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Is it okay to wear white to a wedding?

A group wedding photograph showing all guests wearing white, outside on a green lawn with marquees and tall trees in the background

Back to the wedding posts today, dolls, and I thought I'd kick it off with a bit of a debate that I've seen floating round. It's not a new debate obviously, but, in my experience, it comes up before any wedding and is worth a chat!

Is it okay to wear white to a wedding?

Many think that, traditionally, the bride wears white to wedding to symbolise 'purity' and guests would refrain from wearing the same colour in order to respect this aspect of a wedding's traditions, but it's becoming increasingly popular for brides to pick off-white, ivory, or even coloured gowns for their day in favour of fashion or a passion to not adhere to the traditions. In fact, way back when, it wasn't tradition for a wedding, brides chose to marry in any colour they so wished, apart from black or red. It wasn't until Queen Victoria, that the white dress became popular, and was more a sign of wealth than purity.

So if it's not actually tradition for the bride to wear white, why can a guest not wear white?
A lot of other traditions are still prominent in all weddings, and probably just for the sake of 'that's how weddings go' not that we actually need to follow that tradition. A prime example is the bride being given away by her father. Long gone are the days that women are perceived as the property of a man, therefore actually is there any need for a bride to be 'handed over' by her father, to her new husband? (That makes it sound like some kind of ritual, obviously it is a lovely part of the ceremony, but perhaps not for the same reasons it was initially introduced).

Wedding photograph; bride and bridesmaids.
The jury seem decidedly split on this one. Some brides don't mind and some brides do. I think, if you were considering it, that you should always check with the bride in question. You might be surprised, that you approach the bride first, they will be absolutely fine with it. Rather face the awkward conversation before the wedding, than turn up in white and make the bride feel upset or have guests judging you for the entire day. (NB - I'd probably draw the line at a veil... although nowadays, there are plenty of fascinators that come equipt with a birdcage style veil - when will our wedding guest outfit dilemmas end?!)

As a bride, if you are dead set on people not wearing white to your wedding, or any colour for that matter (you might have decided that you don't want anyone in black - which is pretty common!) then you need to find the courage to tell your guests, without being Bridezilla diva of the year.

Pop a little poem into the information on the invitations. Or simply a little statement that says 'The bride kindly asks you to refrain from wearing white outfits on the day. She'd love to see you in some beautiful colours'. Most guests will completely understand and it gives you one less thing to worry about on your big day!

As a wedding guest, my advice when planning your outfit is to find out the colour theme for the wedding. Unless guests have been specifically asked to follow a theme, nine times out of ten, the colour theme denotes what the bridesmaids will be wearing and all the other aspects of the day and I'd probably try and stay away from those colours so you don't look like a bridal party extra.

Next I'd look at the type of wedding they are having. Is this bride going for an all out traditional church wedding and manor house reception, with times scheduled in for a drinks reception, welcoming line and all the other traditional bits and bobs? Sounds like a pretty traditional bride to me, so maybe stay away from the white. Even if the bride does turn up in a coloured dress, at least you played it safe.

What's your opinion? Are you a bride-to-be who doesn't mind guests in white at her wedding, or perhaps someone turned up in white to your wedding! Or maybe you're the guest who turned up wearing white.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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3 comments

  1. 1) Unless the bride specifically states otherwise, no, you do NOT wear white to a wedding. Nor do you wear any similar colors like ivory. Brides shouldn't have to let everyone know in advance not to wear white. Seriously. A wedding guest wearing white is possibly the biggest wedding taboo. If a bride wants people to wear white, then she needs to say so in advance.

    2) The origin of brides wearing white has nothing to do with sexual purity. That said, people love rewriting history, so I'm sure some brides in the past chose to wear white as a sign of their virginity. I wrote about this in my own post about my wedding dress.

    http://www.findingmyvirginity.com/2014/06/wedding-wednesday-demi-vierge-wore-white.html

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  2. I think it all depends - for example if you know that the bride is wearing a full length bridal gown then I don't see any harm in wearing a quite plain knee length/short white dress, white suit (skirt suit/trouser suit/short suit) especially if the wedding is in summer. And even more so if you are only going to the reception. I don't think however you should wear a maxi dress in white or a white dress that has too much embroidery beading sequins etc.

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  3. Some super valid points ladies, thank you for your opinions!

    I was recently at a wedding where a guest wore a full length white maxi dress and it certainly caused a stir amongst the other guests, but the bride had no problem with it at all. I remember her saying "At the end of the day, it's my wedding day, I'm the bride and everyone knows that. If she'd turned up with a veil and a bridesmaid in tow, I may have had a different opinion, but I love her dress, it's very pretty and she looks lovely!"

    ReplyDelete

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