Can Men Wear White to a Wedding?

men wearing white to a wedding

Written by Sonia Su

In recent years, wedding fashion norms have seen a significant shift, challenging traditional rules and inviting men to explore a wider spectrum of attire choices.

One such debated topic revolves around whether men can confidently and appropriately wear white to weddings. After all, such an option is usually off-limits to women like me to avoid potentially upstaging the bride wearing white—but given that the groom does not wear full white, what about white attire for male guests?

It's something that male guests may not think is an option, but this article delves into the evolving etiquette surrounding men's wedding attire, examining the historical context, modern interpretations, and practical considerations that may influence whether you should wear white to your friend or family's wedding. I also share our picks for the best dress shirts, ties and tie clips, and groomsmen socks for weddings.



The History Behind Wearing White

The tradition of wearing white for weddings dates back to the 19th century when Queen Victoria of England married Prince Albert in 1840, donning a white wedding dress.

Prior to this, brides typically wore dresses in various colors, with blue being a popular choice symbolizing purity and modesty. However, Queen Victoria's choice of a white gown sparked a trend that would eventually become a symbol of purity, innocence, and wealth.

White came to represent purity and innocence, aligning with the ideals of virtue and chastity associated with the institution of marriage. Queen Victoria's white wedding dress captured the imagination of brides across Europe and North America, leading to the widespread adoption of white as the traditional color for wedding attire.

white wedding dresses

Over time, the tradition of wearing white for weddings evolved beyond its symbolic significance to become a fashion statement, with designers introducing various styles and embellishments to cater to individual tastes and preferences.

Today, the white wedding dress remains an iconic symbol of love and commitment, with brides continuing to embrace its timeless elegance and significance on their special day.


Wedding Dress Code for Male Guests

The wedding guest dress code typically varies depending on the formality of the event, as specified by the couple on the wedding invitation.

It's essential to adhere to the dress code specified by the couple to show respect for their preferences and the formality of the occasion.

When it comes to wearing white, men traditionally have avoided wearing full white to weddings to avoid overshadowing the bride, who typically wears white as a symbol of purity and innocence.

White attire for men could potentially draw undue attention and detract from the bride's spotlight on her special day. However, modern wedding fashion norms are evolving, and some couples may be more open to guests wearing white or lighter-colored attire, especially for less formal weddings or destination ceremonies.


Similarly, when it comes to dress shoes, men can wear white dress shoes to a wedding, but it's essential to consider the formality of the event, the wedding theme, and the preferences of the couple getting married before making a decision.

Common dress codes include:

Formal/Black Tie Dress Code

Men are expected to wear tuxedos or dark suits with a bow tie, while women should opt for elegant evening gowns or cocktail dresses. Here is another guide on black-tie wedding attire.


Semi-Formal/Cocktail Attire Dress Code

Men can wear suits in dark or light colors with a dress shirt and tie, while women have the flexibility to choose between cocktail dresses, chic separates, or dressy jumpsuits. Here is a separate guide on semi-formal wedding attire.

Casual/Informal Dress Code

For casual weddings, men can opt for dress pants or chinos paired with a button-down shirt or polo, while women can choose from sundresses, skirts, or dressy separates. Here are other guides on casual wedding attire and summer wedding attire.

Ultimately, whether men can wear white to a wedding depends on the couple's preferences and the specific dress code outlined for the event.

Refer to our other guides on groomsmen suits and fall wedding attire.


What Can Men Wear Instead of White?

Men attending weddings can opt for a range of alternative colors to white, depending on the formality of the event and personal style preferences. Some suitable options include:

  • Navy Blue: A classic and versatile choice that exudes sophistication and pairs well with various accessories.
  • Charcoal Gray: Another timeless option that strikes a balance between formal and casual, suitable for a wide range of wedding settings.
  • Black: A traditional and elegant color choice for formal weddings, often worn in the form of a well-fitted suit or tuxedo. You can never go wrong with a dark suit!
  • Light Gray: Ideal for semi-formal or outdoor weddings, offering a softer and more relaxed aesthetic while still maintaining a polished look.
  • Pastel Shades: For spring or summer weddings, consider lighter tones such as light blue, lavender, or mint green for a refreshing and seasonally appropriate ensemble.

Rather than wear white, consider selecting attire that aligns with the wedding's dress code and complements the overall theme and ambiance of the event, whether it's a dark suit or lighter shades.


Best Dress Shirts for Weddings

When selecting dress shirts for weddings, you'll want to consider factors such as fabric quality, fit, style, and color to ensure you look sharp and appropriate for the occasion. Here are some popular options for dress shirts suitable for weddings:

  • Cotton Dress Shirts: Cotton is a classic choice for dress shirts due to its breathability and versatility. Look for high-quality cotton shirts with a smooth finish for a polished appearance. Nimble Made's dress shirts are made of 100% cotton, including this Light Gray Oxford Button Up Dress Shirt.
    light gray button up shirt closeup of collar for mens shirts
  • Linen Dress Shirts: Linen shirts are perfect for an outdoor casual wedding or summer wedding party due to their lightweight and breathable nature. They offer a relaxed yet elegant look and often have a slightly more casual vibe compared to cotton. Learn more about what is linen.
  • Slim-Fit Dress Shirts: Opt for slim-fit shirts if you prefer a modern, tailored look. These shirts have a narrower cut through the chest and waist, providing a sleek silhouette that complements a well-fitted suit. Nimble Made offers various dress shirts perfect for weddings, including dress shirts for short men.

    mens slim fit dress shirt collection hanging on rack lifestyle shot
  • White or Light Blue Shirts: White and light blue are timeless colors that work well for weddings. They're versatile options that pair effortlessly with various suit colors and accessories. White shirts are particularly elegant for formal weddings, while light blue adds a subtle touch of color. Nimble Made offers this bestselling white dress shirt and this classic blue dress shirt.
    white collared shirt for men folded up for travel
  • French Cuff Dress Shirts: French cuff shirts add a touch of sophistication and are a great choice for formal weddings. Pair them with cufflinks for an extra dash of style. Here is our guide on what are French cuffs.
  • Patterned Dress Shirts: For a more distinctive look, consider shirts with subtle patterns such as stripes, checks, or microprints. Just ensure that the pattern complements your suit and tie without overwhelming the overall ensemble. Check out Nimble Made's checkered and gingham dress shirts.
    red and white dress shirt on man
  • Custom Tailored Shirts: If you want a shirt that fits you perfectly and reflects your personal style, consider investing in custom-tailored shirts. Custom options allow you to choose the fabric, fit, collar style, and other details to create a shirt that's uniquely yours. Be sure to check Nimble Made's helpful fit guide and guide on how a suit jacket should fit.
  • Wrinkle-Resistant Shirts: If you're traveling for a destination wedding or anticipate a long day of festivities, wrinkle-resistant shirts can be a practical choice. These shirts maintain a crisp appearance throughout the day, keeping you looking polished and well-groomed.


Best Ties and Tie Clips for Weddings

When it comes to choosing ties and tie clips for weddings, you'll want to select options that complement your suit, dress shirt, and overall aesthetic while adding a touch of sophistication to your ensemble. Here are some popular choices, as well as a few of our picks from Nimble Made:

  • Silk Ties: Silk ties are a timeless and luxurious option for weddings. They come in a variety of colors, patterns, and textures, allowing you to coordinate with your suit and shirt effortlessly.

    Solid color silk ties in shades of navy, burgundy, or champagne are classic choices for formal weddings, while patterned silk ties add visual interest and personality. Browse Nimble Made's high-quality silk men's ties. We love the Classic Solid Navy Blue Tie and Classic Solid Burgundy Tie.
  • Knit Ties: Knit ties offer a more casual yet stylish look that's perfect for modern or semi-formal weddings. They have a textured appearance and a slightly thicker feel compared to silk ties, making them a great choice for adding depth to your outfit.

    Opt for solid color knit ties for a refined look or experiment with subtle patterns like stripes or dots for added flair. Check out Nimble Made's Burgundy Knit Tie.
  • Bow Ties: Bow ties exude timeless elegance and are a popular choice for formal weddings. They come in various fabrics, including silk and cotton, and can be pre-tied or self-tied depending on your preference.

    Classic black or navy bow ties are traditional options, while patterned or textured bow ties can add a contemporary twist to your attire. Learn more about how to tie a bow tie.
  • Tie Clips: Tie clips not only keep your tie in place but also add a polished finishing touch to your outfit. Opt for tie clips in metals like silver, gold, or rose gold to complement your accessories and hardware.

    Keep the size proportionate to your tie width, and position it between the third and fourth buttons of your dress shirt for optimal placement. Nimble Made offers an array of tie clips, such as this black and gold tie clip and this red and silver tie clip.
    silver gold black tie bars for men
  • Personalized or Engraved Tie Clips: For a thoughtful touch, consider a personalized or engraved tie clip featuring initials, a special date, or a meaningful symbol. This adds a sentimental element to your ensemble and makes for a memorable keepsake from the wedding day.
  • Subtle Accents: Look for tie clips with subtle embellishments or details such as engraved patterns, textured finishes, or colored accents that complement your tie and overall look without overpowering it. Check out this textured Navy Denim Cotton Tie.


Best Groomsmen Socks for Weddings

Choosing the right socks to pair with dress shoes for groomsmen can add a fun and stylish touch to their wedding attire while also providing comfort throughout the day. Here are some popular options for groomsmen socks:

  • Solid Color Socks: Solid color socks in classic shades like black, navy, gray, or charcoal are versatile options that complement a wide range of suit colors and styles. They offer a timeless and sophisticated look that's perfect for formal weddings. Check out solid color socks from Nimble Made, including this pair of Solid Blue Ribbed Casual Crew Socks.
    Solid Blue Ribbed Casual Crew Socks
  • Patterned Socks: Patterned socks add personality and flair to groomsmen outfits while still maintaining a polished appearance. Consider subtle patterns like stripes, dots, or geometric designs for a sophisticated touch, or go bold with more vibrant patterns or novelty prints for a playful twist. Browse Nimble Made's fun dress socks for men, such as these Green and Beige Patterned Fun Dress Socks.
    Green and Beige Patterned Fun Dress Socks
  • Mismatched Socks: Mismatched socks can add a fun and quirky element to groomsmen attire, especially if you're aiming for a more relaxed or unconventional wedding vibe. Choose socks in complementary colors or patterns to create a cohesive yet individualized look for each groomsman.
  • Custom or Personalized Socks: Personalized socks featuring initials, wedding date, or a special message are a thoughtful and memorable gift for groomsmen. You can customize the design, color, and even add whimsical elements like caricatures or inside jokes to make the socks truly unique.
  • Theme-Based Socks: If the wedding has a specific theme or motif, consider incorporating themed socks into the groomsmen's attire to tie everything together. For example, you could choose socks with nautical motifs for a beach or seaside wedding, or floral patterns for a garden or springtime wedding.
  • Quality Materials: Regardless of the style or design, prioritize socks made from high-quality materials such as cotton, wool, or a blend of fabrics for comfort and durability. Look for socks with reinforced toes and heels to ensure they hold up well throughout the day.
  • Length and Fit: Pay attention to the length and fit of the socks to ensure they stay up comfortably without slipping down or bunching up. Opt for crew-length or over-the-calf socks for a polished look that stays in place under trousers. Check out Nimble Made's Solid Beige Ribbed Casual Crew Socks.

 Solid Beige Ribbed Casual Crew Socks

Bottom Line to Wearing White to a Wedding

The question of whether men can wear white to a wedding often sparks debate and consideration of traditional etiquette guidelines. While historically white wedding attire was reserved for the groom, modern wedding fashion has evolved, allowing for greater flexibility and personal expression.

Men wearing white to weddings can indeed make a stylish and sophisticated statement, particularly in the form of white suits or jackets paired with complementary trousers. However, it's crucial to consider the context and formality of the event, as well as the preferences of the couple getting married.

For formal or traditional weddings, men may opt for subtle white elements in their attire, such as a white dress shirt or accessories like pocket squares or ties. On the other hand, for a more casual wedding or themed wedding, wearing a full white ensemble can be appropriate and even encouraged, especially if it aligns with the overall aesthetic of the wedding party.

Ultimately, the key to successfully pulling off white wedding attire as a guest at a wedding lies in discretion, respect for the couple's wishes, and adherence to any dress code specified on the invitation. By balancing personal style with wedding etiquette, men can confidently wear white to weddings and contribute to the joyous atmosphere of the occasion.


Frequently Asked Questions about "Can men wear white to a wedding?"

Can male wedding guests wear white?

Traditionally, white wedding attire has been reserved for the bride's dress, as it symbolizes purity and innocence. While some may argue that modern fashion norms have evolved to allow men to wear white suits or attire to weddings, it's still considered courteous to avoid white out of respect for the bride's attire. Opting for other neutral or colorful choices ensures guests don't inadvertently draw attention away from the couple on their special day.

Is it inappropriate to wear white to a wedding?

Wearing white to a wedding can be considered inappropriate as it traditionally signifies purity and is often reserved for the bride. Doing so may potentially draw attention away from the bride and be seen as disrespectful, attention-seeking, or as a fashion faux pas. It's generally advisable to choose attire in other colors to avoid any unintended social faux pas.

Is a white shirt OK for a wedding?

Yes, a white shirt is generally acceptable wedding attire, particularly if it's part of formal or semi-formal wedding attire. However, it's essential to consider the overall dress code specified by the hosts or the expected level of formality for the event. In some cultures or settings, a white shirt might be considered too casual or even inappropriate, so it's wise to confirm with the hosts or adhere to any specified guidelines.

What colors can guys wear to a wedding?

Guys can wear a variety of colors to a wedding, but it's generally recommended to opt for more subdued and classic hues such as navy, charcoal, or black for formal weddings. For semi-formal or casual events, lighter tones like gray, tan, or even pastel shades can work well. It's essential to consider the wedding's theme, location, and dress code when selecting the appropriate color for a wedding outfit.

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