Wearing White to Wedding Events

I love Dos and Don'ts.  Honestly, that is the main reason I read Glamour all those years.  I will do a similar feature on our blog from time-to-time, but I add the "never" in there.  My four year old says "never" a lot when he really wants to emphasize something.  I like it, although I will not say it with as much emotion and drama as he does.

I may not be as well-versed in etiquette as Emily Post is, but I think I have a good sense of what's proper, what's appropriate, what's tactful and what makes sense.  I have been asked many times what my opinion is on wearing white to weddings.  Or white to bridal showers.  Or white to a rehearsal dinner.

Weddings:  I'm of the belief that guests (including mothers of the bride and groom) should leave white to the bride.  Unless a bride invites her guests to wear white, guests should avoid wearing it.  Regardless of whether this advice is outdated, at the end of the day, people (including the bride) will remember the woman who wore the white dress.  An exception to this rule is pairing a chic white blouse with a great looking skirt.  I actually love this look for weddings.  As long as the skirt is more fancy than corporate and is a print or a color, you're good to go.

Do feel free to wear a white dress with a pattern on it.  If white is not the dominant color and there is a pattern, it is fine.  However, if you're in doubt, ask a friend (or email me! I will be honest) or pass.  I have been to many a wedding (including my own) where women wore dresses with white in the pattern, and they looked great.   This orange and white dress from Anthropologie is a Do for a wedding.  Although it is white, the orange print makes it OK.

Don't wear a white dress with a tiny bit of subtle pattern.  It is still a white dress.  Don't wear a light champagne color in a silk or satin fabric.  It will look white and bridal.  This white printed dress from Anthropologie is too white.  It has some grey pattern, but not enough.  It is a Don't for a wedding.

Never wear a dress that looks like it could be a wedding dress.  Nothing plain white, nothing plain ivory.   No one wants to be that girl at a wedding.  This dress from Anthropologie, while lovely, is a Never for a wedding

Bridal Showers & Rehearsal Dinners: The rules are relaxed here.  I don't think there is a thing wrong with wearing white to a bridal shower or a rehearsal dinner.  Brides get one day to corner the market on the color white: they do not get to claim the color for every wedding-related event.

Do wear what you like to bridal showers & rehearsal dinners!

Don't wear the same thing as the bride - if you are in a wedding party and are attending these events, it is a good idea to ask the bride what she plans to wear for the shower or the dinner.

Never go into debt to buy an outfit for one of these pre-wedding parties.  It's not worth it - all eyes will be on the bride.

What is your take on wearing white to weddings? Is the old advice outdated or still wise?

See you swoon,

{note: if not already obvious, we are big fans of Anthropologie here at Swoon}


  1. I couldn't figure out how to e-mail you? I would love your honest opinion on a white patterned dress I have!

  2. Hi there! email us at info@swoonstylehome.com. We'd love to help.

  3. Thanks for sharing this post of selecting wedding outfits. My sister has made a beautiful collection of her trousseau for her marriage at one of the howling wedding venues NYC next week. Hope she looks pretty in her wedding gown.