What Not to Wear to a Wedding: 25 Items to Avoid

Being invited to a wedding is a great honor. Your friends want you to help them celebrate one of the most important milestones in their lives. You’ve remembered to save the date and found a meaningful wedding shower gift idea. Now all you need is a flawless outfit.

Picking out the perfect ensemble to attend a wedding is easier than you think. Sometimes all it takes is a little guidance. To help you, we’ve compiled a list of 25 items you should not wear to a wedding. By avoiding these fashion faux-pas, you will make a tasteful fashion statement and show respect for the bride and groom.

bride and groom walk down the aisle

1. White

One of the most obvious mistakes at a wedding is to match the bride. You should avoid wearing white at all costs. This includes ivory, off-white or even a light blue hue. The last thing you want to do is have guests coming up and congratulating you on your big day and asking about your wedding dress style instead of the actual bride. If white is your go-to, opt for light pastels so there is more of a contrast between you and the bride.

2. A Black Tuxedo

Just as ladies don’t want to upstage the bride, gentlemen don’t want to upstage the groom. Instead of an overly formal black tuxedo, men should dress in a suit or a blazer. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, but find a happy medium that won’t have you mistaken for the groom.

3. Anything Too Revealing

Skip the skimpy cocktail dress and opt for something a little more on the conservative side. Dresses and skirts should be approximately at knee-length. At a hot summer outdoor wedding, try wearing lighter fabrics rather than less of them. If the ceremony is held at a church or a temple, it is a good idea to bring a shawl or cover-up to cover your shoulders.

girl wearing denim jeans

4. Denim or Jeans

While you might assume that a barnyard wedding theme calls for your favorite pair of jeans, this is not the case. Unless the wedding invitation explicitly says to wear denim, opt for some well-tailored trousers instead. Remember, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed at a wedding.

5. Low-Cut Outfits

It is best to skip the plunging necklines for a wedding. Avoid wearing anything backless as well. Instead, try a sweetheart neckline with a tasteful necklace. You’re sure to turn heads for all the right reasons.

6. Sheer Material

Avoid wearing anything see-through or sheer at a wedding. Make sure you try on your outfit in a few different lighted areas (both natural and fluorescent) to ensure that nothing shows through. Try wearing more modest materials like chiffon or satin. If you still want to wear a sheer fabric, try wearing a dress that has sheer details in the sleeves, so long as it’s done tastefully.

black dress with black heels

7. All Black

While this faux-pas is a bit in the gray area of what is acceptable for wedding attire, it is better to be safe than sorry. Black is typically worn by people in mourning at more somber affairs. Celebrate the love with a brighter color scheme. If you do want something darker, choose a blue or navy color rather than black.

8. Flip Flops

Save your flip-flops for the beach. If you’re not keen on wearing high heels all day, try some dressy sandals or stylish flats. For guys, pick a pair of closed toed shoes. If you’re attending a beach wedding, check with the bride and groom to see what their expectations are.

9. A Tiara

If the bride is having a fairy-tale wedding, she should probably be the one wearing the tiara. As the guest, opt for more subtle headwear. Try a cute headband or a garden hat that keeps with the couple’s dress code.

sparkly cocktail dress on hanger

10. Sparkly Cocktail Dresses

Avoid being overly-flashy with eye-catching metallics and sequins. It’s okay to have a little bit of sparkle on your accessories, but a bedazzled outfit will steal the spotlight.

11. Anything Too Gaudy

It’s okay to make a statement, but make sure it is done tastefully with a classy necklace, cute clutch or designer necktie. Avoid clashing colors or overly-bright neons. Remember, all eyes should be on the bridal party.

12. Animal Print

This also falls under the category of “too gaudy”. Instead of animal print, try something a little more appropriate, like some subtle stripes or polka dots. Fun and simple designs like these add personality to your outfit without being too aggressive.

couple with flowers and distressed jeans

13. Distressed Clothes

Don’t be the guest that shows up in ripped jeans! Although the distressed look is ‘in’ right now, this is definitely not appropriate attire for a wedding.

14. Casual Slogan T-shirts

Slogan tees are too casual for a friend or family member’s wedding. Save your favorite tee for casual Fridays and opt for a more formal dress or suit. Take advantage of the opportunity to get dressed up in your best clothes.

15. Clubbing Shoes

Save those bold platform heels for a night out with your girls. Instead, try a classy pair of sandals or slingback heels if you want to make a statement with footwear.

bridesmaids in matching dresses

16. Something That Mimics the Bridesmaids’ Dresses

As a guest, you want to make sure the bridal party gets the attention they deserve. If you are unaware of the color scheme of the wedding, reach out to one of the bridesmaids or groomsmen and ask. If you don’t want to pry, reference the colors found on the wedding invitations.

17. Bold Makeup

Try to go for a more subtle makeup look for a wedding. Use light neutral tones that highlight your natural features. Finish off your look with a light pink lip gloss for the perfect hint of shine.

18. Sweats

Save your sweats for Sunday mornings. If your main concern is being comfortable at the wedding, try on your outfit and shoes in advance to make sure you will be comfortable for the whole duration of the celebration.

girl in a pink romper

19. Rompers

Save your cute romper for the beach this summer. If you still want to mimic the look of a romper while being wedding-appropriate, opt for a fancier jumpsuit with cap sleeves and a cute belt. Pair with some summer wedges for the perfect outdoor summer wedding look.

20. Too Much Skin

Odds are that there will be a lot of the couple’s family at the wedding. In order to appear respectful, avoid showing a lot of skin and go for a more modest look.

21. Something That Reveals Your Undergarments

Although bralettes and bareback dresses may be trendy, embrace a more conservative look for a wedding. Try on your dress in advance to make sure your bra straps are covered, or purchase a strapless bra.

prom dresses on hangers

22. A Ball Gown or Prom Dress

For a more formal wedding, it is typically expected that female guests wear a long dress. But instead of breaking out the gown you wore to prom, try wearing a more appropriate evening gown. If the wedding is during the day, a pretty maxi dress should do the trick.

23. Shorts

Even if the wedding is super casual, it is best to ditch your shorts. Ladies, try a skirt that falls right above the knee and pair it with a flattering blouse. For men, a nice pair of khakis will give you a more refined look.

24. Sneakers

If the wedding happens to take place in a location that requires some extra walking (or maybe even hiking), consider wearing more sturdy shoes. For women, this might mean flats instead of heels. Although sneakers may seem like the ideal choice at the time, you want to show respect for the bride and groom by putting your best foot forward (literally!).

couple wearing plaid holding hands

25. Anything Against the Dress Code

The happy couple is most likely going to list their dress code on the invitation. Make note of this and dress accordingly as a sign of respect towards this unique moment in their lives. Even if the event is ‘semi-casual’ it is still better to show up in a suit and tie or a flattering dress than to appear underdressed.

As a wedding guest, it is important to show respect towards the bride and groom. After all, they did invite you to one of the biggest days of their lives. To show your gratitude, make sure you know the wedding basics like digital wedding etiquette and how to find the right wedding gift idea that will put a smile on the faces of the happy couple.