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Top 5 Wedding No-No's - What NOT to Wear!

As wedding season has arrived, the shops are packed with floral prints and summery dresses, but what dress styles and colors are suitable for guests to wear to weddings? Here are five of the most common wedding dress guest mistakes women make when choosing a wedding outfit.

MISTAKE #1: WEARING WHITE

A lot of people think that this is an old-fashioned, old-school rule. Maybe the bride is super cool and doesn't care one bit. But wearing a white dress to a wedding can rub a lot of people the wrong way. Truthfully, the most obvious mistake female wedding guests make is wearing white. In fact, anything that looks remotely bridal is out of bounds to avoid offending the bride. It's never a good idea to wear anything that could conceivably be mistaken for a wedding dress. 

Some say it is okay, however, according to Martha Stewart Weddings, “If you do show up in white, you’re not technically doing anything wrong, but people might talk and you’ll be known as “the girl who wore white at so-and-so’s wedding.” It’s just not worth it. Let the big day be about the guest of honor — the bride — and save your white dress for a special occasion that doesn’t involve vows.” So with that being said, I think you shouldn’t wear all white. Because believe me, even if you look your best in white, you won't care what color you're wearing when she's staring daggers into your eyes instead of saying "I do." Exceptions to the rule are white dresses with bold colored patterns. 
Top 5 Wedding No-No's - What NOT to Wear! - to see more: www.theperfectpalette.com  - A MUST-READ for all wedding guests!

MISTAKE #2: WEARING RED 

The truth is that there's really nothing wrong with wearing a red dress to a wedding. The real underlying issue with red is that it draws the eye, BIG time. And if there is only one bright red dress among a sea of pastel shades, it will stand out like a sore thumb on the group photos. To avoid stealing the show, I'd suggest avoiding red all together. Especially if the dress color could be described as "fire engine red." Bright red is just too loud and distracting. Deep cranberry is a good alternative.

MISTAKE #3: IGNORING THE INVITATION DRESS CODE 

A common wedding dress guest mistake is failing to check the invitation dress code to see which style of outfit is appropriate. For a black tie dress code an evening gown or cocktail dress is expected, for a white tie dress code nothing but a ball gown will suffice, and for a lounge suit dress code a daytime summer dress, a skirt and top or a light suit is required. If there is no dress code on the invitation, a colorful summer dress is usually a safe bet. Dress codes should be paid attention to. Believe me, you don't want to feel out of place. Nothing could feel more awkward. 

MISTAKE #4: DRESSING LIKE THE BRIDESMAIDS 

Wedding guest outfits shouldn’t look too much like the bridesmaids’ dresses. Some guests make the effort to find out the wedding color scheme and choose a coordinating dress, which is a great idea. Wearing an identical dress to the bridesmaids, however, can give the impression of being offended at not being asked to be one. Of course coincidences happen and sometimes guests will unknowingly turn up in the same color as the bridesmaids, which can’t be helped.

MISTAKE #5: WEARING INAPPROPRIATE ATTIRE 

A wedding is a classy occasion. Don’t cheapen it by wearing what you wore to the bachelorette party or the club the night before. Even though the reception will likely feature dancing and single cuties, it's not the time or the place for tiny clothes that hug every curve. Skimpy clothes fall into the bachelorette party dress code. Believe me, no one needs to see your upper thigh or your cleavage hanging out. Seriously, guys. It's just not a good look.

So there you have it! My top 5 wedding No-No's when it comes to wedding attire for guests! I know there are a few exceptions to this rule. For instance, different cultures have different traditions when it comes to white and red. But generally speaking, these rules will keep you safe when you are on trying to decide what to wear (and not to wear) to your next wedding! Looking to avoid the most common mistakes when it comes to wedding colors? Well, if you liked this article, then you'll probably love my article entitled, "Top 5 Wedding Color Mistakes and Ways to Avoid them." - An excellent read for anyone planning a wedding.

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Chrissy Arpie Ott

Chrissy Arpie Ott is the founder of The Perfect Palette. Since its launch in 2008, The Perfect Palette has been the go-to color resource for couples who dream of a unique, creative and colorful wedding day.

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74 Comments " Top 5 Wedding No-No's - What NOT to Wear! "

Krisstin | On the Go Bride

Great post! I never thought about red as being a very stand out color against a pastel or more neutral wedding.

Taylor Greggory

Awesome post! I never had considered some of these. I especially like the "don't dress like the bridesmaids" rule. Sadly, I've seen this done a few times and it's just silly looking.

Alaina Miles

Great article. love the tip about not wearing white. I'm a traditionalist and no matter how "okay" it might be to some, I just will never understand it when I see someone try to get away with wearing white to a wedding. Total faux pas.

mamalew27

A young man at my daughter's wedding wore a dark t-shirt under his sport jacket and proceeded to take the jacket off.
But his date was a bridesmaid and he sat with her at the head table and I think it did not look very appropriate, esp. in the resulting professional photos!

Lovely Little Bride

Awesome tips. I've seen so many of these rules broken and let me tell you - it's never pretty!

Jessa Wright

Really like #5 - It's SO true! Skimpy clothes just don't belong at a wedding.

Storm {ConfettiDaydreams.com} April 08, 2014

So funny, I have almost rocked up looking like a bridesmaid because I was unintentionally wearing the same colour dress. What a noob I felt like! Won't do that again x

Sara Burnett

Such a fab post!

Emma Watson

Awesome post! These are such helpful tips. Passing this along for sure =)

RoRo

Yeah I had someone show up wearing a long white STAINED prom dress and then take off with my flowers pre-ceremony for her own selfie shoot! Crazy! I couldn't believe it when I saw the pictures on facebook. All I knew was she was wearing white and I was mad. I didn't know she had anything to do with my flowers disapearing pre-ceremony though!

Stephanie (Fab You Bliss)

Such a great post. #3 is always a big one.

Erika {Borrowed&Bleu} April 14, 2014

I hate seeing inappropriate attire - very low cut tops and super short skirts just come off as trashy at a wedding.

Alecia Gonzalez

My mother in law wore a red dress with a hoop skirt and a red hat with a veil.

Joc

I had a guest at my wedding break both rule numbers 1 and 5: a skin tight, super short, ALL white dress. It was a guy friend's guest and she just so happens to also be a star dancing in my wedding video. Even almost 2 years later I get sad/angry thinking about it. I had never met her and will never see her again as this friend no longer sees her. What on earth makes people think wearing something like that to a wedding of people you don't know okay?!??? I can honestly say it made an impact on my day and I'll only ever think of her as "the girl who wore white to my wedding". THINK before you dress for a wedding please!!!

Nancy

I'm getting married in September, last weekend my soon-to-be mother in law showed me the dress she was planning to wear. It breaks rules #1 and #5, and when I told her that the dress was white, she says no, it's beige! The dress is cream coloured and has holes in the belly area! My sister said she would "accidentally" spill red wine on her if she wore it!;)

Jennifer

And it's posts like this that are the reason I have EVERYONE calling me asking me what to wear to my wedding in the fall ... I don't care, wear what you want and let me get back to worrying about the rest of the wedding.

Anna Rivas

Thanks for the post :) I know never to wear white but I never knew you can't wear red. I wanted my bridesmaids to wear red but I'll change it to pink

Crs

No! Please have your bridesmaids wear red if that's what you want. You misunderstand – All of these rules are so that people don't offend the bride. As the bride you could have your bridesmaids wear whatever color you want, be it red white black etc. They obviously aren't offending you if you picked the color.

jenn

I know this is an old post, but what about wearing black? Is that seen as innaropriate? Too much like funeral attire?

Mari

Just in my opinion, I love black but it can be a heavy look. I don't think its offensive at all. It would probably stick out at a spring/summer wedding in a not so good way but fall/winter should be fine. Maybe add fun shoes or a belt or jewelry to lose the funeral vibe. Again, I have no credentials other than the fact that it's wedding central at my house!

Mari

This is a good list. Most of these are just good reminders so you don't end up feeling like a heel! Plus, you never know who will be at a wedding. Future friends? Future employers?! You don't want to be remembered as the one who felt she deserved more attention than the bride or the one who wore her mini dress and 6 inch heels to a wedding ceremony. (Mostly this applies to #1 and #5 as those are rules everyone should know and to me, seem the most offensive.) For me, #2 is the take away because I'm always told I look good in red. I would have worn it without considering this first!

ashlee

Im going to a wedding this weekend. Is it ok if i wear a high waisted fitted mid length skirt with a white top?

Liz

Can I please ask for opinions? I have a wedding to go to in 3 weeks and I'm attending the full day. I was going to wear blue but when I asked what the official colours are I was told blue! My backup plan is a cream knee length, fit and flare dress with a pretty but quite bold red rose print on it. I was planning to wear it with a red bolero cardigan and red sparkly shoes (kinda like Dorothy's ruby slippers). Does this sound suitable? I'm a bit paranoid. It doesn't look anything like a wedding dress but I do not want to look like I'm trying to upstage anyone! Advice would be appreciated!

Rochelle

THANK YOU! I have always been a stickler for wedding attire and this is literally the exact same rules I have always lived by. Every girl/woman/mother/mother-in-law should be educated on this properly! Well done.

Suzanne

I went to a wedding a few years ago in a beautiful, rural, barn-type setting. All the details were natural colors, fibers, etc. and it was gorgeous! Then the officiant came out to perform the wedding. It was a woman wearing a bright turquoise 80's inspired rayon pants-suit. I couldn't believe it. Talk about a faux-pas in the clothing department.

Smart and Formal

You could wear anyone of these boys suits at http://www.malcolmroyce.com, well apart from the white one. They have some adorable boys formal wear.

Kim September 04, 2016

I'm going to a wedding at the end of November and although I'm not in the wedding party, my partner is the best man and the bride has asked if I'll wear a shade of red to match his tie! The bridesmaids will be wearing completely sleeveless red or gold lace dresses. I'm struggling to find something to wear.

Anonymous

Okay...My fiance's Brother's wedding is this weekend. Everyone is in the wedding, but me (his two sisters as bridesmaids). The bridesmaid dresses are black. I don't want to stand out in the family photo if I wear a color, but I also don't want to wear black and look too much like a bridesmaid. What should i wear?

JuJu

Planned on wearing a beautiful purple top with dressy black pants. Just found out that the bridesmaids will be wearing purple dresses, is it ok for me to keep my plans?

Sassy Lassie October 16, 2016

Actually the tradition about the color of the bridesmaids' dresses was that only the mother of the BRIDE could wear the same shade as her attendants. When my oldest sister got married, her groom's mom intentionally wore the same color as a slight to my mom. Yeah, so things like that can get ugly. My sister's 40, so obviously that was a long time ago! The woman who wanted to wear a purple blouse, that is fine. A lot of brides wear white and have the bridesmaids in varying shades of cream and ivory. If I I'm going with someone as their date, I ALWAYS ask them what color the bridesmaids and THE BRIDE are wearing. I've been to weddings with pink, blue, silver, and gold BRIDES. The only faux pas I've ever made (thanks to comportment and elocution) was wearing a butter yellow ball gown to a WHITE TIE wedding. It looked great during the service, however, in the soft lighting of the ballroom it looked a lot less like a butter color and more like a buttercream.

Sassy Lassie October 16, 2016

@Kim
First, don't wear a lacy dress like the bridesmaids. Second, you said sleeveless - find out if they are actually a tank style or spaghetti straps. You can wear strapless, one shoulder, off the shoulder, cap sleeve, long sleeve, halter, and possibly spaghetti straps if the dresses are tanks. Third, find out the length of their dresses. They might vary. I wouldn't wear a ballgown, but you have a ton of options. You can wear short, tea length, hi-low, asymmetrical. You can wear a fuller dress, a flowy dress, a form fitting dress, an empire waist dress. You can even wear a dress that is red at the top and another color at the bottom. You certainly do not lack for choices. Bottom line - pick something that you love, that flatters you, and that makes you feel great when you're wearing it!

Anonymous

Lol, the girlfriend of one of our groomsmen wore a white, lacy, backless, super short dress to my wedding. They made out at their table all night, danced super raunchy with his hands up her dress on the dance floor, AND I later learned stole the champagne off of our sweetheart table and poured themselves a glass. We had never even met this girl before, and hope we won't again!!

Anonymous

Help we have been invited to a mafia wedding very close friends August .. I have been shown brides dresses black white vintage spotted dresses halter neck,grooms requested hubby wears the same as him black shirt,trousers, red tie and braces appart from the only difference grooms wearing a hat! So I found a really nice vintage dress black with red belt and like a red under t-shirt near boob area so not low cut! And hoping not to furneral looking, Really trying not to break any rules and look like a Twit! Any ideas welcome.

Anonymous

I'm going to a wedding on St Patrick's Day and wanted to wear a green dress. The grooms mother said it's not a St Pattys Day themed wedding so I don't think the bridesmaids will be wearing green but I'm not positive. Can I risk it?

Anonymous

My mother-in-law was very unhappy about my husband marrying outside his religion. On the day I met her for the first time at her home, she announced to her son (my husband to be) that she told her neighbor all about him and invited her for dinner so they could meet! The next day, she tried to set him up with another woman (in front of me). The next day, the same. On the day of our wedding, she wore a black suit jacket and long skirt, like she was going to a funeral. The wedding was held outside on a hot summer 95 degree day in August-- so she not only looked silly, she was roasting in the outfit.

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strawrose January 27, 2018

My husband’s supervisor wore red to our wedding. I think it was a mistaken belief that red was lucky to wear to Chinese weddings. Bless her heart. 😂 I hope the other people were respectful to her though. 😕

tjmccourt March 14, 2018

Great post! Love how you took an untraditional spin on it, great advice.

Anonymous

OK - my stepdaughter is the bride. I just found out bridesmaids are wearing light blue, strapless/bandeau long, floor-length column gowns. My husband is walking her down the aisle in light grey tux and a tie that matches the bridesmaids' dress color. TO not clash with my husband, I had planned to wear a long, but not floor length, light blue dress with column-like pleated skirt and a silver pattern, with a halter neckline. But now am worried my dress is too similar to the bridesmaids. Note that the bride's mother is also attending. I am not "mother of the bride" and don't want to be seen to be stepping on MOB's toes. Am I OK in this dress, or back to the drawing board?

Anonymous

I am going to a wedding next month and have a light pink/nude colour, midi-length dress to wear - planning to wear white shoes with a white bag as anything else clashes with the dress colour. Not sure what the rules are about wearing white shoes/accessories???

Driveways Stoke on Trent July 04, 2018

Great post! I love it

Anonymous

Is tight always a no? I have a black and white striped bandage dress, no cleavage and knee length.

Anonymous

I have a question. So, my brother is getting married September this year.
His fiancee has chosen 3 colors, not quite pastels: dusty blue, sage green,
and peach as her colors. I am wondering what on earth to wear with these
colors. they are beautiful, but what can I wear that will look nice in
photos, but not look too similar? I thought of champagne, but it's too
risky. I thought of navy, burgundy, forest green, and brown, but that's too
dark for a summer wedding. I dismissed primary shades altogether, and
yellow is an awful color for me (vanity, I know). Pastels might be too close
to these colors in pictures; I just don't know. My mom has chosen
champagne, my sister is wearing blush pink with white lace over it, and my
other sister is wearing blush pink. I feel like that might be too close,
but maybe I'll just go with blush. None of my sisters are bridesmaids. I
don't want to pester the bride with what should be a no-brainer, but I'm
really struggling to figure this out. What do you all think? Please help!

While I'm at it, I have a silk cocktail dress that is a striking dark coral,
which I purchased to wear at other weddings. It could look red in photos,
so is that also a fashion faux pas? Thanks!

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