What colors not to wear to a wedding – 10+ bad color choices

What colors not to wear to a wedding - faverie

You get very excited as you open the mail and discover that your friend has invited you to their wedding. After checking your calendar, you get even more excited when you realize you are free on that weekend.

Then, the panic sets in as you remember that there are colors that you should not wear to a wedding. While you are sure that you learned this information at some point in your life, you also realize that you have no clue what colors not to wear to a wedding.

There is no need to fear. This post will tell you about those colors and recommend beautiful colors to wear to a wedding.

Therefore, you should start reading now to have plenty of time to put together the perfect outfit.

What colors not to wear to a wedding

If someone invites you to a wedding, then you need to consider the color of the clothes that you are going to wear. You will want to consider the event’s formality and what colors mean in different cultures.

Even if the wedding occurs in your neighborhood, the highly personal nature of a wedding often means that the couple relies on their family’s customs on this crucial day.

I was thrilled to receive the invitation recently to my first cousin’s wedding. Even though we had not seen each other for a few years, as life took us in different ways, I booked my plane tickets immediately. 

No one bothered to tell me that she was marrying a man from South Africa whose family was flying over for this joyous occasion. My family has never really been one to dress in a particular style, so I wore a beautiful red dress and went to the wedding.

That was a mistake, and I should have known better. Before you make the same mistake, I have some words of wisdom for you to follow about what colors not to wear to a wedding.


Most brides wear white to their wedding, so this color is reserved for them. The tradition of wearing white began after Queen Victoria was married in a white wedding dress in 1840.

Queen victoria prince albert
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/

This tradition has been around for long enough that most people realize that you should not wear white to a wedding because you will not want to upstage the bride.

You can still wear a little white to a wedding. For example, a guy may want to wear a white shirt under his dark suit coat, or a woman may want to wear white shoes with a pastel dress.


There are at least two reasons why wearing ivory and other off-white colors to a wedding is not a good idea. The first is that brides often choose ivory, cream, and different off-white shades, and some choose this color instead of stark white because it looks better on them. 

Secondly, ivory can seem old, and a wedding celebrates new beginnings. Therefore, you will want to avoid having your central outfit color ivory.

In some cultures, white and its various shades like ivory are seen as symbols of death. This is true in China, Korea, and other Asian countries, so you do not want to speak death over the new couple on their wedding day.


In most Western cultures, black is seen as a symbol of mourning and death, and you are attending the wedding to celebrate a new beginning instead of mourning the death of singlehood. 

Furthermore, in some countries, including China, black is viewed as a cold color, with hunger and a lack of material wealth. So you certainly do not want to symbolize that at a person’s wedding.

Note that depending on the formality of the wedding, men may be expected to wear black. Therefore, be sure to check for inserts that came with your invitation or a note on your invitation stating the dress code.


Fashion-forward brides often opt for gold and champagne wedding dresses. So play it safe and avoid wearing gold to a wedding as you do not want to look more beautiful than the bride. 

Furthermore, gold is the 50th wedding anniversary color, and you are celebrating a new beginning that you hope makes it to the 50-year mark.

In France and Germany, gold is seen as a color of envy, and you want to wish the new couple happiness instead of being envious of them. Meanwhile, in Egyptian culture, gold is the color of mourning, and you do not want to wish death on the newlyweds.


Since the bride often wears silver, avoid wearing it to a wedding for fear of upstaging the bride. Silver is also often used in decorations, and you do not want to blend in with the background. 

In the U.S., silver is the color of 25th wedding anniversaries, and the couple is just beginning their journey together. Depending on the shade of silver, it may appear too casual or too formal for a wedding, so avoid wearing it and skip those fears. 

Be especially careful about wearing metallic silver as the shine off the fabric may look like you are trying to upstage the lucky couple.

Sparkly metallic colors

Sparkly metallic colors are a gray area that you may want to avoid. For formal occasions, a gown with a sparkle may be perfectly acceptable, but you should still be cautious that your outfit does not have so much pizazz going on that it tries to steal the show from the bride and groom. 

Often, long dresses with beads or embroidery work are a better choice. You need to be especially careful at daytime weddings about wearing materials that are too metallic. This is especially true if you attend an outdoor ceremony as the sun may reflect off the metallic fabric, making it seem even brighter.


Many people find it difficult to look their best when wearing red, so they avoid it to begin with, but wearing red to weddings may draw attention to your outfit instead of the bride and groom. 

In fact, someone seeing red often feels angry, so you definitely do not want to elicit that response from someone at a wedding. Depending on the bride’s culture and if they choose to follow it, they may decide to wear red during their wedding. 

This is a prevalent option for brides of Scottish, Indian or Korean backgrounds. In those cultures, red is especially popular for brides and grooms to wear.

Neon/bright colors

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you should not wear bright colors to a wedding because you may upstage the bride and groom. Furthermore, many weddings are semi-formal or formal events, and you should never wear bright colors to these events.

Woman looking camera yellow dress

At the same time, you can wear some colors to weddings in deeper shades. Just make sure you tone it down. For instance, greens, yellows, and blues are great if you stick to the right shades. It is about letting the couple have the spotlight during their event and not drawing attention to yourself through your outfit.

The bridesmaids color

You may deeply love the color the bride has chosen for her bridesmaids, but you do not want guests to get confused over your role at the wedding, so wear a different color. A great way to find out this color is to ask the bride or one of the bridesmaids. 

If you wear the same color, you look upset that she did not ask you to be a bridesmaid. Even if that is true, leave those feelings at home, and wear a different color. There are so many fantastic choices. You may even want to wear an outfit in the same color group if it stays far away from the bride’s chosen color.


Avoid wearing denim to a wedding unless you have been given specific instructions. It is simply too informal for most weddings. Even if the event occurs at a barn, check with the lucky couple before making this choice. Many denim skirts are flared, and you can choose other beautiful options instead of denim. 

You will also want to be very careful about wearing colored jeans to a wedding. In most cases, they will also be deemed too informal. If you are thinking about this choice, be sure to check with the bride first.

In the next chapter, we will start delving into more details about what colors not to wear to a wedding. While I have briefly touched on some reasons why you want to avoid these colors, I will share more details, so be sure to keep reading.

Can you wear black to a wedding?

While I briefly touched on why wearing black to a wedding is not always a great idea, let us dig deeper into the concept. Many people see black as the color of mourning, and you do not want to give that idea to a couple as they start their adventure of wedded bliss.

Yet, there are times that you should wear black to a wedding, so it is vital to know the difference between when you should and should not wear black.

You want to be very careful wearing black to a casual or informal wedding, but you can if you style it right. The key is to create a look that does not look like you are going to a funeral. 

Therefore, leave your black suit coats and dresses with your black closed-toed high heels at home. Instead, opt for a black outfit that you can style with fun items, like a colorful belt, pocket square, or carry a colorful purse.

For more formal weddings, black is appropriate for men, unless it is a white-tie wedding. Then, you will still need to wear some black. Women will still want to avoid looking like they are in mourning, even if they had a crush on the groom at some point. 

Black full-length gowns are an excellent option for formal weddings if you give them a modern twist. Guys can wear black suits and black shoes.

As I stated, be sure you do not look like you are mourning when you go to a wedding. Dressing all in black for a wedding is never a good idea. When putting together an outfit, people often follow the 60%. 30% 10% rule. 

And if you wear black at all, it should be 10% so that your outfit does not look too somber on the couple’s lucky day.

Additionally, you will want to leave your black athleticwear at home. First off, athleticwear is too informal to wear to any wedding. Secondly, black is often seen as the color of mourning. 

Therefore, you would have made two fashion snafus, and you do not want to do that. After all, why give people something to talk about.

Some people find it difficult to have positive thoughts when they see black, which is a psychological effect they cannot control. You do not want other guests to have this reaction when they see your outfit. 

And you certainly do not want the bride and groom to have those thoughts. Therefore, it is best to wear another color that causes people to have happy thoughts.

In the first chapter, I recommended not wearing red to a wedding. In the next chapter, I will dive into more ideas about why wearing red is a bad idea. Therefore, ensure that you keep reading. 

Even if you usually avoid wearing red because it does not look good on you, learning this information and sharing it with a friend can stop them from making that mistake.

Can you wear red to a wedding?

There are many reasons that you should not wear red to a wedding. First, many people do not look good wearing red, and they should avoid it all the time because there are so many other color options to wear.

Woman posing blue dress

When you are heading to a wedding, there are other options, so you will want to leave your red tie, red dress, and red pants hanging in your closet. Let’s start to explore those reasons.

Red is an extremely vibrant color. Thus, it catches people’s eyes. You do not want to look like you are trying to be the show’s star on someone else’s wedding day. Therefore, even if you look great in red, you will want to avoid wearing it on this joyous occasion.

Brides often choose to recognize their ancestry on their wedding day. Some do that by wearing a traditional wedding outfit, which incorporates red. For example, Chinese brides wear red because they believe it symbolizes good fortune. 

In India, brides often wear red because it is associated with Mars, which those who practice Hinduism believe rules over marriage.

While many associate reds with love and cupid, others instantly get angry when they see red. Like black, this is an uncontrollable emotional response. And you certainly do not want to elicit that response from someone at a wedding. After all, everyone is there to have a great time.

Red is a very casual color. Therefore, it is not appropriate for many weddings for this reason. You will want to check the dress code before even asking, but if you are determined to wear red to a wedding, ask the bride for permission. 

Since they are very busy with pre-wedding planning, consider skipping the red dress as it will be one less thing they have to think about in the days leading up to their special day.

While wearing red is not recommended, other colors in the red family are great for wearing to casual weddings. You may want to consider wine, berry, or burgundy. They are not as eye-catching, so you will not look like you are trying to upstage the bride. 

Alternatively, consider the dark red colors, such as cranberry and maroon. I will have more to say about what colors to wear to a wedding in a little bit, so be sure to keep reading.

Of course, it is always wise to check and see what color the bridesmaids are wearing because you do not want to dress in the same color. If you did, people might think you are jealous of them, which may cause hurt feelings.

Now that you know that you should not wear black or red to most weddings, let’s discover why you will also not want to wear white. 

While this may seem like a logical choice in what not to wear to a wedding category, I will share some information on how white became the chosen color for brides in Western civilizations, so be sure to keep reading.

Can you wear white to a wedding?

It may seem like a logical color to avoid, but you should not wear white to a wedding. This is the color most often chosen by brides for their wedding dresses, and you do not want to appear to be trying to upstage her.

Bride portrait surrounded flowers
Source: Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

According to researchers at Ohio State University, approximately 83% of brides in America wear a white dress on their wedding day. Therefore, you should choose an outfit that is not white and matches the wedding’s dress code.

The tradition of wearing white for a wedding has long been established. In the Roman Empire, most brides wore a white tunic. So you would have been looked down upon had you chosen to wear one too.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, brides no longer wore white until Queen Victoria chose to wear a white wedding dress in 1840. A photo of her in her wedding gown was widely circulated, and people wanted their own white wedding dress.

Brides sometimes did not wear white during World War I and II as the fabric was a rationed commodity. In fact, in some areas, dresses could not contain more than 1.75 yards of fabric. In addition, many brides hurried up and held their weddings before their husbands rushed to war.

In those days, wedding photos were reserved for the world’s elite, but that is certainly not true today. Therefore, you will want to avoid wearing white to a wedding so that no one can mistake you for the bride in photos taken on a joyous day and shown to grandchildren 50 years later.

Brides have worn white wedding gowns for over 2,000 years. Each society thought the gowns symbolized purity and commitment to love only one person.

There are very few instances where men should wear white to a wedding. At white-tie weddings, men can wear a white or black coat with tails, and they must wear a white piqué wing-collar shirt and trousers that match the color of their suit coat. A white cummerbund and white bow tie are also expected.

Women attending a white-tie wedding will want to wear a fancy ballgown that is not white. They can choose to wear white dress gloves if they wish. If white dress shoes are the best choice for the dress, then that is acceptable. These are the most formal weddings and are usually reserved for the world’s elite, like queens and presidents.

Hopefully, understanding the tradition of wearing white wedding dresses will help you understand why you should not wear white to a wedding unless you are a man going to a white-tie wedding. You certainly do not want to upstage the bride. After all, she won that man, but if you are still single, then you may meet Mr. Right.

While white symbolizes purity in Western cultures, it is not the case around the globe, and some brides will fall back on their family’s culture for this important day. 

For example, white is used for funerals in Italy, and you certainly do not want to mourn a couple just starting. Additionally, in many Asian countries, white is seen as misfortune and calamity, and you do not wish that on the couple getting married.

Now that you know the reasons behind not wearing white to a wedding, we will examine what colors are best to wear to a wedding. I will give you some options based on different dress codes, so everyone can easily find an outfit that they will love wearing the next time they attend a wedding. Carry on reading to find out more!

What are the best colors for a wedding guest dress?

Now that I have covered what colors not to wear to a wedding, let us flip the question around and discover what colors are great for wearing to a wedding if you are going as a guest.

Instead of looking at the glass as half empty, let’s discover the perfect colors to wear to a wedding. That way, when you get the invitation, you will know what to look for when shopping because a wedding is a super time to buy a new outfit.

There are many great color choices to wear to a wedding, so you don’t need to fret about those you cannot wear.

Neutral shades

Neutral shades are ideal for wearing to most weddings. These choices include navy, burgundy, and gray. Just be careful to stay away from any outfit that has too much sparkle to it.

Woman dress posing walking

Therefore, women might consider wearing a burgundy skirt and pairing it with a dark green top. In the next chapter, I will have more to say about wearing green to a wedding. Meanwhile, guys may consider wearing a navy sports coat and black pants.

Earth tones

Earth tones are also ideal for wearing to a wedding. These shades include brown, khaki, umber, burnt sienna, and yellow ochre. They look incredibly sharp when paired with neutral-colored accessories. 

Therefore, men may want to wear a khaki sports coat with a brown pair of pants and carry an umber umbrella if the weather looks rainy. Women may want to wear a brown jumpsuit, a gray beaded necklace, and an earring set.

Jewel colors

As long as they do not look like you are trying to steal the show from the lucky couple, jewel colors are a great option. These colors come from natural gemstones, including blue sapphire, emerald green, ruby red, and amethyst purple. 

Make sure you choose choices that will not make them appear too casual for more formal weddings. For example, women may want to consider wearing a ruby red dress with matching shoes and jewelry, and guys may consider pairing a blue sapphire sports coat with black pants.

Pastel colors

Pastels can be a great option, especially for a spring wedding. These colors have just enough white mixed into them to make them appear pale. Millennial pink, light azure, creamy mint, and whimsy yellow can all be outstanding choices.

You can choose to wear them with neutral colors or opt to create a monochromatic outfit. Black pants, a pastel pink shirt, and a black blazer can be an excellent option for guys. Women may consider wearing a pastel lavender blouse with an inky black skirt.

Most of these choices match beautifully with each other, so you can easily create your own look. Consider investing in quality pieces as you want to wear them to many places besides weddings.

What Women Should Wear to a Wedding

Women can wear many different outfits to weddings, but it is essential to consider the dress code. If the bride did not set one, you need to ask her or someone closely associated with the wedding.

White-tie weddings require that a lady wears a long gown, which is also the best choice for a black-tie wedding. Your dress should not show your ankles. 

For a black-tie-optional wedding, you will probably want to stick to a formal. You can let your ankles peek out if you wish to, but the dress still needs to be long.

Consider wearing a shorter dress if invited to a wedding with a cocktail dress code. A tea-length or knee-length dress is an ideal choice.

If you are invited to an evening wedding with a semi-formal dress code, darker colors are best. But if it is a daytime affair, you can wear lighter colors, such as pastels.

A casual dress code often indicates an outdoor event, but you will still not want to wear your shorts. Instead, opt for a sundress and wear shoes that you can walk in well.

What Men Should Wear to a Wedding

In an earlier chapter, I discussed what men should wear to a white-tie wedding, and they also need to wear a tuxedo to a black-tie or black-tie-optional wedding. 

The difference between the two is that men can add a little more color to their outfits with the latter option.

A classical suit is an excellent option for a wedding with a cocktail dress code, and you need to put on a regular-width necktie.

Men attending a semi-formal wedding can opt to wear a blazer or a sports jacket, and they can also go with a button-down shirt and dress trousers. 

While you may be able to get away without a tie during a daytime event, you need to put one on for an evening wedding.

If you are attending a casual wedding, wear your dress pants or khakis. A button-down shirt is a great option, and it is your choice if you wear a coat or a tie. Men can wear brown shoes with black pants to a wedding, depending on the dress code. 

Anything more formal than a cocktail dress code, and you should wear black pants and black shoes. In that case, you want to choose shiny shoes. Opt for shoes that appear a shade or two lighter than your pants.

You can wear brown shoes with black pants to semi-formal and casual weddings. Even if your sneakers are black, you should still not wear them to a wedding. In contrast, you can wear brown dress sandals to a casual wedding. 

In most cases, you will want to stick with dress shoes, like oxfords, derbies, or loafers, but be sure to consider the event’s formality.

While these are excellent guidelines for men and women throughout the year, in the next chapter, I will examine what colors to wear to summer weddings. May to October are the most popular wedding months, so you will not want to miss this section.

What colors can you wear to a summer wedding?

We have swiftly covered a lot of ground about what colors not to wear to a wedding. Then, I gave you some suggestions on what to wear. While men need to wear white and black to more formal weddings, women have many different choices.

Woman holding head mint dress forest

Additionally, men can wear many colors at cocktail, semi-formal, and casual weddings. Since the summer is usually the busiest for weddings, I want to spend a few minutes talking specifically about what colors to wear to a summer wedding.

Thinking about the color wheel can be a great way to pick out what colors to wear to a summer wedding. While you will want to avoid wearing red, other colors on the warm side of the color wheel make ideal choices for a summer wedding. 

Consider following the 60/30/10 rule where you wear 60% of your outfit in one color, 30% in a coordinating color, and 10% in a third color. This can help you avoid becoming too bold where you look like you are trying to steal the show from the bride and groom. 

Warm colors include yellows, reds, and oranges. I have already discussed the need to tone down reds by wearing a color that is not fire-engine red in that family.

For example, a woman might wear a brick-colored skirt. Then, go directly across the color wheel to find the opposite color, but move one space to the right or left to find the split complementary color, which is sage green. Therefore, make 60% of your outfit brick-colored, 30% sage green, and balance it with a neutral or earth tone.

Alternatively, you may want to create a triad-colored outfit. For instance, you may want to choose to wear a dark yellow jumpsuit and carry a blue-violet purse and wear the same color shoes. Then, wear yellow-green jewelry. Again, the 60/30/10 rule is a great option to follow when putting together your outfit.

Since even casual weddings are usually a nicer occasion, consider wearing earth or neutral colors as the central part of your clothing, accenting your outfit with pops of color. For example, you might want to wear a khaki skirt and an orange top with blue-green jewelry and shoes.

Men should do the same thing for a summer wedding. Depending on the dress code, they may want to pick a warm-colored blazer and pair it with a neutral color pair of dress pants.

There are many beautiful colors that you can wear to a summer wedding, and most of them coordinate beautifully with jewel, earth, and neutral colors. Therefore, putting an outfit together for a wedding is easy. 

Just follow the wedding’s dress code when putting together your outfit. Generally, the brighter the color, the more you want to use it as an accent color.

Can you wear black to a summer wedding? You can wear black to a summertime wedding. Guys should wear black to a black-tie, black-tie-optional, or black-tie creative regardless of the time of year.

Women, you can wear black to a summertime wedding. Before you grab that black dress, however, you should consider the location and formality of the wedding. If the ceremony occurs outdoors, wearing black may make you too warm. 

You will generally feel 20 to 30 degrees warmer when you wear black than if you wear white. Therefore, you may want to skip the black dress for outdoor summertime weddings, especially if they occur during the day.

A second factor you will want to consider is the event’s formality. While black can be an excellent choice for many weddings, it may be too dark for a casual wedding. If you are going to attend one of those weddings, then consider choosing a light color instead.

In Western Civilizations, some women skip wearing black dresses to weddings, which may make you look like you are morning on the couple’s joyous day.

In the next section, I will have some concluding thoughts to share with you. These thoughts will help you finish putting together fabulous wedding outfits to wear regardless of the time of year. Therefore, you should keep reading.


I have raced through a lot of information, so it is natural to have questions. Post them, and I will do my best to clarify my statements.

If you are attending a wedding with another person, then share this post with them, so they will also know what colors not to wear to a wedding. You may also want to share it with the bride as it may help them answer questions from their guests.

Since almost every wedding starts late, please bookmark this site so that you can quietly read it on your phone while waiting for the ceremony to begin. You will find other great posts on fashion topics you want to know about.

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