What Men Should Wear To Their Wedding
Five different looks for grooms to see you through your big day in style
Today there are a huge number of different ways and places to get married, but unless you want to do the whole thing in the nude (as one Australia’s Ms Ellie Barton and Mr Phil Hendicott did in 2009), one of the most pressing concerns is going to be what you’re going to wear. To help, below, we have identified the five main wedding wardrobes, from the ultra-traditional to the most laid-back.
Of course, the big day is all about you, but you should remember that it’s also… not… all about you. That is, when picking out your clothing, you’ll also have to consider your best man and any potential groomsmen. Also, unsurprisingly, you have to consider your other half, and the overall look and feel of the thing – if she or he is planning on going full-on fairy tale (be that a meringue-like white dress with train or an eye-poppingly embroidered Dries Van Noten dinner jacket) you might have to the rethink the shorts idea.
Whatever the wardrobe you finally choose, remember that, as well as being the happiest day of your life, your wedding is also likely to be one of the most-photographed days you’ll ever experience. By getting your outfit pitch-perfect, you can make sure the memories you’re making will be the best they can be.
The classic groom’s outfit for a daytime wedding is morning dress. A morning coat, so called as it was once seen as a less formal version of an evening tail coat, is cut away to give the classic “penguin” silhouette, and is usually paired with spongebag trousers – an allusion to the distinctive grey striped woollen material they are made from, which was also once the material popular for gentlemen’s wash bags. Patterns such as houndstooth or discreet plaids are also acceptable. The trousers are pleated and designed to be worn with braces and have a fishtail back that should be covered by a waistcoat.
The upside of this formal look is that it is very flattering as the cut of the jacket elongates and slims the torso. The downside is that, unless you are attending a lot of weddings, you won’t get much use out of the outfit. If you do decide to go full Four Weddings, however, you should also invest in a waistcoat from a designer such as Favourbrook. The waistcoat should be double-breasted and can come in a plain colour – cornflower blue and primrose yellow are favourite shades – or it can be extravagantly embroidered.
Underneath, wear either a pink or blue shirt with a contrasting white collar. The collar itself should be a spread as the best tie for the occasion is a wide printed silk number in a contrasting colour to the shirt – horseshoes for luck is a traditional choice, but cheerful floral prints work just as well. You can even reference the bridesmaids’ dresses or the bride’s bouquet in your choice of colour. With morning dress, some men go for an ascot tie, a broad cravat-style of neckwear, which can be knotted or secured with a pin, but in practice these can look untidy.
Spongebag trousers are cut close to the ankle without turn-ups and should be worn with traditional black Oxford shoes and a fine-gauge sock. Accessories should be discreet – plain gold or silver cufflinks with a classic dress watch in a matching metal. If in doubt, the best choice for a pocket square is plain white, but a suitable pastel or pattern is equally acceptable.
Although more popular in the US and Australia, black-tie is increasingly the option of choice among couples not married in a church.
A classic black dinner jacket is perhaps the safest choice and in high summer it is advisable to go for a lightweight mohair, but velvet tuxedos in burgundy, blue or bottle green can also look great, particularly under artificial light. Or you can go full-on jacquard with a Tom Ford tuxedo. Whatever the jacket, it should be worn with appropriate tuxedo trousers in wool or mohair with a satin trim down the outside leg.
Dress shirts, with double cuffs and studs or buttons can be a plain white cotton, but a bib front in marcella (a distinctive piqué finish that looks a little like the surface of a golf ball) or a superfine pleated-front cotton voile will look dressier. The bow tie can be velvet, grosgrain or satin – for something a little different you could even go for a Gucci cowboy-style long bow tie. Whatever purists might say, it is now perfectly acceptable to wear a pre-tied bow, tie but for a more traditional feel, go for a looser style that might pass for the real thing. Otherwise, the choice is yours. Shirt studs can either be plain black or match your cufflinks. The latter look is particularly good when set with black onyx and pavé diamonds.
For evening weddings, try black patent leather shoes as normal leather can look dusty under electric light. These can either be lace-ups or a slipper. Whether you choose normal leather or patent, the most elegant style for the former is a whole-cut where the upper is made from a single piece of leather with no seams as it will give your feet a slightly slimmer silhouette. Avoid brogues with eveningwear.
The smartest pick is a plain fabric in navy, black or grey – avoid pinstripes as these can look too much like office wear. Single-breasted is best and a three-piece will be most flattering – although, of course, you will have been working out in preparation, a waistcoat will make the most of your physique, especially if you do have a little something to hide. Go for a lightweight cloth even for a winter wedding – it will get hot in a room or marquee full of people so you want to be sure you will be comfortable.
While a traditional lounge suit may seem sober, it should be brightened up on the day with pops of colour. Rather than a white dress shirt, go for a pink or a blue with a contrasting tie. Stripes also work particularly well. Avoid skinny ties, rather go for something extravagant with a Windsor knot – look for a spread or cutaway collar on your shirt that will accommodate it. Knitted silk ties also look great – shades of gold or silver are particularly suitable for weddings and you might think about matching it to your buttonhole and pocket square. This is a happy day, so be cheerful.
When it comes to the shoes, however, it is a good idea to keep things on the formal side. Black is your best bet, but for a more elegant feel you might want to go for a double-monk shoe. This is one day that demands yours socks are box-fresh and you should match them to the chosen colour of suit as this will help to visually elongate your leg. Go for a fine gauge, which will be less likely to fall down and wrinkle around the ankle – a cotton and nylon blend will help keep the socks look neater for longer.
If you want to ditch the suit idea altogether, go for a blazer – this works well if you prefer a double-breasted style. Keep it reasonably formal, however. Navy blue will always be your best bet – look for contrasting buttons for summer – and indulge in a bright pocket square. Don’t be tempted to go down the chino route for trousers as these risk looking wrinkled an hour or two into the proceedings (especially in the heat). Instead, look for a suitable tailored style in a neutral shade. This also works well if you prefer a buttoned-down shirt. This can be worn with either a plain knitted tie or an open neck in summer – a darker chambray style works well as it won’t drain the colour from your face.
Shoe-wise, this less formal look works best with brown. Again, if in doubt keep on the traditional side with, perhaps, a brown wingtip brogue. If you are happy to be informal, a highly polished Chelsea boot can work well, too. If you would rather wear a loafer, you might want to think about tailored turn-ups. These are more informal, but still smart. Be sure that the trousers are tailored, thought, so they end neatly at the shoe rather than bunching up around your ankles.
THE HOT-WEATHER WEDDING
The best bet for a beach wedding is a linen suit in a suitably light colour such as beige or stone. This can be dressed up with a tie or you could dress down a darker blue suit with a crisp white T-shirt. Another alternative is to pair linen trousers with a lightweight cotton blazer, such as a double-breasted striped seersucker style, twinned with a typically tropical buttonhole. Remember, although the feel might be casual, it’s worth making an effort for the photographs, so do think special occasion and make sure the pieces are tailored before you fly out if necessary – casual is OK, badly fitting isn’t, and definitely make sure in advance that your underwear isn’t visible.
Of course, if you want to go down the completely casual route, you can always twin a pair of drawstring linen trousers with a bright camp-collar linen shirt and let the setting set the scene. Again, if necessary, make sure everything is tailored to your fit, and don’t be tempted to go for a Hawaiian print as this may well not stand the test of time.
If you would prefer not to wear socks, think about loafers, especially styles with a collapsible heel, which gives you the option of wearing them in two different ways. Do make sure you are comfortable with the fit as you don’t want to find yourself shuffling up to make your vows. Suede looks great.