Wedding Guests Are Now 'Allowed' to Wear White -- But Should They?

Say What!? 33

wedding guest white dressTracy Reese Persephone Shift dress ($400)It seems like when it comes to some of the most basic rules of the wedding road, you just can't win. So far I've learned that you can pretty much guarantee someone's going to complain about every last detail -- from the time of the ceremony to the type of champagne being served. It's inevitable. But thank goodness for certain traditions that can actually serve to protect a bride from irrationally irate guests. Like when's the last time you heard a wedding guest lament that they couldn't wear white? That's an obvious "no-no," right?

Not anymore! Nationally recognized etiquette expert Diane Gottsman recently wrote, "As long as guests do not upstage the bride or appear to be in competition with her, a winter white or summer cream dress is now considered okay." And she's not the only one with this controversial mentality!

Peggy Post told New York Times readers they only need to worry about not "unintentionally calling attention" or "causing offense to the bride." Hmm ... that said, you'd probably want to play it safe and ... just not wear white, right?! After all, there are plenty of other colors in the rainbow.

More from The Stir: 8 Colorful Wedding Dresses for the Bride Who Doesn't Want White

Okay, so there are definitely less conventional, more "off-beat," or simply laidback brides out there who could care less about a guest wearing white. But honestly, I'm the kind of bride for whom a guest in anything close to "bridal white" would be a problem. Especially because I'm not super-keen on bridal white myself (thinking I'd love it if my wedding dress was champagne or blush), and I wouldn't be too happy with someone looking as though they were trying to duke it out for the spotlight. And that applies to any kind of crazy flashy outfit that would draw extra, unwelcome attention. For instance, I once saw a chick at a black tie wedding in a way less classy, spandex-y get-up reminiscent of JLo's notorious Versace dress. Yes, really. What on earth was that girl thinking?! 

Ultimately, what matters is considering the appropriateness of any outfit for the occasion and what the couple (and crowd -- no one wants to catch an aunt or granny talking smack about you behind your back) would appreciate. A good friend of mine, who had a wedding of about 50, actually asked all of her guests to come to wearing one article of clothing in her wedding colors (yes, even a dress). We guests had fun with it, and the group shot ended up looking awesome.

So, obviously, everyone's different. That's why sometimes, even the most age-old etiquette rules don't apply to every bride and groom. But when it comes to a question of making a move that may steal the show on their Big Day, you shouldn't need to ask Ms. Manners what to do.

How do you feel about guests wearing white to a wedding?


Image via BHLDN.com

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Anony... AnonyMOUSE715

If the bride doesn't want others to wear white, mention it politely in the invite. Otherwise it's fine, unless your clothes are so fancy you question yourself.

nonmember avatar Megan

My brothers girlfriend wore a very short, stark white dress to a wedding (saw pictures later). She's all of 20 and looks like a victoria secret model. I thought it was rude to the bride... The girl can't help that she's beautiful and gets attention, but to show off nearly her entire body AND on top of that be wearing white to someones wedding, pretty thoughtless to me. I still think it's common courtesy not to.

Meg Moore

considering so many brides are incorporating color or just wearing colored dresses i think its fine.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

Most brides don't even wear white dresses nowadays. I've only seen one set of wedding photos in the past decade where the bride wore pure white. Most have at least a colored sash or some peeking out of the skirts and several are wearing dresses that are either half colored (dark bodice and white skirt) or all colored. There were plenty of people wearing pale outfits in creams and ivory at my wedding including my husbands mother and that was eleven years ago. This is not a new thing.

Shandi80 Shandi80

I had a guest show up in a white dress...I was not happy, but I didn't let it ruin our special day. It was about us, people could say what they wanted to about it, but I really don't care. Now, I am a little bitter about it, but it really doesn't matter in the whole scope of things. We are married, and happy, and that is what really matters.

fleur... fleurdelys3110

Only jealous and insecure brides would throw a hissy fit or even be mad that a guest wore white. The glow that a new bride emits should be enough to outshine any guest, no matter what said guest was wearing. Stop being such a bridezilla.

fave82 fave82

Tacky.

Tripl... TripleC14

Don't wear white or ivory to someone's wedding unless you've ok'd it with them. It's simple courtesy.

the4m... the4mutts

Its up to the couple. I had everyone wear black & white to my wedding, but no solid single color, except the wedding party. Had to be BOTH, in any style or combo they wanted.

I got married on new years eve, and b&w was my theme. My cake was dark chocolate w/white icing. I was in white, my maid of honor was in black. The pictures turned out lovely.

4cadi... 4cadillac

I see nothing wrong with wearing white 2 a wedding. It would b no big deal 2 me if it happened. When & if i do get married we all could b wearing white & i know u would b able 2 tell who the bride iz.

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