• 09/13/2023

Can You Wear Red to a Wedding? What Guests Need to Know

A woman wearing a red formal dress.

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Wedding etiquette can be a challenge to navigate. When attending a wedding, you want to look your best as you congratulate the happy couple on their love and commitment. The last thing you want to do is to offend the bride and garner disapproving looks from other guests.

There’s a sensational wedding etiquette rumor going around lately. Lady guests are highly discouraged from wearing red for a rather shocking reason. Apparently, wearing red means you’ve had relations with the groom. Yikes!

Is this information even accurate? Well, it’s widely regarded as a myth. But are there other reasons you should still avoid wearing red to a wedding? 

It depends. There are two factors to consider — cultural traditions and the couple’s preferences. As long as you’re not defying any of the two, it’s fine to wear red within reason. Let’s find out more about different wedding traditions and how you can wear red tastefully to the next wedding you go to.

Weddings and Traditional Colors

Anywhere you go, people celebrate weddings their own way, incorporating their own cultures and traditions into this important celebration of love. In many cultures, color is highly symbolic. To some, certain colors represent life and love, while some represent grief. 

For instance, in Chinese culture, white represents death and is commonly used in funerals. However, red is associated with positive attributes like success, fertility and loyalty. In Chinese weddings, red is reserved for the couple, while black and white are frowned upon. 

Indian weddings also follow similar rules. Red is reserved for the bride, while guests are encouraged to wear bright, festive colors. White and black are the only colors that are considered inappropriate to wear as a guest since, again, they are associated with death and grief.

In contrast, white is the traditional bridal color for Western weddings, with black being a common tuxedo color for the groom. In Western weddings, there aren’t any specific colors that are offensive. Rather, guests must be careful not to take attention away from the bride. 

Research shows that the color red makes women more attractive, so wearing red can turn heads away from the bride and toward you. Unless the couple specified otherwise, wearing red might not be the best sartorial choice as a wedding guest. 

Couples’ Preferences

Nowadays, people are veering further away from traditional wedding customs. Some choose to leave behind tradition in favor of self-expression and individuality. A lot of couples are even forgoing customs they deem outdated, like the garter toss.

Some Western brides choose to wear gowns in other colors instead of white. That being said, some brides are completely fine with having guests wear red. Some might even choose a red theme for the wedding.

It all still depends on the couple. Some couples carefully outline in their invitations what colors the guests can wear, so always double-check before dress shopping. If you’re unsure, ask the couple directly to avoid any issues come the wedding day. 

How to Wear Red to a Wedding Tastefully

If red is really your color and you’d still like to wear it to a wedding, there are ways to wear it while still being respectful.

Wear Subtle Shades

If you’re going to wear red, try to avoid bright and eye-catching shades. Instead of going for rich crimson hues, go for red-adjacent colors instead. Some great colors are dusty rose, mahogany, burgundy, berry, brick and terracotta.

Just choose a color that’s flattering to your skin tone and appropriate for the wedding theme. Make sure it isn’t pale enough to be mistaken for a bridal gown.

Go for Patterns

A patterned dress with red details can soften the richness of red while still providing a beautiful burst of color. Choose a pattern that’s appropriate for the wedding theme and location. For instance, you can wear a red floral print with flowy material at a garden wedding. 

Wear Red Accessories

You can also incorporate red through your bag or accessories instead of wearing a red dress. A pop of red through statement earrings or your mini handbag can be a tasteful way to don the fierce color.

Choose an Appropriate Design

It’s important to remember that color is not the only thing that can grab attention at a wedding. The neckline, silhouette, length and material of a dress can also elicit looks. If you want to wear a shade of red to a wedding, you should pay attention to the overall design of the dress.

Red is already an attractive color, so try to choose more tasteful silhouettes. Based on the wedding’s dress code, select a dress that fulfills the required formality and is appropriate for a wedding in general. 

Even if you’re wearing something other than red, it’s still a good move to wear more modest and appropriate dresses for someone else’s big day.

Red and Respectful

At the end of the day, it’s a great honor to be invited to a wedding. You’ve been chosen to participate in one of the most important days of the couple’s life. So show up, be beautiful and enjoy the festivities. 

Whether or not wearing red is disrespectful depends on cultural and personal factors. As long as you know what kind of wedding you’re going to and what the bride and groom want, you can choose a beautiful and respectful outfit.

Can you wear red to a wedding?

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