What To Wear To A Wedding: A Guide For Grooms, Guests, & Attendants

What To Wear To A Wedding: A Guide For Grooms, Guests, & Attendants 2017-11-03T13:46:49+00:00

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This comprehensive guide addresses some common questions that men tend to have regardless of the particulars of their wedding. Specifically, you will find the following information below:

Everything To Know About Dressing For A Wedding

Congratulations on being involved in a wedding! If you’re here, it’s likely for one of the following reasons:

  1. You’re a groom-to-be and you’re looking for help deciding what to wear to your wedding
  2. You’re a guy in the wedding party or a father of the bride or groom (or one of the grooms) and haven’t been given any direction as to what to wear
  3. You’re going to be a guest at a wedding and want to look good

We’re glad you stopped by, and we’re looking forward to helping you out.

Wedding Guides By Season

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In addition to this page, we have individual guides based on each season that will offer deeper dives into what you should wear and how you should wear it.

You can click on any of the following links to jump to the specific information that you need:

We’re also very excited to offer a full guide for gay weddings.

How Men Should Dress For A Wedding

Generally speaking, you should:

  • Overdress instead of underdress
  • Wear lighter colors in the spring, summer, and during the day
  • Wear darker colors in fall, winter, and in the evening

Weddings are great. If you’re the groom, it will likely be the happiest day of your life up to that point. If you’re in the wedding, you’re on the receiving end of an honor that not many people get. And if you’re a guest, well, there’s no better way to party than to show up to a place where everyone is all happy and loved up.

Especially if you’re a single guy, but that’s beside the point.

Anyway, you’re here because it’s important to know how to dress for a wedding. Frankly, we don’t blame you for seeking advice on the Internet. While weddings often have similarities among themselves, they’re highly personal and thus variation is high.

How Much Do Wedding Clothes Cost?

Your wedding suit is probably the one expense that isn’t subject to the “wedding tax”: the up-charges that magically appear from vendors once they hear the word “wedding.” With that said, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200-$5000. It all depends on what you’re wearing and the luxury level at which you wish to purchase.

Weddings are expensive, which adds to the stress level. The average cost of a wedding in the United States is $26,720! Much of this cost is based on the venue, catering, and booze, but the clothes you wear will obviously contribute to the overall cost as well. You want to make sure that if you’re shelling out your hard-earned cash that you make smart investments.

The clothing you choose to wear should reflect your personality, the time of day and season, and the overall vibe that you are looking to achieve.

In a nutshell, there’s no “one size fits all” advice for your wedding garb.

Should I Wear A Tuxedo, A Suit, Or Something Else?

Couple-At-Spring-WeddingThe first question we always get from grooms is “Do I wear a tuxedo or a suit?” This is a reasonable question, as many guys look at their parents’ wedding photos and see their dads in a tuxedo or a variant thereof.

Though weddings are big-time occasions, they don’t necessarily require the formality that a tuxedo exudes.

Your utmost consideration for this (and every other aspect of your wedding) should be, “What do I want the vibe to be?” If you and your partner are more formal, traditional, or are intentionally throwing a black-tie wedding reception, you may want to wear a tuxedo. In the case of black-tie, you must wear one.

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If you’re a bit more laid back or are throwing a more casual affair (say, getting married in a backyard as opposed to a ballroom), you may want to opt for a suit instead.

Some couples are even more casual than this. Lots of beach weddings involve little more than linen pants and a shirt, and there are some folks who throw backyard barbecues at which they get married. It’s all up to you.

Tuxedo Rentals

We would be remiss if we didn’t talk about tuxedo rentals, specifically to discourage them. Take a look at the gentleman pictured below:

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We would be incredibly surprised if we found out that this man’s tuxedo was purchased and not rented. The jacket is too short, trousers too baggy, and shirt collar’s wings limp and lifeless. This is unfortunate, he’s probably a nice guy, and from what we can tell, naturally handsome. This is what happens when we rent tuxedos.

As a rule of thumb, you should avoid renting a tuxedo at all costs. There are many reason for this, the most important of which are:

  • Neither you nor your groomsmen will look good in rented clothing. Sure, a tuxedo rental joint can perform basic alterations so your trousers aren’t puddling on the ground, but they can’t do much more. You and your guys will simply not look the best you can, and while this may seem trivial, it’s not. A professional photographer (and maybe even a videographer) will be documenting the entire day. Do you want to look back at yourself and your closest friends and see poorly-fitted tuxes?

Newlyweds-Outside-Standing

Another issue is that the materials used for rental tuxedos tend to be, well, garbage. At best it’s unsightly, at worst it’s uncomfortable.

  • What rental places call a tuxedo is often anything but. Just because someone calls it a tuxedo doesn’t make it so. A light grey jacket and trousers with flap pockets and a center vent that has piping on the lapel may indeed be something, but it is not a tuxedo. A black coat and pants with emerald green vest and matching pre-tied bow tie is a monkey suit, but not a tuxedo.

Evening wear follows a very specific aesthetic protocol. Rental places rarely hit the mark, and when they do, the fit will just not be there.

  • It’s a waste of money. If not for you, then for your groomsmen. Many places offer a free tux rental for a groom when all of his guys rent through them, but these rentals often cost around $200. If you were to opt for suits instead of rental tuxes, it’s likely that you could find a deal on some inexpensive ones and the math would work out to about the same per guy, except he owns the suit.

With that said, if you’re going to make your guys buy something, it’s good to make sure that they buy something they can use later in the real world. One of the biggest complaints that bridesmaids have is that they have to spend hundreds of dollars on a dress they’ll only wear once. Making your guys buy a navy or charcoal suit makes it an investment, not just a purchase.

General Tips For Men In Weddings

Regardless of who you are or what your role in the wedding is, you will want to abide by some common sense guidelines, which we believe are:

  • Consider potential weight fluctuations: Alterations tailors can generally make your clothes fit so long as you only gain or lose ten pounds or so. Past that, it is very difficult to alter garments and you may have to buy something new.
  • Have your clothes ready with plenty of time. There is little in this world that’s more stressful than it being a week before a wedding and your clothes aren’t ready. Combatant Gentlemen has been going through some extremely bad PR after putting many a groom and wedding party through such stress.
  • The best thing to do (assuming your weight doesn’t fluctuate too much) is to have your clothes ready no later than four weeks before the wedding date. If you’re buying off the rack, give yourself a few days to research online and then do some shopping. If you’re buying a made-to-measure or custom suit, you’ll want to reach out to tailors, share your date, and make sure they can commit to accommodating you without issue. A safe estimate for a made-to-order suit is about eight weeks.

How Do I Work My Wedding Colors Into My Outfit?

Casual-Fall-WeddingIf a groom, best man, groomsman, usher, or father of a bride or groom is wearing a tuxedo, he can ignore this section entirely, as his color scheme will be white and black or midnight blue.

If you’ve opted for a suit or something more casual, you now have to start thinking about color schemes. What did you decide your wedding colors would be?

Think about ways to flex your wedding colors into the wedding party’s outfits, but just don’t match your tie and pocket square like our friend pictured at right. Some ways to do so include:

  • Shirts
  • Ties
  • Pocket Squares
  • Socks
  • Cufflinks
  • Tie Bars
  • Suspenders

Guests & Wedding Colors

While there’s no rule saying a guest can’t show up in wedding colors, we advise against it. Sure, if one of the wedding colors is blue and you’re wearing a blue tie, you’re obviously off the hook. But if the color scheme is peach, lime green, and tan, and you show up in a tan suit wearing peach socks and a green tie, that’s weird and off-putting.

Military Grooms & Guests

Men who’ve served in the military can take this opportunity to wear their dress uniforms if they so choose. Do keep in mind that certain levels of military dress often correspond to civilian dress codes. U.S. Marines Dress Blues, for example, correspond to civilian black tie.

Another thing to remember for servicemen is that when you’re in a military uniform, you are considered a representative of the military and are expected to comport yourself in a manner consistent with military standards. So if you plan to get drunk and make a couple of memorable mistakes, you may want to opt for civvies.

Attendants & Guests: What To Wear

Even if you’re not the groom, what you wear to a wedding requires careful consideration. We break this down by role below.

Best Man

As the groom’s main man (“best man,” if you will), you are likely either his brother or his best friend. You hold the rings, organized the bachelor party, and will make a speech at the reception.

What should you wear?

Your position in the wedding party hierarchy may afford you some influence over what you (and, by extension), the groomsmen, wear

As a rule, you should complement the groom. This means wearing an ensemble of similar formality and color, but not exactly the same thing that the groom is wearing. An exception to this would be if you’re all wearing tuxedos, in which case it’s perfectly appropriate to dress identically.

You should not overshadow the groom. If he’s wearing solids, avoid patterns. If he’s wearing a patterned suit, wear a solid or less-boldly-patterned suit.

Your accessory colors will likely be dictated by the wedding colors.

Groomsmen

There are two keys to remember here:

  • Variations on a theme are a smart way to play with color between you and your wedding party
  • Changing details like lapels, adding a vest, or wearing French instead of barrel cuffs are tasteful ways to stand out

One of the most common questions that men ask when they’re planning their weddings is, “What should my groomsmen wear? Should it be the same as me? Should I look different? Will it look weird if I look different from them?”

We suggest that either everyone looks exactly the same, or the groom wear something different than his groomsmen but stays in the same color family. Our preference is for the latter. You’re the groom. This is your day so you should look special, right?

For example, let’s say your wedding colors are plum, grey, and green. An easy thing to do for your groomsmen is to put them in charcoal suits, white shirts, purple ties with green stripes, and green socks.

For you to be sufficiently different but still in the same ballpark, you could wear a medium grey suit, white shirt, green tie with purple dots, and purple socks. Make your shirt a French cuff one and throw on some green/purple silk knot cufflinks.

Another option is to wear the same thing they are wearing and simply add a waistcoat.

To tie it all together: keeping color families the same while varying small details is the quickest, easiest way to allow a bit of spotlight on yourself.

Groomsmen’s Gifts: What To Buy?

While it doesn’t necessarily affect your outfit, groomsman’s gifts are a thing that grooms need to think about.

You’ve already spent a bunch of money on your own clothes. You’re already likely spending $150 apiece for each member of your wedding party to eat, drink, and dance for an evening. Now you have to buy them gifts?

Yeah, you do. It’s just a thing you have to deal with.

You want to make your gifts personalized (especially for your Best Man), but that’s not necessarily a helpful suggestion. Here are some concrete ideas you can think about and maybe put into action:

  • Ties & Pocket Squares: An added benefit is that your guys will all be wearing the correct ties
  • Tie clips: These are practical, reasonably inexpensive, and easy to monogram
  • Flasks: Another item that can be monogrammed, whether you fill it with your buddy’s booze of choice us up to you
  • Socks: Inexpensive and easy

If you’re less constrained in terms of budget, it’s not unheard of to buy your party’s entire kit. This kind of generosity isn’t obligatory, but it’s incredibly nice.

Father Of The Bride Or Groom

Being the father of a bride or groom is a lovely experience. You’re beaming with pride and you get to sit back and enjoy watching one of your children take a huge life step.

As far as what you wear is concerned, there are a couple of ways to go.

For a formal wedding, you should wear a tuxedo or morning coat, depending on the time of day.

For an informal wedding, you should wear a suit. The biggest qualifier here is that you should not wear a suit like you’re going to work. Wear a suit like you’re headed to a party, because you are!

As a father of a bride or groom, you are not necessarily beholden to wearing colors in the wedding’s scheme as the attendants typically are. You certainly can if you like (we suggest checking with your kid and future child-in-law), but the important thing is to be festive.

Wear a brighter-colored suit than you typically do. Have you been looking for an excuse to put on a bow tie? Now’s the time. Don’t be afraid of a flashy pocket square, and feel free to don the fanciest shoes you own.

You probably paid for a lot of what you’re about to enjoy, so you can dress however you please. Just have fun with it.

Guests

Wedding guests have more leeway in terms of what they can wear than the wedding party. Here’s how you know what to wear:

  • Does the invitation indicate a dress code? If it does, adhere to that dress code. If it doesn’t, wear a suit.
  • Consider time of day and season. Generally speaking, daytime weddings require lighter colors, whereas nighttime weddings require darker ones. Spring and summer also have lighter color palettes, whereas autumn and winter lend themselves to darker colors in general.

You’ll obviously be more comfortable in spring and summer in lighter fabrics like lightweight wool, cotton, or linen, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding what to wear. Conversely, you should wear heavier weight wools and flannels in the fall and winter to keep yourself comfortable.

Flannel works really well for winter weddings especially, as you may be outside when going from a church to a reception hall and any additional warmth is hugely beneficial.

  • You don’t have to adhere to a color scheme. The vast majority of weddings have color themes (“wedding colors”) that are decided by the couple in the beginning planning stages. It influences everything from flower arrangements to napkin colors. It often has a say in what grooms and groomsmen wear too.

It has nothing to do with what you choose to wear. In fact, it’s advisable to not intentionally wear the couple’s wedding colors, as this would be a bit off-putting and kind of creepy.

In Conclusion

Your wedding is likely your first foray into project management, which is stressful. Emotions are running high between you and your fiancé, and it can be anxiety-inducing to balance the venue, photographer, DJ, and whatever other vendors you’re working with.

Figuring out what to wear will add to that stress, for sure. We hope that the advice in this article and in the seasonal pages related to it provide enough help to keep you calm and collected, not to mention looking amazing on the biggest day of your life.

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