Is it okay to wear white to a wedding?


Fact Box

  • In Western culture, the bride traditionally wears white from head-to-toe white on the wedding day. Britannica notes that many societies consider white to be a symbol of purity and virtue, especially for bridal wear.
  • In a 2018 Brides American Wedding Study, 83% of brides chose traditional white or off-white wedding dresses, which was slightly less than the previous year (92%).
  • The Knot recommends guests should keep away from wearing predominantly white, cream, or ivory to avoid upstaging or upsetting the bride.
  • If the wedding invite requests an all-white dress code, it is not considered a faux pas to wear white.
  • According to Anthropologie, guests are not frowned upon wearing white as an accent color, such as in prints that have a hint of white or ivory or a classic black-and-white dress.

Elisa (Yes)

In an age where nearly anything goes, it is surprising that old-fashioned wedding rules remain. The rule about not wearing white to a wedding exists only so one or many guests don't compete with the bride. But many weddings do not follow the same traditions as they used to, and there are ways to wear white to a wedding that won't offend anyone. One can wear a short, white, more casual look, choose a distinctive shape, add a print, wear white trousers, or load up on accessories. There are creative and subtle ways to wear white without outshining the bride. 

There are many 'outdated' wedding traditions, and since the times have changed, so have wedding protocols. While wearing white to a traditional wedding may have once been shocking, many choose far from traditional weddings anymore. Millennials, specifically, have ditched traditional weddings, resulting in the 'casualization of wedding dresses.'  

To add to this point, not every bride chooses to wear white, as different-colored dresses have grown in popularity. Your best bet is to ask the bride what she is comfortable with. As long as you are not upstaging her, many brides will not mind guests wearing white. They may even choose white bridesmaid dresses for their party. 

Many brides choose a theme that may entail wearing white so the old taboo can be broken. Besides, wearing light, flowy, and even white garments is acceptable when it comes to keeping cool and fresh, especially in hot summer events. Simply put, 'old-fashioned is out,' and white is alright for wedding guests—most of the time, anyway.

Gina (No)

Wearing white has been a long-held tradition. Although cultural beliefs and customs differ from family to family, one thing remains sound: white is meant exclusively for the bride. Even if there is no ideology present, wearing white allows the bride to be distinguished from the guests.

Although a marriage is about two people coming together as one, a wedding ceremony typically focuses on the bride. The famous song played at many weddings as the bride comes down the aisle ('Here comes the bride, all dressed in white') emphasizes this fact. The bride is the focal point of the wedding; wearing white as a guest inadvertently diverts attention away from the bride. Likewise, and more practically speaking, wedding celebrations include a ton of eating, drinking, and dancing, so it can be incredibly difficult to avoid spills. With color, you have a better chance of hiding those stains. 

Weddings are ceremonial and often drenched in rituals. Guests are expected to adhere to a particular set of formalities and a code of conduct. Some cultures believe that wearing white as a guest to a wedding can bring bad luck or negative energy to the couple. With all the colors of the rainbow and more to choose from, wearing white to a wedding can send the message to the bride that you are trying to upstage her. This can be very insulting, whether it is your intention or not, as it can be perceived as a display of disrespect. Putting morals aside, you can count on many photos being taken at the wedding, which will be viewed for generations to come. It's best not to be remembered as the person who clashed with the bride.

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