Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: Roses on December 24, 2013, 07:02:39 PM

Title: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: Roses on December 24, 2013, 07:02:39 PM
I will be attending an afternoon church wedding in two weeks. Reception immediately following at the church.  Would it be OK to wear a black dress to the wedding?  I've seen mixed reviews on the rules about wearing black. 

Apologies if this topic has been covered, I couldn't find prior posts so feel free to point me to one if you know it exists.
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: rose red on December 24, 2013, 07:09:54 PM
I think black is fine as long as it looks "fancy," for example, the classic little black dress that you might wear on a date.  If the dress is a bit more serious, jazz it up with accessories like colorful jewelry or scarf.  One of the best investments I made was a little red lacy jacket that I wore over black dresses to several weddings.
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: m2kbug on December 24, 2013, 07:32:46 PM
I think as a whole black is an accepted color to wear in this day and age.  You will probably be fine.  I would call the bride or coordinator to double check.  The last time I wore black to a wedding was many years ago, and I asked the bride in advance just to be sure. 
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: Library Dragon on December 24, 2013, 09:22:26 PM
It's fine and as others have said accessories will make a big difference. They will take it from somber to festive.
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: metallicafan on December 25, 2013, 01:17:33 AM
Pretty much every wedding I've gone to in the last ten years, the majority of the women wore black dresses.  I myself have worn black dresses quite a few times, and I never have felt that I stood out for the wrong reasons.  Rarely have I seen anyone in a bright colored dress.

Edited to add:

Coming up in 2014, I have two weddings and the 100th anniversary of my FILs Italian society dinner dance.  I'm sure I will see a ton of black dresses. But, I will be going for color this time,  :)
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: Thipu1 on December 25, 2013, 06:26:20 AM
Dressy black with a bright accent is almost the default color for women at weddings here.

You're fine as long as you don't resemble a traditional Mediterranean widow. 
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: Julsie on December 25, 2013, 03:28:59 PM
I'm the lone hold out who does not feel that black dresses at weddings are appropriate.  But if I was the bride and someone called to ask me, I would not be honest.  That would put me in an awkward position with which I would not be comfortable.

But I would happily adapt to black dresses at weddings if people would go back to wearing them to funerals!
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: Brisvegasgal on December 25, 2013, 04:16:36 PM
This is an honest question - why would black be an inappropriate colour to wear at a wedding? Surely the colour doesn't matter (although I totally understand not wearing white!) but the style does?
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: menley on December 25, 2013, 04:33:36 PM
In my experience, the little black dress has been a cocktail party staple as long as I can remember, and no one would mistake it for a mourning outfit. Yes, black was traditionally the color for mourning, but the style of clothes worn to a funeral and for a mourning period is markedly different from the style of dress worn to a wedding.

I'm biased, of course - my bridesmaids and house party all wore black and absolutely no one, even my husband's very conservative and traditional grandfather, thought of funerals when they walked in!
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: purple on December 25, 2013, 06:47:07 PM
I also think that a black cocktail length dress would be appropriate for a wedding.

Just check that the wedding theme is not 'black and white', which seems to be quite popular these days.  You can probably tell from the invitation - if it has another colour than black and white, you're in the clear I'd say.

Having said that, I actually wore two dresses at my own wedding and the reception dress was a long black evening gown, with white lace, crystal beading and a short white veil.  Quite a few of my guests wore black dresses to my reception also and I didn't mind one little bit.  I'm sure they never expected me to be wearing black - just the way things turned out.  :)
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: metallicafan on December 25, 2013, 08:59:09 PM
One of the two weddings I will be attending next year, my SIL will be the matron of honor, and the bridesmaid dresses are black.
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: mbbored on December 25, 2013, 11:55:58 PM
I'm the lone hold out who does not feel that black dresses at weddings are appropriate.  But if I was the bride and someone called to ask me, I would not be honest.  That would put me in an awkward position with which I would not be comfortable.

But I would happily adapt to black dresses at weddings if people would go back to wearing them to funerals!

I personally wouldn't wear black or red to a wedding. If that was literally the only dress I had to wear, I'd be sure to top it with a colorful wrap or cardigan. However, if I saw somebody else in a black dress I wouldn't judge: everybody has their own standards.
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: sweetonsno on December 26, 2013, 12:11:34 AM
This is my take from an American perspective (one that was shaped rather heavily by my British gran).

I think the main relationship between black and mourning is that black is a more solemn and conservative choice than colors. It is also used as a neutral. I think that as long as it is clear that the style is celebratory and you've picked something that is appropriate for the formality of the event and venue, I think black is fine. However, as is the case with other more neutral colors (anything in the brown or gray family also belongs here), I think it's important to accessorize to avoid looking too corporate.
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: TamJamB on December 26, 2013, 10:58:51 AM
The old rule against wearing black has pretty much fallen by the wayside nowadays - especially at evening weddings -- because black is so very common for cocktail or evening dress.  I myself don't wear black to weddings because I'm old enough to feel 'funny' about it, although I definately wouldn't consider others rude if they do it.  To tell the truth, I rarely wear black anyway.  I like color.

That said, I have heard that there are parts of the country where black is still considered wrong for weddings (or wrong just for daytime or informal weddings).  If you live in a particularly conservative area, you might want to check around a bit before making the final decision on your outfilt.
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: TootsNYC on December 30, 2013, 01:07:04 PM
I think as a whole black is an accepted color to wear in this day and age.  You will probably be fine.  I would call the bride or coordinator to double check.  The last time I wore black to a wedding was many years ago, and I asked the bride in advance just to be sure.

Oh, I wouldn't suggest this. I still remember how heated a colleague of mine got with the whole "call up the bride and ask if the clothes are formal enough."

She was really frustrated. She had a ton of things to arrange, and take care of, etc. The wedding, with all its logistics; her move from one home to another.

She said, "Aren't these people grownups? I don't need to bother with someone else's attire!"

So, I don't think anybody should be calling the bride, or even the coordinator (how would you know who that was anyway?) and bothering her with your own wardrobe concerns.

If you can't come to a clear sense of rightness on your own, using resources other than the bride's time and energy (like, us here at EHell!! Or your neighbor, or a friend, or your mom), pick a different dress.

And I think black at a wedding is totally OK. (And my bridesmaids wore black tea-length party dresses with red sashes.)
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: GlitterIsMyDrug on December 30, 2013, 01:16:53 PM
I say black is fine. I grew up hearing about the "little black dress" how you had to have the perfect LBD (not to be confused with VPL which should be avoided), and if you found the perfect LBD you'd be set for any event that came up in your life. Given that information, I think it's ok to wear your perfect LBD (without VPLs) to a wedding.

I would stay away from all back though. So a black dress, with black shoes, and a black bag and black jacket is just too drab. But some fun shoes, a bright bag, a jacket/cardigan with some colors, will make it much more fun. I'm personally a huge fan of brightly colored shoes and purses (I don't wear a scarves, and jackets/cardigans can be too warm here).
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: msulinski on December 30, 2013, 01:42:11 PM
Since it is a an event in the daytime and a wedding, I would probably avoid black. For an evening wedding, it would be less of an issue. FWIW, I am male, so my perspective might be different.
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: Nebulous on December 31, 2013, 07:05:37 PM
Since it is a an event in the daytime and a wedding, I would probably avoid black. For an evening wedding, it would be less of an issue. FWIW, I am male, so my perspective might be different.

I kind of agree with this.  In general I think wearing a LBD is fine, but sometimes color is more appropriate.  I also think that location and formality play a big part.  For example, I would avoid a black dress at an afternoon outdoor garden wedding.  But an evening wedding in a ballroom would be great for a fancier LBD.  Take your cues for the formality of the event from the location, time, printed invitation and what you know of the wedding party.

I also agree with other posters to accessorize with color and avoid black-on-black.  Depending on the formality, you can accessorize the dress up or down and add more color as needed.  Just as an example, I wore an LBD with gold, cream and plum jewelry and neutral shoes to my brother's wedding as it was an evening reception at a fancy restaurant.  If it were less formal, I would have broken up the black more - like wearing a cardigan/bolero/scarf or picked more colorful accessories.

Overall, use your best judgement and have fun :)
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: Nikko-chan on December 31, 2013, 07:10:15 PM
Could you pair the LBD with a belt to go around it? Maybe silver or something, or a color? And perhaps like someone else said a matching overcoat or whatever they are called? And colorful jewelry would help, like some people said.
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: metallicafan on January 01, 2014, 09:01:36 PM



A friend of mine went to a wedding and wore a little black dress with cobalt blue satin pumps and matching cobalt satin clutch.
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: m2kbug on January 02, 2014, 03:44:29 AM
I think as a whole black is an accepted color to wear in this day and age.  You will probably be fine.  I would call the bride or coordinator to double check.  The last time I wore black to a wedding was many years ago, and I asked the bride in advance just to be sure.

Oh, I wouldn't suggest this. I still remember how heated a colleague of mine got with the whole "call up the bride and ask if the clothes are formal enough."

She was really frustrated. She had a ton of things to arrange, and take care of, etc. The wedding, with all its logistics; her move from one home to another.

She said, "Aren't these people grownups? I don't need to bother with someone else's attire!"

So, I don't think anybody should be calling the bride, or even the coordinator (how would you know who that was anyway?) and bothering her with your own wardrobe concerns.

If you can't come to a clear sense of rightness on your own, using resources other than the bride's time and energy (like, us here at EHell!! Or your neighbor, or a friend, or your mom), pick a different dress.

And I think black at a wedding is totally OK. (And my bridesmaids wore black tea-length party dresses with red sashes.)

The bride was a friend and coworker.  We talked together all the time.  It wasn't really that huge a burden to ask if she was okay with me wearing black.  I was worried about the etiquette and color of mourning and whether or not it was okay for her, so I asked.  The internet really didn't exist back then.  No problem to ask other sources so as not to overburden the bride (if you know who to call), but the question, "Is it okay to wear my cute little black dress," really shouldn't be that complicated or overburdening, I would think.  I eloped, so what do I know? :)
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: RandomAngel on January 02, 2014, 08:08:40 AM
That said, I have heard that there are parts of the country where black is still considered wrong for weddings (or wrong just for daytime or informal weddings).  If you live in a particularly conservative area, you might want to check around a bit before making the final decision on your outfilt.

I was thinking this. In some parts of the country, half of the female guests will be wearing black. In other areas, at a daytime church wedding you may well be the only one.

I think if you're uncertain enough of your community to have to ask, and you have an alternative, I'd suggest going with the alternative. There's nothing wrong with black, but it's harder to make it look festive, so it wouldn't be my first choice for a wedding...and I've spent almost my entire life in those half-the-guests-wear-it regions.
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: TootsNYC on January 02, 2014, 12:19:39 PM
I think as a whole black is an accepted color to wear in this day and age.  You will probably be fine.  I would call the bride or coordinator to double check.  The last time I wore black to a wedding was many years ago, and I asked the bride in advance just to be sure.

Oh, I wouldn't suggest this. I still remember how heated a colleague of mine got with the whole "call up the bride and ask if the clothes are formal enough."

She was really frustrated. She had a ton of things to arrange, and take care of, etc. The wedding, with all its logistics; her move from one home to another.

She said, "Aren't these people grownups? I don't need to bother with someone else's attire!"

So, I don't think anybody should be calling the bride, or even the coordinator (how would you know who that was anyway?) and bothering her with your own wardrobe concerns.

If you can't come to a clear sense of rightness on your own, using resources other than the bride's time and energy (like, us here at EHell!! Or your neighbor, or a friend, or your mom), pick a different dress.

And I think black at a wedding is totally OK. (And my bridesmaids wore black tea-length party dresses with red sashes.)

The bride was a friend and coworker.  We talked together all the time.  It wasn't really that huge a burden to ask if she was okay with me wearing black.  I was worried about the etiquette and color of mourning and whether or not it was okay for her, so I asked.  The internet really didn't exist back then.  No problem to ask other sources so as not to overburden the bride (if you know who to call), but the question, "Is it okay to wear my cute little black dress," really shouldn't be that complicated or overburdening, I would think.  I eloped, so what do I know? :)

If you are already in a conversation with the bride, of course you aren't going to be a burden if you bring it up--but as someone else pointed out, you may be putting her on the spot, and is she really going to say to you, "No, please don't wear that, I don't care how cute it is, I'm uncomfortable with black at my wedding"? I would bet not.
   You don't know what she really thinks. You know what she is willing to TELL you she thinks.

So my advice still stands--figure it out on your own, asking your own personal sources of information. And if you are still iffy, wear something else. But don't ask the bride.
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: ladyknight1 on January 02, 2014, 03:19:40 PM
I have two little black dresses and cardigans in coral, fuchsia, white and black that I wear with them. They are extremely versatile.

I would have no problem wearing one of them to a daytime wedding.
Title: Re: OK to Wear Black?
Post by: Roses on January 03, 2014, 04:23:03 PM
Thanks everyone for the great suggestions.  I ended up wearing a neutral color skirt and a plum colored sweater.  My outfit matched the formality of the wedding and other guests. I decided to avoid black, just to be safe.  If the wedding was an evening wedding, I would have probably gone ahead with the black and bright accessories.