What Colors Not to Wear to a Wedding: Etiquette and Style Tips

Discover the colors traditionally considered inappropriate to wear at weddings to ensure you choose an outfit that’s respectful and appropriate for the occasion.

Key takeaways:

  • Avoid wearing white or ivory to avoid upstaging the bride.
  • Don’t wear the same color as the bridal party to avoid confusion.
  • Steer clear of denim as it is too casual for a wedding.
  • Follow formal wedding attire guidelines for a polished look.
  • Consider the season when choosing your wedding attire.

White or Ivory

white or ivory

Steer clear of white, ivory, and even off-white dresses, as these shades are traditionally reserved for the bride. It’s her special day to stand out, and wearing these colors can be misconstrued as an attempt to upstage her.

While some modern weddings may have a more relaxed approach, it’s best to err on the side of caution and opt for a different hue. If you’re longing for a light color, consider pastels or other neutral tones that won’t compete with the bridal gown.

Remember, the focus should be on celebrating the couple rather than drawing attention to your attire.

The Same Color As the Bridal Party

To avoid blending in with the bridal party or stepping on the toes of tradition, it’s wise to steer clear of the hues they’re sporting. Often, this information can be gleaned from the wedding invitation or by simply reaching out to the couple or a close relative for insights on their color scheme.

If you end up wearing a shade similar to the bridesmaids or groomsmen, you might inadvertently appear as an attempt-to-be member of the bridal party. This can lead to awkward moments, especially during photographs or in interactions with other guests who might mistake your role in the festivities.

When in doubt, opt for neutral shades or complementary colors that differ sufficiently from the chosen palette of the bridal party. This will ensure you respect the couple’s carefully selected aesthetic, and allow the bridal party to shine as intended on this special day.


Steering clear of denim at weddings is a nod to the event’s formality. Jeans, regardless of color or style, are traditionally associated with casual outings, not a special occasion like a wedding.

Even “dressy” jeans can come across as too laid-back and may appear disrespectful to the significance of the day.

Opt instead for slacks, a dress, a skirt, or dressy shorts in a fabric like cotton, silk, or linen for a look that honors the couple’s milestone.

If the invitation specifies a casual dress code, consider khakis or chinos as a polished alternative to denim.

Formal Wedding Attire Explained

Navigating the world of formal wedding attire can be a breeze with a few key pointers.

For men, this typically means a tuxedo or a dark suit and tie for evening events, while a morning suit is appropriate for daytime.

For women, a floor-length gown or an elegant cocktail dress fits the bill.

When in doubt, opt for conservative styles and dark, solid colors to maintain the formality of the occasion.

If the invitation specifies “black tie,” this is a clear signal that formal attire is required.

Black tie optional” suggests a dark suit or cocktail dress as suitable alternatives.

Always consider the venue and time of day, as these can influence the expected level of formality.

Seasonal Wedding Dress Codes Explained

When dressing for a wedding, consider the season and pick colors that harmonize with the time of year. In spring, embrace pastels like soft blues and pinks. Summer calls for lighter fabrics and vibrant shades—think sunny yellows or coral. Autumnal nuptials pair beautifully with rich, warm tones such as maroon or forest green. For winter weddings, dark, elegant colors like navy or burgundy are appropriate, reflecting the depth of the season. It’s also wise to factor in fabric choices; lighter materials for warmer months and heavier fabrics for colder seasons ensure both comfort and style. Remember, while adhering to seasonal palettes, avoid colors too close to the bride’s and bridesmaids’ dresses to maintain wedding etiquette.

Keep reading: