Wedding dress codes aren’t ever simple, but there are some basic principles that will always serve you well. So, can you wear a black shirt to a wedding?
Black shirts should not be worn to weddings. As it’s an unusual choice, it’ll stand out from the crowd, drawing attention away from the wedding couple and potentially even ruining wedding photographs. White shirts are easier to pair with suits and are also more appropriate for celebratory occasions.
That’s the short answer, but let’s dig deeper.
After giving you some solid reasons why it just isn’t a good idea, I’ll run through some frequently asked questions on the topic to really polish things off.
Let’s get to it.
7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Wear A Black Shirt To A Wedding
Some of these may be more important to you than others. Either way, there’s a good chance that you’ll be completely convinced after reading this.
1. It’s Traditionally A Color Of Mourning
Black is traditionally a color of mourning and is more appropriate for funerals than weddings. While black suits are often considered appropriate for modern weddings, black shirts are usually a step too far.
It may sound pretty “traditional”, but in general, a black shirt wouldn’t be appropriate to wear to a celebratory occasion like a wedding.
You don’t necessarily need to wear a white shirt, but sticking to white or off-white (or even light blue if the dress code is more relaxed) will be much less risky than wearing black.
2. It Will Stand Out
When it comes to weddings, you don’t want to stand out.
In fact, you’ll want to draw as little attention as possible.
Don’t get me wrong – looking sharp is essential. But you don’t want to wear anything that causes people to stare.
The main reason for this is that it’s a day where the attention is supposed to be on the marrying couple. In fact, outdressing them or simply wearing something unusual or eye-catching is considered a faux pas.
While wearing a black shirt may not sound like the most out-there style choice, it’s still unusual enough to catch the eye.
The reason for this is that it’s an uncommon choice for a wedding.
That same shirt may not draw any attention at all if it was worn to a party or even to some workplaces.
But people take notice of things that are different and seem out of place. At a wedding, this is exactly what you want to avoid.
3. There Are Better Options For Casual Weddings
There are plenty of weddings where the dress code is “casual attire”. This is the dress code where most people wonder whether a black dress shirt would be appropriate.
They’re out of luck when it comes to dress codes such as black-tie, black-tie optional, formal, and cocktail attire.
White, or lighter, solid-colored shirts would be much better than black shirts for those dress codes.
But what about “casual”?
Ultimately, black shirts wouldn’t be appropriate for “casual” weddings either. The main reason for this is that they don’t actually look that casual in the first place.
Black is traditionally a “formal” color, one that just happens to be inappropriate to wear to weddings for a range of other reasons.
While a “casual” wedding dress code does give you more options than stricter ones, you’ll still want to stick to some basic principles.
For one, slacks and a blazer should be worn at a minimum, although a suit would be less risky. Neckties are optional but often recommended.
When it comes to the shirt, stick to lighter colors. They don’t even need to be solid colors, as patterns would also be reasonable.
But avoid black shirts – they just don’t look “casual”.
4. It’s Hard To Combine With Suits
There’s a good chance that you’ll be wearing a dark suit to most weddings. Charcoal, grey, or dark/navy blue would be good options.
Black shirts can look great when worn with dark suits such as this, but they’ll look pretty awkward when worn to a wedding.
A dark suit with a dark shirt may well make everything look a little too monochromatic. It may look perfectly fine for a nightclub, but not for a wedding.
While “casual” weddings do usually allow for a lighter-colored suit, trying to wear one with a black shirt is, once again, too eye-catching for a wedding.
Wearing a white dress shirt is just so much more versatile when it comes to weddings. A different light color with no pattern would still be appropriate for a casual wedding.
Both of these give you a lot more freedom when it comes to your choice of suit, as they match and pair so well with a variety of different colors.
Ultimately, by restricting your choice when it comes to the shirt, you’ve got more choice when it comes to your suit and tie.
I’ve got articles on wearing black suits to weddings and grey suits to weddings if you’re interested in learning more.
5. It May Be Against The Dress Code
Always be certain what the dress code is, as a black shirt may specifically be forbidden.
Most wedding invitations are frustratingly vague. In many ways, this has its benefits.
You may potentially have a little more freedom and a license to experiment.
But some wedding couples are very particular about what their guests wear to their wedding. They may be very traditional, or simply want a specific aesthetic for their big day.
The dress code they provide may specify certain dos and don’ts.
They may well have explicitly stated that they don’t want black shirts or any items of black clothing in general.
If this is the case, you’ve got your answer.
6. It’ll Ruin Photographs
Being the only person in the wedding photographs with a black shirt is never good.
You don’t want to be that guy. The one people point at in the photograph and ask “who’s the one in the black shirt”?
It goes back to the basic principle of not standing out at a wedding.
Wedding photographers aren’t cheap. Those shots cost a lot of money and the wedding couple probably wouldn’t appreciate having someone in a black shirt in them, clearly standing out from the rest.
They’ll want to be the focus of their photographs. It may sound self-centered, but it’s their wedding so it’s justified.
In addition, those photographs are going to be lasting memories they show their kids and even their grandkids.
While trends in wedding attire may have advanced by then, you definitely don’t want to be the one that their grandkids point out in the photographs several decades from now.
7. It Won’t Be Appropriate For Traditional Weddings
Certain cultures take traditional wedding attire more seriously than others. They really take the whole “black is the color of mourning” principle to heart.
In your lifetime, you may be invited to the weddings of people from different cultures.
Weddings can be incredibly different, depending on the specific culture.
To cut a long story short, be more conservative with your style choices when you’re attending a wedding where the culture is unfamiliar to you.
If you don’t have to wear clothing specific to that specific culture, it’s still probably worth asking the wedding couple whether there are any do’s and don’ts you should stick to.
It’s safer than winging it.
It may well be the case that a black shirt is just not done in their culture. Knowing this in advance could potentially save you from the awkwardness of finding out on the day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some answers to a few questions that are often asked but rarely answered properly.
Can The Groom Wear A Black Shirt To His Wedding?
While it may not be traditional, it’s reasonable for a groom to wear a black shirt to a modern wedding. Grooms have more freedom to experiment with color than their guests. Wearing a black shirt is a good way to stand out from the crowd.
The wedding couple is expected to dress in a way that draws attention.
While this may seem like a lot of pressure, it’s actually a great opportunity to get creative.
If a groom wants to wear a black shirt, there’s really nothing stopping him. It’s just important that it syncs well with the rest of his outfit.
However, it’s important to make sure that the bride is happy with it as well. Brides often want their groom’s outfit to pair well with their outfit, whatever it may be.
So, check with them in advance before you make any pricey purchases.
Can You Wear A Grey Suit And A Black Shirt To A Wedding?
Wedding guests should avoid wearing a grey suit with a black shirt to a wedding. The outfit will be too monochromatic and will stand out in a bad way, potentially even ruining wedding photographs.
While a grey suit would usually be perfectly acceptable to wear to a wedding, a black shirt would not be a good option.
The grey suit and black shirt combination may look great in the context of a party or a nightclub, but it’ll be too dark to wear to a wedding.
A grey suit with a white or off-white dress shirt would be a much better option than a grey suit with a black shirt.
It’s more versatile. But more importantly – it won’t stand out from the crowd.
Can You Wear A Black Shirt And Jeans To A Wedding?
A black shirt and jeans combination wouldn’t be appropriate for most weddings, even ones with casual dress codes. It’s an unusual blend of formal and casual attire that’ll come across as awkward at a wedding, standing out from the crowd and taking attention away from the wedding couple.
Jeans are a staple of casual attire. While it may initially seem reasonable to wear them to a “casual” wedding, they’ll simply be too casual to get away with.
Slacks or chinos should be worn to casual weddings at a minimum. I’ve got an article on wearing chinos to weddings if you want to know more.
But jeans should be avoided at all costs.
It may seem as though the black shirt is “dressing up” the jeans, but this isn’t true.
In many ways, the black shirt will simply draw further attention to the jeans, simply due to the awkward mix of formal (black shirt) and casual (jeans) items of clothing.
Black shirts are generally never a good look at a wedding, for the reasons I listed earlier in the article. But adding a pair of jeans into the mix is a quick way to go from bad to worse.
Chinos usually wouldn’t be the best option, but they can still work for casual weddings and would be a better option than jeans. But black shirts would look unusual at a wedding, even
There you have it.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why black shirts should be avoided when it comes to weddings – even casual ones.
While you want to ensure you’re dressing your best, it’s one of the few occasions where you don’t want to stand out from the crowd.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.