Gents – this is your big day. Lucky for you, hundreds of years of social evolution have assigned both the bride and groom lots of help on their wedding day.
You mostly just have to show up, look the part, and say your lines which is about all the average bridegroom’s brain can handle once the ceremony starts.
That's why today I'm making it as easy as possible by sharing with you the key to nailing your part with the proper wedding attire for grooms.
Most of your clothing needs will be discussed and decided well before the wedding day itself. Your outfit is going to serve three key functions you need to pay attention to:
- Work with the bride and bride’s party visually
- Set the highest standard present for male attire
- Make you, personally, look good
Complement the Bride Visually
Paradoxically, you’re expected to make your bride look good but traditionally not allowed to see her dress until the day of the wedding. Challenging, no?
You’ll need to talk with whoever is in charge of the way the wedding looks overall. In some cases that’s the bride herself, in other cases it’s a professional wedding planner or clothing designer; in nightmare scenarios it’s your mother-in-law.
Whoever it is, get to know him or her. Expect to go over a rough outline of what the bride and bridal party’s attire will be (you’ll usually get to see the bridesmaids’ outfits, but traditionally not the bride’s).
Color is more important for your purposes than cut — you don’t really need to know exactly what her dress will look like, just what its colors will look like next to your outfit.
Swatches of the cloth they’re using are your best friend here; you can take them along with you when shopping for (or designing) your own attire.
It is important to be on the same page in terms of formality — ask your bride (or her seamstress) what general style you need to be shooting for.
A traditional wedding dress usually needs at least a good suit (if not a tuxedo or morning coat) to stand up to it.
A simpler white dress worn with sandals and a sun hat is going to look more at home next to a classy casual men's outfit like a linen suit.
Just stick to your keywords here: complement but don’t exceed. You should be the less obvious of the two of you, but no less perfect.
Set the Standard for Male Guests
You are essentially the fashion barometer for all the men at your wedding.
They won’t all be dressing to look like you, but they will be expecting you to show up as the best-dressed man in the room.
That means you should look similar to your half of the wedding party but sharper — a little fancier, a little crisper around the edges; a little more shined and polished.
You can control that directly by planning the groom’s party’s outfits, of course, or you can simply make sure to take extra care with your ensemble.
Ideally, you should also have helped craft the invitation, or at least be aware of what it said regarding wedding guest attire for men. If you’re wearing a tuxedo and expect others to do the same, it needs to say “black tie”.
If you’re wearing a tux but don’t care if others do or not, go for “black tie optional”. To be sure you’re the only one in a tux, opt for “business dress,” and so on.
You do have control over this, if you want it. If you don’t, just save your attention for your own attire. Work on making it the best example of its particular style that you can.
Look Your Best
Often overlooked, this is actually the most important job for your clothes. They make you look as perfect as possible for your bride.
She’ll be in the same clutch of panic that you are, of course. But, the more striking and composed you look when she comes down the aisle, the more steadying the effect. “Neat” is good but shoot for “radiant” if you can.
In practical terms, that means paying attention to clothes with a level of detail you might not normally use:
Get the fit right
This is the number one weak spot of most groom’s attire, especially men in rental clothing. You want as tailored a fit as you can afford. There are different male body shapes and the more unusual your shape or size, the more it’s worth finding clothes that are proportioned specifically for you. A bespoke suit (or tuxedo, etc.) is ideal; one that’s off the rack but personally adjusted is within more people’s price range and nearly as good. Something you’ve bought and can have permanently altered is easier to get a good fit with than a rental, which usually can only be adjusted to one of a half-dozen or so preset points.
Choose a style that flatters you
It can be hard to resist the input of others. Particularly if your bride-to-be or her family has their heart set on a particular look. But exercise a little common sense and (if necessary) a lot of firmness. If you’re a big man with a ruddy complexion, don’t let them talk you into a powder-blue suit. Know the limits of your build and complexion, and pick a suit cut and color that works for you.
If in doubt, go for the classics
We have iconic looks for a reason. It’s a lot harder to look bad in a proper tuxedo or a charcoal gray business suit than it is in something more colorful or contemporary. If you want to play it safe, you’re never going to go wrong taking the level of formality your bride (or wedding planner) wants. Just pick the simplest, most classical interpretation of it.
Quality costs, but the good news is that you can buy a custom-tailored suit for the same price as a low-end wedding dress. If your bride is going to a wedding dressmaker and having something created specifically for her, you’ll be hard-pressed to come even close to the same cost.
So go ahead and invest in something really flattering you. Don’t be afraid to buy, rather than rent. Nearly all grooms’ outfits can come in handy at other occasions later in life. This is a good excuse to add them to the wardrobe.
You’ll be in good company — and you’ll be ready to play your part as the male role model for the whole room.
Want to know more about how to make a wedding a day to remember? Click here to discover my ultimate guide to wedding attire for men.