21 August 2023

Lana Del Rey attends star-studded wedding in a white dress: Is it ever OK for a guest to wear white?

21 August 2023

Lana Del Rey has been spotted committing what some would say is the ultimate fashion faux-pas: wearing white to someone else’s wedding.

The singer – who is known for her retro style and often wears white on stage – chose a lacy halter neck minidress with pink embroidery teamed with a white cardigan to attend the nuptials of musician and producer Jack Antonoff and actor Margaret Qualley.

While the rules might be different for pop stars, her outfit choice begs the question: is it wrong for wedding guests to don outfits in the colour traditionally associated with bridalwear?

We asked a fashion expert for their take on the topic…

Why aren’t wedding guests meant to wear white?

“Traditionally, wedding guests don’t wear white to a wedding because that colour is typically reserved for the bride, assuming there is a bride at the wedding,” says Zoe Burke, editor of Hitched.co.uk.

The tradition dates back to Queen Victoria’s time – the monarch is credited with popularising white bridal gowns.

“We still see pretty solidly to this day, that people are wearing white wedding dresses,” says Burke. “To stay on the safe side, you shouldn’t wear white [as a guest], otherwise people may confuse you for the bride.”

Is it ever OK to bend the rules?

In the past, a guest wearing white to a wedding was seen as a serious faux-pas, but nowadays many couples aren’t so strict, particularly younger generations.

According to a survey from retailer PrettyLittleThing, a quarter of people would choose a white outfit to attend a wedding, while 41% of Gen Zs would give the green light to guests who wanted to wear white.

“It is becoming more relaxed,” says Burke. “Now you’re seeing more people wearing white dresses with floral patterns or polka dots and things like that, that are more acceptable than, say, a solid white dress.”

Indeed, as some brides and grooms are choosing non-traditional outfits to tie the knot, it stands to reason that they won’t be precious about the don’t-wear-white rule for their guests.

“We’re seeing this rise in people branching out and not wearing a white wedding dress, which makes it more OK for guests to wear white,” Burke explains.

On the other hand, some betrothed couples are choosing to specify exactly what their guests should and shouldn’t wear.

Burke adds: “More couples than ever before are setting dress codes for their weddings, to create the kind of image that they want but also to clear up any potential confusion.

“Those are the kind of instances where it is more acceptable [to wear white]. But if you don’t know anything about [the dress code], I think it’s always best to just steer clear of white.”

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