Wedding Etiquette: Can Guests Wear White?

Every now and then, you hear a debate at the local beauty shop or at a family get-together. One group insists that white should be reserved only for the bride. The other insists that the no-white rule is outdated.

What’s the real answer? Should guests be able to wear white to a wedding?

New Rules for Wearing White to a Wedding

Unlike days gone by, there’s no rule set in stone saying that you can’t arrive to a reception cloaked in a snowy white ensemble. However, there are some rules if you want to don this look without upsetting the bride (and consequently incurring her wrath.)

  1. If you wear white, make sure it doesn’t look bridal. Stay away from lace, frills, bows and shiny fabric. If someone could mistake you for the bride, you’d best come in something other than white.
  2. Make sure it fits the theme. A guest in a white dress at a fancy black-tie evening wedding just won’t fit in. White doesn’t belong in evening attire no matter the occasion. Instead, white outfits are best for guests at outdoor weddings–especially if they’re on the beach.
  3. Keep the bride in mind. If the bride is super traditional and likely to throw a fit when she sees you wearing white, it’s better to arrive dressed in something else. You don’t want to take away from her day.
  4. Incorporate other colors. For best results, add in other colors to your white outfit. Pull a pink cardigan over the top with some matching pink shoes to cut down on the swath of white. Or, keep the white as an accent and have the rest of your outfit in another shade.

Image courtesy of Wedding Wire and Erin Blair Gobin

And just as long as you don’t look anything like the bride, you should be good to go.

Although many agree that you don’t have to avoid white as the guest of a wedding, this is still a minefield. If you’re not sure if you can pull it off, don’t do it. It’s better to be safe than sorry!