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.
Traditionally, black was avoided at weddings due to its association with funerals. “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 Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Texas.
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?
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.
“There is black and there is black! says Diana, of author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life. “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.
“On the other hand, the outfit you choose has a great deal to do with your personal fashion and style. You could select a beautiful, tasteful LBD and look perfectly dazzling. 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!”
Paula Moore, Fashion Director at Woman & Home, agrees that 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”.
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.
1. Mango Asymmetric Neckline Dress
RRP: £49.99 | Sizes: 6-14
Minimalist and modern, this fuss-free style is incredibly versatile and one that is certain to stand the test of time. The asymmetric neckline and midi length keeps it fresh yet modest, making it suitable for a formal wedding. You can get away with flat sandals for a casual daytime affair but swap them out for something more glitzy in the evening, such as these Kurt Geiger sparkly slip-ons.
2. Whistles Carolyn Broderie Dress
RRP: £159 | Sizes: 4-18
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.
3. Hobbs Sophia Floral Shift Dress
RRP: £149 | Sizes: 6-18
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.
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.
5. Zara Long Satin Jumpsuit
RRP: £29.99 | Sizes: XS-XXL
This more relaxed style could easily work for a daytime or destination wedding. Its flowy fit will keep you cool and comfy for all-day-wear and the satin-like material adds a luxe finish. Smarten it up and keep warm in the evening by adding a sleek blazer such as this one from Zara. Finish off with a bit of bling – a pair of Oliver Bonas statement earrings or an Accessorize sequin clutch bag for a dressier vibe.
6. Coast Belted Crochet Lace V Neck Dress
RRP: £129 | 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 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.
7. M&S X Ghost Floral V-Neck Button Through Midi Tea Dress
RRP: £69 | 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 fit with puff sleeves for an on-trend update. The pops of red and pink blooms help lift the look so bring them out more and swap the casual bag and sandals for a bright pink sandal from Dune and this Katie Loxton hot red bag.
8. Phase Eight Jilly Lace Jumpsuit
RRP: £150 | Sizes: 6-20
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.
9. & Other Stories Voluminous Bandeau Midi Dress
RRP: £95 | Sizes: 6-18
We’re getting Audrey Hepburn vibes from this voluminous dress. A classic bandeau style that will forever be on trend, you’ll get plenty of wear out of this one. It has pockets too! We’d recommend jazzing this one up a bit for a wedding with sweet accessories such as this lilac Charles & Keith bag and swapping the plain flats for something bolder – like these Kurt Geiger mules
10. Reiss Bella Velvet Midi Dress
RRP: £168 | Sizes: 4-16
The velvet texture on this beauty makes it ideal for winter weddings. A bodycon fit, it hugs your curves in all the right places and the asymmetric neckline keeps it cool and contemporary. It would look oh-so-chic with a faux fur stole – such as this Helen Moore stole and delicate jewellery for an understated and sophisticated evening look.
11. Ghost Bella Dress
RRP: £245 | Sizes: xs-xxl
For a black tie wedding, this gown is our go-to. Crafted from satin for added opulence, it has a v-neck at the front and back with a circular lower skirt for easy movement. The straps are adjustable too so you can find your perfect fit. It doesn’t matter what shoes you wear in this floor sweeping style but we would suggest something refined and barely-there like these Zara sandals.
12. LK Bennett Scarlett Black Cotton Dress
RRP: £275 | Sizes: 6-18
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.
13. Kate Spade Twill One-Shoulder Dress
RRP: £350 | Sizes: 2-20
Another one that’s perfect for hitting the dance floor, this girly and glamorous dress is a worthy investment. The bow detailing on the shoulder adds a playful touch and the nipped-in waist and fit and flare skirt is seriously flattering. Veer away from any mourning connotations and give it a fun finish with a statement bag such as this Oliver Bonas Zebra Beaded Clutch
14. Monsoon Louise Sequin Midi Dress
RRP: £140 | 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.
15. Oasis Spot Linen Puff Sleeve Midi Dress
RRP: £55 | 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 the linen fabric keeps it lightweight and cool too. Swap the casual flats for something dressier such as these Carvela heels.