A wedding planner and bridal stylist weigh in on this potentially tricky subject.

group of women in wedding guests dresses pose for photo

Selecting the right wedding attire as a female guest can be somewhat challenging, as you may be a bit cautious about what kind of color choices are actually appropriate. While you may initially think you should avoid wearing black, some experts suggest that this hue is totally acceptable. Even so, youll want to consider a few things beforehand. "Traditionally, black was the color of mourning and considered a faux pas for joyous events like wedding, but the rules around the color have definitely softened in recent years, and nowadays you even see bridesmaids in chic black gowns of their own choosing," says Laurie Arons of Laurie Arons Special Events.

To help you determine whether wearing black to a wedding is appropriate, we asked Arons and bridal stylist Julie Sabatino to weigh in on this fashion dilemma. Below are some of the key points to consider as you choose your attire.

Think About the Region in Which the Wedding Is Taking Place

"In the metropolitan Northeast (think New York and Boston) it's very common to see women in little black dresses or evening gowns at weddings," Arons explains. In the South, however, it's much less common, which is why Arons would suggest wearing a colorful dress to a wedding in this region. If you're lucky enough to be attending a destination wedding in European or tropical locales, she notes that avoiding black is still highly recommended, despite where the couple calls home.

Think About the Formality of the Wedding

"If the couple is hosting a black-tie wedding at a formal venue, such as an elegant ballroom or grand museum, it's suitable for a guest to wear black," Arons explains. In a relaxed country setting or a beach location, black would seem far too serious and out of place, she adds.

Think About the Time of Day

"Traditional etiquette states that black-tie dress is appropriate for receptions starting at 6:00 p.m. or later, with suits or morning suits recommended for the afternoon hours," Arons says. Though not every wedding follows these rules, she explains that ladies can still follow suit (pun intended) by choosing lighter and brighter colors for daytime events, and deeper, more formal tones for the evening.

Whatever You Do, Don't Wear White

"Wearing black is totally acceptable, as the hue is very versatile," Sabatino says. However, you should avoid wearing white at all costs, as she suggests that shade is exclusively reserved for the bride.


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