Can you wear a white shawl to a wedding?

Can you wear a white shawl to a wedding

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We were all once either related to a bride or been brides ourselves, and we can all relate to the excitement, tendency to perfection, and fears! As a fashion designer, I’ve often met all of these. There are no written rules about that, but it is well-accepted that brides and their wishes should be deeply respected.

The wedding etiquette declares that white (and shades) are worn exclusively by the bride, and when you are about to choose your perfect outfit, you must uphold this custome.

But what about accessories like shawls or a combination of other colors and patterns with white? In most cases, it’s best to avoid it!
But are there any exceptions? And what could you wear instead?
This article aims to provide guidance on navigating the often delicate subject of wearing white, any white, to a wedding and will offer great alternative options for achieving an elegant and stylish look!


In which case you certainly can’t wear a white shawl for a wedding?

If you are considering wearing a white shawl to a wedding, you might think, “it is not a dress, just one accessory”, but wearing white at a wedding, even if it is a shawl, might make you steal the attention reserved for the bride and get her upset, things you better avoid! Everyone comes together to enjoy the couple’s special day, and you don’t want to be the one to interfere with that! 

The tradition of the bride wearing white goes back a long time and has deep meaning. White symbolizes purity, innocence, and a fresh start for the bride and groom as they begin their new life together. By not wearing white, you show respect for the bride and the groom and the importance of the moment.

In which case can you wear a white shawl for a wedding?

In specific situations, wearing a white shawl to a wedding is acceptable. For instance: 

  1. If the wedding has a white dress code.
  2. If the bride personally requests it.
  3. If you’re a bridesmaid and your outfit includes a white shawl.

The first bride that purchased one of my wedding dresses asked for a light pink dress, and over the years, I made bridal dresses in other stunning colors like purple and lavender. It is common for brides today to choose a different color for their gowns’. However, since white is a meaningful color in weddings, it is better to avoid wearing white even if the bride chooses to be wed in a different color. 


Is it true everywhere in the world?

I’m not sure about everywhere, but the convention does go global, as even in countries with different traditional bridal colors, it is still essential to be cautious about wearing white attire at weddings.
For example, in China, the traditional color of brides is red, but today, some often opt for a white dress following western traditions.


In India, the case is different, though traditionally, the bride wears a bright-colored outfit like red or orange, white is considered inappropriate because it’s associated with mourning, making it a disrespectful color for weddings.

To be on the safe side, it’s best to avoid wearing white and similar shades to weddings whenever possible.


Alternative shawl colors to complement your dress

If you’re considering a white shawl for a wedding, you must think it’s the best match for your outfit. However, since wearing white can be problematic due to the above-mentioned cultural norms and the importance of the bride’s attire, it’s essential to explore alternative options.
One helpful resource is the colors chart guides, which can help you select a beautiful color match for your outfit. 

Contrast colors can create a visually striking and harmonious appearance. Another option is to choose a shawl in the exact color of your dress or a slightly different shade. The monochromatic approach often produces an elegant, sophisticated, and cohesive look. 

By selecting a shawl that complements your dress, you’ll achieve a polished and attractive style while adhering to wedding etiquette. 

Additionally, consider using metallic shades, such as gold or silver, which can add a touch of glamour to your outfit while remaining respectful of the bride’s special day.

women with black dress and light color shawl

Can I wear any white to a wedding?

Well, of course, it depends. If you wish to incorporate white into your ensemble, it better be a small and hardly noticeable accessory in white shades and not totally white, such as cream shoes. Ensuring these accessories do not detract from the bride’s attire is crucial.

If you’re confident that the accessory is appropriate and won’t upset the bride or steal her spotlight, then it’s acceptable to wear. However, if you have any doubts or concerns, you better be cautious and choose another color. 

Is it OK to wear white floral to a wedding?

White floral designs, while undeniably beautiful, often possess a distinct bridal feel. When worn at a wedding, they can unintentionally draw attention away from the bride. As a guest, you would like to support and celebrate with the couple without overshadowing their moment.

Instead, consider wearing a floral design with a different base color to enjoy the beauty of a floral design, or opt for a solid-colored shawl.  

It’s essential to consider the wedding’s overall theme, dress code, and setting when choosing your attire, ensuring that your outfit remains respectful and suitable for the occasion.

Can you wear a patterned white shawl for a wedding?

Patterned white shawls share similar risks with white floral designs. Although they might appear less bridal due to their patterns, the prominence of white in the design still poses a risk. Wearing a patterned white shawl to a wedding could potentially draw unwanted attention or create confusion, detracting from the bride’s special moment.

If you love patterned outfits, explore shawls with different base colors, or again, go for the solid-colored. 

Do all cultures wear white for weddings?

As I shortly mentioned previously, the answer is no. Wedding attire varies significantly across cultures, each with its unique traditions and customs. In some cultures, brides wear vibrant colors, such as red or gold, which symbolize good luck, prosperity, or happiness. But today, despite the differing traditions, many brides choose to wear white, even if it’s not their culture’s customary color.

So, when attending a wedding from a different culture, you’d better research and understand the specific traditions and customs, and of course, if you wish to wear white, always check with the bride!


Can men wear white to a wedding?

White attracts attention, particularly at weddings. Consequently, male guests should avoid wearing a white suit or another overall white outfit, even if the groom is wearing a different color. 

In many weddings, it is appropriate to wear white if you are the groom’s father or the best man, and the couple is aware of your planned outfit.

The recommendation for not wearing white does not apply to the white buttoned shirt, as it is the primary color for men at formal occasions like weddings. Actually, most men will probably wear a white shirt under their suit and take the jacket off while dancing and mingling after the ceremony, but that’s totally acceptable.



Weddings have their remarkable charm, and everyone comes to celebrate meaningful moments together and enjoy. Though a scene of a guest wearing white can be amusing in a movie, in reality, it might cause big problems. I hope the article made you choose another color and leave your beautiful white shawl at home for a different occasion!  

It is also good to remember that when your own wedding day arrives, you’ll appreciate guests adhering to the same etiquette, allowing you to shine on your big day. Congratulations to the happy couple, and enjoy!

Can you wear a white shawl to a wedding

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