What Color to Wear to a Wedding?

group of female wedding gusts dressed in pastel colors and prints

The wedding invitation has arrived, your RSVP is in, and you’ve found the perfect outfit to attend the upcoming ceremony…but a nagging question lingers, what colors shouldn’t you wear to a wedding? Whether this is your first time bearing witness to nuptials or if you’re a seasoned wedding guest, avoiding sartorial faux pas is easy with a little know-how. Here’s your guide to navigating the colorful world of wedding guest attire and ensuring your outfit shines for the right reasons.

Wedding Guest Wardrobe Woes: Colors to Avoid Wearing 

When it comes to dressing to attend a wedding as a guest, the color/s of your outfit is an important factor to consider. Not only does the right hue of clothing ensure you look your best, but it also shows respect to the happy couple on their special day. Wearing the right shade of clothing can help you feel confident and look elegant, allowing you to enjoy the festivities even more, but remember that your role is to bear witness, celebrate and support the couple on their big day. 

By adhering to the dress code, usually found within the wedding invitation that often includes subtle guidelines for colors, guests can dress in a way that makes the couple feel appreciated for their hard work planning the wedding. If the nearly-weds don’t have a dress code preference or specific stipulations, then you can pick almost any color of the rainbow to wear. Here are some colors to leave at home on the big wedding day. 

  • White and Ivory: These elegant hues are traditionally reserved for the bride, so opt for a different color to avoid any awkward spotlight-stealing moments.
  • Black: Black can be chic, but at a wedding, it can lean towards too formal or even funereal depending on the time of day. If the wedding is black-tie or formal evening affair, black can be appropriate, otherwise, it’s best to choose a more celebratory color.
  • Neon or Super Bright Colors: While a touch of color is lovely, avoid overly loud or attention-grabbing tones that might be distracting for the wedding photos. Instead, focus on sophisticated colors that complement the overall theme or ambience.
  • Silver and Metallic: Silver and metallic can be stunning, but they can also run the risk of appearing too bridal, especially in certain lighting. If you have your heart set on something metallic, choose a darker shade or one with a matte finish.
  • Light Gray: For very formal weddings, light gray might be a bit too casual, however, for a daytime semi-formal affair, it could be perfectly acceptable.

If your wedding invite doesn’t specifically say what you should wear as a guest, or there isn’t an obvious wedding theme or intentional colors, there are a few things you can consider to help you choose the perfect outfit. The formality, location (indoors or outdoors), and season/weather will all be key factors in determining what colors you’ll feel good in that will also look great in photos. 

How to Choose What Color to Wear to a Wedding as a Guest 

Wedding invitations often come with a dress code, which is your golden ticket to dressing for success. The first clue to look for, if a dress code isn’t specifically stated, is the formality of the event. A beach wedding for example calls for a different color palette than a black-tie affair and lighter colors and pastels are generally more suited for daytime weddings, while darker colors can be more appropriate for evening events. Need a refresher on deciphering dress codes? Here’s a breakdown of common terms:

  • Black-Tie: For the most formal weddings, black-tie affairs traditionally call for darker, long gowns for women and tuxedos for men. Colors like black, midnight blue, or emerald green are typically appropriate.
  • Black-Tie Optional: This gives you more flexibility; a dressy cocktail dress in a jewel tone or a dark suit with a colorful tie could be perfect.
  • Formal: Formal weddings allow for a wider range of colors, but it’s still best to stick to more formal attire. Cocktail dresses or dressy pantsuits are good options for women, while men can opt for dark suits or tuxedos. Deep jewel tones can add a touch of elegance.
  • Semi-Formal/Cocktail: Here’s where you can have more fun with color and showcase your personal style. Playful colors, lighter fabrics, and shorter hems are all acceptable. Opt for colors that reflect the season like pastels for spring/summer, and jewel tones for fall/winter.
  • Beach Formal: Embrace a lighter, more breathable aesthetic. Opt for flowy dresses in chiffon or linen fabrics. Pastel colors and floral patterns can also be lovely choices.

The wedding theme or colors is your next clue on how to dress for the occasion. Is it a rustic celebration or a glamorous ballroom wedding? The theme can be a clue for choosing an appropriate color scheme, for example earthy tones might suit a rustic wedding, while a more vibrant palette could complement a tropical destination wedding. Next consider the season and location, especially if it’s an outdoor event. 

Consider the season: for spring weddings, opt for light colors like pastels, which help capture the feeling of the season and will keep you cool in warmer temperatures. Summer weddings call for lighter fabrics and breezy silhouettes, go bold with bright colors, like greens, oranges, and pinks. For fall weddings, stick to darker colors like burgundy, navy blue, and forest green. Winter weddings allow for heavier fabrics and long sleeves, choose variations on classic holiday colors like red and green. 

Consider the location: When attending a destination wedding, wear colors that complement the venue and show respect for the couple. If the wedding is in a tropical destination, opt for colors like yellow, orange, and green. Pastels and light neutrals tend to look great in outdoor settings like a garden wedding. It’s always wise to dress in layers, especially for outdoor occasions where temps can change, so keep in mind accessories like hats, scarves and jackets where you can add pops of color. 

If you’re unsure about the dress code or the level of formality, ask questions or choose a simple piece in a neutral color. You can then accessorize with pops of color to add your personal touch. Ultimately, the goal is to feel confident and comfortable while celebrating the happy couple.

Are you planning a wedding in Hershey, PA? Historic Acres of Hershey offers multiple event spaces that can accommodate themes and decor of all styles. Give us a call at 717-298-6340 or contact us to learn more about our unique venue or schedule a tour.