Groom Wedding Attire 101 From a Menswear Expert
If you're preparing to navigate the world of groom wedding attire, you've come to the right place. Grooms have a lot on their plate and the last thing you need is more cause to worry over what you're supposed to wear. It's a rightfully intimidating question–there's a lot of pressure to look your best, abide by the dress code you and your fiance have set, and to incorporate any number of traditions into your wardrobe on your wedding day. Settle those nerves, because this is your one-stop resource for any and all things wedding-wear ahead of your special day.
In this article:
- What Should the Groom Wear on the Wedding Day?
- What is the Average Cost of Groom Attire?
- Groom Wedding Attire by Dress Code
- Groom Wedding Attire by Season
- Groom Wedding Attire by Location
What Should the Groom Wear on the Wedding Day?
This is the big question, isn't it? Groom attire is determined by any number of factors we'll get into below, but generally it comes down to three things: dress code, season, and location. All of these are going to influence the ways in which you suit up (or don't suit up) for your big day. There are some general guidelines that remain consistent throughout, though.
Across most dress codes, the groom is usually going to wear some version of a suit or a tuxedo. Which of the two is appropriate for the wedding depends on the dress code of the event. What grooms should really keep in mind is that regardless of where their wedding falls on the dress code scale, the couple sets the tone for the rest of the guests. After all, you should be one of the best-dressed people at your own wedding, right? If you've decided on a black-tie optional wedding (in which tuxes are generally encouraged but not required) you should be wearing a tuxedo. If you're going with semi-formal you should skew on the more formal side of semi-formal. You're the one who's going to be photographed for hours and have all eyes on you once you walk down the aisle. Make sure it's in an outfit worthremembering
What is the Average Cost of Groom Attire?
Like a new car, the price of a suit ranges widely in cost. What you end up spending on it will depend on what you want to wear and who you want to make it for you. Groom attire can be as inexpensive as a couple hundred bucks or get up into four figures depending on what you want to wear and where you want to buy it. However, grooms-to-be need not start sweating credit card bills just yet. By our latest study, the average groom spends [TK WAITING FOR SURVEY] on his wedding day outfit.
Groom Wedding Attire by Dress Code
Outside of your personal taste, the primary determining factor for what you should wear as a groom is your wedding dress code. There's a good chance this has been a team decision made between you and your fiance, based on how formal of a celebration you're throwing. Your attire sets the tone, so make sure you're setting it with intention.
White-Tie Groom Attire
White-tie is the most formal dress code an event can have–and no, it doesn't mean a white tux! Being that it's more formal, it has more rules than less-formal dress codes. First and foremost, a groom should wear a tuxedo to a white-tie affair. The tuxedo should have tails and a waistcoat should be worn underneath the coat and above the shirt. Traditionally a white-tie jacket has peaked lapels and is worn unbuttoned.
White-tie is also made in your outfit's accessories. Gloves are appropriate, though a bit less common modern day. If you've ever wanted to pair a suit with a top hat, this is the time to do so. There is then, of course, the titular white tie. Tradition tends to dictate that the tuxedo be finished with a white bow tie, though in the modern day there's a bit of room to break from the norm, whether that's with a black bowtie or a colored or patterned one.
Black-Tie Groom Attire
Black-tie weddings are a bit more common than their aforementioned formal counterpart. And while they technically aren't quite as formal as a white tie soiree, you'll still need to dress to the nines. A tuxedo is required, albeit tails and a cumberbund is optional. You can also play with color a bit more than you can with white-tie dress code. A black-tie wedding is a great excuse to wear a navy tux, or even a more adventurous shade. Just keep in mind that you'll also almost certainly be pairing your tux with a black tie. It's important to note that while modern black-tie events offer very slight breathing room in terms of interpretation, if you're the groom at a black-tie wedding you absolutely must wear a tuxedo.
Black-Tie Optional or Formal Groom Attire
Black-tie optional weddings, also known as formal weddings, can seem a little tricky to navigate. The word "optional" does a lot of heavy lifting there–is the black tie attire actually up to you? Black-tie optional events are generally held in the evening (again, you would not wear black tie attire during the day) so a tuxedo is an option. You can also go with a more formal suit in a traditional neutral like navy or grey, though you should avoid informal colors like pastels or loud patterns. Black tie attire is an invitation for your guests to dress their best, so just keep in mind that you need to dress yourself for the occasion your guests are attending. Whether that means a tux or a classic formal suit is up to you.
Cocktail Groom Attire
Somewhere between black-tie and semiformal lies cocktail attire. The general vibe of cocktail attire is an outfit that could ostensibly be worn from work to a cocktail hour without any significant changes. You don't want it to be all-business, especially on yourwedding day, but it still skews formal. Cocktail attire is best approached with a dark suit, which can be finished with a bow tie or a straight tie depending on what you're feeling. Dark shoes in black or brown are a good call, as are stylish accessories like a pocket square or tie bar. Cocktail attire pointedly does not require a tuxedo, so this is the point in the wedding dress code hierarchy where you'll want to leave the satin lapels at home.
Semi-Formal or Dressy Casual Groom Attire
Semi-formal weddings are where the rules really start to loosen. This is the sort of occasion where a tie is optional, you can experiment with color and fabrics (we love a linen moment when the weather calls for it), and accessories. Colorful ties, vibrant pocket squares, and even sneakers (when chosen wisely) are all on the table here. This is another ocassion to skip a tuxedo. hile semi-formal weddings offer a lot in terms of interpretation, they're also very much the sort of event you can overdress for.
Casual and Daytime Groom Attire
Truth talk: A casual dress code does nott mean you can roll up and get married in a tee shirt. It's still a wedding. But a casual dress code is one of the loosest out there, and offers an opportunity for a pointedly not buttoned-up look. You can swap out dress shirts for polos, nice sweaters, and more casual button-downs like linens and loud prints. A suit is still an option but you'll likely be wearing it unbuttoned and without a tie.
Cultural Groom Attire
Of course, all of this advice pertains largely to a very specific sort of wedding stemming from western and European norms. Traditional groom attire varies between cultures, and whether you come from one of those cultures yourself or are marrying someone who does, there may be other forms of dress or tradition you need to incorporate into your wedding wardrobe. For example, at Malaysian weddings the groom wears a long-sleeved silk or cotton shirt called a baju melayu that's paired with loose pants and a sampin wrap. In Vietnamese ceremonies the bride and the groom wear an outfit called an áo dài, with the groom's always being blue, paired with open-top turbans called khăn vấn. Whether you are marrying into a culture or bringing your own to a wedding ceremony, any traditions you wish to honor supercede the color of a tuxedo.
Groom Wedding Attire by Season
Cultural traditions and your wedding's dress code play the most crucial roles in determining what a groom should wear on their big day, but the season (and, by proxy, the weather) in which the wedding takes place is just as key. It's a matter of comfort as much as it is one of style. Trust me, you don't want to say, "I do" in 80-degree heat wearing a flannel suit. Once you've decided what you want to wear, make sure to find the most seasonally appropriate version of it and ensure that you're not only looking but feeling your best.
Spring is generally when it's time to swap out winter fabrics like thick wools and flannel blends for more breathable ones like silk-blended linens and wools. Lightweight four-season wools will also work great here. It's also a great time to incorporate some lighter, brighter colors into your wedding look. Swap out deep navy for lighter, richer blues and earthy browns and olives for breezy beige and grassy greens. And while it may not be warm enough for a no-socks look just yet, spring is a great time to finish a wedding suit off with loafers instead of lace-ups.
If you're getting married during the hottest stretch of the calendar year it's a good time to break out linen. Summer weddings are, by nature, generally more casual than fall and winter dates–you have to be pretty dedicated to formality to get dressed for a white-tie event when it's 85 degrees and humid. If you're leaning towards a more formal look during a summer wedding a great move is a three-piece suit from a linen blend (and maybe paired with a lightweight knit tie) or even seersucker, which can be dressed up or down depending on the wedding's dress code. Brighter colors and patterns are also very much the move here, with light blues and greens bringing a vibrant burst to your wedding day look. A daytime wedding in the summer is a great excuse to go sockless with some nice loafers as well, if the vibe is right. Relaxed dress codes also mean this is the season in which it's likely the most appropriate to go tie-less–even at semi-formal wedding when the look is done with a nice double-breasted suit and open collar.
As cool air comes in, so do thicker fabrics and earthier tones. This is a great time to pull t out camels, browns, and Prince of Wales check neutrals. Experiment with weightier fabrics like tweed or flannel if the weather allows for it, and try a mid-weight wool if it's still on the warmer side of autumn. If you're looking to add pops of color in your accessories or go with a suit in a non-traditional shade, fall is a great time for burnt oranges, deep plums, or rich maroons.
Winter weddings mean thick fabrics, layering, and texture. The season lends itself well to formal attire–if you're gonna bundle up you might as well do it in style. Tweeds, herringbones, and brushed wool flannel suits are all perfect for the colder months of the year, and a tuxedo with a thicker wool is going to go over great at black or white-tie affairs. For a black-tie optional wedding, this is a great time to try a three-piece suit or go with a dressed-up double breasted suit with a thick tie and a shirt with french cuffs. Winter neutrals tend to take the form of grey, black, and navy, with earthier browns working a bit better in the fall. For bursts of color, darker tones tend to work best–dark blues or burgundies to liven up a grey suit. If the wedding is timed around the holidays it's also a great time for a themed finishing touch - a boutonniere of holly or mistletoe can make for a lovely touch.
Groom Wedding Attire by Location
Your wedding outfit is also going to be influenced by where your wedding is taking place. Call us crazy but a white-tie wedding on a sandy beach seems like a tough combination (the stains alone, a nightmare). More than that though, location and venue tends to be a reflection of the tone of a wedding beyond merely dress code. What you wear as a groom to a semi-formal wedding that takes place at a farmhouse is substantially different than what a groom would wear to a semi-formal beachfront or traditional indoor venue wedding.
Destination or Beach Groom Attire
Beach wedding attire doesn't mean you don't have to wear a suit. There's plenty of waterfront-friendly wedding wear that also leans into a more traditional vibe. Beach and destination weddings are usually set in warmer climates, so a linen suit and a white dress shirt (maybe also made of linen) is a pretty foolproof wedding day fit due to its breathability. But beach weddings often take an even more casual dress code than the most low-key of regular venue weddings. It's the one place in which you can get away with shorts and a button-down Cuban-collar shirt. Just keep in mind that you're the one who's going to be setting the tone for the other attendees of the wedding. What you wear is the cue that they'll draw from and the one that dictates the dress code when you're on the beach.
Barn, Backyard, or Outdoor Wedding Groom Attire
Outdoor and backyard weddings tend to have a slightly more relaxed dress code. You'll still likely be wearing a suit but there's room for deviation from wedding tradition based on both the vibe of your wedding and the weather. Outdoor occasions are a great opportunity to try a chambray dress shirt, or even a denim one if you're at a barnhouse wedding and really want to lean into the vibe (western weddings are one of our favorite trends in 2023 so you have our permission to go for it). Backyard events are a bit more up to you as the groom, especially considering it may be your own backyard you get married in (and if that's the case, by all means, set the tone however you see fit). Still, a solid guideline for backyard weddings is to keep it to casual and daytime attire. A suit is likely the right call but what you put under it and whether or not you wear it with a tie or unbuttoned is up to you.
Courthouse Wedding Groom Attire
Your wedding day is your wedding day, even if instead of an exotic locale you're heading down to the local courthouse. You should still dress presentably for this, if only to honor the occasion and be prepared for the photos (there will absolutely be photos). A nice, simple suit is usually an easy pick for courthouse wedding groom attire but if you want to dress that up or dress it down it's an option. There's far less of a precedent you'll be setting with this outfit (there won't be a legion of guests looking to you for cues as to what's appropriate for the wedding) so it really comes down to wearing something you'll be happy with when you're looking back on the memories of your special day.