Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette and to our wedding series! Today, we discuss groom’s attire and what you would wear if you are the groom.
First of all, congratulations! You’re getting married and that’s an awesome feeling. I definitely remember my wedding days and I always look back at it fondly. Yes, you heard right, wedding days! I had three of them and no, it’s not what you think, it was the same woman every time and no I’m not Richard Burton or Elizabeth Taylor, it was a little different.
First, I got married in 2009 on New Year’s eve officially and for that, I wore a black tie tuxedo, single breasted with a peak lapel. Since I’m from Germany, we also had to have a reception in Germany for all the family there and it was a little more casual. We had BBQ and grilling and I wore a navy double-breasted suit with a faint windowpane with a regular necktie. And then finally, with our big affair in the US at a hotel, I wore a morning coat during the day and white tie in the evening. Switching outfits is something that was traditionally done in Europe and you can still find it today for more upscale weddings. As you can imagine, I insisted on changing my attire because I love clothes and when else do you have the option to wear morning wear and white tie in the same day? Never, right?
What Should You Wear On Your Wedding Day To Look Your Best?
Well, the good news is, basically, you can wear whatever the hell you want or what you and your partner desire. That being said, most grooms that I’ve talked to that didn’t dress up very much for the wedding, regretted later on when they look back at their wedding pictures and most of them always want to put the best foot forward. Now, that’s on a personal level but also sartorially.
I’m going to walk you through traditional outfits and more casual options that men have worn in the western hemisphere so you find exactly the outfit that works for you.
So first, let’s start with the traditional options. A hundred years ago, you had a morning wear outfit and an evening wear outfit. Both of them were tailcoats, they were long because the wife’s wedding dress had a train and it was long and so the tailcoat matched that. Likewise, those long tailcoats were worn with tall top hats because it was all about proportion. A day wedding could take place anytime when the sun was out basically and it was a very classic outfit that men wore in the 30s, the 40s, the 50s and even John F. Kennedy wore one on his wedding day.
Another famous morning coat wearer was Prince Charles who had it for his first wedding and for his second one. In England, it’s very much the standard and even a rural wedding has a morning coat ensemble for the groom. Basically, it consists of a black or charcoal morning coat with a peak lapel or notched lapels then you have a black and white striped trousers which are also called cashmere trousers because there used to be some cashmere in them. Then you have a waistcoat which is either single-breasted or double-breasted, usually in a gray that’s slightly contrasting or a buff color or you can go with other colors such as light blue depending on your choice and then you have a white shirt, traditionally, it had the detachable collar.
Today, it mostly has a soft turndown collar with double cuffs and then you wear either a bow tie in a silver and black pattern which is also called wedding tie or a regular neck tie. Traditionally, men would wear an ascot which is hard to find these days because it’s not the ascot that you wear casually around your neck, it’s one that is tied with a pin and while it looks very formal, it definitely has a vintage look to it.
For a top hat, you could either go with a gray one or a black one. I prefer them to be in silk because they are really, really elegant that way.
You want to have a white pocket square. you can have gloves, either in chamois yellow or in gray, those are the most classic options. You want black oxford shoes or you can have balmoral boots in black or you can have let’s say button boots or balmoral boots with an insert.
You can have gloves, either in chamois yellow or in gray, those are the most classic options.
Oxford Shoes Or Balmoral Boots
You want black oxford shoes or you can have balmoral boots in black or you can have let’s say button boots or balmoral boots with an insert.
Since it’s your wedding day, you definitely want a boutonniere flower that is not pinned onto your lapel but tucked through the buttonhole in your lapel. As you can see, this outfit is quite exquisite and it’s the most formal thing a groom can wear during the day.
White Tie Tailcoat
Now if you have an evening wedding or if you want to change, you get a white tie tailcoat ensemble. It’s likewise a tailcoat but it’s cut differently than a morning coat, it’s all black, your pants have a double striped galon down the side. You wear a white stiff collared shirt with detachable collar, you wear a Marcella waistcoat and then a bow tie, it’s all white. So to add a little dash of color, usually, you either wear colored socks or a colorful boutonniere such as red or purple or pink, very classic choices that look great.
Self-Tie Bow Tie
You also want a bow tie that is self-tied and never pre-tied. To learn more about how to tie a bow tie, you can check out this video and for a selection of white tie bow ties, especially single ended ones and ones with a fixed neck size so you don’t see any side adjusters which is very important because you have a detachable collar.
Patent Leather Shoes
For shoes, you want to wear patent leather capless oxfords or opera pumps which are very very elegant and you don’t want slippers because you want that deep cut out to show your socks.
Silk Top Hat
Because you have the tailcoat, you want a black silk top hat, you don’t want an opera hat that is collapsible, you don’t want anything gray and ultimately, it’s the most formal outfit a man can wear today. it truly makes you feel amazing and I experienced that myself when we danced to a swing band. Problem is, both the morning coat and the tailcoat are body coats and so they only look good if they are tailored for you otherwise, they are too long and too wide and so if you can’t afford to buy one and have it tailored for you, it’s maybe not the best option to go that way unless you found a vintage coat that really fits well but a new coat or a rented coat that was not made for you is not going to work and look good.
Problem is, both the morning coat and the tailcoat are body coats and so they only look good if they are tailored for you otherwise, they are too long and too wide and so if you can’t afford to buy one and have it tailored for you, it’s maybe not the best option to go that way unless you found a vintage coat that really fits well but a new coat or a rented coat that was not made for you is not going to work and look good.
What’s a more traditional option? In the US today, it’s definitely the tuxedo. Back in the day, tuxedos were only worn at events after 6 pm or when it was dark. Today, that whole thing has become a little more relaxed but originally, the proper daywear garment was basically a stroller suit. A stroller suit was the equivalent to the morning coat ensemble, just in a less formal level. Just like a black tie outfit, it’s the less formal ensemble compared to a white tie in the evening.
So, if you want to stick to traditional rules, you could think about “Hey, what time does my wedding start?” Let’s say it starts at four pm and it’s inside and it’s dark anyways, I’d definitely go with a tuxedo. If it starts at 11 am, technically, a stroller suit would be better. So a stroller suit is very similar to a morning coat, you simply swap out the morning coat for a black jacket with peak lapels, single-breasted, one-button or two buttons, or you can have a double-breasted as well. It’s definitely not the same as a tuxedo jacket because it does not have silk facings and it can be part of let’s say a charcoal suit for example. It’s a very dapper ensemble and I personally like it very much and I even wear it as a guest to other weddings.
Basically, you want a black bow tie, you want a tuxedo that’s silk faced with shawl collar, you don’t want anything that’s rented. You want wool because that way, you sweat less and you look better and you feel more comfortable. It really shows in your wedding pictures.
What’s A Less Formal Option Compared To A Stroller Suit And A Tuxedo?
I hear you and I wore a regular suit for my wedding because even though most people consider a suit to be formal in terms of a wedding day and groom’s attire, it’s not formal. It’s a little more on the casual side. The big advantage of going with a suit for your wedding day is that you can reuse it at the office or for other events so if you don’t have black tie events to go to outside of your wedding, that may be a wiser investment. So if you go with a suit, ideally, you should opt for a dark suit either in navy or in charcoal. I’d stay clear from black because black has more limited uses and charcoal is easier to combine with other items but it’s almost as dark as black. Ideally, you want a
So if you go with a suit, ideally, you should opt for a dark suit either in navy or in charcoal. I’d stay clear from black because black has more limited uses and charcoal is easier to combine with other items but it’s almost as dark as black. Ideally, you want a double-breasted suit with peak lapels because it’s more formal or a single-breasted one and if you want to be a little more formal, add a vest to it that matches the suit because that screams formality and it’s something that you can wear with a vest or without which gives you more outfit options down the line.
In addition, I would wear a white dress shirt with a traditional wedding tie and they are called that way because they were specifically made for wedding days and they are made of silver and black silk woven in intricate patterns and they are just very formal but they’re very elegant and the light sparkles in them and they really look good in pictures. For a selection of quality wedding ties, please take a look at our shop here.
Ideally, you also want a black pair of shoes either derbys or oxfords. Because it’s a more celebratorial event, I suggest you go with a shirt for cuff links with french cuffs or double cuffs and a pair of cufflinks that you like. A more formal one would be a darker one maybe with black but you can also go with colors. The choice is yours.
Just like with the tuxedo, I suggest you go with the pocket square either in white or a pattern and a little boutonniere because it’s typical for a groom to wear one on his wedding day. Again, make sure that it’s not pinned onto your lapel but that it’s small enough so you can out the stem through the buttonhole.
Last but not the least, as an important detail, you should opt for over the calf socks because having hairy calves on your wedding day is never a good look in wedding pictures so get over the calf ones that stay up.
If a suit seems too formal to you, I suggest to take it a notch down, maybe wear a blazer combination, maybe with a pair of chinos but something that’s still dressier. In terms of formality, you don’t want to look too different from your partner so if she wears a long wedding dress, you don’t want to come with just a dress shirt and no jacket on, that would just look odd. At the same time, you have to be comfortable and she or he has to be too so at the end of the day, it’s all up to you and these are just suggestions or guidelines that help you look your best.
What About Destination Weddings or Weddings in A Warmer Climate?
People oftentimes like to wear lighter colored jackets, maybe with silk, or linen, they like to maybe skip the tie or not even have shoes and that’s something you personally have to decide and it’s basically really up to you on what you think works and what does not work. It’s your big day.
Of course, always keep your surroundings in mind. If you’re in the mountains, you probably want to wear something more traditional such as a stroller suit or a tuxedo because otherwise, you’d be too cold.
Groom Do’s & Don’ts
- First of all, sneakers or jeans are not something that make you look good so skip those. The same is true for flipflops and sandals.
- The biggest mistake that I’ve seen in a wedding was when the groom showed up ungroomed so the name itself implies, please do your homework. Clip your fingernails and make sure there are no hangnails. Get a nice shave, maybe even with your wedding party, make sure your eyebrows are well groomed and there is no hair coming out of your nose and your ears. It’s also best to get a haircut right beforehand because then you look really dapper.
- Another big mistake I see is the boutonniere. Most of the time, it’s arranged by the florist who really does not know much about boutonnieres and then you end up wearing a mini bouquet that’s pinned onto your lapel and it just looks goofy. Instead, have them give you just one flower with a single stem either a carnation or rose or whatever it is that you like. I had orchid on my wedding day and you just pop it through the buttonhole. If it’s sewn shut, cut it open with a little pocket knife and if you don’t want to worry about your flower wilting, you can opt for a silk flower that looks like a real one but it’s, in fact, something that you can wear 365 days a year also to other weddings and events.
- One other thing I see a lot is that grooms and the entire wedding party rent their tux. In my opinion, it’s one of the worst things you can do because those tuxes are very cheap, they can have polyester on nylon and they make you sweat. instead, you should opt to purchase one and you can even have it custom made today. There are lots of companies that start at $500-$600, that way you get something that fits you. You need a little more time but you can use our black tie guide to get exactly the details you want. Now, if that’s not an option for you, I understand. I had very little money when I married my wife and so I wore a vintage tuxedo that I had found on eBay. Now, in order to do that, you really need to understand the measurements and it’s an own discipline in itself but it is possible. You can look dapper as the groom on a very very low budget even under a $100 but that means you need a bigger time investment.
You just have to do your homework no matter what your budget is, you can look awesome as a groom. Stay tuned for more videos in our wedding series where we cover anything else that you want to know as the groom when it comes to your wedding.