave, or cause a scene, because someone was breaking these rules. But she shouldn’t be put in a situation where she has to put up with someone dressed inappropriately or do so. Enough people here have commented on the disappointment they felt when people turned up wearing inappropriate clothing to show that some people do mind.

    I think it has become more socially acceptable to break these traditional rules, so don’t keep them if you don’t think it matters, but still use common sense – obey the dress code if there is one on the invitation, don’t try to compete with the bride, don’t wear something suggestive, or something that will stand out too much on the photos. If you wear black you can still find a way to include some element of colour even if it is only jewellery or a scarf.

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  42. This makes me think of another set of dress rules – what to wear to a funeral? I would love to see a posting about that. I am often astounded at the things people wear to funerals

    As far as I am concerned, if you are asked to wear bright colours or the deceased’s favourite colour because people see it as a celebrations of the persons life, or of their afterlife, do so.

    Otherwise wear something tasteful, respectful and somber. These days it is usually acceptable to break the “wear black” rule. In fact if the only black outfits you have are a strapless cocktail dress, a black sheer or lace blouse worn over a black bra, or a black minidress, wear ANY other colour. Being black does not make something suitable.

    It is far more important to provide decent coverage of cleavage, and shoulders, not too much leg, and no underwear visible (and “decent” is probably more conservative in this case than everyday wear) and look like you made an effort. Don’t wear something that screams “look at me”.

    People wear all kinds of colours – usually muted or dark shades (Purple seems to be gaining popularity for women) and look quite appropriate if the outfit is chosen carefully. Black is still probably the most worn and easiest to decide on – but PLEASE consider the style not just the colour.

    PS. Writing the words “decent coverage” makes me feel like I am turning into my grandmother! But I don’t really think I am being old fashioned in this – it just seems like common sense to me (and its not like I’m advocating the wearing of hats!). But its common sense that doesn’t seem to occur to everyone . What do you think?

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    • Apparently it’s a new trend for the bridesmaids to stand in a row exposing their behinds a little for a photo. One of my friends commented that it makes them look skanky. That totally made me laugh because it was basically what I had been thinking.

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  43. I think these are the silliest, frumpiest rules I have ever read. When I got married, it didn’t bother me a whit what people wore. Everyone could have come dressed in black, white, or purple feathers. Whatever makes your guests comfortable and feel good about themselves is good etiquette. This isn’t Victorian England. A color doesn’t mean you disapprove of a marriage unless you’re deranged and read a bit too much into things. I actually thought this was a joke article until I realized it wasn’t. Tip: Being uptight about so-called “rules” and making your guests feel uncomfortable is never stylish. PS: It’s also A-OK to wear white after Labor Day. This isn’t 1922.

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    • Totally disagree…but I guess I’m ‘old’ at 37. Most everything about weddings is based on tradition. Why shouldn’t the rules of tradition still stand?

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