The Ultimate Guide To Men’s Wedding Attire
Gone are the days when dressing for a wedding simply meant reaching into your closet for your one trusty suit. With so many different venues and styles of weddings, these days, we understand that picking an outfit that is appropriate for the occasion can be overwhelming.
Even for the grooms out there, with so much pressure to look your best for photos, there’s a good chance you have some style questions running through your head.
Sound about right? Whether you’re a wedding guest or the groom, today we’re answering all your biggest style questions about men’s wedding attire so you’re always the best-dressed man in the room.
Before going any further, we have to do a shameless promotion for our brand JJ Suspenders. At JJ, we obsess over suspender style and quality, and a stylish wedding is one of the best places to rock suspenders. For more info on the do's and don'ts of wearing suspenders, check out our in depth suspenders style guide.
How To Decide What To Wear To A Wedding
While you’ll certainly attend a handful of weddings where a traditional suit and tie might be your best bet, modern weddings tend to allow for more self-expression. However, because of this, the “rules” and “guidelines” for dressing are more open to interpretation. For a lot of men, this can lead to confusion about what is and what is not appropriate attire at a wedding.
In order to simplify this dilemma and give you the best shot of showing up at a wedding in the most appropriate outfit, we’re breaking this down into four areas of concern you’ll want to consider when picking your attire for both guests and groomsmen.
The four areas to address when choosing your wedding attire include:
- Dress Code
Let’s start by looking at the dress code.
Men’s Wedding Attire By Dress Code
Considering the dress code is probably the easiest way to narrow down your attire. Having said that, the dress code might not be explicitly spelled out for you.
The best way to determine the dress code is to consider the formality of the event, which can generally be broken into three main categories: black tie, cocktail, and casual.
For a black-tie wedding, you will likely find that the invitation explicitly states black tie. In this case, stick to the rules and opt for a tuxedo, black bowtie, white tuxedo shirt, and black shoes. If the invitation states “black tie optional”, this is usually provided as an alternative for those who don’t have access to a tuxedo; however, if you do have access, it is recommended you stick with the tuxedo option.
If there is no reference to the dress code on your invitation, this usually means you have some room to play.
In most cases, we recommend sticking with the “cocktail” option since you’ll usually find this option is appropriate for most events. The cocktail option includes a black or navy suit, a dress shirt (color optional), a necktie or bowtie (again, color optional), and brown or black shoes.
Of course, if you’re attending a small, intimate, backyard wedding, a full suit might be too formal. Of course, though, this does not mean a pair of shorts and flip-flops are appropriate. Instead, you can opt for a pair of well-ironed suit pants, a dress shirt, dress shoes or possible loafers, and an optional blazer.
Remember: Considering the dress code is just one of many considerations you’ll need to make when deciding what to wear. Once you’ve done this, it’s time to look to the venue for guidance.
Men’s Wedding Attire by Venue
While dress code is a great place to start when considering your wedding attire, there’s a strong likelihood you have a bit more room to play with your style once you’ve considered the venue.
With the modern engaged couple getting more and more creative with their wedding venues, it would be impossible for us to list out every possible venue option; however, we can list out some of the more well-known ones.
For traditional church weddings, keep your look classic with a black or navy suit, solid-colored tie or bow tie, and subtle hints of self-expression (cuff links, suspenders, pocket squares). Your main goal here is to not be too flashy or bold while still looking and feeling your best.
For winery or special event venues, you can have a bit more fun with color and pattern. Having said that, you still likely want to err on the side of caution and not go for anything that would distract from the bride or groom.
For outdoor weddings in the mountains or the woods, a suit is still your best bet, but you can likely get away with more eccentric, patterned ties and perhaps even some bolder color options, like a dark hunter green suit.
For beach weddings, tan or khaki suits tend to be the standard, but any light color will do the trick. In addition, you might be able to get away with lighter fabrics, like cotton and linen, and no suit jacket/tie.
As you can see, there is a lot of variety to consider when looking at the venue, which is why it is often a good idea to research the venue ahead of time and ask other guests what they are wearing. If this isn’t available to you or you still have doubts, stick with clear-cut rules laid out by the “dress code” portion of the event whether it is explicitly stated or not. Doing so will guarantee you dress appropriately.
Men’s Wedding Attire By Season
Relatively straightforward, if you know how to dress for the season in your everyday life, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty here. Let’s quickly review to ensure we’re all on the same page.
For Spring weddings, consider lighter shaded suits, like grey. You can also choose to accessorize with signature spring-inspired shades like pastels. Accessories can include suspenders, bow ties, neckties, and cufflinks.
For Summer weddings, again, lighter colors are likely your best bet. While temperatures might make suit-wearing uncomfortable, unless you’re attending an explicitly stated casual wedding, dealing with the heat may be necessary. Having said that, you can feel free to skip the socks and go for cropped suit pants for a more trendy option.
For Fall weddings, again, color comes into play (opt for deep jewel tones like maroon, hunter green, gold, and royal blue). You can also seek out texture and even add some pattern to your look with a subtle plaid. Layering for unpredictable temperatures is also encouraged.
For Winter weddings, keep with your standard suit, but if you want to add some winter flair, you can seek out rich velvets and thicker fabrics.
Bottom line: When picking your wedding attire based on season, color, fabric weight, and layering are the three main components you’ll want to consider.
Men’s Wedding Attire by Theme
And lastly, you’ll always want to take a look at the theme when considering your wedding attire. Keep in mind, though, if the theme doesn’t feel obvious then there’s a good chance there isn’t an explicit theme and you don’t have to worry too much here (i.e. use the three guidelines mentioned above).
Some popular examples of wedding themes include rustic/vintage, country, holiday, garden party, Old Hollywood, nautical, and even Halloween.
Having said that, unless we’re talking about a Halloween theme, we don’t recommend taking the theme too seriously. Even if a couple is having a country-inspired wedding, this likely doesn’t mean they expect everyone to show up in cowboy boots. Of course, though, if you have boots and you know that the bride and groom are going all out with their theme, join in on the fun!
To sum it up
At the end of the day, when it comes to figuring out how to dress for a wedding, we always recommend being cautious about being too bold with your style options. When you remain classic with your look, you can’t go wrong.
Of course, though, if you know the bride and groom well and you feel comfortable adding some personality, go for it! Just always remember this is someone’s big day and even if you do have the most amazing sense of style, you are not the star of the show.
Suspenders, colored ties and bowties, cufflinks, and pocket squares are some of the easiest ways to add subtle personality to your look.
Wedding Attire For Men: Best Tips
So you’ve used the tips from above and you’ve got your outfit ready to go… Does that mean you’re done with preparing for the big day? Absolutely not.
In order to ensure you look your best from start to finish, we have some important tips and tricks to keep in mind:
1. Dry cleaning is your best friend
We know that buying a new suit for every wedding you attend might not be possible, which is why it’s so important to stay on top of your dry cleaning. While it’s easy enough to come home from a wedding, hang up your suit, and not think about dry cleaning until your next big event, too often, this leaves you scrambling to ensure your suit is ready to go on the day of the wedding.
Each time you wear a suit, check for any stains or smells. When necessary, dry clean right away to ensure you’re not stuck with a less-than-ideal suit on the day of the wedding.
2. Invest in a classic black suit
Speaking of only having one suit… If this is you, we highly recommend investing in a classic black suit. Not only does this option work for all seasons and themes, but you can always switch out accessories and add a different color dress shirt to give the suit a new feel each time you wear it.
3. Layer layer layer
We mentioned layering above in the case of fall weddings where temperatures are less reliable; however, layering is a good idea, no matter what the temperature.
Layering especially comes in handy for weddings that transition into the evening. For any late-night dancing or celebrations, you’ll likely appreciate being able to remove layers, while still ensuring you looked appropriate and pulled together throughout the day.
4. Consider accessories carefully
While we’ve already mentioned how useful accessories can be for adding personality and style to your look, don’t forget that accessories can also have practical uses. For instance, belts and suspenders can help ensure your pants stay right where they’re supposed to be (read our guide specifically on wearing suspenders at weddings). There are even accessories available to help ensure your shirt stays perfectly tucked in throughout the day/night.
Also, don’t forget, you’ll likely be wearing your dress shoes for multiple hours. Nobody wants to have pinching toes and sore feet for a whole evening. Always get shoes that are comfortable and fit properly, while still keeping style in mind.
5. Fit matters
And lastly, with fit on the brain, one of the most important tips we can provide for men’s wedding attire is this: Get your suit fitted properly. There’s nothing that will ruin a look faster than a poorly fitted suit. Whether too big or too small, you don’t want to be this guy.
Get your suit fitted and custom-tailored to fit your body. Trust us, while it might be an investment now, it will pay off when you always have a reliable suit waiting for you.
What will you be wearing to your next wedding?
As you can see here, “rules” for what to wear to a wedding are starting to shift, but that doesn’t mean we’ve completely let go of all guidelines.
For most, striking the balance between personal style and tradition will bring you the best results.
Just remember: What you wear and how you present yourself is not only a reflection on you, it is also a sign of respect to the couple you are celebrating. Keep those two very important points in mind, and we don’t think you’ll have any trouble picking the perfect attire for your next wedding.