In this article, we’ll be talking about what to wear for winter weddings as a groom, groomsman and guest. For general information on weddings, see our wedding home page.
Men’s Attire For Weddings In Winter
If you already know whether the ceremony will be formal or informal and whether it’s a day or night affair, click any of the links below to jump straight to that section. There’s also a specific section for non-grooms (best men, fathers of the bride and groom, etc.):
According to soundvision.com, the winter months are the least popular for weddings. This is pretty sensible if you think about it. Christmas and New Year’s throw a wrench into plans, and frankly, it’s cold.
This doesn’t stop folks from getting married in the winter altogether, though. The season has beautiful backdrops and makes for great photos, and there’s certainly a coziness to throwing a party in the dead of winter when it’s literally freezing outside.
The clothes you get to wear, however, make a winter wedding the opportunity of a lifetime to dress to the nines as a man.
Formal Versus Informal Weddings
For the purposes of this discussion, we’re using the following definitions for formal and informal:
- Formal: Black-tie or its equivalent; a tuxedo or morning dress
- Informal: A suit or tailored outfit comprised of “odd” items
Formal Daytime Weddings: Morning Dress
Formal weddings that begin before 6pm, regardless of season, require morning dress. Springtime is no different.
Morning dress is:
- 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)
Formal Evening Weddings: Black Tie
For a formal evening wedding, your option is black tie. Here’s a brief overview of what goes into a tuxedo:
- 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
With the dip in temperature, one way to stand out a bit in a formal evening wedding is to opt for a velvet smoking jacket. While this garment used to be worn exclusively in the home while enjoying a pipe or cigar, they’ve become an acceptable variation on black tie. The material is cozy and handsome, pairing perfectly with the chilly weather outside. Acceptable colors are black, midnight blue, bottle green, and burgundy, and they pair beautifully with velvet slippers.
*Editor’s Note*: You don’t have to be a smoker to own or wear a smoking jacket. Whether or not your date will be happy with you for partaking in a cigar, however, is beyond the scope of this article.
You will also want a formal overcoat. The one that’s appropriate with a tuxedo is a Chesterfield. This is a classic knee-length overcoat that’s single-breasted and often has a velvet-lined collar. For formal applications such as this, it can be black, dark grey, or navy.
Informal Daytime: Suit
For a daytime winter wedding that’s informal, your best bet is a suit. You standard colors are:
- Medium grey
- Dark charcoal
Not to overstate the obvious, but it’s going to be cold outside in most parts of the world in the winter (no offense to our Australian readers). With that said, your standard all-season weight wool (about nine ounces per square meter) will likely leave you a bit chilly anytime you have to be outdoors; getting to the reception from the ceremony, taking photographs, and more.
Our suggestions for getting around this are:
- Purchase a flannel suit: Flannel insulates the body against cold much better than other materials used for tailored clothing, so you’ll be warm and well-dressed. You’ll likely want to remove your jacket before dancing, but this is typically the case for guys regardless of season.
- Wools in heavier-than-average weights (10-12 ounces) are also excellent choices. These happen to also be easier to tailor, but that’s neither here nor there.
- Wear a three-piece and/or double-breasted suit: True, both of these garments are relatively rare nowadays, at least in the average workplace. However, both of them offer additional layers, which has a clear benefit in the winter months. Should you opt for a vest, you’ll be able to take your jacket off indoors and look a bit more “dressed” than if you were just wearing a shirt and tie.
Daytime Shoes For Winter Weddings
In terms of style, any standard dress shoe will work (if you’re curious about the various styles of shoes available for men, we have a comprehensive shoe guide). As inclement weather is often a factor in the wintertime, it would behoove you to consider boots like dress chelseas or chukkas. Your best colors are medium-to-dark brown, burgundy, and black.
Though they’re not weatherproofed the way a duck boot is, they add a small amount of protection and warmth.
Informal Evening: Suit
In any season, evening events are often defined by darker colors. For a winter wedding that starts at 6pm or later, the big colors are:
- Charcoal Grey
- Navy Blue
Again, a three-piece and/or double-breasted suit will do wonders do keep you simultaneously natty and warm. A smart overcoat will be a welcome addition to your outfit for outdoor photographs and going in between buildings.
As far as shoes are concerned, the options for evening are the same as those for daytime. Again, consider boots if the weather is inclement, but you may also consider some handsome black monkstraps to jazz up your ensemble.
Winter Wedding Colors
Note: Guests should not concern themselves with wedding colors except to avoid wearing them intentionally.
Winter wedding colors tend to be deep and saturated, the opposite of light and bright summer colors. As is often the case, it’s common to work these colors into wedding outfit’s accessories to make a nod to the day. A few examples are below:
So, how do we make these colors work with a wedding outfit?
Let’s assume that the wedding colors are black, plum, silver, and forest green. Try this combination:
- Black suit
- White shirt
- Plum / silver paisley bow tie
- Silver pocket square with green trim
- Green & plum argyle socks with black raker pattern
Typical Winter Wedding Venues
- Private Clubs
- Museums & Galleries
Wedding Party & Guests: What To Wear
If you’re not a groom, what follows are some more targeted tips on what to wear to a winter wedding.
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.
Sartorially, being a groomsman is easy. You fall in line and wear what you’re told to wear, regardless of your opinion on the clothes. 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
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 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.
Splurge on a tux if you don’t yet own one. 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 like.
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.
Should you have any questions about suits outside of weddings, head to our suit home page to be directed to any information about a suit that you could possible want.