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Dress code for wedding guests – is it okay to wear a black dress?

The wedding season is far from over! But what to wear as a guest in the registry office, in the church or generally to this festive gathering – and what rather not? An etiquette expert reveals what wedding guests should consider when choosing their outfit.  

How colorful can my dress be at a wedding?

With a colored outfit female Gäste do with weddings nothing wrong. Nevertheless, the clothing should not be too gaudy and flashy: "An outfit in Lady Gaga style, which puts the bride in the shade, wäre for a wedding not so appropriate", says Agnes Anna Jarosch of the German Knigge Council. In the past, the unwritten dress code rule for wedding guests was to avoid bright red, as this is considered aggressive and sexy in color psychology. Today, this rule is outdated, because at most weddings, the rule is: wear what you like. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can also discuss your color choice with the bride and groom beforehand.

Can I wear a black dress as a wedding guest?

Wearing black as a woman at a wedding? That works if you combine colored accessories with it, says the expert. Black is simply a fashion color that also has its raison d’être at weddings. Colorful accents in the outfits ensure that "the overall impression is not too dreary", says Jarosch. Scarves or handbags, for example, which are combined to match the dress, are suitable for this.

Can I wear a white dress as a wedding guest?

The rule still applies: the bride must not be outdone. After all, she is the center of attention at her wedding. Therefore, white dresses are still taboo for this occasion. However, Jarosch explains that there is nothing wrong with shorter cocktail dresses or outfits with cleavage.

Dress code for wedding guests at the registry office

Pastel or candy colors are wonderful for summer, but plain dresses in poppy red or navy blue are also worth considering. Discreetly patterned floral dresses are also popular; they look fresh and breathe a little romance into the often austere registry office atmosphere.

Dress code for wedding guests in the church

Too flashy, too colorful or too provocative models are inappropriate for the wedding in the church. Therefore, you should rather go for discreet elegance in your dress. In the church, bare shoulders should also be covered, for example, with a stole. Or you choose an outfit for the church ceremony and change afterwards, advises etiquette expert Jarosch.

Dress code for wedding guests at the garden party

Here it may be casual and gladly also something kürzer or however calf-length. Even boho-style outfits with hippie-inspired paisley patterns or (not too skimpy) silk shorts are welcome at an outdoor party. However, you are always well advised with an elegant cocktail dress. As an alternative to pumps and high heels, it is better to wear ballerinas or flat sandals at such a casual wedding.

Dress code for the man at a wedding

Male wedding guests don’t necessarily have it any easier when it comes to choosing an outfit. Even they can afford to make a fashion faux pas despite wearing a suit. It is therefore always important to look carefully at the invitation, because often a certain dress code of the guests is required.

Smart Casual or Casual Chic

This dress code for wedding guests is casual, but a baggy T-shirt and worn-out sneakers can sometimes look out of place. The suit can be a little more sporty, the colors can also be bright or pastel shades are chosen. Even a pair of jeans can be combined with the jacket. Sneakers also go, if they are elegant. Tie or bow tie are not necessary for the casual-elegant "Smart Casual"-Look.


Still casual, but a touch more elegant is this dress code. A dark suit is required here. Tie and elegant shoes are desirable.

Black Tie

You receive a wedding invitation with "Black Tie"-dress code? Then a tuxedo is a must! Important with the tuxedo is a traditional black outfit. Another characteristic is that the "transition from shirt to trousers must not be visible, so a cummerbund should be worn. As for the shoes, patent leather shoes are desirable. And as the name Black Tie suggests, a black bow tie must always be worn.

White Tie

In fashion, the synonym for tailcoat. White tie is often required for big weddings. The dress code always includes a tailcoat with a swallowtail, a white shirt, a white vest, black trousers with narrow silk stripes, patent leather shoes and, of course, a white bow tie. White gloves do not need to be worn.

With material from dpa