Can a wedding guest wear ivory?

Updated April 17, 2017

If you've been invited to a wedding, chances are you're wondering what you're going to wear. During hot months in the spring and summer, you want a dress or woman's suit in both a light colour and light fabric. While you may think you look best in a shade of white, such as ivory or cream, this is not always an appropriate colour to wear to a wedding.

The Rule

Traditionally, it's been a wedding rule that guests should never wear white to a wedding. That includes any shades in the white family, such as ivory, off-white or cream. The idea is that nobody at the wedding should be in competition with the bride. However, some people today argue that the rule is no longer relevant or followed.

Colour Choices

If you don't feel comfortable wearing an all-ivory dress, you may want to consider wearing a dress that has two or more colours, including ivory. This is acceptable and will show everyone at the wedding that you're not attempting to steal the bride's limelight. Even if you decide that you want to go with an ivory dress regardless of the bridal gown, consider the wedding season. While ivory may look great in warm months, it's not appropriate -- or flattering -- in the fall or winter.

Type of Dress

If you're going to wear an ivory dress to the wedding, make sure that it doesn't look bridal in any way. Steer clear of floor-length dresses or super-fancy ivory dresses with lace trim and beading. This will look too close to a wedding gown. If you need help deciding if the type of dress you have in mind is appropriate, picture yourself standing next to the bride -- or any bride -- on her wedding day. If you feel that you would look awkward and make the bride uncomfortable, nix the ivory dress.


If you're at all in doubt over if you should wear ivory to a wedding, it may be best -- for both you and the bride -- to err on the side of being extra careful. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, it's often possible to find or purchase a dress in a colour that isn't close to white. While some brides are laid back and won't mind, others may take offence. The last thing you want to do on your friend or family member's wedding day is upset her over something as simple as your dress choice.

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About the Author

As a full-time writer in New York's Hudson Valley, Lindsay Pietroluongo's nightlife column and photos have appeared regularly in the "Poughkeepsie Journal" since 2007. Additional publications include "Chronogram," the "New Paltz Sojourn," "About Town" newspaper and "Outsider" magazine. Pietroluongo graduated from Marist College with a B.A. in English.