Can you wear black to a wedding? 21 ideas for acceptable wedding guest outfits

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  • We ask the experts the age-old question, can you wear black to a wedding?

    In most social settings, the LBD is a fail-safe option. However, there are certain ‘rules’ and guidelines – often dictated by wedding traditions or the happy couple themselves – which makes wearing black to a wedding a tricky decision to navigate, much like wearing white to a wedding.

    Times have certainly changed though, and modern weddings are a lot less restrictive. From jumpsuits to co-ords to colourful suits, wedding guest outfits have come a long way from posh frocks and fascinators.

    Can you wear black at a wedding?

    NO: Stylist Hannah Eichler @hannaheichler says “Unless it’s specified as black tie on the invitation, it’s usually best to steer clear of black for weddings, as the look can be seen as sombre. If in doubt, ask the couple or the wedding planner for a dress code or colour theme.”

    Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Texas, agrees. “It’s not a fashion failure to wear a LBD to your BFF’s wedding at a formal celebration, such as a ‘black tie’ event.  However, I’d suggest wearing something more festive and colourful to a daytime wedding. As long as you are not standing out in the crowd with a fluorescent colour or something too short, tight or revealing, you will be fine.

    “Ultimately, it’s the risk you take. Unless it’s a formal affair, I would skip it and opt for a pastel or jewel-coloured outfit. But, absolutely no white!”

    YES: It can really just come down to styling and the type of dress you go for. Paula Moore, Fashion Director at Woman & Home, believes black can be an acceptable colour for some settings, especially evening affairs.

    “Try to break up the black with colourful accessories, a red lip or a pretty print, especially in the summer,” she told us. “Look for flowy fabrics and textures to add interest. Sequins are great for winter weddings and anything with lace will inject some romance to your outfit”.

    Often it will depend on the venue and the couple as to whether you can wear black to a wedding. So, pay close attention to the invite to see if there is a specific dress code. If it’s an evening wedding in a hotel ballroom for example, a black outfit would probably be more acceptable. However at a daytime wedding on a beach, black might look out of place. If you are unsure, it might be worth double checking with the bride.

    Why is it considered bad luck to wear black to a wedding?

    Traditionally, black was seen as bad luck at weddings due to its association with funerals. If a guest wore black to a wedding, it gave the impression they were against the marriage.

    “Black is traditionally associated with mourning and funerals. Wearing a black, uber conservative outfit to a wedding ceremony may potentially send a negative message that you are not in support of the union,” explains Diana, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life,

    15 of the best black wedding guest outfits

    If you’re colour-avoidant looking for the perfect wedding guest outfit, we’ve scoured the cyber shelves for the best black wedding guest outfits to shop now.

    Mango Satin Gown - an example of a black dress suitable for a wedding

    1. Mango Satin Gown

     Sizes: 4-12

    Minimalist and modern, this fuss-free style is incredibly versatile and one that is certain to go the distance. The silky fabric gives it a luxe feel and the flowy design makes it comfortable and classy for all-day wear. Swap out the boots for something more glitzy, such as these Kurt Geiger sparkly slip-ons.

    VIEW NOW – £69.99 | Mango

    Monsoon Embellished Sequin Midi Dress  - an example of a black dress suitable for a wedding

    2. Monsoon Embellished Sequin Midi Dress

    Sizes: 8-22

    Sequins and embellishments are another way of getting away from funeral-style black and this ticks all the boxes, especially if it’s a winter wedding. Featuring colourful sequins adorned on a sheer mesh fabric, it’s unapologetically glamorous. Swap the grungy boots and make it more wedding appropriate with a pair of metallic shoes like this LK Bennett pair.

    VIEW NOW – £140 | Very

    ASOS Design Pleated Twist Back Cap Sleeve Midi Dress

    3. ASOS Design Pleated Twist Back Cap Sleeve Midi Dress

    Sizes: 4-18

    With a flared-out skirt and a fitted waist, this has a universally flattering silhouette that’s perfect for twirling on that dance floor. Considered details such as the cap sleeves and sweetheart neckline keep it flattering and feminine. Black courts blend nicely but if you want to give it more of a wedding feel, these pretty pink Whistles sandals will work like a charm.

    VIEW NOW – £38 | ASOS

    Glamour Black Jacquard Tiered Midi black dress you can wear to a wedding

    4. Glamour Black Jacquard Tiered Midi Dress

    RRP: £89 | Sizes: 8-18

    This occasion dress is the perfect pick for a formal do. The tiered ruffle skirt and a-line silhouette is super flattering and the jacquard fabric helps to elevate the plain black hue. Its voluminous aesthetic makes a bit of a statement so minimal styling is needed with this one. Just add a pair of barely-there sandals and swish your way through the ceremony.

    VIEW NOW – £89 | Next

    George at Asda Black Satin Halter Neck Jumpsuit

    5. George at Asda Black Satin Halter Neck Jumpsuit

     Sizes: 6-24

    A black jumpsuit is a modern dress alternative and helps steer away from any mourning connotations. The satin-like material adds a glamorous finish to this all-in-one whilst the built-in belt cinches you in for a flattering finish on the waist. The wide-leg helps lengthen legs too! Keep the party vibes going and team with a big of bling – silver sandals and a sparkly accessory like this Oliver Bonas beaded bag.

    VIEW NOW – £24 | George at Asda

    Boohoo Boutique Lace Skater Dress  - an example of a black dress suitable for a wedding

    6. Boohoo Boutique Lace Skater Dress

    Sizes: 8-18

    Nothing oozes romance more than lace, so adding the pretty fabric to your outfit is a sure-fire way to give your look that wedding appeal. The skater silhouette is flattering on everyone, highlighting your waist and flaring out at the skirt. Let this frock take centre stage, without upstaging the bride obviously, and keep your accessories simple – just add black sandals and gold hoop earrings.

    VIEW NOW – £35 | Boohoo

    M&S x Ghost Floral Frill Detail Midi Tea Dress - an example of a black dress suitable for a wedding

    7. M&S x Ghost Floral Frill Detail Midi Tea Dress

    Sizes: 6-20

    This is another versatile number that’s easy to dress up or down, depending on the formality of the nuptials. With a fitted waist and a tiered hem for a breezy finish, it has a flattering and relaxed fit. The pops of pink blooms help lift the look and break up the solid black hue so bring them out more and swap the casual boots for a bright pink sandal from Dune.

    VIEW NOW – £79 | M&S

    Matalan Black Velvet High Neck Jumpsuit

    8. Matalan Black Velvet High Neck Jumpsuit

    RRP: £20 | Sizes: 8-20

    This is a bargain buy that still oozes opulence thanks to the plush velvet fabric. It has lots of comfy elements too from the soft and stretchy material to the elasticated waist. Velvet is a go-to fabric for winter weddings and parties and you’re guaranteed to want to wear this one again and again. Keep it pared-back – just add black sandals and finish off with a bold red lip which you can stash in those very handy pockets.

    VIEW NOW – £20 | Matalan

    River Island Black Asymmetric Bardot dress

    9. River Island Black Asymmetric Bardot Maxi Dress

    Sizes: 6-18

    We love a Bardot neckline for a dose of vintage glamour, perfect for a fancy evening do in a hotel ballroom. This frock has a sleek asymmetric design with a side split for easy movement. We’d recommend jazzing this one up a bit for a wedding with bold accessories such as these shoulder-grazing earrings from River Island.

    VIEW NOW – £70 | River Island

    Zara Pleated Long Dress

     

    10. Zara Pleated Long Dress

    RRP: £29.99 | Sizes: S-L

    There’s nothing more glamorous than a floor-sweeping gown and with its powerful eighties-inspired shoulders this one is bound to get you noticed. The voluminous shoulders help to balance the figure-hugging fit too. An ideal choice for a city wedding, lift the look with a colourful accessory – such as this Accessorize tassel frame bag.

    VIEW NOW – £29.99 | Zara

    Lipsy Ruffle One Shoulder Maxi Dress

    11. Lipsy Ruffle One Shoulder Maxi Dress

    Sizes: 6-18

    For a black tie wedding, this gown is our go-to. Elegant and sophisticated the ruffle-detailed neckline adds a romantic flourish that will flatter a small bust too. It hugs your figure in all the right places and the dipped hem allows you to move easily and flash a stylish shoe. We would suggest keeping it minimal and pair this beauty with a barely-there sandal in black or contrasting white.

    VIEW NOW – £70 | Next

    Kaleidoscope Velvet Dress with Spot Mesh Sleeves - an example of a black dress suitable for a wedding

    12. Kaleidoscope Velvet Dress with Spot Mesh Sleeves

    Sizes: 10-24

    Sexy, without being too OTT, this is the perfect reception dress to get the party started. The spotty mesh sleeves add a dose of drama as well as offering extra coverage on the arms – perfect for winter. There’s ruched detail around the waist too and the velvet fabric gives it that fancy finish. Wear with simple court shoes and a matching clutch.

    VIEW NOW – £55 | Kaleidoscope

    Oasis Frill Smock Broderie Hem Dress13. Oasis Frill Smock Broderie Hem Dress

    Sizes: 6-18

    The broderie hem and ruffle detailing adds a romantic and frivolous twist to your look. This frock would make a chic option for a destination wedding with a stunning cut-out back that flashes the flesh whilst keeping modest too (and allowing you to still wear a bra!). Swap the chunky sandals for something more elegant and delicate – such as these sparkly sling-backs from Next.

    VIEW NOW – £59 | Oasis

    H&M Sequined Dress - an example of a black dress suitable for a wedding

    14. H&M Sequined Dress

    Sizes: XS-XXL

    Sequins and embellishments are another way of getting away from funeral-style black and this ticks all the boxes, especially if it’s a winter wedding. It has loose, relaxed fit so you won’t be feeling restricted but if you want to streamline your shape, try adding a black or silver waist belt for more definition. Minimal styling is needed with a sequin dress so, keep it simple in black mules or add colour with a pink court.

    VIEW NOW – £49.99 | H&M

    New Look Black Spot Long Sleeve Midi Dress - an example of a black dress suitable for a wedding

    15. New Look Black Spot Long Sleeve Midi Dress

    Sizes: 6-18

    Black can be harder to pull off at a summer wedding but this budget-friendly buy will do just the trick. The classic polka dot print helps soften the darker hue and it’s a print that is forever on-trend too. Swap the stompy boots for a silver or white heel to keep the look monochrome and classic. Incredibly versatile, you’ll be able to dress this down with trainers too for more casual affairs.

    VIEW NOW – £23.99 | New Look

    & Other Stories Pleated Wrap Dress

    16. & Other Stories Pleated Wrap Midi Dress

    Sizes: xs-l

    Churches tend to be quite cold which makes dressing for a winter wedding a little trickier but this frock is made from knitted material so it’ll keep you warm too. In a timeless wrap design that’s super flattering on the bust and waist, the pleated skirt gives it a more glamorous edge so you can easily dress it up with a metallic heel and sparkly jewellery.

    VIEW NOW – £95 | Stories

    Whistles Carolyn Broderie Dress

    17. Whistles Carolyn Broderie Dress

    Sizes: 4-16

    The broderie and scalloped edge detailing gives this dress added interest. With a flared-out skirt and a fitted waist, it has a universally flattering silhouette that’s perfect for twirling on that dance floor too. The breathable cotton would suit a summer wedding, just swap the chunky sandals for something a little more delicate. These pretty pink Whistles sandals will work like a charm.

    VIEW NOW – £109 | Whistles

    Hobbs Sophia Floral Shift Dress - an example of a black dress suitable for a wedding

    18. Hobbs Sophia Floral Shift Dress

    Sizes: 6-16

    NOW – £74 | Hobbs

    You can’t get more timeless than monochrome and the floral print on this shift dress helps to break up the black base colour to make it more wedding-appropriate. The classic shift cut skims your shape effortlessly, with a contrast waistband to highlight your waist too. Stick to the black and white colour palette and team with simple black sandals and clutch. Gold earrings give this outfit an elegant finish.

    Coast Belted Crochet Lace V Neck black dress you can wear to a wedding

    19. Coast Belted Crochet Lace V Neck Dress

    Sizes: 8-10

    VIEW NOW – £70 | Debenhams

    Nothing oozes romance more than lace, so adding the pretty fabric to your outfit is a sure-fire way to give your look that wedding appeal. The bow-detail belt helps to elevate this dress and cinch you in at the same time. Let this frock take centre stage, without upstaging the bride obviously, and keep your accessories simple – just add black sandals and gold jewellery.

    Phase Eight Jilly Lace Jumpsuit

    20. Phase Eight Jilly Lace Jumpsuit

    Sizes: 8-10, 16, 20

    VIEW NOW – £150 | Phase Eight

    If dresses aren’t your thing, then a jumpsuit is the perfect alternative and a black one can work really well for weddings, giving your outfit a cooler edge. This lace number is incredibly elegant and flattering with a belt to pull you in at the waist and leg-lengthening wide trousers. Keep it pared-back and just add black sandals and finish off with a bold red lip.

    LK Bennett Scarlett Black Cotton Dress - an example of a black dress suitable for a wedding

    21. LK Bennett Scarlett Black Cotton Dress

    Sizes: 6-14

    VIEW NOW – £180 | LK Bennett

    The sheer silk sleeves add a dose of drama to this simple, yet stylish dress. It has a velvet bodice and a sweetheart neckline and falls just at the knee. Sexy, without being too OTT, it’s the perfect reception dress to get the party started. Wear with simple court shoes and a matching clutch.