Unwritten rules for weddings: what to wear?

Unwritten rules for weddings: what to wear?

Find out what you can wear and what's no-go when dressing for a wedding

If there’s a celebration we love, it’s a wedding. The thought of spending a whole day celebrating the wedding couple and their love for each other is wonderful. It’s a big day for both of them, so it’s only natural to want to get dressed up for the special day.

But how much should you really be making of yourself and your outfit - and how? Can you wear a white dress? What about red? And how long should your dress be? We give you the answers to the unwritten rules about what you can wear to a wedding.

Find your way around the rules

For the classic wedding that the host couple will have spent several months planning, it’s nice for wedding guests to show that they’ve made an effort and have been looking forward to celebrating them and their big day. But how do you go about finding just the right plus-size dress for a wedding? Can you wear a black dress to a wedding? What does a red dress at a wedding mean? We can help you answer these questions.

What should you wear to a wedding?

The general rule of thumb is that as a guest, you shouldn’t try to divert the attention from the wedding couple. Your outfit should be festive, but there are also unwritten rules as to which colours you shouldn’t wear. It can also be helpful to think about the time of year or how long the celebrations will last so that you can find an outfit that’s comfortable to wear throughout the day.

Consider your choice of colours

Let’s take a closer look at some traditions regarding colours so you can avoid buying a dress that can’t be worn to the upcoming nuptials. Not all bridal couples care about these traditions, so it’s a good idea to ask the couple if you’re in doubt about what you can wear.

Can you wear white to a wedding?

The short answer is: no. The unwritten rule about the colour white is quite simple; the white dress is reserved for the bride, and as a female guest you should avoid an outfit in white altogether. To make the bride feel special, only she can wear white on her wedding day.

Can you wear black to a wedding?

Black is no-go for a wedding. In a wedding context, black is associated with sadness, which is the opposite of the feeling a wedding should evoke. If you do choose to wear the classic colour on a skirt, for example, you should combine it with a top in a different colour or vice versa - as long as you don't wear all black.

Can you wear red to a wedding?

You might think that red would be good for a romantic celebration, like a wedding, but in fact you should avoid it. They say that a red dress signals that you are the groom's mistress, or that you want to seduce him. However, more and more wedding guests are accepting red - but check with the bride and groom before you show up in a red dress.

Avoid attracting attention

Once you know what colours to avoid, you’re well on your way to a successful wedding outfit. There’s just one more important rule of thumb which is, as a female guest, you shouldn’t try to outshine the bride’s dress and attract too much attention.

This means you should avoid dresses that are too short, too sheer or very low-cut. It can be hard to know if the dress you’ve been thinking about is too much, so it may be a good idea to ask the bride. After all, it’s her and her partner’s celebration.

Tips for a good wedding outfit

Even though there are several traditions and unwritten rules you need to take into account when you need to find a wedding outfit, there are plenty of options.

To sum up the traditions and boil them down to what you can wear rather than what you can’t, it’s best to go for a dress in muted tones that hits below the knee and isn’t too flashy.

The dance-friendly dress

Midi dresses are typically cut to around the knee and are therefore a great fit for the dress length rule when you’re a guest at a wedding. A midi dress creates a feminine, light and gorgeous look, and best of all, its comfortable length allows you to dance the night away without worrying about stepping on the dress. A midi dress is a good idea if you’re going to a summer wedding, where the temperature could be on the warmer side.

A long dress for both summer and winter

A great choice for a wedding is a maxi dress. They’re available in countless colours and shapes, and the length of the maxi dress makes it especially elegant. This way, you can be dressed beautifully without it being too much. Style a long dress with elegant jewellery and stiletto heels or tone down the look with a pair of flat sandals and natural makeup. 

Party colours

There are colours you should avoid, but there are also plenty of colours you’re welcome to wear. A wedding is a great opportunity to wear a colourful dress – but be careful not to dress too colourfully and take attention away from the bride. Go for a summery and feminine look, such as in a blue lace dress, a floral dress or a pink pleated dress.

Shapewear with a focus on the body’s details

Once you find the perfect dress, you might also want to get your hands on some good shapewear. Shapewear creates a beautiful silhouette and is perfect to wear underneath a dress without compromising on comfort. With a shapewear dress or a pair of shapewear shorts, your gorgeous dress will come into its own.

Dress alternatives

If long dresses aren’t your cup of tea, you can of course dress up in a pair of stylish suit trousers with a pretty top or a classic shirt. You can also swap the trousers for a skirt or perhaps hop into a cool jumpsuit.

Season and comfort

Whether you decide on a dress, a suit or something else, it’s a good idea to have the season in mind. If it’s a summer wedding, it may be a good idea to go with an outfit in lighter fabrics, while a winter wedding invites a warmer look.

Last but not least, remember that weddings can go on for many hours, so it’s a good idea to choose an outfit that it’s comfortable to wear for a long time.

The best fit

Whether you choose a long dress, a coloured dress or another type of party dress, it’s always a good idea to pay attention to the fit. Depending on the type of figure you have, there are different styles of fit that complement your body best.

Add the finishing touch with accessories

Once you have your outfit sorted, you can think about whether to add accessories to add the finishing touch.

For example, if you’ve chosen a dress in a neutral colour, you can add a pair of colourful stilettos, and if you think a little something is missing, jewellery or hair accessories can always spice up an outfit.

A stylish hairstyle and gorgeous makeup can complete any look, and if you’re up for it, you can choose colourful party makeup. 

Have fun!