Wedding guest in black dress

Is it Ever Okay to Wear Black to a Wedding?

Why are we so afraid of the dark when it comes to wedding guest attire?

We all know the rules when it comes to wearing white to a wedding – just. don’t. do. it. But when it comes to wearing black, it’s more of a grey area.


Sure, it’s a shade originally associated with funerals and office attire, but is there really any reason to eschew the hue we wear on a daily basis, just because we’re a guest at a wedding?

Back in the day, if a guest wore black to a wedding it was viewed as a passive aggressive protest against the wedding (I must remember this if I am invited to my ex’s wedding…), but that’s an archaic stance if you ask me.

The goal for wedding guests is to look chic and well put together, and I never feel better or more confident than when I’m dressed head to toe in black. So, my question is, why does looking appropriate for a wedding have to be associated with reaching for the florals?

Of course, weddings are celebrations, and you normally associate bright and cheery colours with celebrations, and in antithesis to this, black was traditionally a shade for mourning, but when there are so many rules when it comes to weddings, surely some are made to be broken?

One person sure to agree is Meghan Markle, who recently rocked an embellished black Valentino gown at the wedding of BFF Misha Nonoo. She wasn’t alone in turning to the dark side for the occasion; supermodel, Karlie Kloss also donned a chic black dress.

If you’re still convinced black is a no-go area, don’t just take our word for it; we chatted to some industry insiders who gave us their take on the black dress debate. Our experts know exactly when to say ‘yes’ to that little black dress and when to head to the pastel end of the palette – you can’t go wrong!

Black dress wedding guests

The one thing you do want to be on w-day is appropriate, as luxury wedding planner Aimee Dunne points out: “Black is chic and timeless; but it’s all about wearing it in the right way.”

“Think about accessorising so the outfit doesn’t look too harsh, teaming with some brighter shoes or a cute clutch works really well, or some statement earrings.”

You may look amazing in your LBD, but cut-out panels might be a bit much for elderly attendees to cope with – especially if they cower in shock over the sight of someone sitting in a black skirt in the pews. Avoid looking overly sexy and distracting attention from the bride and groom, and black is a perfectly reasonable shade to wear.

If you’re feeling concerned about whether it’s okay to wear black, consider the kind of wedding you’re attending. If you’re heading to an afternoon tea themed soiree at a country barn, maybe pretty pastels would be best, but an evening affair in the city could suit black down to the ground.

“Black works and can be chic if it’s an evening wedding with male guests in black tie,” says wedding industry expert Mark Niemierko. “Fundamentally, though, I think it’s poor taste to wear black as a guest, I find it a little morbid. I think it’s uber chic to wear navy rather than black.”

With this in mind, maybe I could get on board with navy; in fact, I have! I wore navy to two of the four weddings I have been to in my time (I hope to rack up more this summer) and nobody batted an eyelid. But black is just a few shades darker than navy, so why it still raises eyebrows is beyond me!

I say, as long as the couple aren’t deadly against it, step over to the dark side this wedding season, and leave the pastels where they belong – hanging in the wardrobe.

Shop the look

Embellished black dress ASOS

Make like Meghan, with sheer sleeves and a touch of sparkle. Embellished wrap dress, ASOS, £85

New Look 635783801 29.99

Keep it chic for a city wedding with this fluted skirt number. Bandage midi dress, New Look, £29.99

Long sheer sleeve wedding guest dress, ASOS

For wintry weddings, we love this floaty black midi with a hint of traditional florals. Floral maxi smock, ASOS, £48

New Look frill black wedding guest dress

Perfect for dancing in, you’ll look stylish and feel comfortable. Winning. Black chiffon ruffle dress, New Look, £27.99

Wallis star black wedding guest dress

We love a celestial print, especially for festive and winter celebrations. Star print midi dress, Wallis, £55

Martha dress, Boden

We’re getting serious Audrey Hepburn vibes from this fitted dress. Team it with a bright clutch or hat for a pop of colour. Martha seam detail dress, Boden, £98


Feeling royally inspired by Meghan Markle’s bold wedding fashion choice? Check out the very best guest fashion from her big day.