Can you Wear White to a Wedding? Comprehensive Guide to Wedding Guest Attire

While marriage ceremonies evolve with nontraditional wedding themes, one rule of thumb remains to avoid wearing all white to a wedding at all costs. However, with so many couples using eccentric dress codes, with relaxed ceremonies and bold style themes, you may ponder whether can you wear white to a wedding. 

It is a typical wedding etiquette question that still stumps guests. Every wedding is unique, but some rules never change. To help answer this question, we will explore when wearing white to a wedding might be okay.

While it’s generally best to steer clear of wearing white to a wedding out of respect for the bride, there are some scenarios where it may be acceptable. For instance, if the couple explicitly states that they encourage guests to wear white or if the dress code specifically calls for white attire, you can consider donning a white ensemble. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution and ensure that your outfit doesn’t overshadow the bride or draw unnecessary attention to yourself.

Remember, weddings are an opportunity to celebrate the couple’s special day, and adhering to traditional wedding etiquette is a thoughtful gesture. By following the guidelines and understanding the context of the event, you can confidently select an appropriate and stylish outfit that respects the couple’s wishes and adds to the joyous atmosphere of the occasion.

Who Can Wear White to a Wedding? 

Generally, it’s not appropriate for guests to wear white to a wedding. When you are a guest at a wedding, the essential thing to consider is the bride and groom should remain the focus. Ultimately you do not want to upstage or upset the bride.

It is safe to avoid predominantly white, cream or ivory wedding outfits. White is traditionally reserved for the bride to wear at the wedding, as it is an unsaid rule that guests should not wear white.

Sometimes, couples ask guests to wear specific colors for a themed wedding party. These requests will be made clear on the wedding invite. If the couple’s wedding has a website, they probably explicitly detail this for their guests.

Unless all-white outfits are explicitly outlined for the wedding day, you should avoid wearing a white outfit or even one with a white print.

Can The Mother Of The Bride Wear White at the Wedding? 

Typically, white should be reserved for the couple only, and traditionally the bride only. There’s no special color the mother of the bride should wear, but as we previously mentioned, you do not want to risk annoying or upstaging the bride. 

So even as a family member, whether you are the bride’s or groom’s mother, you should avoid wearing a white outfit unless the couple asks you to. 

We pointed out that the bride’s outfit usually ranges from white to colors like ivory, cream, and champagne hue. So, to steer clear of these colors, you can decide to go with colors like grey, beige, pink, purple, or off-white. As the mother of the bride, anything goes depending on your style, from long dresses to short dresses, maxi dresses, two-piece sets, formal dresses, or ensembles. Any of these in shades that are different from the traditional color of the bride’s dress would still have you looking stylish. 

Sometimes, there are situations where this rule does not apply, and couples would not mind their moms wearing white at their wedding, or even their family members or the entire guests, for an uncommon wedding theme. 

Other reasons the bride’s mom could end up wearing white at her wedding depend on these three things.

The couple’s cultural background or tradition could allow the bride’s mom or both the bride and groom’s mom to wear white, and this might mean something different in their culture. 

The bride or couple might have always wanted their mom and maybe even sisters to wear white with different designs; this might mean something to them. Of course, this can only be if it was the couple’s choice

The wedding color of the day and the bridesmaid’s dresses could also influence the mother’s attire. 

In general, moms should wear what they and their daughters love and feel free to move around in as long as the couple is okay with having them wear it at their wedding. 

Can The Bridesmaids Wear White at a Wedding?

Unlike the guests who pick their outfits themselves, the bridesmaid’s attire is totally up to the bride! So if you find the bridesmaids wearing white dresses at a wedding, it was because the bride picked out the color for them and probably wants a white-themed bridal train, which is completely okay. 

More and more brides these days are picking out white color palettes for their bridesmaids, so it is completely acceptable and even becoming normal. Some prefer to have only their maids of honor in white next to them. 

But while this is normal for some brides, others do not like the idea of sharing their white-colored dress with anyone else on their train on their wedding day. Not even with their maids of honor. However, this is not a problem since the bride chooses what the bridesmaids wear to the wedding.

How Much White is Acceptable to Wear at a Wedding?

Outfits with a subtle white pattern could be appropriate for guests. As long as your wedding wardrobe incorporates a colorful pattern with a slight white accent color, you should feel comfortable wearing it. 

Some popular brands take the guessing game out of shopping. They offer curated wedding guest outfit collections. Using these lists, you will discover wedding-worthy outfits distinct from traditional guest etiquette. Or, if you don’t want to buy your attire, retailers like Rent the Runway and The Black Tux offer outfits you can wear for a few days before returning.

Before you buy new wedding clothes, open up a discussion with a few friends to understand their opinion of the color. Engaged or married individuals should hold a higher standard in their minds as they intimately know the bride and groom’s perspective.

Use your discretion as to whether it is proper attire. If you question whether the clothes look too white, it is probably too white. The clothes you wear to a wedding should make you and the hosts comfortable. It is best to an err on the conservative side of wedding clothing choices if you are unsure. 

Check out these other popular posts for a stunning wedding attire:

Can you Wear White Shoes to a Wedding?

If you are wondering what wedding attire to wear, consider consulting the wedding invitation. Western brides typically let wedding guests know about the wedding traditions regarding white clothing and white accessories.

Wedding guests might want to wear a favorite pair of white shoes to a wedding.

You can usually wear white shoes to a wedding if you follow these five simple rules: 

  1. Avoid an all-white outfit with white shoes. All white would take away attention from the bride. 
  2. Wedding shoes should be comfortable, and men typically avoid a white pair. Black shiny leather shoes provide a classic fashion sense.
  3. You will want to avoid white shoes if you attend an outdoor wedding. It is wise to wear a pair of shoes where your feet will be comfortable walking for a significant amount of time. At the same time, you will want footwear that you are okay with getting dirty or can easily clean the shoes. 
  4. Avoid wearing white shoes during certain seasons during fall and winter. These seasons are well known to have sludge, mud and snow that could damage the appearance and integrity of your shoes.
  5. Consult the dress code if you have any questions, as every wedding is different. Themes, venues, schedules and formality levels must be considered. 

While it is common to see dress codes specify “formal,” “smart casual,” or “casual,” some will be more specific. For instance, some ceremonies and receptions have an “all-white” dress requirement, where guests are encouraged to attend in an all-white ensemble.

Although this may go against the other rules discussed, the couple’s preferred dress code will always take precedence.

Be mindful of the couple’s cultural background, as, in many Western cultures, white has a heavy association with weddings, peace and purity. These symbolisms make white wedding dresses a frequent choice among brides from such cultures.

However, in several Eastern cultures, white does not have the same meaning. China, Korea and other countries interpret the color white as a symbol of despair and grief. White is a frequent symbol in the culture of their funerals and other rituals associated with mourning.

Cultural awareness is essential, especially if the couple is from different backgrounds. Some brides refuse to wear a white dress. As a guest, that is not an invitation to wear white yourself.

Ask What the Bridesmaids Are Wearing

You do not have to know what brand or style of shoes the bridesmaids will wear. However, you can ask them for general details, such as color and type of shoe. This can give you an idea of your options.

When choosing what to wear, whether shoes or outfits in general, it is frowned upon to pick something that closely resembles what the bridal party is wearing. This includes not only the bride but also her bridesmaids.

Go with Neutral or Earth Tones Instead

Wearing shoes — or an entire outfit — with earth tones is an excellent compromise between your style and the no-white dress requirement of some weddings. There are unlimited options for footwear in beige, cream, powder and other neutral or earthy colors. Luckily, they are easy to coordinate, as you can pair them with almost any color without problems.

Comfort Over Style? Style Over Comfort?

Consensus has yet to be achieved on this topic. Some individuals believe if you do not regularly attend weddings, you should prioritize style over comfort. 

Conversely, others suggest you wear shoes that are comfortable for your feet. These can be flats or a pair of high heels.

Personal preferences are what matters in your shoe choice. If you desire to put out some pizzazz and sacrifice comfort, you are free to do so. Similarly, go ahead if you want to prioritize comfort and stick with safer options. 

Remember to stay within the prescribed requirement, as there could be reasoning behind their suggestions.

If you scrutinize the options hard enough, you can find some great options that provide comfort and design. Look around several stores and retailers until you find what is best.

What to Do If You Doubt What to Wear at a Wedding?

You could already have a pair of white shoes to wear to someone’s wedding. After reading several articles on the issue, you may wonder if foot attire is inappropriate.

If you are tight with the bride, you should discuss her opinion about the topic at hand. Ask any bridal party member if requesting the bride is not an option. If they approve, there is no issue, and you should feel confident the shoes are appropriate for the evening. 

Alternatively, you can pose these questions regarding your choice of footwear:

  • Are the shoes something that would take attention away from the bride’s outfit?
  • Do these shoes make me physically uncomfortable?
  • Will I walk around in these shoes without worrying too much about tripping or falling?
  • Are these shoes appropriate for the venue?
  • Are these shoes the proper level of event formality?
  • Do I like the appearance of my shoes?
  • Do my shoes make me feel confident?

It is important to remember that couples should always be the ones under the spotlight at weddings. It is their special day and they, therefore, decide everything. If they accept your willingness to wear white shoes, it is okay to wear your favorite white shoes. If they are not okay, do not push the issue and provide plenty of time to look for an alternative.

Who Can Wear White to a Wedding?

When wearing white to a wedding is acceptable hinges upon the dress code. As we previously mentioned, it depends on the dress code, but your role in the marriage could determine the acceptance of wearing white. To help clear any confusion, we will discuss individuals who can wear white to a wedding. 

The Couple

I understand we are stating the obvious here. However, someone out there will be asking the question if it is acceptable if the bride or groom wears white. As a couple, they set the tone for the evening. They are entitled to be the only ones in dazzling white garb if that is what they choose. 

Many couples are also embracing an all-white-clad wedding party look. They ask their parents to wear items that coordinate well with their outfits. 

Couples could even seek all their guests to wear white. The hosts must define this expectation in their wedding dress code, especially if the couple is planning on not wearing white.

If you plan on going with a nontraditional wedding, you should provide your guests with your expectations in the announcements or on a wedding website. That way, they can understand you are cool with anyone donning frosty hues. You may save a guest some money with this move.

The Wedding Party

A wedding party in all white consistently looks stylish and lustrous. If you are a bridesmaid or groomsman, you will want your clothes to be decked in a creamy shade. You might be permitted to select your dress established on a white color palette. Always run your first-choice picks by the couple before you make any purchases so you won’t produce any fashion faux pas on the wedding day. 

Sometimes it is okay if a family member wears white. Although with traditional versus nontraditional weddings, the appropriateness can muddy quickly. Ultimately you do not want to be in bad form as a family member.

Final Thoughts on Can you Wear White to a Wedding

If an individual does not follow your dress code suggestions and shows up wearing pure white, try to keep your cool. Hopefully, it was not malicious to annoy you. Ultimately it is your special day, and you should focus on having the time of your life. 

The reality is it is nearly impossible to take the spotlight away from the bride and groom. The happy couple will continuously be showcased throughout the evening. The most important thing is to showcase your love for each other with your actions.

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