Basically, there are just two scenarios. One is, you are the groomsman or two is, you are the bride or the groom and you think about what you want your groomsman to look like.
Bride & Groom Do’s & Don’ts
Most of the time, the wedding couple will have some specific ideas about what they want.
- Do provide very specific advice, and suggestions, and demands to your groomsmen. Tell them “I want you to wear this, and I don’t want you to wear that.” Because of that, they know exactly what to do and the chances that you’re going to be happy with the way it turned out is going to be very high. Think about to what degree you want them to match each other. Are they all supposed to wear exactly the same tuxedo? Or are you maybe okay with them just having the same bow tie, the same pocket square, or the same vest? For consistency, it can make sense to get the same accessories. Sometimes you can get, for example, a pocket square so everyone has a white one all the same or you can also give it to them as a grooms gift so it’s like 2 in 1. In our shop, we offer them with personalized initials so it’s not just a random pocket square but something that’s unique to each and every individual groomsman.
- Do make sure the groom is slightly different from all the groomsmen in the sense that he’s elevated. It’s the day of the bride and groom, therefore, you want those two to stand out. The bride usually has this wonderful dress, she’s beautiful. When as the groom, sometimes if he wears a tuxedo just like his groomsmen, can easily look the same. One way to do that is to have a pocket square in a different color or maybe a boutonniere in a different color. Let’s say, all the groomsmen wear something in white and the groom wears it in red. That clearly signals to everyone that this is the groom and it’s just a better way. It’s easy for people even from afar to see who he is and who he isn’t.
- Do make it an experience. If you have time beforehand, you can take all your groomsman and go to a local barber where you can all get a wet shave and you can all enjoy the day together. It’s a bonding experience, it’s fun, and everyone is going to be cleanly shaven at the day. If budget is of no concern, either you or the groomsmen, or you take care of it, then you can invite them, for example, to have a custom suit made, maybe an online custom suit but just make it part of an experience and that way you can ensure everyone wears the things you like and it’s something that they can also wear after the wedding so it’s a good investment for them.
- Don’t wear rentals. I know, rentals are really popular for the wedding because if you want to wear a tuxedo, it seems very tempting to spend maybe just a $150, $200, or maybe just a $100 outfit that you otherwise would not wear again. However, usually, these suits are made of the cheapest materials. The goal is to have them dry cleaned very easily and be very hard to wear so they use nylon and polyester. Not only does it look very cheap but it also makes the wearers very hot because they sweat a lot and uncomfortable. Since they are not going to be comfortable, the pictures are not going to turn out as well and they look really terrible. Oftentimes, dated and the fit is usually off. Especially since not everybody has the same size so some people would have sleeves that are way too long, others have jackets that are way too long; it looks more like a clownish circus party than a well-dressed wedding party.
Either give them the option to wear a dark suit, a navy suit, or a charcoal suit, and you have to make sure that they all have the same one. You can say “Hey, now we all give you the same pocket square, or the same black and silver tie.”; that way you all look uniform.
Another good item to give to them is a vest because it usually has deeper cut armholes so you don’t have an issue with sleeve length and the only thing you have to worry about is the chest width and it’s easy to get that right.
- Don’t wear colored shirts, especially the groom. Sometimes they are red, green, blue, turquoise, pink, purple, whatever the wedding theme color is. However, that’s just over the top. If you want to add some color, maybe play with the pocket square or the boutonniere flowers otherwise, go with a white dress shirt, it’s just formal and suits the event. Of course, it’s your wedding at the end of the day but I promise you, you’ll look back at your wedding pictures in ten years from now and ask yourself “What on earth was I thinking when I picked those red shirts?”. Just look at the pictures from prom and see what people wore back then. It’s probably not a time when you were really proud of what you’re wearing.
- Don’t make your groomsmen wear matching sets. My it be a bow tie or a tie or with a cummerbund or vest, maybe even a pocket square. That looks very cheesy and gaudy. So for a wedding, just get a tie maybe in a pattern, maybe in a color that’s okay, then a white shirt, white pocket square and maybe a boutonniere if you want and that’s all you need.
Now, let’s assume you are the groomsman and you wonder what to wear. Well, your best option is to reach out to the bride and groom and figure out what it is that they want. Since you’re part of the wedding party, chances are, you know them quite well and you have a good understanding of how formal they are or what kind of wedding it’s going to be.
Obviously, you don’t want to embarrass yourself and you want to do whatever it is that they want you to wear. Now, personally, I hate wearing a rental tuxedo but if my best man wants me to wear that, I would swallow my pride and wear the damn thing simply because I want to make him happy and it’s his day. Keep that in mind, you are there for them and not the other way around.
That being said, if you’re unhappy with the choices they make, it’s best to communicate that very early on in the process when changes can actually be made. Once all the other groomsmen have bought the same thing, you cannot just change everything without incurring a lot of costs. If you have an issue, bring it up at first. Definitely, don’t say anything the day of or close to the wedding, that’s just terrible behavior.
As the groomsman, you’re different than other guests but at the same time, you never want to make the groom or the bride look not as dapper as you or not as well dressed as you. Try to tone it down, try not to get all fancy with your tie knots or something that could make them embarrassed or feel like they are not the center of attention because that’s their day. Always go a notch down, otherwise, keep it simple.
If they don’t say anything, wear a suit and communicate, that’s really the best thing you can do. If they don’t say anything and you can’t reach them, I would suggest going with a simple plain necktie nothing too bold something in silver or black, or a small subtle pattern. Not something in red or a bold color because it stands out too much. I’d go with a white pocket square with a white dress shirt and maybe a boutonniere but I would ask them specifically if they want that because traditionally, at weddings, that’s something at least the groom wears, maybe the father of the bride, maybe the father of the groom but sometimes, the entire wedding party. So that is definitely something you want to figure out because it can be considered off-putting to just wear a boutonniere when everyone else is not.
Also, don’t wear any extraordinary shoes that draw out too much attention. A black pair of cap toe oxfords is probably your best bet. Otherwise, definitely wear over the calf socks because no one would want to see your hairy calves at a wedding day which is usually quite formal so make sure you get over the calf socks that stay up all day even if you walk a lot.
To sum it up, your best route is to simply reach out to the bride or the groom so you don’t arrive over or underdressed. Keep in mind that by not going for a loud outfit, you are doing the bride and groom a HUGE favor. It’s their day, they should be the center of attention and not steal the spotlight by showing up looking too flashy.