Wedding Etiquette Forum

Wedding Guest Attire

I've dug around and can't find an answer, so here I am...

My brother is getting married in January and I have been invited as a guest (semi-formal attire). I know the BMs are wearing navy, the wedding colors are navy and light pink, and the MOB is wearing a black floral dress. I'm not sure what my mom (MOG) is wearing, but that's an ENTIRELY different story. 

My question: Is there a certain color of dress I should avoid? I'm not a BM, I have no place in the ceremony, I'm just a guest. I've been told I should avoid black, since that's what the MOB is wearing. I also want to avoid navy, because of the BM dress color. 

I've been eyeballing a maroonish/wine colored lace dress, but I've read that red is inappropriate too... Ugh.

My FSIL is a wonderful human and makes my PITA little brother a much more tolerable person to be around. The last thing I want to do is step on any toes. 
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Re: Wedding Guest Attire

  • There are no colors to avoid, except maybe white. 

    The don't wear red thing stems from a time when women who wore red were considered promiscuous. I don't think much anyone adheres to that old rule anymore. If you'd wear red to the mall, you can wear red to a wedding. Even if you did, maroon is not red. Wear the maroon dress.  
  • I wear black to weddings often.  I agree that steering clear of white is really the only unwritten rule.  I don’t think you’d be stepping on toes wearing black or navy, although the maroon/wine is probably very pretty too!
  • I'm a little side-eying they told you not to wear black, lol.  Other than the "don't wear white" rule...which I still think is fine if there are some colors/print on it and/or doesn't look like a wedding gown...there aren't any taboo colors for a wedding.

    I think you're maroon/wine dress sounds like a great color.  I've also never heard "don't wear red", but wouldn't really consider maroon/wine as a "red" anyway.

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  • I'd avoid solid white and solid cream, but every other color should be okay. White and cream in backgrounds with patterns in other colors should also be okay. 
  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited October 2018
    White and it's variations (cream, etc.) are the only color to truly avoid.  I wouldn't wear something more formal than the BM dresses, but really, go shopping for a dress you feel comfortable in wearing to multiple events or a dressy work event, don't buy this as something JUST for this wedding.  If I was told "don't wear black" 80% of my dressy wardrobe would be out, what the MOB/MOG chooses is the MOB/MOG choice.  Don't overthink this, go get something you will enjoy wearing and accessorize the same.  I know a lot of times guests will coordinate with the color of the wedding for their attire, it's really NBD, the important thing is you're there!  Pick out something you look in the mirror and say "I look/feel great wearing this to a wedding as a guest!" That's what to choose!
  • Times have definitely changed, at least imho.  White, Ivory, Cream and even a way too pale blush (because it can appear white in pictures) are off limits, but otherwise, as long as you don't look like you're going to a funeral, black and deep reds are perfectly fine.  I personally wouldn't go in a bright flashy red dress as I think it's a little too flashy, but a sophisticated wine I think would be wonderful!
  • I was in a similar situation for the wedding of one of my brothers years ago. The BM wore black (it was a black and white wedding), the MOB wore a electric blue, and I don't remember what my mother wore. I went with a black dress and it was fine.

    I think either the color you chose or navy would look great in the family pics.
  • I went to a wedding recently where 2 women at my table were wearing red. It didn't particularly make them stand out or anything, at least not to me. I think it's fine, especially the shade you are talking about. 
  • I've never heard of the can't wear red … and have worn a red dress twice. I would go with whatever would make you happy. They shouldn't have a dress code either unless it is black tie which is more about the service/experience.
  • I've seen the don't wear red thing in several articles. My MIL wore a lovely red dress to my wedding. I don't know why that's a thing...

    Thank you all for the insight. My mom (MOG) is the one insistent on me not wearing black, because she doesn't want me stepping on toes. (She also refuses to wear black, or a dress) There's a whooooole lot that I could get into about the family dynamics, but you guys don't want that story... It's messy, illogical, and frankly a bit confusing.

    I'm definitely going with the maroon dress. It's so pretty and I can't make myself pass it up. 
    I think it's more intended to be "Don't wear a fire engine red dress that a Bond girl might own," so you don't take attention away from the bride.

    However, that's nonsense anyway. Brides should be more secure in the importance of their wedding day. No one is going to forget who they are and what's going on - and even if some guest did... who cares, you're getting married to the person you love!
  • Ugh, sorry for the second post, but this whole concept annoys me. What should you (general you, brides) care if another woman looks fabulous?

    Amen!  Another person's good looks does not subtract from someone else's, ffs.  That's not the way it works, lol.
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  • One extra caveat on the red dress thing - if it's a Chinese wedding the bride traditionally wears red and it is therefore frowned upon for guests to wear red. Otherwise go for it!

    I think some people find like a super bright sultry red dress to be loud and kind of attention-grabby. 

    FWIW I was a bridesmaid last weekend and we wore wine colored dresses, which was super appropriate. Also, there were several guests wearing the same color and no one said anything! I think maroon is a great option!
  • I'd say the color you are discussing would look amazing in any family photos. Go for it and look awesome. I wouldnt do a blood red but a wine or plum would be very nice.
  • Ugh, sorry for the second post, but this whole concept annoys me. What should you (general you, brides) care if another woman looks fabulous?
    I completely agree with you! I don't remember what most people wore to my wedding. I had much more important things to focus on and remember! When my friends asked me the dress code, I literally said, "you being there is the most important thing, I don't care what you wear. It's Texas in August, dress comfortably." 
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  • banana468 said:
    Honestly, I think if they picked navy and black they're free game.   You can't pick two main go-to neutrals and then make them off limits.   Do you see loads of grown men thinking that they can't wear a black suit if the groom is? 

    I'd avoid all white or cream and would not buy a dress that looks like the BM/MOG style if you can help it.   Other than that, go with any color you'd love. 
    I had navy BM dresses and let them pick whatever style they wanted. Ironically enough, one of my cousins (guest) had almost the exact same dress as my sister (BM). During the ceremony, it was obvious who was in the wedding party, and after that it didn't really matter.

    My MIL wore a beautiful maroon-ish dress with a lace overlay. I think that color of dress will look lovely in family photos for you. 
  • Aside from the fact that maroon/wine is a very different color from bright red (which I expect is what the person who advised you to avoid it had in mind), there is nothing wrong with wearing red to a wedding as long as you know the bride will not be wearing red.
  • I'd avoid white, because it's still considered the bride's color in many circles. You may pick any other color you like. The MOB will not be the only guest in black. The taboo against bright, attention seeking colors, such as fire engine red, is passe. The maroon dress that you like will be perfect.

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