Colors to Wear as a Wedding Guest (And What to Avoid) — COLORBUX (2023)

Colors to Wear as a Wedding Guest (And What to Avoid) — COLORBUX (1)


  • 1. How To Decide What Colors To Wear
  • 2. Colors You Should Avoid Wearing to A Wedding
  • 3. What The Experts Say
  • 4. Final Thoughts

Last updated: Sep. 2021

Weddings are a huge deal, marking one of the most important days of someone’s life. It goes without saying that a wedding is the time for the bride and groom to shine, and they certainly don’t want to be upstaged by any of their guests on their special day.

As a wedding guest, you’ll have a fine line to walk for what you can wear. You should aim to dress in a classy and refined way without upstaging the outfits of the bride and groom. And while this might sound like a lot to worry about, it really just boils down to color.

Wear These Colors as a Wedding Guest

As a wedding guest, you should wear either dark blue, brown, and gray, or light tans and nudes as base colors in your outfit. Do not wear too many flashy colors and avoid white and too much black at all costs. You are allowed to accent your get-up with small elements of color but be careful not to overdo it.

Colors to Wear as a Wedding Guest (And What to Avoid) — COLORBUX (2)

As you can see, there are certain colors that should be avoided as a guest, and there are others that are more appropriate. In this article, we’re going to examine exactly what colors you should wear as a wedding guest, and which should be avoided by all means necessary.

Suitable Colors for Wedding Guests to Wear

Let’s first identify the suitable wedding colors you can wear to a wedding. These colors are going to help you blend into the crowd, not stand out, while still giving you a formal and dressy look.

Some safe colors include formal cool colors like gray, brown, tan, or muted shades of green and blue.

These are classic colors that are typically worn to formal events like weddings. So unless the bride or groom has specified that any of these colors should not be worn, you should be fine wearing these.

Colors to Wear as a Wedding Guest (And What to Avoid) — COLORBUX (3)

Besides helping you not to stick out, these colors will also give you a cool, confident look, perfect for mingling and socializing with other wedding guests.

As we said, cooler colors like those previously mentioned are typical for most weddings. However, some brides and grooms (most of the time brides) may specify the exact colors they want wedding guests to wear.

If you’re given color guidelines to stick to, then any of those colors will/must be suitable. Additionally, the groomsmen and bridesmaids will often be given specific colors (or specific articles of clothing) that they will be required to wear.

How to decide what colors to wear

If you haven’t been given any specific color guidelines on what to wear to a wedding, there are a few things to consider that can help you decide. These key factors include the formality of the wedding, the location, and the seasonal weather.


If you’ve received a formal wedding invitation, you can assume that the bride and groom prefer their guests to wear traditional wedding guest attire.

If the invitation is more on the casual side, you can expect the wedding to be a little less formal, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should show up wearing casual clothing.

Colors to Wear as a Wedding Guest (And What to Avoid) — COLORBUX (4)

A more formal wedding will require classic colors, including jewel tones, navy, and metallic gold and silver hues.

Additionally, a wedding in the evening will generally be more formal, requiring guests to dress up in their finest. It’s perfectly acceptable to wear a black tux in this situation, for example. However, it may be a good idea to check with the bride before showing up to the wedding all decked out.

If you’re required to wear a tie, then opt for a rather subtle but friendly tie color. Read our article on how to choose the right tie color to find out more.



Dark or Light Colors in Clothing?


The event location is also a factor you should consider when choosing your outfit. A barnyard wedding inevitably calls for less formal colors than a ceremony at the most luxurious five-star hotel in town.

In short, the general “vibe” of the place where the event is held determines whether a certain color palette is suitable or not.

As a rule of thumb: the more luxurious the location, the more you should lean towards more subdued and less bright colors. The more prestigious the event location, the less you’ll want to wear bold accents like a bright red tie or that flashy new yellow purse you just bought.


The season and weather can also be determining factors when deciding the color for your wedding attire. If the wedding is in the fall or winter, you should opt for jewel tones and dark colors, including burgundy, emerald, plum, crimson red, or navy.

Colors to Wear as a Wedding Guest (And What to Avoid) — COLORBUX (6)

Again, you don’t want to stand out too much, so keep that in mind when choosing one of these colors. It’s generally a good idea to know which colors are suitable for which season – not just for a wedding. Read up on this topic here.

Alternatively, if the wedding takes place during the warmer months of the year, in summer or spring, brighter and lighter colors are more suitable.

You can try wearing pastel tints if it’s during the spring, such as blush or dusty blue. During the summer, brighter colors like lime green or fuchsia may be more appropriate, reflecting the warmth of the season in your outfit.

And this is especially true if it’s a destination wedding, somewhere tropical and beachy, you’ll definitely want to break out those bright, vacation colors!

Here’s our pro tip: go for neutral colors as a canvas and accent with happy, light, and bright colors like yellow, lavender, and rose. This is bound to look great and not draw too much attention to you.



Seasonal Colors in Fashion – When to Wear Which Colors

Colors You Should Avoid Wearing to A Wedding

As a general rule for wedding guests, one should never try to be the center of attention. As such, you should shy away from wearing overly bright or out-of-place colors, in addition to the bride and groom’s main colors, black and white.

Black may be acceptable if the wedding is a highly formal event, but white is never suitable (as what is known as a canvas color). Only the bride wears white, signifying her purity and the joy of this momentous occasion.

Obviously, if you’re wearing a suit and tie, you are allowed to wear a white shirt. This goes without saying… By the way, white is one of the best colors to wear to hide sweat stains (just saying).

Again, if the bride and groom have not supplied you with color guidelines, you can safely choose any of the colors we’ve outlined above, based on location, formality, and the time of year.

As always, make your selection with subtlety and formality in mind.

Here are some other colors you should generally try to avoid when attending a wedding. They include white (never wear white), shades of off-white or ivory (too close to white), entirely black (it’s not a funeral), entirely red, or overly gold or sparkly metallic colors.

Each of these colors has the potential to draw the focus away from the bride and groom and onto you, which no one wants.

Colors to Wear as a Wedding Guest (And What to Avoid) — COLORBUX (8)

In addition to these colors, you should avoid wearing the same color as the bridesmaid or groomsmen parties, and don’t wear the same colors as the parents of the bride and groom. The color of their outfits will usually be coordinated so all are uniform, and if you show up wearing one of those colors, it could cause unnecessary confusion.

You should also try to keep the coloring of your attire on the simple side. You don’t want to draw attention to yourself with too many flashy/strange patterns or clashing colors, for example. We highlight 10 rules you should follow when putting together an outfit with color in mind in this article.

What The Experts Say

Despite the seemingly simple nature of this discussion, color and psychology experts have also weighed in on what colors should and should not be worn to weddings and why that may be.

We’re going to explore the rich history behind wedding customs, where they came from, and why color is so important at weddings today.

To start, in Clare Finnell’s dissertation on the subject entitled “A History and Analysis of Weddings and Wedding Planning,” she goes into great detail on the origins of current cultural traditions for Western weddings.

Originally, the idea of the traditional western wedding originated in Medieval Europe. Finnell explains that “At the time, what we now think of as a ‘wedding’ was typically just a nice feast, not necessarily even one with decorations or special outfits unless the couple was very wealthy, in which case occasionally new or matching outfits would be worn for the wedding during this time period.”

As Finnell stated, color was not even an issue in early Western weddings. So, when did it become so important?

Indeed, the major concern of early weddings was security. Finnell goes on to explain that the groomsmen were originally knights whose job it was to protect the bride from potential kidnappings. Thankfully we (usually) don’t have to worry about that in modern times.

Colors to Wear as a Wedding Guest (And What to Avoid) — COLORBUX (9)

Color did not become a key consideration in Western weddings until the Victorian era, where members of the aristocracy became hugely concerned not with safety, but with how much beauty they could bring to their weddings.

This sparked the requirement of color coordination among the bride and groom’s guests. Wearing the wrong color could deeply offend the marrying parties, which may have hurt the offender’s social standing.

While this is similar to today’s wedding climate, the ostracization one might face by wearing the wrong color to a modern wedding pales in comparison to what one may face in a Victorian-era wedding.

Here we see the most influence on modern-day weddings, with formal bridal and grooms’ parties, a color and dress code, and lavish decorations and feasts. We can thank the Victorian era for many of the traditions held by modern-day Western weddings.

Final Thoughts

When attending a wedding as a guest, the last thing you want to do is offend anybody. Wearing the wrong color is one way you might offend the wedding party, as strange as it may seem.

In order to avoid this situation, follow the tips we’ve outlined here for picking a color to wear.

If the bride and groom do not make requirements for the dress code readily apparent, tend towards the side of dark or muted, cool colors. You will hardly ever go wrong by choosing gray, tan, beige, or brown, along with muted shades of green or blue.

And remember above all other colors, stay away from white. This includes varying shades of white or off-white and ivory, as they will be close enough to the color that the bride will probably be wearing.

Obviously, it’s fine to wear a white shirt underneath an otherwise dark suit but please – we cannot overstate this enough – do NOT wear a pure white suit/dress as a wedding guest.

Make your selection with careful consideration, and good luck with all your wedding-attending endeavors!



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What Colours should wedding guests avoid? ›

Steer clear of off-white, eggshell, beige, champagne, cream, or any other super light color that could be mistaken for white. There are so many dress options available in a variety of hues, so steering clear of these shades should not be a major issue.

What means something you should never wear as a wedding guest? ›

It doesn't matter if the dress code requests "casual" attire; jeans, T-Shirts, shorts, and sneakers are never appropriate to wear as a wedding guest. Show respect for the bride and groom by dressing formally.

Is it rude to wear the wedding colors as a guest? ›

The wedding colours are for the wedding party, not guests

Unless you're in that bridal party, you'd be best to steer clear of trying to match them. Think of it a bit like a stage show. The actors, in this case the bridal party, all wear the same colour to identify themselves as being in the cast.

Can you tell your wedding guests what color to wear? ›

Yes, you can definitely ask your wedding guests to wear a certain color! This is a great way to help tie your wedding together and create a cohesive look. Plus, it can be really fun for your guests to get to dress up in their best duds!

Why can't guests wear red to weddings? ›

“Tradition dictates guests avoid wearing red out of fear that it could take attention away from the happy couple,” explains Hurwitz. “Visually, it's quite bold. In a photo, your eye is immediately drawn to the color, especially if it's next to neutrals like white, black, gray, or beige.”

How do you ask guests to wear neutral colors to a wedding? ›

Alongside your attire, try something along the lines of, “Please indulge us by dressing in white, if you don't mind.” Or, you could try something like, “Our theme colors are neutrals and near neutrals, like shades of beige, baby pink, and sage green.

What is inappropriate to wear as a wedding guest? ›

Avoid sequined dresses and any clothing that will draw attention away from the bride. A wedding isn't the proper time to make a bold fashion statement. Ditch your everyday jeans and tee. Even if the wedding initiation says “casual”, wearing sneakers, t-shirts, shorts, and jeans are never appropriate for a wedding.

What is an inappropriate dress for a wedding guest? ›

Therefore, there is an expectation that the colors white, ivory or cream are reserved for the Bride." She added: "It is generally deemed inappropriate for guests to wear white to a wedding so [as] not to upstage the Bride and draw attention to yourself and away from the couple."

What is something nice to wear to a wedding as a guest? ›

Formal: floor length gowns, tuxedos optional, black suits acceptable. Semi-Formal: below the knee dresses, dress shirts, slacks. Casual: sundresses, collared shirts, khakis.

What can you never wear as a wedding guest? ›

Too casual

Even if you have been told the affair will be casual, shorts and t-shirt are never okay. Neither is denim or sweats. So avoid, avoid, avoid! It's not hard to throw on some slacks and a shirt, even if end up rolling the sleeves up after a while.

Is it disrespectful to wear black to a wedding? ›

As a general rule, "wearing black is totally acceptable, as the hue is very versatile," Sabatino affirms. However, you should avoid wearing white unless you are told otherwise. That shade, she says, is reserved exclusively for the bride.

How do you tell guests what color to wear? ›

If you're going to request a certain dress code or color from your guests, be upfront about this from the beginning. That means notifying them of this on the invitation or even the save the date. This gives guests time to find an appropriate outfit or bow out if they're not able to follow it.

Is it OK to wear red to a wedding? ›

Be respectful- as mentioned above you should be mindful of the cultural beliefs of the couple when choosing what colour to wear to the wedding. Not only this but if you are wearing red, there are ways to play it down and not go out of your way stand out as this could be perceived as disrespectful to the couple.

Is it OK to wear a dress to a wedding that is the same color as the bridesmaids? ›

Lizzie Post, host of the podcast Awesome Etiquette from the Emily Post Institute, says that no guest should ever feel embarrassed if they happen to wear the same color as the bridesmaids, but they can ask in advance what the colors will be if they're concerned about it.

What colors should family wear to a wedding? ›

A good option here would be to ask your family to dress in neutral colors. Tans, whites, blacks, greys. There are so many awesome options in this neutral colors! And they will all look nice and coordinated!

Can you wear fuchsia to a wedding? ›

It's considered to be a fun and playful shade, and it'll prove to be the highlight of your wedding palette. Feminine and striking, fuchsia is a great alternative if you're looking for a bright color to punch up a neutral or subdued color palette, too.

Can you wear pink to a wedding? ›

Is pink appropriate for a wedding?” There's no rule here, but it depends on the shade of pink. While dark pinks and light reds are appropriate, blush and other shades of light pink have a chance of looking too similar to the bridesmaids, or getting washed out and looking white in photos.

Can you wear floral white to a wedding? ›

"According to the Emily Post Institute, it's acceptable to wear white, as long as it doesn't 'distract from the bride or her attendant's dresses.

What should female guest wear to a wedding? ›

Women should wear a formal floor-length gown that does not reveal the ankles at the hem of the dress, but if the wedding seems a bit less formal, a sophisticated cocktail dress may also be acceptable. Women may also wear elegant pantsuits. Men must wear a tuxedo.

What is a neutral colour dress code? ›

In fashion, neutral colours are considered to be those that lack any or have a small amount of colour. Those are black, white, grey, beige, brown and navy. All of these colours, except black, have different shades.

What does neutral colors mean for a wedding? ›

Neutral colors look very elegant and romantic and fit into just about any style wedding. Having a neutral wedding is the best choice for those romantic brides who want natural and unfussy looks for their wedding parties. Colors like beige, ivory, cream, blush and light grey stand the test of time.

Can I wear sparkly shoes to a wedding? ›

For brides and wedding guests that ask “can I wear sparkly shoes to a wedding” wonder no more. Yes! Sparkling shoes often add interest, joy and energy to an ensemble, all of which are great attributes for weddings.

Should you wear nylons to a wedding? ›

The truth is, as the mother-of-the-groom, you can wear whatever you want to the ceremony. While it's not required to wear pantyhose to weddings, we highly encourage you to look and feel fabulous for the occasion. Thigh highs are a glamorous way to help you reach this goal.

Can I wear silver to a wedding? ›

To stay on the safe side, we recommend avoiding ensembles that are predominantly gold or champagne-colored. Even pale silver can feel bridal, so avoid this hue as well, if possible.

What to wear to a wedding when dress code is not specified? ›

Your best bet is cocktail attire. Sure, you might be overdressed if it ends up being a more relaxed affair, but you'll fit right in at a cocktail attire party, and (with the right accessories) can easily dress up for something on the more formal side. Women should opt for a dress in a luxe fabric, such as silk.

Can you wear a blazer over a dress to a wedding? ›

A Fancy Blazer

And you can always go super classic in a tuxedo-style blazer. A wool one like Allie Provost did here is great but love that she opted to coordinate it with her dress instead of just grabbing a black one. A fun and fancy blazer would be great for a cocktail dress code, or semi-formal.

Can I wear pants to a wedding as a guest? ›

Yes, of course, you can! Whether a man or woman, you should feel free to wear pants or jumpsuits to a wedding as a guest. Just be sure to avoid anything too casual, like denim or athleisure wear. And make sure your outfit is still appropriate for the formality of the wedding.

What is wedding guest list etiquette? ›

Traditionally, no matter who's paying for your event, you should split your wedding guest list into three parts: one-third are guests of the bride's parents, one-third are guests of the groom's, and the rest are guests of the couple.

What casual stuff to wear to a wedding? ›

"When it says casual, men could show up in pants and a blazer with no tie—or maybe not a jacket at all—but just a nice shirt and a pair of slacks. Women can wear a nice sundress or dress, a jumpsuit or a two-piece outfit," says Julie Sabatino, a bridal stylist and founder of The Stylish Bride.

What do you wear to a 4pm outdoor wedding? ›

In general, daytime weddings are more casual, so lighter fabrics, festive colors, and less-formal attire is the rule. What is this? For women, a nice daytime dress, skirt, top, or jumpsuit are good choices. For men, a well-tailored suit in a mid-to-dark neutral color like gray, blue, or charcoal is appropriate.

What can wedding guests wear in their hair? ›

You certainly can wear hair accessories to a wedding - but make sure they reflect the theme of the day and they don't detract from other members of the wedding party, e.g. the bride. Subtle, diamante clips, pearl-studded slides and anything which looks classy and discreet should be fine.

Can you wear a white dress to a wedding if you re not a virgin? ›

However, nowadays, the idea that you must be 'pure' in order to wear a white dress is rather outdated. Many brides choose to wear white on their wedding day, even if they aren't a virgin, or even if they have children already. These days, white is merely chosen because it's traditional.

Can I show my stomach at a wedding? ›

Showing some skin at a wedding is fine as long as decorum is maintained. Showing miles of midriff at your friend's wedding isn't the way to go. Save it for a Saturday night or a day out with your friends, but be careful with the flesh you show on their wedding day.

Is it unlucky to wear green to a wedding? ›

10. Don't Go with Green. Although green wedding dresses are supposed to be trendy in 2020, they're originally considered a bad idea. Getting married in green is said to bring bad luck.

What should I wear to a 5pm wedding? ›

A morning wedding typically calls for casual dress, while a ceremony after 5 p.m. generally calls for formal attire.

Can you wear a long dress to a wedding? ›

For a more formal wedding, it is typically expected that female guests wear a long dress. But instead of breaking out the gown you wore to prom, try wearing a more appropriate evening gown. If the wedding is during the day, a pretty maxi dress should do the trick.

What is the 3 colour rule outfit? ›

One formula I've found helpful to add color while still looking chic and put-together is the 3-color rule. Aim for 3 colors in an outfit, and yes, your neutrals count. Above, I've used 3 colors: tan/camel for the pants and shoes, red sweater, and light peach blazer. (My personal preference is 2 neutrals + 1 color.

What is the most inviting color? ›

Green is warm and inviting, lending customers a pleasing feeling and creating impressions of wealth. It increases open-minded thinking among your customers.

What color to wear to stand out in a crowd? ›

Warm and Bright Colors

Oranges and yellows look great on some people, especially with a suntan. They're also loud colors that show confidence. Dig in your closet for anything that is orange, yellow or even brown.

What does the color red mean in wedding? ›

Red: The colour of strength, health, and vitality. Red can also be symbolic of an increased enthusiasm or interest, confidence to pursue your dreams, and can symbolise power and passion.

Why is red important for weddings? ›

Red symbolises love, commitment, strength and bravery. These associations with the colour red come from Hindu religious beliefs. Red is often connected to Durga, a warrior goddess who symbolises strength and power. It is also associated with the stunning sunrises that spring to mind when you think of India.

Can you wear burgundy to a summer wedding? ›

Burgundy Works in Any Season

Let's be super clear about this: Burgundy is not just a fall wedding color. Sure, it may be perfect for a fall or winter color palette, but you can wear burgundy any time of year!

Is there a color you shouldn't wear to a wedding? ›

Steer clear of off-white, eggshell, beige, champagne, cream, or any other super light color that could be mistaken for white. There are so many dress options available in a variety of hues, so steering clear of these shades should not be a major issue.

What is the best color to wear to a wedding? ›

A: The best color for you to wear to a wedding depends on the time of day and what kind of event the wedding is. If it's early in the day, stick to lighter colors like white or light blue. If it's later in the day, go with darker colors like black or navy blue.

Can mother of bride and mother of groom wear same color dress? ›

Because the mother of the groom isn't part of the bridal party, she should avoid choosing a dress in the same color as the bridesmaids' attire, the mother of the bride's dress, or the wedding gown.

What color do parents wear at wedding? ›

Try blues, greens, purples, and neutrals such as navy, emerald, plum, or silver. These versatile—and universally flattering—palettes make it easy for mothers of the bride and groom to harmonize. With pale green and blue hues, we love silvery shades for Mom, while jewel tones pair well with other rich colors.

What colors mean at a wedding? ›

Seven Colors with Hidden Meanings to Include in Your Wedding Color Scheme
  • Red – Passion, Love, Drama, Energy, Dominance. ...
  • Pink – Soft, Sweet, Feminine, Romance. ...
  • Blue – Tranquil, Balance, Serenity, Sadness. ...
  • Purple – Royalty, Luxury, Power, Mystery. ...
  • Orange – Excitement, Youth, Warmth.
Jul 10, 2019

What colors not to wear to a wedding red? ›

You should avoid white because that color is typically reserved for the bride.

What not to wear to a wedding? ›

What Not To Wear To A Wedding
  • White. This is one of the unbroken, unspoken rules of wedding attendees. ...
  • Trainers Or Unbearable Heels. ...
  • Anything Too Tight Or Too Short. ...
  • Jeans. ...
  • All Black. ...
  • Anything Too Loud. ...
  • A Ball Gown.

Can I wear floral to a wedding? ›

Can I wear a floral pattern to a wedding? Yes! A floral print outfit is an appropriate and stylish choice for all seasons and types of weddings.

Is black OK to wear to a wedding? ›

As a general rule, "wearing black is totally acceptable, as the hue is very versatile," Sabatino affirms. However, you should avoid wearing white unless you are told otherwise. That shade, she says, is reserved exclusively for the bride.

Can I wear bright colors to a wedding? ›

Overly bright hues are among the colors not to wear to a wedding, because again, you don't want to steal the spotlight from the newlyweds. Wearing neon colors will seem like you're trying to grab attention—definitely not cool.

What do female guests wear to weddings? ›

Women should wear a formal floor-length gown that does not reveal the ankles at the hem of the dress, but if the wedding seems a bit less formal, a sophisticated cocktail dress may also be acceptable. Women may also wear elegant pantsuits. Men must wear a tuxedo.

Can you wear navy to a wedding? ›

Navy is a classic neutral that you can rely on for all dress codes and types of wedding attire. This shade pairs particularly well with evening celebrations as well as black tie, formal and semi-formal nuptials.

Can I wear pink to a wedding? ›

Is pink appropriate for a wedding?” There's no rule here, but it depends on the shade of pink. While dark pinks and light reds are appropriate, blush and other shades of light pink have a chance of looking too similar to the bridesmaids, or getting washed out and looking white in photos.

Do fake flowers look good for wedding? ›

Using fake flowers or plants for a wedding is not tacky at all as long as you select high-quality artificial plants that look just as natural as the real ones. In fact, high-quality faux plants or flowers can even make your wedding appear more elegant while stretching the dollar.

Can you wear a white dress with flowers to a wedding as a guest? ›

Never! "The bride may or may not wear white (maybe ivory, maybe champagne) but it's her color for that day. You don't want to be mistaken for the bride in a white or lace gown," Brandi Hamerstone, owner and wedding planner at All Events Planned, says.

What side does a woman wear a wedding flower? ›

Ladies wear a button hole / corsage on their right

And this is the bit most people don't know. Ladies wear the flower differently to the men, on the opposite side. But it doesn't stop there – a lady should have the flowers pointing downwards. So the stem should be pointing towards her shoulder.


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