Bride cops backlash over question about wedding day taboo: 'A big no-no'

Some even say this particular practice is bad luck.

The act of selecting the perfect outfit for a wedding can be a minefield. Even with a strict dress code, there is still plenty of room for interpretation. However, one factor that remains hotly debated is the question of whether it's appropriate for guests to wear black. A recent post by a bride on a wedding planning community ignited a social media storm, with the bride asking for advice on how to politely tell a cousin not to wear a black dress to her February wedding.

There is hot debate over whether it's appropriate to wear black to a wedding. Photo: Bulb Creative
There is hot debate over whether it's appropriate to wear black to a wedding. Photo: Bulb Creative

In her post, the bride voiced her concerns, wondering if a black dress, typically associated with funerals, was a suitable choice for a wedding celebration.


"A young cousin of mine is asking if she can wear a black dress to my February wedding," she wrote, "isn't that more for funerals? How can I nicely say she shouldn't wear a black dress?"

The great debate: Black at a wedding?

Her query ignited a flurry of responses, eliciting a split in opinions. Some mirrored the bride's perspective, suggesting that black attire might be too somber for such a festive occasion, while others argued that black was perfectly acceptable, especially for more formal affairs.

"What's wrong with black?" one group member pondered, "I don't see the problem here."

To this, another individual responded, "Everyone knows not to wear black to a wedding," but received pushback from multiple members who disagreed with this stance.

"It isn't a standard rule that you can't wear black to a wedding," countered another group member, with a third chiming in, "the last wedding I attended was formal and most guests wore black."

bride asks how to gently ask her cousin not to wear black to her wedding.
A bride has asked how to politely ask her cousin not to wear black to her wedding. Photo: Chaz Cruz

The comments varied, touching on the idea that black is a common colour at formal weddings, while also recognising regional differences in etiquette.

"Black is a very formal colour, nothing wrong with wearing it to a wedding," stated one member. However, an American member had a different perspective, remarking, "In the south, it is very much not done."

Another Southerner agreed, saying, "I grew up in the south, and wearing black to a wedding is a big no no, it's bad luck to the couple."

Yet, someone countered this, saying, "Actually, it's very much done all over the US for formal weddings."

"I wear black to weddings more often than not," shared another member, with someone else adding, "I've never heard that you can't wear black to a wedding."

Some respondents were surprised a bride would be concerned about guest attire at all, with one person noting, "With the exception of someone coming in an actual wedding dress, I truly did not give a single f—k what anyone wore to my wedding, it was so far from my mind truly."

"This whole thing is silly," summed up another.

Navigating the grey area

The conversation around wedding attire has long been mired with tradition and expectations. But in today's world, with a fresh perspective and changing norms, many are eagerly embracing the opportunity to navigate the grey area.

"I think it's dumb to specify guests don't wear certain colours, especially a basic one like black. White obviously being the exception," shared one group member. Another chimed in, "I think a black dress could be better than some of the outfits I've seen people wear!"

Bridesmaids with flowers - foreground only in focus. Beautiful Springtime bouquets in pink and green.
In the 1800s, black was often chosen for weddings for practical reasons, as fabrics were expensive, and white clothing got dirty easily. Photo: Getty

The case of the black dress typifies the broader discussion on wedding etiquette and tradition. Is it rude to wear white as a guest? Is a short dress too casual for an evening ceremony?

According to Easy Weddings, historically, wearing black to a wedding was taboo, often associated with mourning or symbolising ill omen. Traditionally, wearing black to a wedding was also considered a subtle way of expressing disagreement over the nuptials, a sly way of objecting without verbally shouting it out and causing a scene like they do in the movies.

Wedding Planner Emma Watts from Sparrow Weddings recently surveyed her community and found that 89% of respondents believe that wearing black to a wedding is perfectly acceptable.

"This matches up with what I’ve been seeing at my weddings over at least several years now," Emma shared with Yahoo Lifestyle. "Black is always an acceptable choice, particularly for an evening event, or where the dress code has been specified as ‘black tie’. In the past, black tie would have the women dressing in dark colours such as charcoal grey, or any of the deep jewel tones like sapphire, or emerald. Now black has joined the mix and it’s fine."

Emma further explained that older guests, aged 50 and above, may still avoid wearing black out of tradition. "This bride may have been raised with that belief and has not yet let go of it."

Where does the tradition date back to?

Though it may seem like a longstanding tradition, the taboo around black attire at weddings is more recent than one might imagine. In the 1800s, black was commonly chosen for weddings for practical reasons, as fabrics were expensive and white clothing was prone to becoming dirty. However, the association of black with mourning has deep roots. This tradition of wearing black mourning clothing in the West can be traced back to the Roman Empire, where the family of the deceased would wear a dark-coloured toga as a sign of respect and mourning.


While times have shifted, and many no longer consider black inappropriate for weddings, it's still wise to avoid it in religious settings where it could be associated with mourning or cultures where it may be frowned upon.

Ultimately, the goal is to respect the occasion as a celebration rather than mourning. When in doubt, opt for lighter shades or colours more in line with the venue and the season.

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