So you’ve received a wedding invitation, you’ve started planning your outfit and you’re wondering if you can wear that fabulous red dress?
Hmmm – you can wear whatever you want to a wedding, right? Well, technically yes. But in certain situations, it could be frowned upon to wear a bright red outfit to a wedding.
Here we explore both sides of the coin with the hope it gives you some guidance on deciding whether to wear red to a wedding.
Is Wearing Red to a Wedding Considered Bad Etiquette?
We understand how wearing black to a wedding could be controversial as the color is commonly associated with funerals and mourning.
But could wearing red cause the same controversy?
While Western cultural associations with red don’t have anything to do with mourning, in the case of wedding guest attire, as with most bold colors, it does give off attention-seeking vibes!
There is a (rather outdated) school of thought that encourages all wedding guests not to wear any loud flashy color to any wedding – so that essentially you do not distract from the bride.
Basically, it comes down to the perceptions of the other people at the wedding. If you happen to know that the couple or family adheres to traditions or has cultural beliefs that red is not an appropriate color to be worn by a wedding guest, then perhaps avoid wearing a bright red color.
You don’t want to be accused of bad wedding etiquette!
What about Other Cultures?
A brightly colored red is often worn by brides in different cultures around the world, especially in Asian wedding ceremonies.
Hindu brides wear a red saree to signify the symbol of prosperity and fertility. While Chinese brides wear red because it represents luck and happiness.
So if you’re ever invited to an Indian or Chinese wedding ceremony, do NOT wear red! In fact, we’d recommend that you pick an outfit that doesn’t include any red on it at all to avoid causing any offense.
When Is It Okay to Wear Red to a Wedding?
I think it’s safe to say that most brides will be totally fine if their guests choose to wear red to their wedding today. I honestly wouldn’t notice if someone wore red to my wedding, I love people wearing bold bright colors!
So if you do love the color red and have found a great outfit then you should be fine to wear it. It should not take anything away from the bride, and if you’re comfortable in the outfit, then go for it.
And actually, the color red symbolizes love and passion, so you could argue it’s very appropriate!
If you are still unsure, I guess it also depends on the outfit itself.
Perhaps Choose a Different Shade of Red
If you are uncertain about whether to wear a stark red, consider going with darker shades like wine, berry, or burgundy instead.
Choosing a shade of red that is slightly muted with undertones like magenta, rust, or maroon is nearly always safe, and more wedding-appropriate to some than vibrant scarlet.
Keep It Subtle
The key to pulling off a red dress at a wedding is to not look like you’re vying for attention in any way.
Think about the silhouette of the dress and make sure the cut is tasteful. For example, if it’s short, make sure it has a high neck. If it’s low cut, make it long – you get the idea!
A wedding is not the occasion for anything too skimpy, sexy, or revealing so dress appropriately for the seasons, as well as the dress code!
Can I Just Ask the Couple?
Yes! If you still have any uncertainty about wearing red to the wedding, then you can ask the bride or groom if you know them well, or you’re a member of the wedding party.
In most cases, I’m sure it will be totally fine. The bride will probably appreciate that you were concerned enough about how she would feel to reach out.
And in the unlikely event that the happy couple feels red may not be appropriate, respect their answer! Whatever you want to wear to the wedding, it is still their special day, so anyone attending should adhere to their wishes.