In this article, we’ll be discussing the various aspects that go into selecting attire for a fall wedding as well as giving you ideas for informal and formal outfits for both day and evening affairs. For more general information on weddings, see our wedding home page.
The information below is geared towards anyone: grooms, best men, groomsmen, fathers of the bride and groom, and even guests.
If you already know the wedding’s formality and whether the ceremony is day or night, click any of the links below to jump straight to that section. There’s also a separate section for non-grooms who are involved in or attending a wedding:
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 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:* We need to let you know that we’ll be using the word “formal” incorrectly in this article. Technically, formal dress refers to a white tie dress code. As this is exceedingly rare nowadays, we decided to use the word “formal” to denote morning dress in the daytime and tuxedos at night. Technically a tuxedo is a “semi-formal” outfit, but we changed things up a bit here for ease of understanding.
The first decision that you and your fiancé 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 Weddings: Wear Morning Dress
Any formal event during the day, regardless of 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 6pm. 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
- Well-polished black shoes (not patent leather)
We admit that morning dress is rare in the United States, and 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. In Britain and the Commonwealth, morning dress is more properly adhered to.
If you wear a tuxedo during the day, you are technically dressed formally, but inappropriately for the time of day. The degree to which this is an issue for you and your fiancé is not our place to say, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t directly state that to do so would be dressing incorrectly.
Our feelings on rented clothing are well-documented on our wedding home page. In short, we strongly discourage renting clothing for a wedding. For morning dress, however, we can make a concession. 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. If you need a guide to dress codes, click the preceding link.
Formal Evening Weddings: Wear A Tuxedo
Short answer: wear 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
If you choose to have a formal wedding in the evening, you have by default put yourself into 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.
Though 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.
Informal Daytime: Wear A Suit
By “informal,” we mean a suit or 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? 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. The gentleman in the above image did a great job with this.
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.
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. 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.
Common Fall Wedding 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).
Wedding Party & Guests: What To Wear
If you’re not a groom, what follows are some more targeted tips on what to wear to an autumn wedding.
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 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, or morning coats, 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. The colors of accessories like socks and cufflinks will likely be dictated by the wedding colors.
As a groomsman, your job is simple: wear what you’re told to wear. Your role is to support your friend, make photos look awesome, and perhaps make out with someone later in the reception.
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 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. Winter lends itself to darker 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.
Conclusion: Tying It All Together
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.