Can You Wear Black to A Wedding? – The Rules You Need to Know

group of people wearing black attire to an upscale outdoor wedding
photo: Charlotte Francis Photo | florals: Array Design

Classic, timeless, and impossibly chic, black is a fool-proof fashion choice — but can you wear black to a wedding, and what are the rules? While you might have an LBD on hand for most other formal occasions, dressing to impress is a little more complicated when there are “I do’s” involved.

So to help you avoid any fashion faux pas at your next celebration, we’re breaking down all the rules of wearing black to a wedding. Let’s get into it!

Green Wedding Shoe’s product selections are curated and/or tested by the editorial team and GWS community. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. Please consider shopping through our links if you would like to support GWS!

Is it appropriate to wear black to a wedding? Or is it disrespectful?

woman in floor-length ruffle outfit showing how you can wear black to a wedding
black outfit: Show Me Your Mumu

Yes, it can absolutely be appropriate to wear black to a wedding, and it isn’t typically considered disrespectful (although there are exceptions). While black attire was traditionally associated with mourning and funerals, times are changing — and so are fashion rules! These days, black can make a chic and elegant statement for many different types of weddings.

That being said, black attire still isn’t appropriate for all weddings, and it’s important to consider the specific event that you’re attending. Which brings us to our next FAQ…

When can you not wear black to a wedding?

woman wearing a black pleated outfit to an outdoor garden wedding
black wedding attire: Anthropologie Weddings

There are a few scenarios where you should not wear black to a wedding, so it’s important to pay close attention to the invitation. If the couple is following certain cultural traditions for their celebration, it may go against their culture (and is considered disrespectful) to wear black to the wedding. This is especially true for Indian and Chinese weddings, where dark colors are discouraged. (You’ll also want to avoid wearing red for these ceremonies!)

Another instance where you’ll want to skip wearing black to a wedding is if the dress code explicitly states rules for what colors to wear. Unique and hyper-specific dress codes are on the rise, so the couple may have a very clear vision of what they want attendees to wear. While the invitation will likely include info about the dress code, we also suggest checking the wedding website for more in-depth details about their fashion do’s and don’ts.

And finally, if the dress code reads casual, then you may want to leave the black ‘fit at home. While not a hard and fast rule, wearing black to a wedding can be overkill for informal celebrations, such as beach ceremonies and intimate micro-weddings. This also applies to daytime weddings and tropical destinations, where bright and light colors are all the rage.

For what types of events can you wear black to a wedding?

man wearing formal black attire for an evening winter wedding
black wedding attire: Express

So, what weddings do call for black attire? Here are the types of events where wearing black to a wedding would be totally appropriate.

  • Black Tie (and Black Tie Optional) Events: Formal weddings are where black attire will be right at home. In many cases, wearing black to a black tie wedding is not only allowed, but actually encouraged. A black floor length gown or tux is the ultimate elegant look — plus, it won’t distract from a formal ceremony in the same way that a neon outfit might.
  • Semi-Formal Celebrations: While they’re not quite as formal as a black tie event, semi-formal weddings are still an appropriate occasion to wear black. These celebrations also give you more flexibility with your attire, so you can easily tone down a formal black outfit with some colorful accessories or a fun print.
  • Evening and Winter Ceremonies: Just like you’d wear bright hues to a summer daytime event, you can definitely wear dark colors like black to an evening or winter wedding. These events tend to lean more formal (no matter the dress code), so black is a fool-proof choice. Plus, a chic black look will perfectly complement the darker theme of the event.
two ladies in elegant floor length pastel attire

Attending a black tie optional ceremony? Check out our complete guide on how to dress for the occasion — plus a few outfit ideas to help you look your best!

Still not sure whether or not you should wear black to a wedding this year?

These Are Our Best Tips

two women in flowy casual gowns showing how you can wear black to a wedding while still feeling celebratory and appropriate
casual black attire: Show Me Your Mumu

Sometimes the dress code is vague and you’re forced to go rogue when picking out your wedding attire. But don’t stress — we have some expert tips to help you navigate the rules of wearing black to an upcoming wedding. Keep scrolling for our do’s, don’ts, and styling must-haves!

The Season Can Help You Decide If You Can Wear Black to a Wedding

woman wearing a black floor-length outfit with a high leg slit to an outdoor wedding while holding a white rose
black satin attire: ASTR The Label

While you can wear black to a wedding during any season, as a general rule, it tends to be more appropriate for cold weather celebrations. In the fall and winter, dark hues are a no-brainer, and black is a chic and timeless choice. Plus, this elegant hue looks great in rich, seasonal fabrics like velvet and satin.

But this doesn’t mean that you can’t wear black for warm weather weddings! It’s just a bit trickier to nail. Spring and summer events typically call for brighter colors to reflect the lightness of the season, and black can feel too heavy or somber for sunny celebrations. Black also absorbs heat, so you may not want to wear head-to-toe onyx for a hot outdoor wedding.

However, if you’re attending a formal or evening event in the warmer months, you can still wear black to these weddings by opting for lightweight fabrics (like chiffon or silk). We’d also suggest pairing your ‘fit with colorful or metallic accessories to add some summery flair.

two ladies sitting on a couch wearing outfits in yellow pink and midnight hues

Have a winter wedding on your calendar? Don’t miss our list of the most stylish gowns for your next cold weather event!

Wearing Black to a Wedding Makes More Sense for Evening Ceremonies

guy standing in a hotel lobby wearing dark modern attire showing how you can wear black to a wedding
black wedding attire: Express

In most cases, you can feel confident about wearing black to an evening wedding. Daytime events tend to be more casual (and hotter), while evening affairs are more formal (and cooler) — great for a sleek black ‘fit.

Evening celebrations also bring out dark and metallic tones, which pair perfectly with black. Compared to daytime events when attendees are more likely to wear bright and colorful attire, the evening is when black takes over.

Check In With Other Attendees To See What They’re Wearing (Or Ask The Couple)

woman wearing elegant black midi length outfit with a ruffle hem to a warm outdoor wedding
black midi gown: Show Me Your Mumu

When in doubt, you can always reach out to other attendees to see if they think wearing black to the wedding would be appropriate. Get a feeling for their outfits, and try to base your look around theirs. If they plan on rocking bright patterns, casual frocks, or pastel hues, then you may want to look for a lighter ‘fit. But if they’re wearing formal wedding attire, sparkly metallics, or dark tones, then feel free to pull out your little black dress!

If you don’t know many of the other attendees, you can also reach out to the couple directly (or someone in their wedding party) to see if they’d be okay with you wearing black to the wedding. This is the best way to know 100% if you’d be committing a fashion faux pas — plus, it’s their day, so their opinion is the only one that matters!

Is the bride wearing black to the wedding?

lady wearing unique flowy black attire to her boho desert wedding while walking hand in hand with her husband
black gown: Reformation | photo: The Hearnes | florals: Tellurian

A quick rule of thumb: just like you wouldn’t wear white to a traditional wedding, you should avoid wearing black if the bride is donning this elegant color on the big day. All eyes should be on her, so try to stay away from any outfit that would take away from her big moment, as it’s considered disrespectful and inappropriate.

If the bride is wearing black, the couple may have specified this on the invitation or their wedding website to help you plan accordingly. In this case, they may have a super specific attire rules to ensure she stands out — such as flipping tradition and having attendees wear white (see: Christine’s famous wedding from Selling Sunset!).

Is the wedding party wearing black to the wedding?

group of ladies wearing black floor-length outfits to an outdoor wedding
black floor-length attire: Show Me Your Mumu

As a general rule of thumb, you should never match the wedding party — so if they’re wearing black to the wedding, opt for a different hue for your outfit.

Wearing the same color as the wedding party can cause confusion about who’s an attendee and who’s part of the wedding. While you can totally rock a ‘fit that complements the wedding colors (this makes for great photos!), always avoid perfectly matching them.

If You Opt to Wear Black To a Wedding, Add Hints of Color Too

woman wearing a black and pink botanical outfit to an evening wedding while she stands at the bar with another lady who is in a one shoulder floor length black look
black floral attire: Lulus

If decide to wear black to your next wedding, make your outfit feel extra joyful by styling it with some bright and colorful accessories. This will help you avoid any funeral vibes and instead look celebration-ready.

Elevate your outfit by wearing black wedding attire with a pop of color, such as a vibrant pair of heels, a multicolored clutch, or some neon earrings.

For guys, you can spark joy with a patterned tie, a bright button-down shirt, or a fun pocket square. Just be sure to keep the venue and dress code rules in mind when styling your ‘fit. (For example, black tie events call for luxe jewel tones, while casual summer celebrations are all about bright and bold hues.)

Another way to brighten up your look is to wear black wedding attire with a colorful print or a fun texture. Think: a black and pink nature-inspired gown, a velvet jacket, or a sparkly sequin skirt. Ultimately, your goal is wear something worthy of celebrating such an exciting and meaningful moment!

Attending a Wedding This Season? We’ve Got You Covered.

woman in floral high-low outfit showing how you can wear black to a wedding during the warmer seasons
black wedding attire: Lulus

Whether or not you’re wearing black, attending a wedding is the perfect excuse to splurge on a new outfit. And we’re here to help you find the one. We’ve rounded up the best wedding-appropriate gowns for every season, from spring to summer to winter to fall (including some chic black options!).

For the mamas, we also found the best mother of the bride gowns and pantsuits that are ultra flattering. And if you’re the mother of the groom, also check out these gorgeous MOG gowns for every style!

Are you planning to wear black to an upcoming wedding? Let us know how you’re styling it in the comments below!