You Must-Read Guide to Groom’s Wedding Day Attire
August 15, 2018
Wedding magazines serve almost entirely as printed tributes to the almighty wedding dress, and that’s all well and good, but when is the groom’s clothing going to get some respect?
The clothes may not make the man, but what you wear when you walk up the aisle will help set the tone for one of the most important days of your life. To look and feel your matrimonial best, read through this handy groom’s guide and put our expertly curated tips to good use.
Settling on a Suit Type
A suit is a suit is a suit… right? Not so much. Take thee to Google and do a quick search for “men’s suits” and you’ll encounter ever cut, color, pattern, and style imaginable. From traditional to wacky—and some that are downright tacky—the internet offers plenty of options for grooms in search of the perfect wedding get up, but how’s an engaged guy suppose to choose?
Consider the following key questions:
- Where are you getting married? If you’re saying “I do” on the beach, you’ll want a suit constructed from light, breathable material. If you’re getting married in a ballroom, you might need to head straight for a custom-made tuxedo.
- What’s the theme? Is your bride planning on wearing head-to-toe boho chic? Is your wedding a winter wonderland or a casual backyard bash?
- Do you want to rent or own? The tuxedo rental industry is booming. That’s not surprising considering that many men only don a tux for their wedding day—who needs a pricey pair of slacks and a coat with tails hanging in their closet gathering dust year after year? If you know you’ll be attending a fair amount of charity galas or fancy corporate to-dos over the next few years, buying your tux is a good bet. Otherwise, consider renting a tux or suit; if you’re near a major city, you’ll have tons of options and you can probably get your attendant’s suits in the same place (more on that in a bit).
Of course, maybe you’re not a suit or tux person at all, and that’s okay too. For destination weddings or a decidedly informal frolic in the forest, anything from khaki shorts and a linen shirt to overalls is fine, as long as that’s what you and your mate decide is appropriate.
Finding a Flattering Fit
There are hundreds of guides out there dedicated to helping brides choose a gown that flatters their shape, but what about guys who want to look great in their photos? No one suit style flatters everyone, so it’s important that you know how to showcase your best assets.
- To minimize bulk: Go for a fitted suit without a lot of frills. Ditch the vests and double-breasted jackets, avoid extra buttons, and ask the tailor to bring in the jacket at the waist just a touch—you want to emphasize your waist without drawing attention to your broad shoulders or hips (unless that’s your goal). Opt for darker colors and avoid checks or other busy patterns.
- To look taller: Match your suit to your shoes so that there’s no break in the sight line from head to toe. Hem your pants to the perfect break and be meticulous about the arms on your jacket and shirt, too; clothing that’s too short or too long highlights your height in less-than-ideal ways.
- To create or highlight a broad chest: Choose a double-breasted suit with a strong shoulder and tailored waist.
Above all, make sure you can move easily and sit and dance comfortably. As important as it is to look good, confidence is far more impressive than pure aesthetics can ever be. In 20 years, you’ll want to reminisce about your first dance, not your overly tight button down.
Your wedding is your chance to tell a story—the story of you and your sweetheart. Every bit of décor, tidbit of tulle, plate of palate-pleasing cuisine, and smattering of sparkle is part of your tale and it all needs to go together. That includes your suit (or suit alternative), of course.
As the stars of the show, the happy couple’s outfits need to be complementary. If she’s wearing a shawl, you should have a coat. If she’s dripping in bling, you better have a tux that screams luxe. Is she in a floaty dress that looks like she borrowed it from a wood nymph? A morning suit and top hot is definitely out of the question.
Plan your outfits together so your story is as harmonious as possible.
Personalizing Your Attire
Whether you plan on wearing a sleek and sophisticated classic black tux or a powder blue suit that’s retro in the extreme, you can add an extra later of personal flare by tweaking your accessories.
Most grooms reach for plain black dress socks and call it a day, but there are so many other possibilities. Pick a vibrant pair that matches the overall color scheme, or custom socks emblazoned with your dog’s face or your wedding hashtag, or tuck your toes into patterned socks that serve as a nod to a hobby, favorite date spot, or other inside joke. Chances are no one will see your tribute unless you lift your pant leg and show off your ankle warmers, but you’ll know what’s up.
Flowers are a package deal in that you want there to be at least some cohesion between the bride’s bouquet, the centerpieces, and your boutonniere, but cohesion does not mean matchy-matchy. You can stick to the color scheme or general feel and still work in your favorite bloom or add in a sprig of something that holds special meaning for you.
Do hydrangeas remind you of your mom’s garden? When one surrounded by several of your bride’s flower picks. Are you an outdoorsy guy who has always preferred less traditional botanicals? Suggest a combination of wildflowers and thistle. Looking for a way to make feminine flowers feel a little more you? Wrap your mini arrangement in burlap or twine instead of velvet and lace.
When deciding what to wear around your neck, the sky’s the limit. Bow ties come in thousands of colors and patterns, as do traditional neck ties. From burnt orange to sage green and every hue in between, there are myriad ways to add a splash of color and echo your bride’s bouquet, belt, sash, or other trimmings.
There are also skinny ties, bolo ties, pocket squares, frou-frou cravats, ascots, and even scarves. Some choices may feel laughable to you but perfectly on target for someone else. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and inject a bit of personality into a conventional look.
Changing up your tie not going to fly? Consider a subtler tweak, like the addition of a tie tack or pin or a fun knot that lends visual interest.
Vests and Cummerbunds
These accessories are almost always chosen to match perfectly with the rest of the wedding party’s ensembles, but there is such a thing as matching too well. Ten people all wearing cummerbunds, vests, and dresses in the same shade of teal with carnations dyed in the same peppy hue can be overwhelming. Instead, look for complementary colors or patterns that incorporate the central color without focusing on it completely.
Next to your ring, cuff links are the pieces most likely to turn into family heirlooms. Invest in antiques, wear your father’s favorites, commission a custom set, or buy a pair from the same place you got your wedding rings. Choose from classic designs, go with a monogram, or exercise your right to insert a little whimsy.
Cuff links are also an ideal pick for groomsmen gifts. Order coordinating pairs for you and your buddies as a way to say thanks and you’ll all look tip-top for the ceremony and reception, too.
Expert Advice: Key Dos and Don’ts for the Groom
DO schedule a fitting (or two). Even the most expensive suit will look shabby if it’s not tailored to your exact measurements. You’ll want to visit a tailor well ahead of the big day and then recheck the fit closer to the event, especially if you’re amping up your workout in the interim.
DON’T surprise your better half with a “special” take on wedding attire unless you’re sure the unveiling will be appreciated. Wearing her grandpa’s tie pin might be the right kind of sentimental touch to make the ceremony even more exceptional; swapping out your wing tips for turquoise cowboy boots might not go over quite so well.
DON’T wait to break in new shoes until the morning of your wedding. Slippery or stiff soles can lead to accidents as well as aches and pains, none of which will help you enjoy yourself.
DO have a voice. Sure, it’s important that the bride picks a wedding dress she loves, but grooms should have a say in what they wear, too. Decide what’s important to you, and if you really want a seersucker suit or socks in your college colors, speak up. You might not get your way, but at least you tried, right?
DON’T assume you know how to tie a bow tie or execute a Windsor knot unless you really do. There are plenty of YouTube videos to help you learn the intricacies of a four-in-hand or Pratt knot, but practice ahead of time rather than the morning of.
DO pack an emergency wardrobe/first aid kit. You’ll want sewing supplies, safety pins, show polish, blister pads, collar stays, stain remover and whatever else you think might come in handy. On the off chance that your zipper breaks or your wild and crazy nephew stomps on your pant hem, you’ll be able to complete an on-the-spot repair (or commission someone else to right the wrong) without missing a beat.
DO keep general wedding etiquette in mind. You might think it’s okay to wear jeans and a fedora to your wedding, but is it worth the gasps of shock and looks of disapproval you’ll get from your in-laws? Only you can decide what boundaries you’re willing to push and where the creativity should stop. You need to be happy, but not every whim is worth rocking the boat.
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