A Man’s Guide to Dressing for his Wedding
How a Man Dresses for his Wedding
Be the Best Looking Man You Can Be
The Classic Suit and Modern Elegance
The Solid Colored 2 Piece Suit
A Word on Black & White Suits
Wedding Suit Styles and Cuts
The Wedding Day Dress Shirt
The Wedding Day Necktie
Wedding Day Dress Shoes
Groomsmen, Suits, and Matching
The Formal Option: Black Tie Weddings
The Aristocratic Option: Morning Suits
Remember the Bride
Keep it Simple
People like to talk about weddings in superlative terms. Your wedding should be the “happiest” day of your life, the “most important” day of your life, the “biggest” day, and so on.
I’d like to think your wedding should also be one of your best-dressed days as well.
Whatever form your ceremony takes, it certainly merits your sharpest appearance.
In many cases it’s also going to require some coordination with groomsmen or general wedding themes. And since you’ll be making up 50% the pictures, thinking carefully about your clothing is almost as important as the bride’s (I have to be careful as a few brides may read this).
The options for dressing sharp on your wedding day are as varied as wedding ceremonies. However, these basic guidelines will steer any man straight.
At the end of the day the goal of your clothing is to help you be as good looking as you possibly can be. Your wedding is a special moment, and your appearance should be as well.
Your outfit should be a classic example of whatever style you’ve chosen. Tuxedo wearers will want to be a textbook image of black-tie style – suits wearers should be fitted perfectly and ornamented with a carefully made boutonniere.
I emphasize classic not because I want you to dress like your grandfather (which actually might not be a bad idea) but rather I don’t want you to timestamp your wedding photos. In the same way many of my female friends can time-date a picture based of the height of their big hair (think late 80’s and early 90’s), going with a trendy look is just that – trendy. Instead opt for suit styles and silhouettes that are timeless.
A simple two piece suit is often the simplest and most striking option for a groom.
Fancier options like tuxedos and morning coats are often rental-dependent in the United States unless a man and all his wedding party happen to own formal dress clothing already.
They also come with rules of style that many men may not be entirely familiar with.
If you want the men in the wedding to look sharp, are on a strict budget, and wish to avoid risking a faux pas – stick to the single breasted men’s suit.
Also, you don’t need to purchase a new suit for your wedding if you already have a simple, solid-color suit in charcoal gray or dark navy.
This may sounds strange coming from a man who sells clothing for a living, but these dark formal colors are entirely appropriate for a wedding day and many men will be just fine using a suit already in their wardrobe assuming it’s in excellent condition.
Worn with a white or other light colored shirt and a simple tie, a dark solid colored suit gives a man an understated elegance that pairs well with most bridal styles and fits the importance of the occasion. By the same token, if a new suit is needed it’s never a bad purchase. The new suit, assuming a quality garment is purchased, remains useful after the wedding as a piece of dress clothing ready for business or other semi-formal occasions.
Avoid brightly-colored suits as are novelty item and too gaudy for a wedding unless you are getting married in Vegas. In that case email me a picture.
In the United States we have a bad habit of planning our weddings around specific color themes. I realize that most of the grooms reading this have little control over this, but if you can resist.
It’s OK for a high school prom – not for grown adults looking to publically share their vows. You should aim to not exactly match your necktie, boutonnière, and pocket squares but rather have them complement you and the bride.
Lastly try to avoid heavy patterning which distracts the eye and can clash with bridal styles.
Formal patterning like pin-stripes has business associations that are out of place at a celebratory event. Keep to a solid or semi-solid dark suit for the most elegant look.
Black suits are sometimes seen as a more relaxed version of a tuxedo for wedding garb. That’s a somewhat imperfect understanding. Black is a high-formality color, but because of its associations with tuxedos and evening wear it may not actually be appropriate for a wedding setting.
Wearing black indoors has the unfortunate effect of washing out many men’s complexions and creating a stark contrast that overpowers in photographs. Also groomsmen and guests are less likely to own a pure black suit than they are a more conventional gray or blue suit, so it may not wind up being much more convenient than the fancier black tie or morning dress options anyway.
The groom does not typically match the bride and should avoid a white suit. White is traditionally bridal and an overwhelmingly white color palette tends to wash the couple out. If your bride is wearing a traditional white dress we strongly recommend a colored suit.
Unless you’re dead set to the idea of a black or white suit, consider a charcoal gray or navy blue instead. These colors are easier to match, much more practical in terms of availability, and are classic staples that have been used for decades.
A wedding suit doesn’t have to be a simple single-breasted, two-button jacket — though it certainly can be. Single-breasted jackets are understated, simple, and dignified.
If you feel the need for a little more exuberance on your wedding day, a double-breasted suit adds weight and formality to the outfit, but is a high-formality garment that should only be worn with a necktie and a formal dress shirt. An open collar isn’t an option with a double-breasted jacket. They may also be less comfortable for prolonged wear, especially when sitting.
An equally formal yet more versatile option is a three-piece suit ensemble; this adds formality and elegance to the basic men’s suit by matching it with a vest. Matched waistcoats fill a similar role to double-breasted jackets, but can always be removed to make the outfit a simple single-breasted two-piece suit.
Wedding photographers usually like to get “relaxed” shots of the groom in just his waistcoat and shirt, often with a jacket slung over a shoulder, so be prepared to do some taking off and putting on of clothing if you go with the vested suit.
Looking your best — the goal for the big day — is about getting the details right. A clean white dress shirt is a solid and formal choice for a wedding day. Patterns are fine for the audience and the groomsmen, but you want the formality of a solid colored shirt.
Light shades of blue, off-white, and cream are acceptable as long as it doesn’t clash with the brides dress. Remember that your shirt collar is going to be in every picture you’re in, so make sure it fits.
If you decide to skip the necktie (see below) make sure you are wearing a dress shirt with a collar whose points stay out of your way. A medium spread is a solid choice here, and consider dress shirt collar stays to ensure the points do not fold.
Lastly don’t underestimate the importance of an undershirt on your wedding day — you’re going to be sweating and it’s better to have a layer of extra protection.
Your choice of necktie is important because of its proximity to your face. Like the dress shirt collar, your necktie color and pattern will take up more than its fair share of attention in the photos and video shot that day. This is not the time for a novelty tie or bright color – instead select a subdued pattern and color.
Look for a tie with a single strong base color in blue, green, gold or earth tones with a modest pattern on it keeps you looking elegant without seeming too stark. Avoid red neckties as they are more for power business meetings.
Look to a classic oxford balmorals that complement your suit’s fabric. Bluchers are acceptable if you plan on wearing a lighter colored suit or suit without a tie. In any case ensure your shoes are well-shined and they should match your belt (close, no need to exactly match).
In fact I advise you steer away from this and instead encourage looks that complement each other, not match exactly.
A wedding party of men in similar-colored but distinctively-cut suits is more striking than one with perfectly coordinated outfits because it looks natural, not contrived.
Black tie weddings are very popular in the United States; over the last 50 years we have seen them grow in popularity as engaged couples look to make their wedding outfits more formal that 2 piece suits but not something that harks of a bygone era (see morning dress below).
Now I do need to point out that technically black tie is evening wear and should not be worn until 5PM in the evening.
Now having said this, if you and your bride are set on a black-tie wedding you should then look to dress appropriately. You want to assemble a classic black tie outfit, one that will stand the test of time and never go out of style.
Please read this article to acquaint yourself with the details of black tie attire. Although wearing black tie is often more costly than a suit, it is actually easier to wear as the rules governing it’s assembly is very cut and dry – to wear a tuxedo classically is to follow the same rules your grandfather did.
I highly recommend that if you go down the black tie route you own your tuxedo; failure to get a proper fit and the renting of a poorly made garment made from synthetic materials will result in you being uncomfortable and sweaty all day. Not something you want on your wedding day.
Remember that most men do not own a black tie ensemble – they’ll need at least a few months notice to rent or order a tuxedo. If going the rental route try to accommodate those that own their own (they will prefer to wear it) and ensure all the groomsmen try on the clothing two weeks before to ensure proper fit.
Finally, beware brightly-colored novelty tuxedos or black tie imitation wear that is too fashion forward; the only message this will send on your wedding day is that you clearly do not have a sense of style.
Men with a respect for the daylight/evening divide who want the most formal wedding possible can turn to the traditional “morning dress” standard.
Morning suits consist of a single-breasted tailcoat and a vest (usually in contrasting colors), a high turn-down or wing collar with the appropriate neckwear, and striped or checked trousers.
The style is meant to evoke the formality of upper-class and aristocratic events, though it was originally considered casual wear in exactly those settings.
It is now a highly formal and a very rare style of dress seen occasionally in the UK and sparingly here in the States.
Morning dress is an exacting outfit. It requires articles of clothing that very few men own and even many tailors will be challenged to properly assemble all the needed items.
Purchases or rentals must be done from a very knowledgeable tailor to ensure that all the rules are followed appropriately.
While striking, this is undoubtedly one of the most stressful options among traditional wedding attires.
The bride’s outfit will outshine yours in terms of opulence and extravagance. This is natural and expected. Your outfit should complement rather than compete with hers.
Don’t be afraid to compare notes closely with the bridal party if you’re not already.
If you can provide your tailor with photos or sketches of her dress before having anything made specifically for the wedding. If your outfit is planned before hers, do the reverse — make sure her tailor or seamstress has a solid idea of what you and your wedding party will be wearing before any expensive work is started.
Weddings are an endless parade of details; try to make dressing for yours a simple one. Honestly, how you dress for your wedding should be a simple affair. Consider your options, review your budget, check with the interested parties, and make your decision months before the appointed date.
A simple and classic wedding outfit will go a long way toward helping making your big day one to remember.