What Should I Wear To A Wedding In The Fall?
Autumn, like spring, is prime time for a wedding. Venues tend to charge their highest rates during these “high” seasons, largely as a result of the weather. September, in fact, is one of the most popular months of the year for a wedding, period.
This isn’t surprising. It’s nice outside in the fall! The air is crisp but not cold, so it’s easy for a guy to wear a jacket and tie all night and be perfectly comfortable. Why wouldn’t you want to get married in the fall?
There are a number of things to consider: formality level, time of day, venue, and your role in the event. We’ll go over each of these things below.
Formal Versus Informal Autumn Weddings
Editor’s Note: Just so you know, we’ll technically be using the term “formal” incorrectly in this article. Traditionally, formal dress will refer to the white tie dress code whereas a tuxedo is semi-formal evening wear.
As it’s increasingly rare and somewhat obscure nowadays, we decided to use the word “formal” within the spectrum of this guide so it’s easier to understand.
If you are the wedding couple, the first decision that you will both need to make is how formal you’d like the affair to be. Are you both “get married in a ballroom” people or more “have a wedding in a backyard” people?
Another element to consider is the actual time of day of the wedding. Theoretically, this has more of an effect on your choice of formalwear, but it’s still something to think about when dressing informally.
Formal Daytime Fall Wedding: Morning Dress
Any formal event during the day, regardless of the season, requires morning dress. Don’t let the name confuse you, morning dress isn’t just for mornings. It’s for any daytime formal event that occurs before 6 pm or sunset. Morning dress includes:
- Morning coat in black or grey
- Striped black or solid grey trousers
- White, ecru, or light blue French cuff shirt
- Waistcoat in buff, dove grey, of Robin’s egg blue
- Silk necktie or Ascot tie
- Well-polished black shoes (not patent leather)
We admit that morning dress is rare in the United States. Indeed, it’s much more common to wear a tuxedo to a formal wedding, regardless of its timing. This is part of a larger trend in the U.S. that has blurred the lines between day and night in terms of formality.
Meanwhile, morning dress is more properly adhered to in Britain and the Commonwealth.
If you wear a tuxedo during the day, you are technically dressed formally but also inappropriately if you are somebody who values dress codes. Of course, not everybody shares the same values and it’s fine if you prefer the ease of a tuxedo over morning dress.
We discuss our opinion of rented clothes on our wedding homepage and we discourage it for a wedding. However, we make a concession for morning dress. Given its rarity, if you decide you’d like to wear a morning coat, it’s unlikely that you’ll wear one ever again so go ahead and rent one.
This advice applies to grooms, groomsmen, and guests alike. If you are invited as a guest to a formal wedding (or any event, for that matter), adhere to the dress code indicated on the invitation as best as you can. If you need an introduction to dress codes, click the preceding link.
Morning Dress Further Reading
If you want to learn more about morning dress and formal wedding attire, we suggest the following guides:
Formal Evening Fall Weddings: Tuxedo
If you’re planning to attend or host a formal fall wedding in the evening, we suggest a tuxedo. We have much more comprehensive information for black tie attire, but a quick rundown of black tie is as follows:
- Black or midnight blue dinner jacket with matching trousers
- White French cuff shirt
- Black self-tie bow tie
- Black patent oxfords or opera pumps
- Single-breasted waistcoat (optional)
- Black cummerbund (optional, not worn with waistcoat)
- White braces
As mentioned above, the tuxedo is regarded as semi-formal wear. It’s traditionally worn after 6pm or sunset (which is earlier) and was once regarded as more relaxed than clothing worn during the day. Indeed, that’s quite ironic by today’s standards!
If you choose to have a formal wedding in the evening, the default outfit is a tuxedo. This should actually allow you to breathe a sigh of relief, as the options for tuxedos are much more limited than those for suits and are thus easier to handle.
In the event of chillier weather -a late October wedding, for example- a three-piece tuxedo will be both handsome and functional, keeping you a bit warmer.
Although we relax our rules around rented clothing for morning dress, we firm them right back up again with regard to tuxedos. A proper one can be purchased relatively cheaply nowadays, and you and your party will look better for it.
This ease of acquisition also applies to guests invited to a black-tie wedding. We’ve recommended a few brands below if you need some guidance.
Tuxedos are conventionally regarded as uniforms, which means that there is little variation aside from perhaps your choice in lapels. However, you can relax things for guests by opting for either the creative black tie or black tie optional dress codes.
Black Tie Further Reading
Want to learn more about wearing a tuxedo? Check out some of our related resources below:
Alternatively, feel free to leave us a comment below and we’ll get back to you.
Informal Daytime Fall Wedding: Wear A Suit
By “informal,” we mean a suit or potentially something even more casual. The beauty of a wedding is that you don’t have to wear your staid navy blue suit if you don’t want to.
This is an opportunity to have a bit of fun, especially if you have a closet full of navy and grey that you wear to work. Some color options to consider for the fall:
- Medium grey
- Dark blue (lighter than navy)
Ever wanted to wear a boldly-patterned suit like a windowpane or a plaid? Now’s your chance. Curious how you’d look in a double-breasted waistcoat? You can also seize the opportunity to wear a bow tie if you’ve been too cautious in the past to do so.
With no boss or clients to appease, you can let your personality shine through to the extent that you feel inclined to do so.
You can let your peacockishness come through even more during the day. Even though it’s autumn, your daytime colors can be a bit bolder than your nighttime ones. In fact, autumn is a colorful season so you can certainly enjoy experimenting with different hues for a creative outfit.
As far as shirts and other furnishings are concerned, color coordination can be as simple or as complex as you like. In fact, we have a whole series on it if you need help! Scroll further down this article to read about typical autumn colors.
Unlike formal dress codes, there is also more freedom for accessories. For instance, you could provide lapel flowers for guests or even arrange for real flower boutonnières for the groomsmen and close family.
Finally, while the dress code will likely be more relaxed for guests, the groom and groomsmen may want to coordinate their outfits.
If you’re looking to buy suits in bulk, you can plan ahead and check out the recommended retailers below for more information.
Informal Evening: Wear A Suit
When you’re already dressing informally, your options open up and you now have to consider coordinating colors for suits, shirts, ties, pocket squares, and more. Similarly, the lines between day and night get blurred a bit.
In the fall, you’ll want to wear a suit in a medium-to-dark color like grey, navy, or even olive. Standard wool is a good material for fall, as it’s not quite cold enough for flannel but too chilly for cotton or linen. A three-piece suit will add a jolt of formality and rakishness.
When dressing for the evening, you can opt for dark, warmer colors to highlight the season’s atmosphere. Alternatively, you can instead choose to have bright colors to offer a certain level of contrast.
Fall Wedding Suit Colors & How To Wear Them
Colors that occur in nature during the fall make us think of foliage and the ushering in of chillier weather. Mimicking these colors in your clothing choices is a smart way to lend continuity to the affair while looking sartorially correct.
Below are some common fall wedding colors:
There’s a chance that you and your fiancé will pick different colors entirely, but the point is to keep those colors in mind for yourself, especially as you select your accessories.
Typical Venues For Fall Weddings
Autumn is the last season in which you can get away with an outdoor wedding before mid-to-late springtime hits. Depending on the point of fall when the wedding occurs and its time of day, it could take place at such venues as:
- Ballroom: Opt for a more formal look. If you don’t want to wear a tuxedo, a black three-piece suit will work well.
- Backyard: Wear a suit. Backyard weddings start in the daytime more often than not, so a lighter suit color will work well here.
- Farm: Definitely go with a suit. Farmland weddings are pretty much backyard weddings, just not your backyard (unless you live on a farm, of course).
Party & Guests Fall Wedding Suits
If you’re not a groom, what follows are some more targeted tips on what to wear to an autumn wedding after receiving an invitation.
You’re the co-pilot. The Goose to the groom’s Maverick. Best Supporting Actor. You get the picture.
Generally, the best man should complement the groom. Wear an outfit 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, or morning coats, in which case it’s expected that you 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. The colors of accessories like socks and cufflinks will likely be dictated by the wedding colors.
In some cases, you’ll likely discuss the matter directly with the groom as well as organise the outfits for you and the groomsmen. Therefore, the guide above should prove valuable for coordinating them.
As a groomsman, your job is simple: wear what you’re told to wear by either the groom or best man. Your role is to support your friend, make photos look awesome, and perhaps make out with someone later in the reception if you’re not already married!
Looking the part for that, however, is largely going to be up to the groom, and possibly the best man to a lesser extent. Know that you will likely be wearing the same thing as the groom, or at least something so similar that guests will clearly be able to see the variation on a theme.
Most people go in one of two directions:
- Grooms, groomsmen, and best man all wear identical ensembles. This is typical for formal weddings wherein the men wear tuxedos or, more rarely, morning coats.
- Groomsmen and best man wear identical ensembles, groom wears something slightly different. This is one of the most popular methods by which to dress a wedding party. A simple example is to have the groomsmen in dark grey suits while the groom wears a light grey one. Another one would be the same navy suit for everyone, but the groom adds a vest.
Accessory colors (socks, ties, pocket squares, cufflinks, etc.) will typically be dictated by the wedding color scheme.
Father Of The Bride Or Groom
If you’re the father of the bride or groom, congratulations. Hopefully you didn’t have to take out a second mortgage to help fund this admittedly beautiful day.
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.
Pick up that double-breasted suit you’ve always wanted but never had the chance to wear. 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.
Then, sit back and enjoy a drink or six.
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. Autumn lends itself to warmer colors in general, you should wear heavier weight wools and flannels in the fall and winter to keep yourself comfortable.
- 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.
As we mentioned above, 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.
Where To Buy Fall Wedding Suits
If you’re the groom or involved in organising the event, it’s worth knowing that some brands offer discounts and deals for weddings.
As suits are often bought in bulk, these may be quite handy to organise while also keeping costs down.
Indeed, made-to-measure brands like Indochino and Black Lapel offer deals for weddings. Furthermore, you can enjoy a 10% discount from Indochino with our exclusive code “BESPOKEUNIT” or $25 off your order from Black Lapel with “FTOBESPOKEUNIT“.
Bear in mind that made-to-measure suits take time to prepare and they may need some alterations afterwards, which are often free with their own in-house services. Therefore, be sure to do this a few months in advance.
Meanwhile, if you’re a guest, it might be a great opportunity to invest in a new suit, too. We highly recommend the made-to-measure brands above, especially given that Indochino can retail suits for around $300!
Alternatively, check out our guide to the best online suit brands, which also includes fantastic ready-to-wear options.
Fall Wedding Suit Accessories
Formal dress codes often have rules, which would traditionally limit the use of accessories. However, if you’re the bride or groom, remember that it’s your party and you should do as you please!
A classic accessory is a boutonnière, a floral bouquet that’s worn on the lapel. It’s typically worn by the groom and a close circle of people including the best man, groomsmen, and fathers of the bride and groom.
Indeed, it’s both a great way to add a pop of color while also identifying key people at the event. Meanwhile, you can easily pick up an assortment of cheaper synthetic lapel flowers for the same effect or to distribute more freely to guests.
If you’re a guest, feel free to throw on a synthetic lapel flower to add a dash of color to your outfit. However, we suggest that you refrain from bringing a boutonnière unless you have been given one or instructed to do so. These may be reserved for the groom and his groomsmen.
Otherwise, cufflinks and pocket squares are all fair game. You can also consider wearing an Albert chain and pocket watch if you’re wearing a waistcoat.
Getting dressed for an autumn wedding requires an idea as to how formal you want it to be coupled with a familiarity of some common autumn colors: tan, brown, green, burnt orange, silver, grey, and navy.
When it comes to selecting what’s right for you, the only way to start is by talking with your fiancé and, if you’ll pardon us a bit of melodrama, doing some soul-searching with regard to who you are as individuals and as a couple.
If you want to read more around the subject, check out some of our related guides: