Can You Wear Black to Weddings? The Complete Guide

Last Updated on June 23, 2024 by Jo

Weddings are a time for celebration, but figuring out what to wear can be tricky.

Black is a classic color, but is it appropriate for weddings?

This article will provide a definitive guide on wearing black to weddings.

Is It Okay to Wear Black to a Wedding?

Black is a traditional and elegant color that can be perfectly appropriate for many weddings. The key is choosing a black outfit that fits the formality of the event. A chic black cocktail dress or dark suit works well for evening weddings. Simple black dresses or separates can also be styled appropriately for daytime weddings.

Factors to Consider When Wearing Black to a Wedding

When deciding if wearing black to a wedding is suitable, consider the following:

  • Time of day: Black is better suited for evening weddings. Lighter colors or pastels are preferable for daytime.
  • Formality: The more formal the dress code, the more appropriate black attire becomes. Black tie optional or black tie required events make black a safe choice.
  • Season: In summer, lighter colors tend to be more common. Black is better for fall or winter weddings.
  • Venue: Black fits better for formal, upscale venues. For more casual venues, brighter colors may be better.
  • Couple’s preferences: If the couple has specific dress code guidelines, follow those. Otherwise, use your best judgment based on the factors above.
  • Your role: If you are in the wedding party, check with the couple about colors. Guests generally have more flexibility.

Considering these factors will help determine if wearing black to a wedding is appropriate and respects the couple’s wishes.

Acceptable Styles and Cuts for Black Dresses at Weddings

When selecting a black dress for a wedding, the style and cut you choose can make it more or less formal. Here are some tips on styles for black dresses that work well:

Little Black Dress

Little Black Dress
Photo by Adrianna Papell

A classic LBD is always a safe choice. Opt for a dress falling at or below the knee in a structured material like crepe or ponte.

Cocktail Dress

Cocktail Dress
Photo by Adrianna Papell

A black cocktail dress with elegant embellishments can be perfect for a semi-formal or evening wedding. Look for dresses with lace, sequins, or beading.

Formal Gown

Formal gown
Photo by Adrianna Papell

A black formal gown is suitable for black tie or very formal weddings. Choose elegant fabrics like satin, taffeta, or chiffon in a full-length silhouette.


Photo by Adrianna Papell

A black jumpsuit can be a chic alternative to a dress. Look for tailored, wide-leg styles in sleek materials.

Wrap Dress 

Wrap Dress
Photo by Adrianna Papell

The wrap style flatters many body types. Select a dress in a matte jersey or faux wrap in a midi length.

A-Line Dress 

A - line dress
Photo by Adrianna Papell

This classic silhouette works well for black dresses, especially in lace. Go for a knee-length or longer for the most versatile option.

Focusing on the level of formality, cut, and fabric will ensure your black dress strikes the right note for any wedding celebration.

Exceptions: When Black Is Appropriate for Weddings

While traditionally frowned upon, there are certain exceptions when wearing black to a wedding is considered acceptable:

  • Black tie or formal dress code: If the invitation specifies black tie or formal attire, a black evening gown or tuxedo is appropriate.
  • Second wedding: Black dresses are often seen at second weddings, especially for older guests. Opt for a dressy cocktail style.
  • Winter wedding: Darker colors like black are more common at weddings held in winter months. Choose a heavy fabric like velvet or brocade.
  • Evening ceremony: Black is viewed as more fitting for weddings held in the evening when the dress code is inherently more formal.
  • Cultural traditions: Some cultures have their own distinct traditions around wedding attire, such as wearing black in many Asian cultures.
  • Permission from the couple: The bride and groom may explicitly give permission to wear black, but it’s best to check with them first.

While the old superstition persists in most cases, black dresses can work for weddings if the situation calls for it. When in doubt, opt for a different color or ask the couple for guidance.

Cultural Implications of Wearing Black to Weddings

The cultural significance of wearing black to weddings varies across different traditions and backgrounds:

  • In Western cultures, black is avoided as it symbolizes grief, death, and bad omens for the couple. Brides especially take offense to guests wearing black.
  • In East Asian cultures like China, black symbolizes perfection and is seen as an elegant, respectful color for weddings. Red is avoided as it represents anger and jealousy.
  • In India, black is taboo at weddings as it is associated with misfortune. Instead, red saris and lehengas are customary to symbolize fertility and prosperity.
  • In many Middle Eastern countries, black abayas and hijabs are traditionally worn by Muslim women to weddings and other formal events as a sign of modesty.
  • Across Latin America, most weddings follow the Western custom of avoiding black apparel. However, some regions allow black if it is an evening wedding.
  • In Africa, black attire varies greatly between regions. Some West African cultures wear black as a marker of high status on weddings.

Considering these varied cultural implications can help guide your wedding guest attire choices. When attending cross-cultural weddings, opt for asking the couple about appropriate colors to be respectful of traditions.

How to Accessorize a Black Dress for a Wedding

If you decide to wear black to a wedding, you can liven up the look with thoughtful accessories:

  • Jewelry in metallic hues like gold, rose gold, or silver helps brighten up black dresses. Opt for statement earrings, necklaces, or cuffs.
  • Colored shoes are a fun way to complement a black dress. Try red, blue, pink, or floral printed heels.
  • For some contrast, carry a clutch in a vibrant color like emerald green, cobalt blue, or crimson.
  • For a winter wedding, accessorize with a colorful pashmina or shawl in a jewel tone shade.
  • Floral accessories like a flower crown, floral printed scarf, or rose-adorned bag provide an uplifting touch.
  • If you wear black hosiery, go for an interesting pattern like polka dots, stripes, or lace.
  • Glam up with crystal-encrusted hair pins, barrettes, or headbands.
  • A bold lip color like cherry red or wine gives a pop of color against an all-black outfit.
  • Vintage-inspired accessories like pearl necklaces, fascinators, or gloves evoke timeless elegance.

With thoughtful styling, you can make a black dress wedding-ready and still respect the couple’s wishes. Focus on fit, fabrics, silhouettes and accessorizing creatively.

Tips for Wearing Black to Formal Weddings

Attending an elegant, formal wedding but want to wear black? Consider these tips:

  • Opt for black tie appropriate fabrics like velvet, satin, or lace. Avoid casual fabrics like jersey.
  • Look for a black dress with interesting details like off-the-shoulder necklines, ruffled skirts, or embellished bodices.
  • Floor-length gowns or maxi dresses are ideal for formal weddings. Stay away from short hemlines.
  • Structure your outfit with a fitted blazer or bolero jacket. Consider adding opera-length gloves.
  • Style your hair in an updo and wear chandelier or dangling gemstone earrings.
  • Finish the look with elevating accessories like a satin wrap, beaded handbag, or stiletto heels.
  • For makeup, play up your eyes with smoky shadow or go bold with red lips.
  • Men can wear a black suit, tuxedo, or dinner jacket paired with a white shirt and black bow tie.
  • If the couple requests no black attire, honor their wishes—it’s their day. But if black is allowed, keep these tips in mind.

With refined fabrics, elegant silhouettes and opulent accessories, you can stylishly incorporate black into your formal wedding guest attire.

Guidelines for Men: Wearing Black Suits to Weddings

Black suits can work for wedding attire, but follow these guidelines:

  • Stick to a traditional black suit, not anything trendy or fashion-forward.
  • Pair with a white dress shirt. Stay away from black shirts.
  • Wear a silk tie in a muted tone like navy or gray. Skip loud prints or colors.
  • Shine your dress shoes and opt for dark socks. Match your belt to your shoes.
  • Wear minimal jewelry like a watch, wedding ring, and cufflinks. Avoid heavy chains or bracelets.
  • Carry a refined leather dress belt or clutch. Skip backpacks or messenger bags.
  • Get a fresh haircut and be neatly groomed. Well-trimmed facial hair is okay.
  • Apply cologne lightly. You want a hint, not an overwhelming presence.
  • If the dress code is black tie optional, a tuxedo is better than a black suit.
  • Ask the couple if black suits are appropriate. Honor their wishes on attire.

With timeless style and attention to details, black suits can work for wedding guests. Just be sure to follow etiquette guidelines.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I wear black to weddings?

Yes, you can wear black to weddings. Black is considered elegant and versatile, making it a suitable choice for many wedding settings.

Is black appropriate for a daytime wedding?

While traditionally black was reserved for evening events, it has become acceptable for daytime weddings, especially when accessorized appropriately to match the wedding’s tone.

Does wearing black to a wedding signify mourning?

In the past, black was associated with mourning, but modern fashion trends have shifted. Today, wearing black to a wedding is generally seen as chic and sophisticated.

What should I consider when wearing black to a wedding?

When wearing black to a wedding, consider the formality and theme of the event. Add colorful or metallic accessories to enhance your outfit and ensure it suits the occasion.


While black dresses are not considered ideal wedding guest attire, there are ways to stylishly incorporate black into your outfit. The key is balancing out the black with lighter colors and textures. Black and white dresses or black dresses with floral prints or bright accessories can work for a wedding. But steer clear of wearing all black unless specifically requested. With some thoughtful styling, black can be wedding-appropriate. Considering these tips on how and when you can wear black to weddings will ensure you pick an outfit that is both stylish and respectful of the couple getting married.

Leave a Reply