Is it appropriate to wear a black dress to a wedding
Though the question did not state it, I assume the answer was meant to apply to wedding guests. I cover everybody just in case.
If the bride wants to wear black she most certainly can. She will raise a lot of eyebrows, but the choices for wedding attire for the bride and groom are up to the couple themselves.
For guests, it is still considered inappropriate to wear black to a wedding unless it is in the evening. At least that is the most popular rule of thumb anyway. The answer given by anguilla is correct also. The traditions associated with weddings are changing with the times and in 2004 I have no doubt that a guest could get away with wearing a black dress without a lot of raised eyebrows.
Black is formal, and an evening color for a dress. Maybe it depends on the dress, but it's not superstitousness or tradition, so much as it is what's 'appropriate'.
In San Francisco, pastel and neon houses are common. In San Diego, pastel and neon clothes are common. In Portland, neither of these would be, and would surely draw more attention. This is because of the climate and surroundings, which we coordinate with as humans. The same goes for occasions, and for day/night clothes.
Night time weddings might allow for a black dress, but it would be more appropriate for a dinner reception, than for sitting in a formal wedding procession. I would (if I was a woman, or wore drag) CHANGE between the wedding and reception if I was determined to wear black, and I would wear it with pearls, not diamonds.
The very most important thing is not to overshadow the bride. Screw the groom, it just never matters. If you're a woman, unless otherwise advised, never wear bright colors like an all red dress, (or all black) at a wedding. Never let it be too business, or too sexy. Never let it be so fancy, that it rivals the bride's or bridesmaids'. This is HER day!
Beyond that, almost anything goes anymore. Plums, mauves, peaches, and creams, soft blues warm tans, and violets are perfect. Pure red, white-white, brilliant royal blues, and BLACK dresses are just out.
Of course, if you DID mean the bride, it's her wedding, so of course she can!
Best of luck on your wedding! Ugly politics and fanatics aside, Love is equal. Honor love.
If it is a traditional American Wedding, you would only consider wearing a black dress if it is an evening event. Anytime after 1830 in the evening would be appropriate, as that would also be the cocktail hour. Ideally, your dress would be somewhat slinky, but in good taste, the perfect little black dress would likely work well, or something to the ankles, if you are older. Black shoes, and black hose, or dark ultra sheer hose and a black, silver or gold clutch would complete your look. Gold, silver or the classic pearls would be the topper.
The one social gaff you do NOT wish to make is to outshine the bride, not by accident or by design.
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