Is it ever OK for wedding guests to wear white?

Can wedding guests ever wear white? It’s controversial. (Photo: Getty Images)
Can wedding guests ever wear white? It’s controversial. (Photo: Getty Images)

Is it ever OK for wedding guests to wear white?

A local news reporter in Alabama is asking after sharing that she recently wore a white dress to a friend’s wedding — a style choice that didn’t sit well with some guests.

“I wore white to a friend’s wedding and got a salty look from a few folks,” Tonya Terry, a WSFA 12 news anchor, wrote in a Facebook post on Monday. “Is ‘not wearing white to a wedding’ still a thing? It’s 2017 for goodness sake!”

Fans could not agree whether the color choice is appropriate or insensitive: “You have all of the colors of the rainbow to choose from and you chose white? It’s bad form,” wrote one Facebook user. “No, I think the rule that guests not wear white went out with the rule that only virgin brides can wear white,” countered another.

Someone else added, “There was a time that you had to wear black to a funeral and now people wear bright colors, plaids, stripes, whatever. I think the times have changed and you can wear whatever is decent and hopefully modest. You look great!”

Celebrities aren’t exempt from such wedding style scrutiny. In 2014, Britney Spears’ mom, Lynne, wore a white dress — one that closely resembled a wedding dress — to youngest daughter Jamie Lynn’s nuptials. That year, Beyoncé wore a $350 white tank dress to sister Solange’s ceremony, and in 2011, Pippa Middleton wore a long white cowl-neck gown to sister Kate’s 2011 wedding to Prince William. All three women made headlines for their choices.

Even wedding pros don’t always agree on whether guests have a green light to wear white.

“The answer is pretty much a flat no, unless it’s a specific request from the couple,” Amy Shey Jacobs, founder and creative director of Chandelier Events, tells Yahoo Lifestyle, adding that brides are typically the only ones permitted to wear any shade of white, including snow white, diamond white, soft white, cream, or off-white.

There’s one exception: “Sometimes the mothers or bridal parties have been asked to wear white, mostly as a fashion statement. However, that dates back to ancient Rome, where the courts required 12 witnesses at a marriage ceremony and bridal parties would dress exactly as the bride to ward off evil spirits,” she says.

According to Jen Glantz, founder of Bridesmaid for Hire, a service that offers everything from stand-in bridal party members to same-day coordinators, contemporary ceremonies have rewritten the rules.

“I’ve seen brides skip flower arrangements and use that money to get five times as many desserts, or couples forgo the first dance, the bouquet toss, and even bridal parties,” Glantz tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

For guests who are dying to wear white, Glantz suggests adding colorful accessories or color-blocking their outfits to offset focus on the main hue.

Glantz and Shey Jacobs agree that not all brides would take offense to their guests wearing white, but it’s always wise to check beforehand. However, Shey Jacobs offers this rule of thumb: “If you have to question whether the bride would be mad about your outfit, put it back on the rack.”

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