has Kate Middleton done to wedding day fashion? I can only assume that the
Duchess of Cambridge is to blame for the number of laments I hear from
brides-to-be about their wedding guests turning up dressed in white, since
Pippa’s sister dressed her bridesmaids in shades of ivory and turned convention
on its head.

I’m honest, I actually spend more time worrying about what colour the
bridesmaids are going to be wearing as no one wants to turn up to a wedding looking
like the desperado who didn’t get picked for the team. Nonetheless, there seems
to be an undercurrent of not-so-quiet resentment amongst brides about the newly
perceived freedom to wear white when it’s not your big day.

Notes On A Wedding, Part 10 ~ It’s a nice day for an all-white wedding (Wedding Talk )

Image Source & Full Wedding Feature – Magnolia Rouge
Photography Credit Jessica Sim

it has to be said there are some brides out there who are really quite vocal
about their distaste for guests turning up in any shade lighter than a dove
grey. My friend got married last year and had put several remarks on her
Facebook page in a not-so-jokey way that anyone who considered turning up
dressed in white would be turned away. It was an almost farcical moment
therefore when we stood in the loo together with her somewhat tipsily
disparaging a relative who had had the audacity to wear a predominantly white
maxi dress (imagine a rant in the style of Catherine Tate’s Nan,
“Whaddaf***inliberty” etc) when said guest emerged from a cubicle and scuttled
out of the ladies.

Notes On A Wedding, Part 10 ~ It’s a nice day for an all-white wedding (Wedding Talk )

Image Source & Full Wedding Feature here on Love My Dress
Photography Credit Dasha Caffrey

a case to be made for the fact that you should be allowed to be the star of the
show on your own wedding day and that any guest who wears white is
disrespectfully competing with the bride. Traditionally, white was a symbol not
only of virginity, but of youth and purity too. Could it be that when more than
one member of a wedding party turns up dressed in white that they’re diluting
the sanctity of the bride’s honour?

Notes On A Wedding, Part 10 ~ It’s a nice day for an all-white wedding (Wedding Talk )

Image Source & Full Wedding Feature can be found here on Love My Dress
Photography Credit Emma-Kate Photography

got to be honest, my feelings on this subject verge on the mildly amused, even
though I’ve seen more than one bride-to-be getting into a tizzy on the subject.
I think that:

  1. Everyone
    who goes to your wedding is going to know that you are the bride (if they don’t, why are you inviting
    them?!), so the chances of them mistaking anybody else who coincidentally
    happen to be wearing white are slim to none.
  2. Contemporary
    fashion means that even if a guest does turn up wearing white, the style
    of her dress is likely to be as far away from your wedding dress as
    possible. Last time I checked, silk chiffon and duchess satin weren’t
    doing well on the High Street…
  3. I have
    never met a guest who has intentionally dressed in order to rival the
    bride. I have met plenty of guests who have just wanted to look their best
    and chosen pretty frocks, which may happen to be of a pale hue, but none
    that have ever tried to upstage the star of the show.

Notes On A Wedding, Part 10 ~ It’s a nice day for an all-white wedding (Wedding Talk )

Image Source & Full Wedding Feature on Style Me Pretty
Photography Credit T-ONE Image 

being said, there are a few things that throw a spanner into the works of my
logic on this one. If the bride in question has chosen to wear a coloured or
non-traditional wedding dress, does it then become more perilous for a guest to
wear white? Is it easier for those further removed from the bride to get away
with wearing white rather than close family meambers? I was pretty horrified
when a betrothed friend told me she’d had an icy conversation with her Ma when
the Mother of the Bride announced she’d seen a lovely white/ivory dress to wear
to the wedding. Even I can see that
might be going a step too far.

as a wedding guest, you’re in any doubt, the easiest thing to do is to ask the
bride in advance what her feelings on the subject are. If she’s anywhere in the
spectrum between politely wavering and emphatically forbidding, then stay away.
If she couldn’t care less, go for it. I’d recommend going for an opposite
length and style to the bride so that it’s clear that there’s no intention of
drawing comparisons and perhaps steer away from overly embellished gowns.

Notes On A Wedding, Part 10 ~ It’s a nice day for an all-white wedding (Wedding Talk )

Top – Image Source Joy Ever After, discovered via Pinterest
Bottom – Image Source & Full Wedding Feature on Love My Dress, Photography Credit Paula O'Hara

I’ve never really found white to be an overly flattering colour and would much
rather go for a pop of colour, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on the dress
etiquette of wearing white to someone else’s wedding. Are you a bride who is
dead set against any guests trying to rival your style? Would you include a
dress code on your invitations? Have you ever made the faux-pas of turning up
to a wedding in white? Is this an antiquated and outdated tradition?

a comment below and let me know if you love it or hate it!  And if you fancy the idea of seeing your bridesmaids all in white, you might want to take a look at this Pinterest board.


Notes On A Wedding, Part 10 ~ It’s a nice day for an all-white wedding (Wedding Talk )


Notes On A Wedding, Part 10 ~ It’s a nice day for an all-white wedding (Wedding Talk )

Leave a Comment!
Notes On A Wedding, Part 10 ~ It’s a nice day for an all-white wedding (Wedding Talk )


Annabel is the founder of Love My Dress. She lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, two daughters Eska and Leanora and three dogs. If she's not being a Blog Queen or practicing her photography, you'll find her fighting her way through a renovation dust cloud as she and her family transform their forever-home.

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27 thoughts on Notes On A Wedding, Part 10 ~ It’s a nice day for an all-white wedding

  1. Not fussed. I thought I would be but, in the end, I chose a long whitey cream fit and flare with lace bodice and buttoned back for my bridesmaid and I wore a long white lace gown too. It wasn’t even as if I had a bigger gown. No one got us mixed up because um…..everyone that came knew what I looked like. And, whilst she was smiling lots, she didn’t have the same manic grin from ear to ear as I did the whole day.
    As for guests wearing white, I thought I’d notice but I really didn’t. It’s like when people say ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ and I would roll my eyes and be like ‘yeah right’ but genuinely….actually……don’t.

  2. I have to say that I think it’s ok to wear white, but it depends on the style. We got married last week, I wore a pale latte colour with ivory lace overlay, (Justin Alexander 8465) and my brides maids wore white. 3 guests also wore white. They were short floaty cocktail type dresses accompanied by heels they could barely walk in and copious amounts of fake tan. I was more amused then offended, though some of the other guest said they had though they were my bridesmaids.
    However, I later found out that two of our friends had argued on the morning of our wedding about what one of them was hoping to wear. When I saw her she had wisely chosen a blue floral dress, but had wanted to wear a white, lace, floor length dress. I don’t think I’d have been horrible to her, but I would have had to say something, if she had turned up like that. She had got married three weeks prior to me, so a, “you had your day” comment and a catty glare would have been enough. But it didn’t happen so who knows.

  3. I love the recent trend of bridesmaids wearing white or a similar colour I think it looks sophisticated and it feels like a real symbolism of sisterhood with all the brides very closest friends sharing in her joy (that could jut be me, I tend to like to put a meaning to everything – I blame my A level English lit course!)
    Would I wear white to a wedding? Maybe I think there are no hard and fast rules now but I would certainly run it by the bride first.

  4. I wore a gorgeous ivory lace wedding dress to our wedding and when I saw my husband’s mother wearing an ivory lace dress too, I was a little taken aback. It didn’t bother me on the day, I was far to busy having a fabulous time but a few days afterwards when I thought about it, I was quite hurt. She’d done it on purpose of course as that’s the kind of person she is but it didn’t detract from me on the day.I don’t think anything can detract from a glowing bride on the day!

  5. My wedding is a month away now and I’m not wearing white neither are my bridesmaid, actually white is pretty much banned from the wedding lol. No on knows what colour we’re wearing so I can’t be annoyed if someone wears the same. Although my dress is bespoke and obviously a wedding dress my bridesmaids are high street so there is a slim chance someone may even have the same dress. If they do I’m sure it will be laughed off.
    Although I would never wear white anywhere I’d have thought as a wedding guest it’s just simpler not to wear white. There’s so many different colours and styles out there why would you choose someone else’s day to wear white.

  6. I was a bridesmaid in white three years ago (before the royal wedding). Our dresses were a strapless knee length dress from coast. The bride wanted orange flowers, so the dresses worked really well.
    However, I think there is a difference between having bridesmaids in white, and guests thinking that makes it OK for them to wear it too? So I do not know how the royal wedding made people think it is acceptable.
    With so many dresses in off whites and ivories, I wouldn’t even wear cream to a wedding personally.

  7. One of my least favourite members of my husband’s family turned up at our wedding all in ivory. Shoes, dress, pearls, little white lace gloves, handbag…not a pop of colour in sight. I was not too pleased!
    6 months later, when someone mentioned her faux-pas, she breezily declared “oh, I hadn’t even bought it specially for your wedding,I wore it to another, first.” That means there’s another bride out there somewhere whose sister seriously debated an “accident” with a glass of Bordeaux on the day!
    Some people are clueless: stick them at the back of your pictures and know that you are fabulous AND far too polite to create a scene.

  8. Personally I think if you’re a wedding guest white should be avoided. Even if the bride would be cool with it, I’ve heard other guests comment on the fact its rude… Especially if its maxi! So in the end its just not worth it, Abe easier and safer to not wear white.

  9. I always thought no white was the unspoken rule of wedding guests, but I recently spotted photos from a wedding a friend attended and was genuinely confused as to who the bride was due to the number of floaty white maxis at the wedding! I think if anything like that happened on my own day, I would be less than impressed, but my bridesmaids will be in white with their shoes and cardigans matching the colour of our flowers..it looks so fresh!

  10. I have to say, any bride/person who takes offense at another persons outfit is being totally ridiculous, and is sure to make their future husband think twice about the kind of ridiculous person they are marrying.
    Sure, your dress is important on your wedding day – but seriously – does this matter even an ounce in the grand scheme?
    There could be so many ‘what if’s . . . ‘ what if the bride wears pink – can nobody else wear pink? What if the bride wears high street – can nobody else wear high street? In which case, you have to give away the ‘secret’ of your dress before the day.
    I was recently nastily berated by a fellow bridesmaid as I changed out of my long bridesmaid dress into a short evening dress after dinner and speeches, so that I could play and roll down hills with the brides kids, and not have to drunkenly hoist my long layers over my shoulder like a tramp.
    Was I wrong or right?

  11. Though having said that, I just don’t think I’d ever consider wearing white. Maybe pale, pastel shades, but white would somehow not feel quite right, but I totally get your thoughts!

  12. I always thought ivory/white *was* the classic colour for bridesmaids (& thank god the days of puffy peach 80s confections are over!) so for me, bridesmaids in white IS the default option. I’d never have considered putting mine in anything else, unless I’d seen a dress I absolutely loved in another colour, I suppose.
    Other guests besides bridesmaids, though, should avoid anything too ‘bridey’, I reckon. Pastels and pale colours are fine, it’s more about the shape and style and overall feel of a dress. If it looks like it might be a wedding dress, maybe don’t wear it. It’s just common sense, isn’t it?

  13. I found myself writing an essay in response to this, and had to stop. I don’t really think you need comments longer than the original post! I am very interested in colour and dress from a cultural and historical perspective, as well as the magic of colour theory so could bore you for hours…. suffice to say that I think an all white/ivory/cream/blush/insert-colour-here bridal party always looks lovely, and if you tell people your ‘rules’ there will always be someone who didn’t see them or chose to rebel, so there’s no point fretting about it.

  14. I guess I wouldn’t either, just because of the whole ‘thing’, but if somebody wanted to come to mine in a white or ivory dress, it would never cross my mind that somebody was trying to upstage me, I’d just be pleased that they’d managed to find a dress that they liked. High street pickings are slim for wedding appropriate dresses, or in fact any smart dress that fits well and aren’t frumpy. Goodness knows it’s not only the bride who panics and in full of self-consciousness over what to wear. – I’d much prefer that everybody look fab and happy and comfortable in all the wedding snaps, rather that see a bride with a cob on.
    Not mincing my words hey? I guess not. Perhaps I’ve reached that age where I can’t understand when people can’t get a grip on what’s really important in this life.

  15. I am also interested in the history of fashion, and wedding fashion in particular- I read the other day in ‘Vintage Weddings’ that until the 1900’s it was traditional for all the maids to be in white as well as the bride. We have definitely seen more bridesmaids dresses in paler hues in our boutique over the last couple of years and I think it looks lovely. As for guests, I never really thought about it, but I think a full length white lace number is slightly out of order!

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