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  • Photography by Mr Laurence Ellis
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While the focus of a wedding remains traditionally, and quite rightly, on the bride, she's not the only one under pressure to look their best on the big day. The challenges faced by the groom are threefold: firstly, he must set the tone of the dress code. Secondly, he must do so while still managing to stand out among his party. Thirdly, and most importantly, he must not upstage the bride.

The dress code chosen for a wedding plays a crucial part in determining the level of formality, and, in turn, the general mood of the ceremony. Climate plays a deciding influence, as does location: is it at a registry office, or at a grand country mansion? Considerations are countless, rules are myriad, and confusion along the way is all but certain, but one thing is for sure: whatever you decide upon, MR PORTER will have a stylish solution. We've taken five scenarios and created an immaculate look for each. Click through the gallery, above, to see them - or, if you're a guest, read on for a definitive guide to wedding dress codes. For more detailed style advice, you can also find our guide to wedding shoes here, and our 10 rules of wedding style here.

Words by Chris Elvidge, Senior Copywriter, MR PORTER



This is the most formal Western dress code for daytime wear. While still popular in the UK and British Commonwealth states, it's increasingly uncommon elsewhere. There are two main variants: black or grey.

Black: Single-breasted, one-button wool morning coat in black. Grey striped or hound's-tooth check trousers. Single-breasted linen or double-breasted wool waistcoat, depending on the season.

Grey: Single-breasted, one-button wool morning coat in grey. Matching trousers and waistcoat.

Both outfits should be worn with a white shirt, plain black Oxfords and black or grey socks. There is no regulation on tie colour, but softer tones are preferable. While it is common for the groom's party to coordinate ties, this may imply that the suits are hired, and not owned. Optional: gloves (grey), top hat (black silk or grey felt; never worn indoors).


The eveningwear equivalent of morning dress, and of equivalent formality. Traditionally worn after 6pm, this is more common at wedding receptions than the ceremony itself. If guests are required to change attire, the invitation should specify.

Black single-breasted tailcoat, worn open (a tailcoat is distinguishable from a morning coat by its silk lapels and horizontal cutaway at the waist). Wing-collar shirt, bow tie and waistcoat, all in white cotton piqué. Plain black Oxfords, patent leather or highly polished and black socks. Optional: black velvet-collar overcoat, white silk scarf, black top hat (removed on arrival).


A common choice for formal weddings taking place in the late afternoon or early evening. Invitations specifying dinner jackets, tuxedos or cravate noire also refer to a black tie dress code. This is a formal dress code, but offers some flexibility when compared to morning dress or white tie. Experiment with different cuts and fabrics, but consider the wider context ? fellow guests, location, time of year ? before venturing too far off-piste. If in doubt, always play it safe.

Black dinner jacket, single- or double-breasted with satin or silk lapels. Matching trousers with braiding or grosgrain trim on the outside leg. White or cream shirt. Hand-tied black bow tie. Plain black Oxfords, patent leather or highly polished and black socks. Optional: black velvet-collar overcoat, white silk scarf.


Otherwise known as "day suits" or "semi-formal" in wedding invitation lingo, this popular dress code requires that male guests attend the ceremony in smart business suits. With less formal dress codes it becomes increasingly important to consider the setting and context. Roughly speaking, opt for modern (such as a navy or charcoal grey suit in wool or mohair) in the city, and traditional (such as a mid-grey Prince of Wales check) in the country. If in doubt, gauge opinion by consulting with fellow guests ? or ask the host for clarification. Remember that while a semi-formal dress code allows the groom the opportunity to experiment with colour, pattern, fabric and cut, this is not a privilege that necessarily extends to male guests. Be mindful of upstaging your host.


A dress code usually used at weddings taking place in warmer climes, beach formal implies a smart-casual dress code but with an emphasis on lightweight fabrics and neutral tones. Choose a linen suit or suit separates, a linen shirt and loafers. Ties are optional, but look to the groom for guidance in this respect. If he's wearing one, so should you.


Perhaps the most nebulous of all dress codes. A simple outfit of navy blazer, chinos, white shirt and lace-up leather shoes should suffice. Jeans are to be avoided ? it's still a wedding, after all.


No specified dress code may suggest a casual undertone, but assume at least a smart-casual level (see above). If in any doubt, check with the host.