White to a wedding. That move is widely regarded as one of the oldest and most infamous social faux pas around. However, it may also be a bit outdated.
The topic of wearing white to somebody else's big day has been debated at length by many people in many different parts of the world.
It is generally regarded that women should never wear white. However, what about a man? Can they wear a white suit? And if so, what are the circumstances?
All of those questions are important, and we will break them down in much further detail throughout the following guide.
White Wedding: The Origins
Over time, the practice became widely adopted. As it did, it also became irresponsible to wear white to a ceremony because it was said it could upstage the bride.
That tradition has since become ingrained into modern society. Many people still rigidly follow it, but that does not necessarily mean it still holds true for everyone and every situation.
Though most women tend to avoid wearing a white dress to a wedding, the rules on men are a bit more relaxed. In fact, there are many guests who break out their white suit for the big day.
That does not mean they should, but it also does not mean they shouldn't. Rather, it simply shows there is no one rule and that general perception has vastly changed over time.
Once upon a time, it was that nobody could ever wear white. No exception. Today's society has much different values.
Reasons to Not Wear a White Suit
There are two camps in the debate of whether or not it is ok to wear a white suit to a wedding. Though we will break down both, the first to analyze is the different reasons you would not wear one.
The first, and most obvious issue, with wearing the attire is that people may mistake you for the groom. Though most grooms do not don white suits in today's day and age, you never know what people might think.
In addition, white suits are so against the norm that they may cause you to stand out from the crowd. If that happens, it is very easy for people to assume you're in the wedding party.
This is perhaps the biggest reason to not wear a white suit. You never want to upstage anyone, and you never want to confuse other guests.
Remember to always check with the groom and the bride before wearing a white suit to the ceremony. Even if the groom says it's ok, it is a very good idea to double check with the bride because she still may not like it clashing with her dress.
Blending in with the Crowd
Another major reason to not wear a white suit to a wedding is if all the other male guests or groomsmen (depending on what group you're in) are going with dark colors.
As mentioned above, it is important to never stand out at a wedding unless there is a specific motivation (such as you're the one getting married). For that reason, it is key to match your clothes to the general color or themes.
A white suit among other light colored suits can be a fine choice because it blends in with the crowd in a natural way.
Though going against the grain can work in certain scenarios, it is not a good choice to break the mold with something as eye-catching as white.
That's often too bold of a move.
The Times They are a Changing
The above reasons are all valid arguments for why men should not wear a white suit to a wedding. However, it is not the only side to an argument.
There are plenty of reasons you can bend the rules. That is important to note because you don't have to force yourself into a corner when making the decision. It is fluid and changes from wedding to wedding.
Brand New Etiquette
As mentioned, the main reason guests do not wear white is because it upstages the married couple (both bride and groom). That makes a lot of sense, but rules and traditions shift over time.
Wedding dress code etiquette used to be extremely strict, but it is now much more relaxed than it once was. Not only do guests come dressed in different colors and patterns, but the bride and groom may not even be in the traditional garb.
In fact, the bride may even choose to go with a suit of her own.
White is synonymous with weddings, but many ceremonies these days are much more colorful than you may imagine. Brides can wear colors like blue and red, while the groom can outfit his suit with various accents.
For that reason, it is easy to see the idea of not being able to wear a white suit as outdated and a relic of the past.
Matching the Wedding
Continuing with the idea of color, always know exactly who will be wearing what at a wedding. This will help you plan your wardrobe and know if you can wear a white suit or if you need to go with something a bit more subdued.
As noted, your main goal should be to fit in with the general flow. If the wedding is going to be a colorful affair or if the men will dress in lighter colors, white should be completely fine.
In fact, a light-colored wedding is one of the best cues that it is ok to go with that clothing choice.
Also note that if the bride and groom are not wearing white (it happens more often than you think) you are free to wear whatever suit you want. Every notion about white comes from the couple, and if they want to break the mold, you can too.
Just be sure to ask beforehand and never make assumptions.
The Importance of Dates
Another factor that can influence your choice of wedding guest attire is the month the wedding is being held in.
Seasons often dictate different clothing styles, with the hotter months being much more suited for light clothes and rainy or cold ones being better for a dark wardrobe.
As you can imagine, that makes wearing a white a much better choice during the spring and summer months.
Summer weddings are incredibly popular, so don't be afraid to ask about going with something different. Even if people are not choosing to embrace the hotter months, standing out in a white suit is ok with the proper setting.
Not only will you look sleek and stylish, but you'll also be a lot cooler (in both senses of the word) than most of the other guests.
This is an unspoken rule, but it is one that goes a long way. Never shy away from a white suit while the sun is high in the sky.
Paying Attention to the Venue
Another outside impact that affects what you wear to a wedding is the venue.
There are many factors that impact the legitimacy of a white suit, and one of the biggest is where the wedding will take place.
This is much like the time of year, and once again brings up the importance of knowing your setting.
For example, if the ceremony is at a beach, you may not even find yourself wearing a suit. Rather, you might be dressed in a relaxed shirt and sandals.
In that case, a white suit is obviously out.
The general rule for the venue is that white suits are ok if the wedding takes place outdoors (especially in a garden or backyard) and they a bit riskier indoors.
Though a white suit may be stark against the dark tones of a church, it is much better suited for the floral arrangements and soft greens of a park.
Inside/outside not the number one golden rule, and it can be broken, but that is a good guideline to follow when making this choice.
Your Clothes, Your Decision
At the end of the day, whether or not you wear a white suit is up to you, the bride, and the groom. You should always respect the couple's wishes, but you have an agency involved in the decision as well.
It is never a good idea to wear a white suit if they don't want you to. However, if they leave the decision up to you do not assume you have to adhere to antiquated traditions.
Just make sure that your suit matches the venue and time of year. There are a wide range of different factors that influence this decision, and it is vital that you keep track of each and every one.
You may think it is silly to go into so much depth and detail about this topic, but weddings are important events. Not only do you want to look your best, but you want to make sure everything runs well and that the couple remains at center stage.