The Do’s And Don’ts Of Wedding Guest Attire — And What Works For Every Dress Code

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Summer is fast approaching and with it, wedding season. If you’re fretting about what to wear to an upcoming wedding, never fear. We’ve done the research for you, no matter the tricky dress code, location or theme of the nuptials, we’ve noted all the do’s and don’ts of wedding guest attire (including whether you can wear black or not).

Below, we break down your biggest wedding outfit related questions. 

What should you wear to every wedding?

Every wedding will have its own dress code, dependent on the venue and personal choice of the bride and groom. Take note of the dress code in the invitation. If there’s no dress code listed, be sure to ask the bride what attire she’d like you to wear, so as not to arrive under or over-dressed. 

Are there specific rules for women as wedding guests?

Again, it comes back to the bride and groom’s preference, so be sure to as them for a specific dress code to guide your choices. 

What do you wear to a wedding when a dress code isn’t specified?

If a dress code hasn’t been specified and the bride and groom have given people free reign, start by looking up the venue. If it’s something laidback (say, a beach), then you can wear something flowy and slightly more casual. If it’s been held at an upscale restaurant, opt for a mid-length dress and heels, leaning into the smart casual dress code. 

Carey Mulligan and Marcus Mumford shone at the Royal Wedding

Are there rules on what to wear to a wedding?

Old-school ‘rules’ about what you can and can’t wear aren’t really as strict as they once were. For example, it’s now considered appropriate to wear black or even bright colours. The biggest rules to remember are to not wear a white dress, to keep your outfit modest (read: not super short or low cut) and avoid baring too much skin, and most importantly to adhere to any dress code rules set by the bride and groom, out of respect for their special day. 

What colours shouldn’t you wear to weddings?

You can wear almost any colour you’d like! Although, it’s preferable to steer away from bright, neon colours and opt for more classic, solid colours if you’re looking to go for something a little bolder. The one rule which has persistently stood the test of time, is to avoid wearing white, as you never want to be accused of trying to upstage the bride! That being said, Victoria Beckham wore white to her friend’s wedding, but in her defence, the theme was black and white. 

Is it OK to wear black to a wedding?

Absolutely! Times really have changed when it comes to wedding guest attire, so depending on the code and how traditional the wedding is, you can definitely wear black (in fact, some weddings even call for it). 

What about white or red?

When it comes to black and red, absolutely! However, white to a wedding is still a bit of a no-go zone. If in doubt, don’t be afraid to reach out to other guests to get a feel for the mood. Or just send a quick message to the man/maid of honour or bride/groom like Cara Delevingne did ahead of wearing a tuxedo suit to Princess Eugenie’s wedding.

Emma Roberts donned a black gown to the wedding of Paris Hilton

What are good choices when selecting a wedding outfit?

Dress codes can vary significantly depending on the kind of wedding reception you’re attending – a white tie or black tie affair is likely for church or destination weddings, however, lounge suit, cocktail and even smart casual could appear if the bride and groom – and their event – is more laid-back, think a beach wedding or backyard BBQ. 

What not to wear? 

We’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts below, so you’ll know exactly what you can – and can’t – wear to an upcoming wedding. 

Cara Delevingne broke Princesss Eugenie’s wedding dress code, but text her to make sure it was okay first

1. Don’t Wear White

Although most people would be fine with guests wearing any other colour (including black!), you don’t want to run the risk of upstaging (or being accused of) the bride. 

2. Do Wear Black

The times have changed when it comes to wedding etiquette and most couples wouldn’t bat an eyelid – or think it was rude – if their guests chose to wear black to their nuptials, whether they fall in summer or winter. However, there are still a few things worth considering, head here for our official guide on wearing black to a wedding

Jessica Alba wore black to Eva Longoria’s wedding

3. Do Experiment With Colour

No one wants to mistake a wedding guest for someone attending a funeral! Bright colours look great in wedding photos and makes it look like you’ve gone to an added effort with your outfit for the day. Bonus points if you’re boarding a boat to George Clooney’s wedding, a la Emily Blunt. 

Emily Blunt wore a stunning blue dress for George and Amal Clooney’s wedding

4. Don’t Wear Anything Too Short

Modern as the bride and groom may be, a wedding is still a wedding and it pays to stay on the safe side. Or, if you’d prefer something a little different, a jumpsuit or a pantsuit are other options.

Sophie Turner’s outfit for ‘Game of Thrones’ costar Kit Harington’s wedding was certainly eye-catching

5. Do Colour Coordinate 

Have a little fun with your plus one and coordinate outfits. It’ll make for an easy conversation starter and look great in photographs, too. 

Amal and George Clooney coordinated the yellow in their outfits for the royal wedding

6. Don’t Show Too Much Skin

Remember that people’s family members will be at the wedding and regardless of whether you want something that you can party in at the reception, it always pays to stay on the safe side regarding both hem lengths and dress styles. 

David Grutman’s wedding saw many stars opt for skin-heavy outfits

7. Do Adhere To The Dress Code

It’s your loved ones Big Day and what they say goes! Even if it means popping out to buy a headpiece or a wand (for any Harry Potter themed weddings).

All women were required a wear a headpiece to the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Five failsafe wedding guest dresses


Mariel Trapeze Midi Dress, $495 at Aje 


Chiara Dress, $749 from Rebecca Vallance


Lover Zahra Midi Dress, $400 at The Iconic 


Marji Dress, $990 at Rachel Gilbert 


Zimmermann Asymmetric Wrap Dress, $1,230 at Net-A-Porter 

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