What Not to Wear to a Wedding

Nazy Rafaeil
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Last updated 7 months ago.

Whether it’s your best friend or a family member, being invited to a wedding is a true honor.

This day is all about the bride and groom, but as a guest, it’s a good idea to dress properly for the occasion.

Before you head out to look for an awesome outfit, check out this guide that will show you what not to wear to a wedding.

You don’t want to become the talk of the town during this huge event in a negative way, so pay close attention, ladies!

Don’t Upstage the Happy Couple

One of the cardinal sins of wedding attire woes is wearing white. You should never wear white to a wedding since this is the bride’s big day, and she’ll likely sport this color.

Even shades like off-white, ivory, or cream should be avoided. In some cases, you should also avoid colors like light blue, too.

If you prefer lighter tones, try a gorgeous dress accented with pastel colors. You want to create some contrast between yourself and the bride on this day.

As for men, the no’s are similar. Never wear a black tuxedo to a wedding unless it’s part of the groomsmen’s attire.

Men should wear a simple suit or blazer when attending a wedding. A good rule of thumb? It’s always better to be overdressed, but you must find a happy medium that won’t overshadow the happy couple.

What Not to Wear to a Wedding: Skimpy Outfits

When choosing proper wedding guest attire, leave short, revealing dresses at home. Try to dress more conservatively and choose a dress or skirt that’s at least knee-length.

If it’s hot outside, you can choose something made from a lighter fabric instead of wearing something revealing. And make sure your evening dress is not too sheer so it’s see-through in the light.

You should also avoid low-cut items that show off your bust area. This is not only offensive but it’s considered tacky, too.

If the wedding is held in a church or other religious place, wear a light shawl or jacket to cover your shoulders. You can always take it off later during the reception so you’re more comfortable.

To avoid sheer fabrics, look for a dress made of satin or chiffon instead. Dresses with a sweetheart neckline will look fabulous while keeping your cleavage covered.

Stay away from dresses with an open back that is much too revealing. You should also try to be sure that your lingerie is not showing no matter what you wear.

Being conservative during a wedding isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also a great way you can show off your classy side. Make sure fabrics aren’t sheer and cleavage is hidden, and you should be golden.

In general, avoid wearing anything that shows too much skin. Remember, this is a formal event, not a club night.

Jeans and a T-Shirt are a No-No

Unless the bride and groom specifically ask you to wear jeans, you should avoid denim altogether. Not only is it disrespectful, but it also gives the appearance that you just don’t care about the big day.

Sure, jeans are comfy, and you’ll feel laid-back when you wear them, but they are not appropriate wedding guest attire. If you prefer to wear pants, wear a pair of tailored trousers and a blouse.

Remembering that it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed when you attend a wedding. This rule also applies to your shoes.

You should also stay away from frumpy items like baggy sweatshirts or sweatpants. Don’t wear any T-shirts, especially those with logos or wording.

Shorts are another item you should never wear to a wedding. Even rompers are considered taboo since they denote a look that’s much too casual. A flowy jumpsuit with a floral print should be acceptable, however.

Never wear tennis shoes or flip-flops unless it’s a beach wedding, and it’s permitted. Avoiding casual clothing and shoes is the golden rule of what not to wear to a wedding.

Stay Away from Black

Again, unless the couple specifies you should wear black, this is a color you should stay away from. Black usually signifies a much more somber event, like a funeral.

No matter what time of the year the wedding is held, you want your clothing to be light and cheery. Black is the opposite of the color you should wear for a happy occasion.

On the other hand, it’s perfectly OK if you want to wear an outfit with a few black accents. Just try to stay away from dresses that are solid black.

Navy blue or dark green are great alternatives to black if you prefer darker hues for your clothing. Red should also be avoided, as many brides find this color offensive to see others wear on their wedding day.

Don’t Go Crazy with Accessories

Sure, you want to look great when you attend a wedding, but that doesn’t mean you need to go overboard. Super-sparky items can be distracting and take away from the bride’s look.

Avoid rhinestones and sequins since they are too much to wear as a guest. Another no-no? Never wear a headpiece like a tiara when you are a wedding guest!

This rule of thumb also applies to your makeup. Keep your look neutral and subtle without donning sparkly eyeshadows and bright, bold lipstick.

Pick out accessories that serve their purpose but remain subtle. A simple handbag and solid-colored shoes will do. Anything too obnoxious could distract other people from the couple’s big day.

Keep hair accessories mellow with a simple hair clip or a headband. Choose a handbag that’s a solid color to match your outfit to keep the look streamlined.

Don’t Compete with the Bridesmaids

The bridal party should be the day’s focus, including the bridesmaids. That means you should avoid wearing a dress that’s in a similar style or color to theirs if you can help it.

Most brides like to wait to reveal the wedding party’s look, but some might tell you which colors they chose. If you’re close to the bride, asking her which color she selected for her bridesmaids can’t hurt.

Let the bride know you’re looking for a nice dress and don’t want it to be in a competing color. If she doesn’t reveal her secrets, take a hint from the invitation.

Many wedding invitations reflect the colors worn and displayed on the big day. An evening gown is always a nice choice, but try to ensure that you wear something in a different cut or length than the bridesmaids.

Funky Prints Don’t Mix

Maybe you love printed attire, and that’s a great way to show off your individuality. However, as a wedding guest, too loud or tacky prints should be avoided.

Animal prints are out as they are too loud and don’t photograph well. Florals are usually fine if the color scheme is flattering and subtle.

Stripes and plaids are other patterns that might not work well for a wedding. Paisley is another print that is certainly too much for most weddings.

If the wedding has a specific theme, such as nautical or boho, you may be able to get away with some prints. Don’t hesitate to ask the couple if they mind when in doubt.

Solid colors are always a sure bet when it comes to wedding guest attire. You can always bring a patterned accessory like a floral purse to offset the solid look.

Rips, Holes, or Tears: No Way

Perhaps you have the perfect dress that’s been sitting in your closet for years, and this wedding is your chance to wear it. Before getting too excited, ensure your clothes are in good condition.

Carefully examine the outfit you want to wear and check it closely for any rips, tears, or holes. Damaged clothing is not just embarrassing for you, but it also exudes a sloppy look in general.

Talk to a local seamstress if you have a nice evening gown you’d love to wear, but it has damage. Most rips can easily be repaired before the wedding, so you don’t have to pay for something new.

This rule goes for the guys as well. Check all sports coats, shirts, and pants for any stains or other damage.

The last thing you want is to get gussied up, only to find out later that your outfit looks sloppy or distressed. If an item is too damaged, it’s best to start fresh and buy a new one.

Athletic Clothing Should Stay at the Gym

Even if you live in leggings, they should never be worn at weddings. Many people love to wear their favorite athleisure pieces, but this is a no-go for formal events.

Athletic clothing includes anything from sweatshirts and sports bras to yoga pants. Simply leave these items at home and save them for gym day.

Unless the couple is super-into fitness and asks their guests to wear gym gear, it’s a no-brainer that you should not wear this type of clothing. Even if you feel uncomfortable in nicer attire, it’s a sign of respect to dress appropriately.

You can always sneak out of the reception early if you feel uncomfortable and change back into your favorite sweats when you get home. Showing up well-dressed is just something you have to do if you’re a wedding guest.

If the reception is deemed “casual” and the couple doesn’t mind what you wear after the ceremony, you might get away with it. Otherwise, leave those yoga pants at home!

No Loud Colors

Maybe you have a bold personality, and wearing bold colors suits your style. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you should sport them on your friend’s wedding day.

Stay away from bright neon hues, as these are almost always guaranteed to clash. Bright green, hot pink and neon orange are all tones you should never wear to a wedding.

If you insist on being bold, go with a bright color that’s a little more subdued. You can still express yourself but don’t want your outfit to clash with the wedding colors.

Even metallics like champagne or gold should be avoided whenever possible. Anything too sparkly is distracting and can take away from the wedding party.

Again, when in doubt, you should always ask the bride about her opinion on your color choices. Keep things simple and subtle, and you should be fine.

Dressing Right for the Big Day

From jeans and a tee to funky prints and revealing dresses, now you know what not to wear to a wedding. Remember to keep things simple and streamlined, and avoid too revealing clothes.

Try on a few evening gowns or other outfits that make you feel good without clashing with the wedding party. Colors like red, black, and metallics should be avoided, as well as loud patterns.

Shop our amazing selection of gorgeous dresses to help you feel fabulous on the big day.

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