Alright, we’ve established the “no band t-shirts on the altar” rule by now, hopefully. If not, let’s just write that one in stone. Beyond that, there are still a few rules, believe it or not. Now, there really aren’t that many. They’re more like guidelines anyway. Still, keep these in mind, so you might be mistaken for someone who knows what he’s doing up there.
Let’s get a few pointers out of the way upfront to keep your memory fresh. If you hadn’t thought of these before, they aren’t exactly reminders, but you get the idea.
Get Fitted Professionally If Possible
Do you have to? Eh, not technically. There are those DTC suit makers out there who have you measure yourself and explain exactly how to do it. That’s not perfect, but if you’re careful, you can get a really well-fitted suit via the Internet. What can’t you get on there at this point? Groomsmen. The answer is groomsmen. Do not source your groomsmen online.
Anyway, professional fittings are completely worth the time. Go to a suit supplier or a tailor, and you can often get fitted for free, even if you aren’t buying anything. In an ideal world, you’d get fitted at the place you buy, but it’s up to you. Point being, you wouldn’t rush the measurements on gold wedding bands, so why rush the measurements on your suit?
Get Your Suit Well in Advance
Unless you’re getting married in a tuxedo. In that case, get your tux well in advance. For our money, a suit makes more sense than a tuxedo. That is, unless you plan to live the rest of your life in high society where you’ll need a tux often. Either way, whatever you’re donning for your nuptial day, get that thing way in advance and save yourself the stress. Plus, you’ll have plenty of time to go to a tailor and get the fit dialed in perfectly.
‘Suit’ and ‘Tuxedo’ Are Not Synonymous
If you read that last tip and thought, “What’s the difference between a tuxedo and a suit?”, class is now in session. Really, the general differences are simple. A tuxedo is the highest level of formality and tends to come in black (almost always, though sometimes in white). Suits are still formal but have the option to be dressed up or down and tend to be best in semi-formal and formal settings.
The quick and dirty of it is this:
Tuxes: Worn with bow tie, has satin lapels, usually has a satin stripe down the pant leg, paired with a more formal shirt (tuxedo shirt)
Suits: Can be worn with any tie, doesn’t have satin, worn with a traditional dress shirt
That’s not the whole explanation of either, but that’s really all you need to know at a base level.
Buying May Make More Sense Than Renting
It may not, of course. That’s especially true if you’re getting married in a tux. However, much of the time, the difference between buying and renting a suit isn’t too drastic. That’s especially true on the lower end of the pricing spectrum. Regardless of how much money you spend, having a good suit is a must for any guy, so consider buying over renting. If nothing else, get married in a good navy suit you can wear to other weddings afterward.
Learn What the Term ‘Break’ Means If You Don’t Already Know
Pant break (or trouser break if you’re fancy and/or British) has to do with the length of your pant legs. The “break” comes in the form of the hem hitting your shoe and how much fabric folding is happening. Even if you aren’t familiar with the term, you’ve probably seen it. There was a whole trend of dudes wearing pants with no break and letting their ankles see more oxygen than necessary. We’re partial to a half break and recommend that to most guys.
Levels of Formality
We hear you chomping at the bit. The band t-shirt is back on the table. Sorry, Axl Rose, it’s not that kind of casual. Think more like business casual. You’ll likely be wearing chinos and a casual button-down. You can wear proper dress pants here, but you’ll probably be a bit overdressed. Light-colored dress pants work too, though, but err on the chino side of the spectrum.
The one disclaimer here is that some people say casual and genuinely mean casual. If not stated as “show up like you’re headed to the beach,” it’s business casual.
Cocktail (or Semi-Formal)
These terms tend to be synonymous. Either way, you’re in a suit here. You can dress the suit down a bit, but don’t go too crazy. Light-colored suits if the wedding is before 5:00 p.m. and dark-colored suits if it’s after 5:00 p.m. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, and that somewhere determines what color suit you’re appearing in.
You can dress your suit down a bit here but still wear a tie. Brogue shoes or maybe some loafers are fine. You don’t need the nicest of dress shoes here if your more casual dress shoes look good.
Formal (or Black Tie Optional)
Dark-colored suit or a tuxedo. That’s really all there is to this one. There’s not much wiggle room on this one. You don’t have to wear a black suit if you’ve got a dark navy or dark charcoal suit, but it has to be dark.
Formal is the go-to option in general. It’s not for everyone, but it’s widely applicable and widely loved. Think of formalwear as the equivalent of the classic men’s wedding band. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but it doesn’t need to. Classic looks never go out of style.
The black tie is no longer optional, and we are officially in fancy-person territory. Fancy-person territory requires a black tux and a bow tie. Yep, cummerbund, too. You’re cosplaying as Jay Gatsby at this point.
If, for whatever reason, you’re invited to a white-tie wedding, you probably know how not to make an ass of yourself. If not, let’s go over the basics. You’ll need a dark tuxedo (probably with tails) and a waistcoat/vest. We’re in three-piece territory here. Black shoes, obviously. The real rich person element here is “white glove optional.” If you own a pair of white gloves, now’s the time to use them.
When Is Your Wedding?
This is the height of casual wedding season. Business casual to business semi-formal is going to be popular, with lighter colors and lighter fabrics. You can absolutely wear a suit, especially if you’re in a place with milder summers. For all others, linen suits are your friend.
Darker colors and lots of fun classic patterns. Consider heavier materials, depending on where you live. Wool suits and the like are going to be great. Unlike winter, you still have plenty of colors to work with, but you’re going to want to err on the side of neutrals and darker earth tones.
Much of the same as fall but with fewer earth tones. You’re mostly working with neutrals at this point. If you want to add in color, choose dark, rich colors like deep purples or dark reds.
Lots of color! This is really going to depend on what region of the country you live in and what part of spring you’re getting married in. Any time of spring is fair game for pastel colors and fun stuff like that, but the weight of your suit is going to depend on your region and which part of spring your ceremony is in.
Accessories to Consider
This is one of those classic things you wear once and probably never again. Still, they’re very cool, and you should have them. Maybe you’ll even wear them more than once!
Another one of those “you might wear this once and never again” accessories. Granted, you’ll probably get more mileage out of this than cufflinks. It looks cool, regardless, so you should have it.
Custom Suit Lining
This is a bit of an investment but looks awesome if pulled off well. Whether you want a tasteful pattern or some wild design like a full Marvel comic book is up to you. However, it’s one of the surest ways to make sure you have a one-of-one suit.
You don’t technically need a pocket square with your suit, but you certainly want it. Think of a suit without a pocket square like a car without seatbelts. Sure, you can drive it, but do you really want to? For legal reasons, we are not recommending pocket squares as a life-saving device. It will certainly save you from looking like a kid in your dad’s suit, though.
Let’s go over a couple of pocket square rules before we turn you loose.
Rule one: Do not match your pocket square to your tie. Don’t do it. We see you reaching for that matching tie and pocket square set. It’s so easy to buy, and it’s right there. Do not do it. You want your pocket square to complement your tie without matching it. That’s the difference between your pimply self going to prom at 16 and you as a grown man getting married. Complement, not match.
Rule two: Learn a couple of basic pocket square folds beforehand. You don’t have to do any of those origami-type folds where you create a tiny swan and stuff it in your jacket pocket. There are plenty of simple folds that anyone can learn that look great. Go with the classics unless you know what you’re doing.
That’s really all there is to it. Looking good as a dude is surprisingly simple, which is why it’s always so disappointing when we see guys get it so wrong. Luckily, you won’t have to be counted among them, and you can consider yourself officially in the ranks of the stylish and the capable.