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Dressing for a Wedding: Why You Can’t Wear White as a Guest

A photo of a man with two women, who are wearing white dresses that both look like wedding gowns, went viral on the internet. At first, you may think the photo was taken at a lovely lesbian wedding. It turns out, one of the women was the bride, and the other was a guest. People online called out the guest for her choice of attire.

It usually takes some time for women to find the right bridal gown for their special day. As a guest, you wouldn’t want to “steal her thunder,” as Monica Geller (“Friends”) once quipped. To wear white as a guest at a wedding is already social faux pas, but to wear a design that looks like bridal wear is even more unnerving.

Why is a White Dress Off-Limits?

Unless the bride specifically asked you to wear white on her wedding day, forget about wearing that white cocktail dress you just bought for the wedding. Even if you wear non-white accessories to add color to your dress, it won’t change the fact you’re wearing a white dress.

Wedding experts say wearing white to a wedding is disrespectful. You’ll give other guests the impression that you’re trying to draw attention to yourself and taking it away from the bride. The bride should shine on her big day.

So how can you dress appropriately to someone else’s wedding?

What to Wear as a Wedding Guest

wedding guests

Couples usually indicate their preferred dress code on the invitations. Follow it because that is the gracious thing to do. Also, the dress code prevents you from shopping without a map for your outfit. Do you wear a casual day dress or cocktail attire? Is it black-tie or will any GQ magazine-worthy suit do?

For some guidance on what dress codes mean, consider the following:

  • Black tie optional or formal – in this type of event, you can wear a formal cocktail dress, a long gown, or a dressy tailored suit, especially if the wedding will take place in the morning.
  • White tie – this means the event will be strictly formal. You can wear a full-length ball gown with or without gloves.
  • Cocktail attire – for this type of dress code, you can wear an elegant dress that falls between formal and casual. Avoid dressing like you’re going to a club as much as possible.
  • Smart-casual attire – this option is more laid back, but it doesn’t mean you can wear anything you want. Instead, opt for a pretty blouse and a pair of dressy trousers or a summer dress, depending on the theme of the wedding.

In some cases, couples don’t indicate their preferred dress code, which makes dressing up trickier for the guests. Use your best judgment for this kind of scenario. A cocktail dress or a full-length jumpsuit paired with high-heeled pumps is a safe choice. The right pair of heels will make or break your look.

When it comes to colors, take a hint from the theme of the wedding or the current season. For summer weddings, you can go for short dresses in orange, purple, and pink colors. Longer ruby, emerald, and blue dresses are ideal for winter weddings.

Weddings are a perfect occasion to dress up. But it’s your responsibility as a guest to wear appropriate attire to avoid any conflicts that may ruin the couple’s special day. Regardless of how much you love the silhouette of your new white dress, save it for other occasions where it would be more appropriate.

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