We’ve all heard the ‘never wear white to a wedding’ rule. But, lately, it seems that rule has been extended to include other neutral hues as well.
With brides choosing to wear dresses in colors like champagne, beige, ivory and blush, to name a few, does that mean shades like champagne are off the table as a wedding guest? Can you wear a champagne-colored dress to a wedding?
Just like the drink, champagne is a color associated with prosperity, elegance and sophistication. Champagne is a great neutral hue because it pairs well with a variety of colors and can be used as a base for a wider color palette.
But can you wear champagne to a wedding? Read on to learn how to wear this luxurious shade without offending the bride.
What is Champagne? Is it a Flattering Color?
Named after the bubbly alcoholic drink that is often served at weddings, champagne is a combination of white, yellow, orange and pink. Very similar to beige, champagne has warmer undertones.
Champagne can come in a variety of different shades from pale to dark and goes well with metallics, earth tones and pastels but also looks gorgeous against burgundy, forest green and most shades of blue.
While similar to beige, champagne is an easier color for most people to wear. The key to successfully wearing this luxurious color is to choose a shade that offers contrast to your skin tone.
If your skin is dark or tanned, a lighter shade of champagne will look amazing on you. If your skin is pale, then a deep champagne is the way to go. Fair-skinned women with pink undertones can wear any shade of champagne successfully while ladies with strong yellow undertones in their skin will want to stick to shades of pink champagne.
Can You Wear Champagne to a Wedding?
As more and more brides opt for off-white shades for their wedding gowns, guests are often left wondering what neutral colors they can safely wear to a wedding.
Attire etiquette rules have changed over time, however. Even the ‘no white’ rule has been modified to fit modern standards. Etiquette guru The Emily Post Institute now says wearing white, and similar neutral shades, to a wedding is permitted as long as your dress doesn’t resemble a wedding gown.
Now that neutrals like champagne are fair game for wedding guests, shopping for a wedding guest outfit has become much easier. Just remember to avoid any dress that could steal attention away from the bride. To learn more about how to choose an appropriate wedding guest outfit, read on!
Understanding Dress Codes
One of the first things to figure out before you start shopping for an outfit is the wedding’s dress code. How formal or casual a wedding is should always be your first consideration when choosing an outfit.
To ensure you don’t show up at a wedding wearing a sundress when you should be wearing an evening gown, read on to learn about the six main wedding dress codes and appropriate attire for each.
White tie wedding
White tie, also known as full evening dress, is the most formal of all the dress codes. Women are expected to wear a floor-length evening gown that is sophisticated rather than showy or sexy. By avoiding low-cut necklines, high side slits or skin tight fabrics, you’ll ensure you’re not stealing any attention away from the bride.
If you opt for a champagne-colored dress, it’s also imperative it does not look like a wedding gown. If the bride happens to choose a champagne dress, she won’t be impressed if it appears like your dress is in direct competition with hers.
That means avoiding strapless dresses and any gown with lace, excessive beading or sequins — some of the most common bridal gown features. This dress, although not a wedding gown, could be mistaken for one, thanks to its full tulle skirt and intricate beading, making it an ill-advised choice to wear to a wedding.
Black tie wedding
Less formal than a white tie wedding, black tie allows you to wear either a traditional evening gown or a conservative cocktail dress. When choosing a cocktail dress, the hemline should remain below the knee.
Just like with white tie weddings, you should not wear any dress that could be mistaken for a wedding gown. That means avoiding lace and a lot of bridal-style beading. If you have your heart set on wearing a strapless dress, one like this, where champagne is the background color, is acceptable.
Formal (or black tie optional) wedding
Most female guests attending a formal or black tie optional wedding will wear a cocktail dress rather than a traditional evening gown. If you opt for a cocktail dress, make sure it is no more than a few inches above the knee.
Keep in mind, even a cocktail dress can look like a wedding dress if you choose one in solid champagne. A dress like this, in solid pale champagne, could look bridal. If you aren’t able to check to see what the bride is wearing to ensure your dress doesn’t look like hers, it’s best to make champagne a background color. This long gown with its colorful floral print, for instance, is perfect for a guest.
A semi-formal code is a popular choice for both daytime and evening weddings. Offering a happy medium between black tie and casual, this dress code is fairly easy to accommodate because it offers you a wide range of wardrobe choices.
A cocktail dress, garden party dress, a dress and jacket ensemble or a fancy skirt and blouse are all on the table for this style of wedding. If you prefer pants, a jumpsuit or a fancy pantsuit are also appropriate.
If you choose to wear light champagne, it should be an accent or background color to ensure you don’t match the bride. This dress, perfect for an evening wedding, has a light champagne background, but the print is what everyone will focus on. You can also opt for a darker champagne dress like this, because most brides stick to light neutrals for their wedding gowns.
Dressy casual weddings
Another popular dress code, this style is reserved for daytime weddings. If you’re attending a dressy casual event, a garden party dress, a semi-casual dress or a skirt and top ensemble are perfect as are jumpsuits or pantsuits for ladies who prefer not to wear a dress or skirt.
While any dress you do choose is very unlikely to look like a wedding dress at this level of casualness, we still advise against a solid light pink champagne dress like this one in favor of a darker champagne or a patterned dress like this.
Casual weddings are less frequent and are typically reserved for very informal settings like the beach or a backyard wedding. A sundress, a maxi dress, a skirt and top or a jumpsuit all work for a casual wedding. Just remember that casual does not mean denim, shorts or flip flops are OK. It’s still important to show respect for the bridal couple by looking casually elegant.
You should also keep in mind that the bride may not be wearing a traditional wedding dress. A casual wedding may mean she’ll opt for a pale, lace maxi dress like this or a shorter boho dress with soft, floaty layers. To avoid accidentally looking like the bride, choose a darker champagne or a light champagne print dress.
What to Wear When No Dress Code is Stated
While having knowledge about dress codes is always handy to have, it won’t help you if your invite arrives without a dress code request.
If your invitation offers no clues on what you should wear, a knee-length cocktail dress is almost always a safe bet. But what if you show up in a cocktail dress to find everyone else wearing sundresses or evening gowns?
To always look en pointe, take your outfit cue straight from your invitation. Time of day and reception location are usually the best indicators of what to wear. Read on to learn how to decipher the appropriate dress code, even when your invite doesn’t state one.
Daytime weddings — any ceremony that begins before 6 p.m — are usually more casual than evening weddings with semi-formal or dressy casual attire being the standard. Casual can be an option too, but is typically reserved for backyard receptions or barbecues on the beach.
If you’re unsure about the dress code, always err on the side of being overdressed in a semi-formal outfit like a cocktail dress rather than being underdressed in a sundress. And, while a daytime wedding guest outfit is rarely in danger of being mistaken for a wedding gown, you never know for sure what the bride is wearing. If she is wearing a champagne-colored tea-length dress for instance, and you show up in a similar shade and style, that could leave you feeling awkward and embarrassed.
Here are some cute ways to incorporate champagne into your daytime wedding attire:
Semi-formal daytime wedding attire:
Dressy casual daytime wedding attire:
Casual daytime wedding attire:
Evening weddings are almost always more formal than daytime ceremonies and that means upping the formality of your outfit. White tie, black tie, formal (black tie optional) or semi-formal are the usual dress codes for evening weddings.
In most cases, however, if your hosts expect you to wear white tie or black tie apparel, the invitation will say so. If your invitation doesn’t list a dress code, your best bet is to wear either a fancy cocktail dress or a formal jumpsuit.
If you plan to wear an above-the-knee cocktail dress, make sure it passes the fingertip rule. If it’s longer than your fingertips when you hold your arms straight down at your sides, then it’s an appropriate length. Just keep in mind that slim skirts will ride up when you sit down, so dresses with a-line or full skirts are always a better bet.
When it comes to wearing champagne to an evening ceremony, the key is to make sure your gown doesn’t look bridal in any way. If you think there’s any chance you could be mistaken for the bride or a member of the bridal party, then don’t wear it.
One of the best — and safest— ways to wear champagne to a more formal wedding is not to choose a solid color dress. You should also stay away from a lot of lace and beading.
Here are some lovely examples of wedding-appropriate ceremony outfits for each dress code.
White tie evening wedding attire:
Black tie evening wedding attire:
Formal evening wedding attire:
Semi-formal evening wedding attire:
Church weddings always require a modest outfit. Plunging necklines, skin tight fabrics or short skirts are all major no-nos. Instead, aim for something sophisticated rather than showy.
If the wedding is at a Catholic church, you’ll also need to ensure your shoulders are covered. While not all churches are quite that strict about the dress code, it’s always better to be dressed too conservatively than not conservatively enough. And, while choosing champagne is OK, it’s best not to be dressed head-to-toe in a lighter version of that color.
Here are a handful of great outfits to serve as inspiration.
A garden wedding is the perfect time to break out your most ladylike outfit. A semi-formal or dressy casual frock with a pretty floral or polka dot pattern is perfect for a garden setting. While garden weddings are typically a time for brighter colors, you can opt for a dress with a champagne-colored background and a colorful print.
Here are some good examples to get you started.
A country wedding does not mean you can be super casual and show up in jeans. In fact, unless otherwise stated, guests attending a country wedding should choose a semi-formal or dressy casual outfit.
Pretty floral, lace or gingham dresses are perfect for a country wedding as long as they don’t steal attention from the bride. No matter what dress you choose, donning shoes that are comfortable for walking over uneven ground is a must.
A beach ceremony is almost always less formal than vows said in a church or a garden. That doesn’t mean you should dress too casually, though. Unless your invitation says otherwise, aim for a dressy casual outfit. If you’re still feeling uncertain, you can’t go wrong with a pretty maxi dress or sundress.
Here are some adorable examples to have you ceremony-ready.