Can You Wear Black to a Wedding? A Comprehensive Guide to Wedding Guest Attire

If you are here, it is probably because you’re wondering, “Can I wear black to a wedding?” There may be hints in the dress code, but you may still wonder what to wear at the wedding. Consulting a wedding planner will help you understand nontraditional dress codes. However, if you are a wedding guest, we will help you understand when it is OK to wear your black ensemble. 

Previously, the color black was thought to represent mourning and bad luck at a wedding. But at a formal and semi-formal event, the groom always wears black. At an all-black wedding, he may even wear a black shirt. 

While a black suit is generally suitable for any wedding, it’s essential to consider the overall dress code and theme of the event. If you’re unsure, consulting the wedding invitation or reaching out to the couple or wedding planner can provide clarification on whether black is appropriate.

Luckily, it is almost always suitable to wear a black suit. But some may be wondering if that cute little black dress you bought last week is an appropriate choice.

A casual or daytime wedding is the only time a black outfit may not be appropriate. Dark colors can be worn, but it is better to wear pastels or something with color. Steer clear of wearing white. However, a white shirt under a black jacket is always acceptable. 

An evening wedding typically is when you will see black-tie weddings. These weddings have an upscale dress code for formal events. If you want your guests to look best in their midi dresses, create a wedding website to suggest what to wear on the dance floor. It also allows you to develop a narrative for a more relaxed affair if this is what you want. 

The best way to understand if it is acceptable is to consult the dress code. The wedding invitation should provide insight into the wedding theme. Wedding guests for formal weddings should find black to be an appropriate color. So if you have a cute black dress, wear it to the formal setting.

What to Consider When Choosing Wedding Attire

In selecting the best wedding clothes, there are several aspects you must take into account before you go ahead with a decision. Weddings can be held any time during the season in various places around the globe. Etiquette is also essential in deciding how to present yourself at a wedding. Black dresses are generally fair game, but you must regard some of the above suggestions.

We constantly hear questions about wedding guest outfits, so it’s clear that there needs to be more clarity about what is appropriate. Previously, wearing black to a wedding was frowned upon because black was a color traditionally worn at funerals. However, these days, the same rules do not apply. 

Our advice is based on years of discussions. We speak with brides, couples and guests daily. We are aware that most of our experience is with laid-back Western teams. Therefore, some cultures, religions and even certain social circles view wearing black differently. The color takes on a deeper meaning for their families. 

We’re also aware that some people are compassionate about tradition. Therefore it can be difficult to predict how to generalize the appropriateness of wearing black.  

Generally, wearing black to weddings is easy, elegant and OK. But it’s safer to avoid wearing black to a wedding. If you’re worried and can’t find a reasonable alternative to a black dress, we advise you to bypass the outfit dilemma entirely!

Can You Wear Black to a Wedding?

Can you wear a black dress or ensemble to a wedding? In short, yes, but the key is in the styling. You want to avoid looking like you are dressed for a funeral. Your outfit should feel like you put some thought into the process. Women who love to wear black are confident in their style and can pull off an effortless, Parisian look. Featuring a simple black dress with accessories should be easy. However, for a wedding, you may need to add a celebratory flair. Here are a few simple methods to do it:

  • Wear a short, knee-length or midi-length dress
  • Incorporate a splash of color via your accessories: for example, vibrant heels, handbags or headpiece
  • Wear a polka dot or floral print
  • Wear a jumpsuit
  • Add some texture with lace, ruffles or feathers
  • Wear sequins, embellishments or a metallic fabric

It’s also essential to the style of wedding you’re attending. In particular, the acceptability depends upon the time of year, time of day and the wedding location when putting your guest look together, which brings us to our next point.

What About a Black-Tie Wedding? A Destination Wedding?

We’ve seen guests rock black at various weddings, from garden party-style gatherings to traditional golf club experiences. There is one example of when you should feel extremely confident wearing black to a wedding and that’s when it’s a black-tie wedding. A formal dress code should suggest wearing a black, full-length gown. You will fit in effortlessly with this aesthetic. 

Similarly, a little black dress suits a city or restaurant wedding, especially in winter. Destination, garden and festival weddings are slightly different, as we naturally reach for lighter colors in the daytime. Therefore, when the weather is warm, black can become uncomfortable. In this case, a splash of color and a flowy or ruffled fabric will go a long way. 

Learn more on this:

Can a Male Guest Wear Black to a Wedding?

Generally speaking, it’s OK for a male guest to wear Black to a wedding. Unless, of course, the wedding is exceptionally informal. Black suits read as more formal than blue or grey suits. A black suit might feel a bit stuffy for a summer or destination wedding. 

The invitation, the venue and the dress code help you understand how casual the wedding will be. If you believe it will be a simple affair and want to err on the safe side, we recommend wearing a navy, light blue or grey suit instead.

How to Wear Black for Different Dress Codes

Wedding dress codes can have a significant impact on wedding guests when it comes to choosing their attire. You’d never wear a casual cocktail shirt to black-tie wedding! Couples use their dress codes on their invites because you want them. It’ll help to start with the dress code. Choosing the perfect black looks becomes easy when knowing what dress code to dress for.

Location Matters

In New York and Boston, observing women in little black dresses or evening gowns at weddings is ubiquitous. In the South, however, it is much less common. We suggest wearing a colorful dress to a wedding in the southeast region of the United States. 

Avoiding black is highly recommended if you’re lucky enough to attend a destination wedding. Instead, look to the region’s surroundings to inform your outfit. Bright, punchy colors are more appropriate attire in the Bahamas. At the same time, an affair at a French castle might require something regal. You must consider the materials as you want to be warm enough, depending on the weather. 

Consider the Time of Day

Traditional etiquette states black-tie dress is suitable for receptions starting at 6:00 p.m. or later. You can wear suits or morning suits during the afternoon hours. Though not every wedding follows these rules, ladies can still follow suit by choosing lighter, brighter colors for daytime events and more deep, formal tones for the evening.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Wear White

As a general rule, it is OK to wear black. The hue is very versatile. However, you should avoid wearing white.

Check out these other guest etiquette tips:


So is it acceptable to wear black to a wedding? The answer is it depends. The best black dress you could ever dream about wearing might not be the best option for a beach wedding, but could be perfect for a formal evening. If all else fails and you still aren’t sure if your attire is appropriate, you can ask the couple or steer clear of the black entirely. 

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