Saturday 22 September 2018

Is it ever okay to wear white to another woman's wedding?

Doning white to another's nuptials was once a big no-no, but as wedding etiquette relaxes, has this traditional fashion faux pas become dated?

Ronan O'Gara and his wife Jessica at the wedding of Johnny Sexton
Ronan O'Gara and his wife Jessica at the wedding of Johnny Sexton
Cara Delevingne
gillian white
Willo King

For many women, the dress they wear on their wedding day is the ultimate fashion statement.

Walking down the aisle, the bride is the centre of attention, with all eyes taking in her sartorial elegance -some brides will have spent months, maybe even years, choosing the perfect gown to showcase her assets on this special day. So in a time-honoured tradition, other female guests have always steered away from wearing white or anything that may resemble what the most important person of the day has chosen to wear.

In short, no one would ever dream of upstaging the bride. However, it seems times are changing as in a survey for Asda's clothing range, George, three-in-five women in Britain have revealed that they would consider wearing white to a wedding.

So what was once the ultimate faux pas is now deemed less important than wearing the same outfit as another guest, which is something which worries two-fifths of modern wedding guests.

We spoke to five Irish women to find out what they thought about these findings - would they wear white to a wedding, would they be offended if someone wore white to their nuptials and what do they consider to be the biggest no-no at a marriage ceremony?

Gillian White

gillian white

Gillian is 37 years old. She is married to Kevin and has two children, Amy (14) and Matthew (5). She runs her own business - www.stylemama.ie - specialising in maternity wear and says while she would never wear white herself to a wedding, some of her customers have.

"I have never worn white to a wedding - mainly because it doesn't suit me, but also, I love to wear a splash of colour. I wouldn't be against it though, but if I did wear it, I would add something colourful.

"I think times are definitely changing with regard to not wearing white to a wedding as it really depends on how relaxed the bride is and also how well the guest knows the couple. I think we tend to be more sensitive to wearing white or cream colours if it's a family wedding.

"Mind you, I do remember receiving a wedding invite which had a statement saying: 'Dress Code - Dear Guests, Please no ustaging the bride by wearing dresses in white or anything close to white.'

"There was a smiley face at the end but I did think it was a bit Bridezilla and I didn't see any white or cream dresses on guests that day because people were probably afraid.

"I love weddings which are quirky and easygoing where there are no fashion rules, and people can wear what they want.

"At the end of the day, it should all be about having fun.

"It can be hard to find the perfect dress to wear and from what I am hearing from customers, most women will choose something they feel good in, so the colour isn't an issue. I think it becomes a no-no if someone was to wear a full-length white or ivory dress, or something which is in lace or a fabric similar to the bride.

"I recently sold an Ecru-coloured dress with a gold band as a wedding outfit - the lady was pairing it with gold shoes and clutch and she also had a gold headpiece. I felt it was completely acceptable and she didn't look like she would upstage the bride at all."

Ali Coghlan


Ali is 32 years old. She lives in Wicklow with her husband Stuart and children Harry (5) and Nicole (2). She writes a blog about parenting, arts and crafts and fashion - www.heyaliblog.wordpress.com - and said she isn't at all surprised that women have no problem wearing white to weddings as she wore something similar herself before. However, she was embarrassed afterwards when she saw the wedding photos.

"I once wore a cream dress to a wedding and was mortified when I saw the photos as I didn't realise how white it actually looked alongside the bride's dress.

"I would never intentionally wear a white outfit to a wedding but on this occasion, I had borrowed a dress from a friend as it was a last-minute job. I had been running around trying to get sorted in a short space of time and if I had put more thought into it, I don't think I would ever have chosen to wear a dress of this colour.

"No one said anything about it at the time, so I think it looked worse in photos than it did on the day itself as it stood out more amongst all the colourful dresses.

"But I'm not surprised by the research saying most women don't have a problem with wearing white as I have been to many weddings where people have worn white dresses and I don't see anything wrong with it.

"At the end of the day, it's a personal choice, especially in the summertime - and I think it's also acceptable at a wedding abroad.

"Basically, I think people are a lot more relaxed about etiquette than they used to be in the past.

"In my opinion, the biggest no-no at a wedding would be to propose to your girlfriend or boyfriend on someone else's big day. I don't think it could get any worse than that."

Anna D'Arcy


Anna is 40 years old. She lives in Cabinteely with her husband Ben and three children - Callum (11) and twins Ava and Daniel (5). She has never worn white to a wedding but says it's less to do with etiquette and more to do with a love of colourful clothes.

"I have never worn white to a wedding. Possibly because of the stigma (of upstaging the bride) that has long been attached to it, but also because I seldom wear white anyway. I would be more likely to go for something bright as I'm much more of a colourful sort of a wedding guest.

"With regard to the survey saying women wouldn't have a problem wearing white to a wedding, I would say that this percentage is so high because things like that are no longer as important as they were in the past.

"But I don't think it's a sign that we care less, it's just that people aren't as concerned about things like this. I also think that it would be next to impossible to upstage any bride on her wedding day, regardless of the colour that you wear as a guest.

"Apart from making eyes at the groom, I'd say the biggest no-no for a wedding guest is getting inebriated and causing embarrassment to the happy couple."

Willo King

Willo King

Willo is 43 years old. She lives in Bray with her husband Stacey and three children - Ella (11), Edie (9) and Liam (6). She runs her own online party supply company - www.partypacks.ie - and through her line of business, has become aware of how we are moving away from tradition. The mother-of-three says while she would never wear white to a wedding, some of her own guests did - but she didn't feel upstaged.

"There is no way that I would ever even consider wearing white to a wedding as I think it is just one of those things that you shouldn't do.

"However, now that I think about it, there were quite a few white dresses at my own wedding and it didn't bother me at all. I got married in Spain so it was quite hot and a lot of people wore white linen.

"I wore an off-white dress with a red rose on the hip and ruby red shoes, so I suppose I wasn't the typical bride either.

"I know from my own business that monochrome wedding themes have become very popular so that might be the reason people are saying they have no problem wearing white. Sadly I don't think enough people understand wedding etiquette anymore as there are certain things you shouldn't really do.

"I was at a wedding once and wore a very large hat as a statement. The mother of the bride also wore a hat and it is wedding etiquette that no one takes off their hat until she does.

"But hers was substantially smaller than a lot of other hats that people were wearing and she had it on throughout the meal.

"By the time the main course came around, I had to take mine off as I was in danger of causing injuries to the guests sitting either side of me - so sometimes wedding etiquette has to be ignored."

Dee Roche


Dee from Malahide is married to Derek and has four children - Cian (12), Mia, (10), Evan (7) and Aaron (6). She is co-owner of www.littleladiespamperparties.ie and says while she wouldn't wear white to a wedding, it wouldn't bother her if someone else did.

"Maybe it is becoming more acceptable to wear white to a wedding but it's a no for me. It's the colour the bride will be wearing so why would I want to be the same as her - she should stand out from the crowd on her special day.

"I wouldn't frown at another guest wearing white but it's just not the colour that I would purposely purchase for a wedding. And if someone had of worn a white dress to my wedding, I don't think I would have noticed or cared as I don't think it would have affected me

"Maybe it's a sign of the times that people aren't sticking to traditions nowadays, maybe they feel it's old-fashioned or they just don't think about it and choose a dress because of the style which has nothing to do with the colour.

"For me the biggest 'no' at a wedding would have to be extremely revealing clothing - weddings are elegant, graceful and tasteful family occasions and it's just not the place."

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