Dressing on your Wedding Day

On your wedding day you should dress in a manner that’s comfortable, but also makes you (and your future wife) feel special. It should be a celebration of your marriage and convey the significance of the occasion

This guide is written as a series of options and choices you may want to consider. Above all else, dress in a way you (and your wife) want. Yes, there’s a tl;dr at the end.

As I was researching my own wedding I realized that MFA is lacking a complete guide on how to dress on one’s wedding day. This guide is meant to provide a basic set of tips and rules you may want to consider when deciding what to wear on your big day. This guide will be mostly American-centric and will focus on modern wedding attire. (Anyone with more knowledge concerning morning dress, strollers, or evening tailcoats please chime in.)

The attire you wear is dictated by several things: time of the wedding, formality of the wedding, location of the wedding, and possible unique details to your wedding (family traditions/heirlooms or wedding colors).

Time of the wedding

The time of day should always be considered when choosing your attire on your wedding day. The basic rule of thumb is this: before 6:00 pm or sunset (whichever comes first) a man should be wearing morning dress attire, after and he should be wearing evening dress attire.

This simply means: if you’re getting married earlier than 6:00 pm, DO NOT WEAR A TUXEDO. It’s as simple as that. Morning dress is less common in the states and generally a suit is the acceptable alternate. Other countries may follow different customs in which case I’d advise you to look them up.

Formality of the wedding

Within formal menswear, there are fairly standard rules concerning the formality of your wedding and its appropriate attire. It generally follows as such: Formal = White Tie, Semi-Formal = Black Tie, Informal = Suits. Semantics aside this scale translates to an easy system by which you can determine what you should wear.

Location of the wedding

Location very much plays a part in the attire generally seen as acceptable for a wedding. This will often coincide with the formality of the event. For example: a wedding at a large, Boston church will require a more formal set of standards than a wedding set in the countryside of North Carolina. Beach Wedding often have an even more relaxed dress code which allow for greater flexibility in options.

Unique details

Every wedding is different (at least they should be) in order to reflect the people and personalities of those getting married. Each couple will have different preferences, tastes, and quirks guiding them to make choices. You can use these personal oddities to make your wedding attire something meaningful and special to wear. Your Grandfather had a great bow-tie collection? I say go for it. Cufflinks passed from father to son? Wear them with pride. But don’t take this suggestion too literally. I don’t care if you love ragtime and the color green, don’t wear a green tuxedo and a top-hat ala Michigan J Frog 

It’ll look bad. Keep your choices tasteful, discretion is advised.

What to actually wear

The details of your event can help determine your starting point for what to wear. My basic guidelines are straight forward and easy to follow steps so you look your best on your wedding day. They are of course, my opinion, and nobody will hold you to these decisions. IMO the most important factors will be your comfort ability in your clothes and how they fit. If these are taken into account, you will look great.

/r/mfa’s fit guide can be found here


Tuxedo examples to follow – an album 


Mfa’s black tie guide

Black Tie Guide – website solely dedicated to evening formal wear

If you’re considering a tuxedo, classic rules should be followed; I won’t go into extensive details here because it’s been done before. I will reiterate the basics though:

A tuxedo is a great choice for formal events especially in larger cities. Stick with tradition here and you’ll look classic and elegant. PLEASE DO NOT deviate from the accepted classics, i.e. non-white shirts 

, patterned cummerbunds or ties 

, or other atrocities that ruin this look. Black tie formal has a strict set of rules for very good reason: they work.

Places to shop

Consider buying (and tailoring) your tuxedo over renting. The advantages are numerous: better fit, better materials, more options, buy-it-for-life, etc. Some quick options for retailers include:

Wedding Suit

Wedding suit examples to follow – an album 

Wedding Suits

MFA guide to suiting

The hurdle most men come to when choosing wedding attire is the question, “what to wear if I’m not wearing a tuxedo?” The business or leisure suit is the correct alternative. However, we will place some guidelines on what suits fall into this wedding-appropriate category. The reason for more rules is to direct you towards an elegant option that will look great for years to come and not be an embarrassment later on.

Your suit should consist of a solid color such as: navy blue, charcoal, or mid gray and be made from wool fabric: worsted, sharkskin (pick-and-pick), or mohair. Single Breasted, two button suits are the safest option, though you may consider alternatives (say double breasted or three buttons if you’re taller). Peak lapels are regarded as more formal than notch lapel, either is acceptable, and keep the lapel width to a reasonable size that fits you, i.e. between 2.5 inches and 3.5 inches. Three piece suits are considered more formal than two piece, either is acceptable. A waistcoat in dove grey 

or buff 

can be added to elevate an ensemble as well.

AVOID PATTERNS (stripes, checks, tweeds, herringbones) as they are less formal than solids and generally do not convey the significance of your event. They can also carry stereotypes you may not want to encourage (stripes = business; tweeds = countryside, etc)

AVOID COLORS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR A WEDDING. Black is too somber for a wedding suit, if you want to wear black (and your wedding is in the evening) wear a tuxedo. Brown is much too informal for a wedding and is a color that swings widely into and out of fashion. The same can be said for white, royal blue, reds, or greens; be cautious of these non-traditional suit colors 

, while they might sound fun they are hardly appropriate and likely to be laughed at in 10, 20, 30 years time.

As mentioned previously, beach or informal country weddings have a slightly different set of rules, this may include opting for tan or light grey suiting and possibly lighter wearing fabrics such as linens or cottons. Again, keep the suit tasteful and use discretion when deciding the suit choice for your day.

Places to shop

Buying a suit is much less daunting than buying a tuxedo, with many more price points and retailers. Having your suit tailored to fit is also detrimental in looking your best. Look to buy your suit MORE THAN 3 weeks OUT from your big day to leave room for alterations. If you’re considering MTM or bespoke more time is suggested. Some options of retailers include:


MFA’s guide to shirting

MFA’s guide to custom shirting

WSJ visual for collars 

Rules for shirting are fairly straightforward: wear white. This rule can be bent if done tastefully, alternative options could include: light blue, very light lavender or pink, and slightly off-white to name a few. This decision should be made in conjunction with the wedding suit and tie, use the shirt as appropriate backdrop to the entire ensemble. Collars should be point, semi-spread, or spread and cuffs should be french cuffs or button cuffs.


There are literally hundreds of options, but I’ll list a few popular options here, including some MTM:


MFA’s shoe guide

Shoes follow the same trend as the shirting, basics that help blend the entire ensemble together. This translates roughly to black cap-toe balmorals/oxfords 

. These are a classical men’s dress shoes that should be in every man’s wardrobe. Variations from this should be done only when considering other factors. For example a wedding in the countryside could warrant changing from black to brown shoes. Semi-brogues 

or half-brogues 

should be given the same considerations, i.e. only if appropriate for your occasion. I would recommend staying away from alternative leather options (suede, pebble-grain, etc) as they can detract too much visually from the rest of the ensemble. Similarly, try to avoid flashier styles such as wingtips, full-wings, double monk straps, to name a few.AVOID NON-DRESS SHOES, such as sneakers 

on your wedding day, please.Places to shop

Many quality dress shoe makers exist. I’ll list some popular options here:

Wedding Ties

Visual of some wedding ties – an album 

Wedding Ties

Style Forum read concerning wedding ties

A Suitable Wardrobe post on wedding ties

Traditional wedding ties are silver in color and feature a shepherd’s check 

, macclesfield 

or glen check 

pattern or some variation of this. Deviation from these patterns is acceptable though. Your tie should have some substance and but not be overly flashy. The pattern should be elegant and often subtle. Patterns such as repp stripes, paisleys, or contrasting plaid patterns should be avoided. They may be great ties, but they often do not convey the formality of a wedding. Many brides insists on their grooms choose colored ties to match their wedding colors. This should be avoided to an extent. Pale blues, purples, pinks, or gold can work well. But keep in mind that saturated colors may look out of place next to a women wearing only white. AVOID SATIN SILK TIES 

, these are reserved for high school proms.Bow ties follow the same rules as long ties. Keep them appropriate for your wedding. Self-tied bow ties are preferable.

Places to shop

There are many fine tie makers; here are some of my favorites to consider:

Optional accessories (boutonnieres, pocket squares, cufflinks, etc.)

It’s easy to get carried away with accessorizing an outfit. Often times the “less is more” approach works wonders. Whatever accessories you choose, make sure the overall ensemble is cohesive and reflects your wedding.

It’s traditional for the groom to wear a white boutonniere on his wedding day. This can help set him apart from his groomsmen and his guests. It’s a distinguishing element that generally only the groom will wear. Selection of the flower is often a rose 

or small carnation 

, though these can vary. White is traditional, though wedding colors can be incorporated here easily.Pocket squares should be chosen (if at all) to compliment the existing elements. The safest approach is a white linen, white silk, or a cream silk square folded as a presidential fold 

or a simple puff 

. Choosing a patterned or colored pocket square risks the entire ensemble of becoming too busy. DO NOT MATCH your pocket square to your tie 

. If you’re unsure about this desicion, it’s the easiest element to discard. Here’s a link to MFA’s guide on pocket squares.Most men’s accessories ARE NOT RECOMMENDED for wear on your wedding day. Collar pins, tie bars or other paraphernalia will not add to the overall outfit and should be avoided. Watches are generally frowned upon within formal wear and I’d advise you to forgo it altogether, yes, even your dress watch. Cufflinks are an exception and often a welcome addition to your outfit (assuming of course your shirt has french cuffs). Choose cufflinks that work well with your outfit and wedding. I’d recommend mother of pearl 

, sterling silver 

or silk knots 

in a simple design.Some men decide that their wedding day is the day to show the world: “I like quirky socks!” I strongly recommend that you resist this urge. A simple ribbed knit, pin dot, or herringbone in a color matching your pants will work just fine.

Places to shop

As stated before there are numerous places to find quality accessories; here are some recommended retailers:

Groomsmen attire

Example of groomsmen done well – an album 


When selecting the attire that you’re going to wear, consideration must be given to the men that will be standing by your side. This idea that they must match exactly is not highly regarded in the online menswear community, and I tend to agree. It doesn’t matter if the bridesmaids are all in one dress, the men should not be forced to wear identical ensembles. Suit RENTALS ARE TO BE AVOIDED since they rarely fit well or look well.

You’ll want to arrange your outfit and your groomsmen’s outfits so that you stand out among them. This can be done by several methods. Up the formality of your outfit compared to theirs, i.e. you in a three-piece suit while they wear two-piece suits. Color coordinate your outfit so it contrasts (while still complimenting) their color options, i.e. your tie and boutonniere can be silver and white, while theirs can be color-coordinated to the wedding colors. Wear a lighter or darker colored suit compared to theirs, i.e. you in mid-grey while they wear charcoal. The contrast achieved can be subtle or stark, this is a personal preference and something to keep in mind during this process.

In order to create a cohesive look between the groomsmen, choose a solid suit color they can work within. Navy and charcoal suits are ubiquitous, most men own one already, or can find one easily enough in their price range. You should not feel guilty for asking your groomsmen to buy a basic suit in a solid color since it will be a useful garment in their future. White shirts and black shoes are also standard items most men either already own, or should have access to in their price range. Ask them politely to have their suits tailored to fit and look presentable. This is another reason why choosing an a-traditional suiting color (such as brown) is frowned upon. It’s a less versatile color, does not look as good on all men, and most men would not want to wear that article of clothing ever again.

More formal affairs requiring tuxedos on the men have slightly different rules. Many men do not already own tuxedos as they may own solid colored suiting, and they may not be willing to buy a tuxedo. In this scenario rentals should be arranged. Try your best to choose standard designs and find something well fitting for them.

Less formal affairs may not require full suits on the groomsmen. In this case, choose an ensemble complimentary to your wedding outfit. Consider having them wear navy sportcoats with khaki dress pants. And while I don’t personally enjoy it, a vest and matching dress pants can look fine to most people. These ideas can help groomsmen parties who are on a budget. For the most informal of events, plain dress shirts and dress pants in coordinated colors would be acceptable, I’d skip the tie in this case.

Concern for matching colors with bridesmaid dresses can be attenuated with the use of ties, boutonnieres or even pocket squares. Ties can be coordinated so that the patterns and colors either match exactly or compliment one another. Give the ties as gifts or ask your groomsmen to buy specific items. Choose something the men in your party can wear afterwards. Boutonnieres with similar or matching flowers to the bridesmaid dresses/bouquets can add an element of matching appropriate for a wedding. Pocket squares are another gift idea worth considering and can also be used for color injection. As with the selection for your ensemble, make sure not to select something outrageous for your groomsmen. AVOID BRIGHT TIE COMBINATIONS 


, or any unique ideas 

you think will look good. I’m sorry but, these are too often seen on high-school prom tuxedos or when the future-missus selects the outfits. It looks tacky and affected.It’s a semi-ridiculous notion that groomsmen must all look identical or that they must exactly match the bridesmaids. Having your groomsmen dress in formal attire with coordinated suits and ties allows them to be individuals, wear clothes they own, and also provides a level of unity among the groomsmen sufficient for a wedding.

TL;DR: Basics to wedding attire

No tuxedos before 6 pm (or sunset). If tuxedos are worn, it should be for more formal ceremonies (think big churches and banquet halls). Otherwise:

  • Navy or charcoal solid colored suit in wool.
  • Conservative shirting and footwear (read: white shirt and black shoes).
  • Wedding tie in silver (or other subdued color) with subtle pattern or texture.
  • Groomsmen need not match each other or the bridesmaids exactly.
  • Their clothing should be complimentary to you without overpowering your outfit.
  • Color coordination with bridesmaid/wedding colors can be done with ties, boutonnieres, and pocket squares.

You want to look great on your wedding day, stick to the classics, make sure everything fits, and most of all enjoy yourself.

Overly long list of extra resources and guides

There are many resources available online. Some extra reading on MFA and from other sites:



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