If you’re reading this, it’s safe to say that you just got invited to a wedding and, after the initial excitement, you’re left wondering what do I wear?
In this article, we’ll go over a few general rules to follow as well as give you a few outfit ideas for this special occasion.
The Wedding Style Rules
First, here are a few things to consider when selecting your outfit:
- Your Wedding Role
- Stated Dress Code
- Setting, Weather, and Theme
At a wedding, there are 3 main groups of people: the bridegroom, the wedding party, and the guests. Each group has its own distinct dress code, but in this article, we’ll focus on the guests’ attire, since it’s the most flexible of the three. As a guest, the most important rule for you to follow is to look presentable without outshining the bride or groom. This is why most men opt for wearing a neutral colored two-piece suit. We’ll go over different options for you to wear further down in this article.
The next things to consider when choosing an outfit are the setting, weather, and theme of the wedding you’re attending. A wedding can take place either indoors or outdoors, in a warm or cold climate, and it can even have its own distinct theme. Your outfit should take into account all of these factors because you don’t want to look out of place.
With that being said, let’s go over a few outfit options that you can use as a template and build off of as needed.
Outfit 1: Black-Tie
This outfit is fairly self-explanatory, but in case you are unfamiliar, a black-tie affair calls for a black tuxedo, black bow tie, and black leather shoes. The black-tie theme is common in evening weddings (usually after 5 PM), and at some weddings, you may be expected to wear a dinner jacket instead of the typical tuxedo jacket.
The difference between the two is that tuxedo jackets are part of the whole tuxedo ensemble, meaning the jacket color (usually black) matches the pant color. On the other hand, a dinner jacket is a different color (and design) altogether and can be white, burgundy, red, etc. Sometimes, a dinner jacket can even have a unique pattern and a single functioning button that represents the more formal dinner jackets.
Outfit 2: Cocktail Attire
Cocktail attire refers to an outfit that isn’t quite as formal as a black-tie tuxedo but is still a notch higher in formality than a typical business suit. It usually calls for a dark jacket accompanied with dress trousers, but it depends on the stated formality of the wedding itself. If the wedding calls for formal attire (but not black-tie), then a dark-colored two-piece suit will work fine.
A wedding that calls for semi-formal attire means you can break up the suit and wear the jacket with a pair of dress trousers. If the wedding is a casual affair, then feel free to wear a dark-colored jacket with dark denim jeans. Most dark colors will work well together, but as stated above, don’t go overboard with the colors and details. You don’t want to overdo it and take attention away from the bride or groom. Safe colors include navy, grey, burgundy, dark green, etc.
Outfit 3: Flexible Formal
This outfit is likely the style you’re most accustomed to. Sometimes referred to as smart casual, flexible formal is one of the most common dress codes at weddings. It’s also one of the most flexible dress codes (hence the name) since there aren’t too many hard rules for this attire.
A good general rule to abide by with this style is an outfit that looks classy but isn’t as formal as the aforementioned outfits. A good example would be a neutral-colored suit (dark gray or navy) with a white dress shirt, no tie, cufflinks, and a pocket square. This is the opportunity for you to show up to a wedding more casual than you’d be used to.
Bonus: Beach Wedding
I included this outfit because you don’t want to wear any of the above outfits at a beach wedding. You’ll get too hot and sweaty in normal wool suits. Attending a beach wedding means you should follow a different set of rules when it comes to the material and color of your suit. The proper material suit for beach weddings is linen since it’s lightweight and breathable, and the best colors to wear to a beach wedding are light colors that aren’t white. Good examples include beige, tan, and pastel colors. Since this wedding is on the sand, you’re also welcome to wear non-dress shoes such as boat shoes, loafers, and even flip flops if allowed. Sometimes you can even go barefoot!
Shoes & Accessories
As I mentioned earlier in this article, the most important rule you want to follow when dressing for a wedding is to not outshine the bride and groom. Since we’ve already discussed potential outfits you can wear with each specific dress code, we’re now going to discuss what shoes and accessories you should wear in correspondence.
When it comes to the shoes you wear with a suit, the general rule to follow is that black dress shoes go with black pants and brown dress shoes go with everything else. While this is one of several rules that can be broken, it’s a good starting place and won’t lead you astray. As for the design of the shoes themselves, it depends on the occasion and its level of formality. For more formal occasions such as black-tie, you’ll want to keep the design of the shoe simple. A patent leather oxford shoe is a good, safe choice for formal occasions. If the occasion is more casual, such as cocktail attire, then feel free to wear brogued brown shoes with wingtips, monk straps, etc.
Accessories are the finer details of your outfit that can allow you to elevate your look. They’re a great way to show your personality and sense of style without outshining the bride and groom. Simple accessories like your tie, tie bar, boutonniere, cufflinks, watch, etc work to bring the rest of your outfit together.
Weddings are a very special occasion for a couple, so when you’re invited to one, you can think of it as an invitation to share a special moment in a loved one’s life. For that reason, you should make a concerted effort to dress well, and we hope this guide serves as a great template for planning your next wedding outfit.