Written by Paula Jones Last updated: June 6, 2006
Morning suit, black tie, white tie, frock coat, kilt, lounge suit, tuxedo, Teddy jacket, David Beckham sarong… There are a whole lot of options for men in terms of what to wear to a wedding.
If you want to mark your wedding by wearing something really different from the norm, this is a popular choice, and it’s available in many colours and fabric designs. Usually made in beautiful brocades (or plain velvets), frock coats look great paired with a pair of plain black trousers and they’re worn with a winged‐collar shirt and a traditionally tied cravat called an Ascot. Don’t worry; you won’t necessarily look like Laurence Llewellyn Bowen. But if that’s the look you’re going for, we suggest teaming it with an open‐necked shirt and ruffled sleeves. And pre‐warn the Vicar.
Many grooms in the armed forces choose to be married wearing their regimental uniform. These are not only ceremonial but are also well‐suited to the traditions of a wedding. The traditional uniform for weddings is the Blues uniform: a blue jacket with a high collar, adorned with five brass buttons down the front with two on each cuff for officers. The jacket is teamed with matching blue trousers with a red stripe down the outside of each leg. No shirt is worn but the uniform is accessorised with a white belt and gloves. Military uniform can be worn by all groomsmen who are members of the armed services.
The most well known of kilt styles is the Highland morning or evening dress which is the traditional outfit for Scottish grooms, both of which are acceptable for a day wedding.
With an enormous range of tartans to choose from, a kilt should be worn with a Bonnie
Prince Charlie jacket or doublet, a sporran, laced brogues, socks, jabot (frilly tie), cuff and skean dhu (a small dagger carried in your sock). The skean dhu is worn in the stocking on your right leg if you are right‐handed, and vice versa. But beware! Tradition says that if you draw a skean dhu you should always draw blood ‐‐ even if it’s your own.
The important thing at any event, and especially at your wedding, is to feel at ease. If formal dressing makes you feel uncomfortable, then lounge suits are a good alternative. It’s definitely a sharp and sophisticated choice and, while most associated with register office weddings, is fine for religious weddings as well. Should you (or the bride) be keen on creating a co‐ordinated look, you can mix it with any shirt and tie, which can easily be matched or contrasted with the wedding colour theme.
If you’re worried about the expense, just remember that this is a great excuse to buy a really nice Armani or Boss number, or even a Savile Row bespoke whistle. Should she balk at the added expense, point out that you’ll get a lot more wear out of it than that white lace confection she’s upping the mortgage payments to buy.
The choice of shoes is very personal, although the rule would be not to wear brown shoes with black trousers and vice versa. A good fitting pair of leather shoes is your best choice, regardless of how comfortable your old Pumas are.
Even if you’re not having a wedding ceremony traditional to your own culture or religion, you can still wear either the full traditional outfit or just take various aspects of it to personalise a more formal, Anglicized outfit.
Thinking of sand between your toes and the sea swooshing in the background? There’s a whole lot of options for you in terms of what to wear. In the linen suit department you have everything from Man from Del Monte/Piers Brosnan chic to the Miami Vice crushed casual style. Just remember: light shirts, no ties, Panama hats optional. We also like the thought of a custom‐made silk suit, although it’s a bit impractical.
Smarten up your act a bit with a white tuxedo ‐‐ great for overseas weddings in hot climates. Team a white jacket with black trousers, a white pleated‐front evening shirt and a black bow tie. Shoes should be black and well polished. White socks should never be worn. But as we may have mentioned before, rules were meant to be broken: wear white trousers, a blue silk shirt and no shoes if you want.
Throwing tradition and caution to the wind? There are no limits. You can just go for a slight twist in a velvet or Fifties suit, or arrive in fancy dress or kitted out as your football club mascot. However, there’s always a chance that the registrar or celebrant will think your attire is indicative of a flippant attitude towards marriage, and refuse to conduct the ceremony. So if it means everything to you to get hitched while huddling in a Mickey Mouse suit, mention it to your celebrant beforehand.
If you’re really going for it there’s always the Tommy Lee bathing suit or David Beckham sarong option. But we don’t recommend it.
Don’t know your white tie from your lounge suit? Read on.
In the past, weddings were held in the morning (hence the wedding breakfast that follows), with the groom wearing a morning suit, while a later wedding requiring an evening suit. Most grooms still prefer the elegance of a morning suit, whatever the time of day, though most often they’re worn for weddings before 3pm.
The suit is a combination of penguin dress coat, top hat and tails. The cut and style of the coat is very flattering to the majority of figures and consists of a blue, black or grey tailcoat paired with matching or contrasting trousers, either plain or pinstriped. The outfit is worn with a white wing‐collar shirt, a waistcoat of any colour, a cravat (often called an Ascot), a top hat and a pair of gloves (just held, not worn).
For a less formal wedding with a modern‐day slant, opt for a tailored jacket rather than tails and team it with a classic white shirt. Knot your cravat as you would a tie and forget the top hat.
This is traditionally worn for weddings later in the day or those to be followed by a formal reception, and it’s an ideal style for a grand evening reception or summer ball. If you’re opting for black tie, you should inform your guests of this dress code.
It’s a pretty formal look: you should wear a black dinner jacket, either single or double‐breasted, with ribbed silk lapels, preferably not satin, with no vents or covered buttons. Trousers should be tapered, suitable for braces and, officially, have one row of braid. The evening shirt, in cotton or silk, with either a marcella or pleated front, has a soft, turn‐down collar and your bow tie should be black silk. Cummerbunds can be worn (with pleats opening upwards), but waistcoats are still much more acceptable and can be made as individual as you like with a colourful bow tie, matching waistcoat and pocket handkerchief. Shoes should be black and well polished and socks just plain black.
Now let’s completely contradict all that! These days, you can wear a dinner suit in any colour you like, and it you want ribbed satin lapels, who’s looking closely? Covered buttons are still tacky. If you want flared trousers with two rows of braid, go for it. But don’t get rid of the rows of braid altogether, it’s a classic hallmark of black tie. If you feel the need to wear one of those hilarious shirts with frogs or lipstick prints on, don’t hold back (but check with Her Indoors first). Your socks can match your suit, shoes, waistcoat or the colours of the rainbow. Sports shoes are still out though ‐‐ sorry.
A white tie event is the most formal of all occasions. You need to wear a black evening tail coat with silk facings, black dress trousers with a white marcella waistcoat, a dress shirt and bow tie. You must leave some starched white cuff showing below the jacket sleeve and the waistcoat should just cover the waistband of the trousers but not show below the foreparts of the jacket. If you’re in white tie, trying to add your own individual touch may look less like personalisation and more like not having a clue, so stick to the rules.