The white dress debate

posted 3 months ago in Etiquette
Post # 16
4286 posts
Honey bee

Do I personally care?

No.  What other people put on their bodies is of no concern to me.  People will know I’m the one getting married by virtue of being the person standing up front getting married.  I’m not so attention-seeking that someone making an ass of themselves to draw attention really bothers me.  I get all the attention I need and want.

That said, from hanging out on boards similar to this one, it’s very evident that SOME people do care about it. Greatly.  To a degree I can’t even begin to fathom.  And regardless of how dumb I think that mentality may be, why even chance it?  It just isn’t that hard to find a not white dress (or almost white dress).  You have literally every color under the sun available.  Hell, the only white article of clothing I own are socks and even those have pink on the toes and heels.  It’s just not that fecking hard to find a not-white article of clothing.  Instead of hemming and hawing and polling the internet to ask if it’s too white – just find one of millions of other options available practically everywhere so you don’t even have to wonder.

Post # 17
1164 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

skunktastic :  “I can see this going two ways: either people will stop caring what their guests wear unless it’s a full on wedding gown, or all neutral shades will be off limits.”

Generally this custom only applies to white and off-white dresses though (i.e. ivory, light beige, eggshell). There are way more neutral shades than those–e.g. grey, brown, navy, black. 

I do get what you are trying to say in questioning where to draw the line… my personal opinion is that once it starts looking less white and more some other color then it’s fine (e.g. when camel looks more brown than white), but that’s also kind of a personal preference thing.

“I have worn off-white before… Bride didn’t mind. She is divorced now but not because the groom got confused”

Lmfao 😀 😉

Just fyi this paragraph is not personally aimed at you skunktastic… just sharing my personal opinion on the topic.

I also am not a guest who would side-eye someone over that (unless they were wearing something that looked like a wedding dress, sorry not sorry). But out of respect, I’m personally not going to wear white or off-white to someone else’s wedding. Personally, I wouldn’t want to risk upsetting someone over something so minor as the color of my dress when there are so many colors to choose from. It’s not a hardship to choose a color other than white/off-white IMO.


Post # 18
6242 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: February 1997

Regardless of whether it SHOULD matter or not, we know it DOES matter to some people. So why would it be so crucial for someone to wear white to the one occasion it might be a faux pas to do so? If you’re attention -seeking and desperate, go for it. But for safety’s sake, I would wear one of the countless other colors available.

Post # 19
6365 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2015

franklymydearidont :  yeah I guess those do count as neutral. I was think pale colors like pale pinks. I’ve seen on here how in certain lights it photographs white, the horror! So I can see people beginning to say “why take the chance?”  I still hope it goes the other way. After all, white was not an issue 100 years ago. As traditions go it’s fairly new. 

With regard to my own situation, I don’t see it happening now… even my own wedding dress I bought online, it just wasn’t a thing back then. But people do seem to forget that we don’t all live in the city with a dress shop on every corner. Sometimes it is hard to find something bereft of white. You get what’s available, affordable and fits. I’ve learned to shop sooner as I don’t like white much anyway. 

Post # 20
464 posts
Helper bee

I personally wouldnt have wanted someone wearing white to my wedding, because its eye catching, whether it looks like a wedding dress or not. I find it distracting in photos etc. But I wouldnt have cared if someone wore champagne or blush. In fact, one of my bridesmaids wore champagne. I went shopping with my sister for her dress, and she asked if I would mind her wearing a dark ivory lace dress which was actually designed as a more casual style wedding dress, to which I said go ahead, it will look awesome with the colours I have chosen. She didn’t get it, because being a wedding dress it was also priced like a wedding dress! I also wouldnt have made a big deal out of it if someone DID wear white, but I would have preferred that they didn’t. 

Post # 21
9002 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

Well if we are going to throw out the term tradition then maybe we should recognise that traditionally the bride and every female guests wore their best dress, colour be damned. 

I think it is sad when people care more about what a guest is wearing than the fact that they are there to celebrate your wedding. I would rather have my friend there in a white dress than not be there at all.

Post # 22
343 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2019

This is the one thing that just astounds me, the amount to which people care. Nobody is going to think that a guest wearing a white dress with a small print/polka dots, or a pale pink/yellow/gray dress is the bride. “It’ll draw attention from the guests”…well, if your guests are THAT awful and persnickety, guess what? They’d focus on ANYTHING “attention-worthy”, like a guest bring pregnant, an untucked shirt, a dress that’s too short for their liking, a dress that’s too low-cut for their liking, etc. 

Post # 23
2216 posts
Buzzing bee

dianaj17 :  I agree, but at the same time I can see the other perspective as well. It’s not hard to choose a dress to wear that isn’t white. There is a huge palette of colors to choose from, and the vast majority of non-wedding dresses aren’t white.

Post # 24
343 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2019

MissMarple :  true, but I try to be sensitive to background/circumstances. Not everyone has a ton of expendable income. Some people really struggle with body image and have a lot of anxiety around shopping for clothes/feeling good in clothing. We also live in an age where many of us haven’t been to very many traditional weddings, and might not know that a cream dress with tiny flowers is “too white” for a wedding. 

Post # 25
236 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2018

citizenerased14 :  I don’t think that guests should wear white, or anything pale enough to appear white in photos.  Even most coloured wedding gowns I see are pale enough that they pass for a white or off-white.  

I get that most brides (myself included) don’t really care, but I just don’t understand why some guests find it hard to avoid?  White cocktail/evening gowns are rare enough in normal circumstances that I don’t undestand why the guest can’t wear literally any other colour?  If you are going to have one go-to cocktail/evening dress, don’t make it white.  

I don’t think it’s that noticeable in person at the wedding, but I have seen wedding photos where one guest is wearing white, and it does stand out. 

I do think people go a little over the top here though.  I have no problem with most patterned dresses with a white background. 

Post # 26
143 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2019 - City, State

It depends on the bride. I for one have a white dress and my bridesmaids are in pink so I did ask for wedding guests to avoid those colors as not to clash with the bridal party. However I think if say I was wearing blue then I don’t think I would care if someone wore white. But I think it is generally customary that they not wear white anyway. 

Post # 27
8060 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

citizenerased14 : 

The  criticism of guests wearing white is not – and never has been –  anything to do with ‘being mistaken for the bride’  (except in the unlikely event of a guest wearing a full white ballgown plus veil maybe )

It is to do with the idea that white has  become the tradtiional bride’s colour and it is courteous to allow her to be the only  one wearing it.

Like many other pps , I cannot fathom choosing a white dress if going to a wedding,  whether  you know the bride is going to wear white or blush or whatever. Just don’t do it and then there  is no  chance  of a problem. Floral dresses  or dresses with white  patterns  I don’t see as an issue , but if its white or  the general effect is white,  just  don’t. 

Post # 28
316 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2019

I’m with you OP on thinking it’s strange and unnecessary when people jump down posters’ throats for even ASKING if a floral/polka dot/beige etc dress is”too white”, and acting like it’s the most offensive thing ever. First of all, I’m not with the “if you have to ask, you know it is” camp. These guests literally take the time to find a wedding forum, make an account, and ask because they’re trying to be courteous. And in almost every case, I don’t think the dress looks “too white”. No, it’s not that hard for many people to find something other than white to wear. But I definitely wouldn’t be bothered by anyone wearing white to my wedding. Sure, some people *do* care. And some people also believe that brides have a monopoly on the color white not only at the wedding but at all pre-wedding events. I actually think that part is a more recent development (smart marketing on the part of companies trying to sell those dressy white dresses that people aren’t allowed to wear to weddings- now apparently you’re supposed to wear white to your bridal shower, bachelorette, and rehearsal dinner too!), trending more towards the “only brides wear white” thing than away from it. It’s a silly and arbitrary thing in my opinion, and I don’t understand a real reason for it. (I don’t buy the concern that a guest will be mistaken for the bride, nor do I think someone else in white would be a distraction from the bride in formal photos specifically designed to center around her and the bridal party, nor any more “eye-catching” in candids than a guest with pink hair or wearing sparkling gold, and I certainly don’t think that the reason should be solely to appease “gossipy” guests- I would be far more offended if my aunt spent my wedding gossiping rudely about another guest’s outfit rather than partaking in the joyful celebration of my wedding and letting everyone else do the same than I would be by the guest wearing white!)

So that said, I really hope things do start moving in the direction of being less restrictive on what people wear rather than more so by eliminating blush, champagne, etc.

Side note, but I’m getting married in a rainforest building at a zoo, and I had read a while ago that apparently guests are supposed to wear subdued tones and nothing too bright or flashy. I’m picturing a colorful, fun affair, so I’m really hoping my guests don’t feel the need to adhere to that “rule”! (Obviously, I don’t expect and would never require my guests to have to wear brights either, I would just be so bummed if I learned someone didn’t wear their favorite bright red/yellow/or even patterened white dress because they worried it would be “inappropriate” or I’d be offended.) 

Post # 29
39 posts
  • Wedding: June 2017

I had an outdoor summer wedding and had 4 out of 20 guests wearing white dresses, I even helped one choose the white dress she’d wear! I didnt care one bit. I feel like this rule is selfish and outdated, but that’s my unpopular opinion lol.

Post # 30
1196 posts
Bumble bee

citizenerased14 :  someone wore white to my wedding and I didn’t even notice but other guests did and told me after. I didn’t really mind, this person is always pushing buttons and thrives on attention seeking behavior, but other people did. So not just the bride is concerned about guests wearing white! 

Leave a comment

Find Amazing Vendors