Can You Wear Black to a Wedding?

Some people will always see it as a sign of mourning.

As more and more customs are seen as old-fashioned, it can be difficult to know which so-called rules are meant to be followed when it comes to weddings. One of the trickiest things is in regards to guest attire. Those getting married or in the bridal party are likely to spend time looking up all the various guidelines on etiquette, and thus will feel well-versed on what is appropriate. Attendees, on the other hand, will have a range of experiences when it comes to etiquette for your nuptials. This can lead to misunderstandings about what to wear, which is why a dress code can actually be helpful for your friends and family. Stating attire doesn’t help when the question regards color though, and that’s the most debated aspect of what’s okay for a guest to wear. Some people are softening on the issue of wearing white to someone else’s wedding – though we tend to disapprove. But what about black?

is it okay to wear black to a wedding?
Photo by Carrie King Photographer

This, of course, is not a question men have to deal with. In fact, some dress codes even require they wear tuxedos – which are generally black. Western culture used to dictate that the dark color was a sign of mourning. As such, wearing black to a wedding actually indicated that you disapproved of the union! Now the hue is seen as chic, elegant, and universally flattering. It's even a popular color for bridesmaid gowns. If you’re wondering if it’s okay to wear black to a wedding, the short answer is yes! Although, we would still advise you make sure the ensemble itself is appropriate for the setting – not all little black dresses are created equal. 

However, if you are attending an extremely traditional wedding, particularly with a ceremony hosted in a house or worship, and you know there will probably be an older crowd, you may want to consider a lighter color. Even though the majority of experts agree that wearing black is fine, there are some folks who didn’t get the memo and may give you a side eye. If you truly have nothing else appropriate in your closet and don’t have the time or money to buy or rent another option, we recommend bright accessories to keep the outfit from looking dour.  

For more advice, find out what questions wedding guests will ask about, learn how to get away with a "B list" for your big day, and find out which wedding "rules" you can break

Authored by: Emily Lasnier