One of the first concerns that arise when we receive a wedding invitation is what to wear to the event. Etiquette indicates that a man's choice of clothes should be based on the formality of the event. Men, whether in the wedding party or attending as a guest, have several options when selecting attire for a formal wedding.
For an ultra formal morning wedding, members of the wedding party wear an English morning coat, which is a single-breasted suit coat with a cutaway front that tapers to a long tail in the back. Less formal wedding attire may be worn in the morning or afternoon and consist of a well-tailored suit. Male guests at a wedding of this formality should also wear a suit and tie but can choose light or dark colors depending on their preference. If a formal wedding is held in the evening, the wedding party will most likely wear dark colored suits or tuxedos, and the wedding guest can complement this look by dressing similarly.
Formal wedding attire for the warm months of the spring and summer would consist of either lightweight wool or elegant cotton suits. During the warm summer months the wedding party and guest can feel free to wear a khaki or gray suit to the wedding. The heavy cottons and wool should be reserved for the fall and winter. During the winter months no matter the time of day of the wedding, dark fabrics including those with a gentle pinstripe are appropriate choices for all parties.
There are varying degrees of formality for wedding attire. “Black tie optional” typically means that male members of the bridal party will be dressed in a tuxedo, and if guests own a tuxedo, they are welcome to wear the same. If guest do not have a tuxedo, they should definitely wear a darker suit in a color like black, navy or charcoal grsay. The most formal of all wedding attire is black tie. Men whether they are part of the wedding party or guests should wear a tuxedo to black tie events.
Generally the invitation dictates the formality of the occasion. If it is not directly stated on the invitation, the style of the invitation itself gives a clue. If the invitation is on heavy white or cream paper or has formal wording or font, you can assume that the wedding is formal. The venue also dictates the formality of the affair. Obviously if you are attending a wedding on the beach you wouldn’t dress as if you were attending a wedding in a ritzy hotel. If you aren’t sure, the bride or groom or a member of the wedding party probably be more than happy to advise you on the formality of the occasion.
A dark suit worn with a crisp white shirt will give a traditional formal look. For an updated look, pair the dark suit with a gray or light blue shirt. Guests may even wear a dark colored or collarless shirt. A tie is always appropriate for a formal wedding. Choose a silk or satin tie or bowtie. Members of the wedding party may wear a matching cummerbund. Belts should be black and shiny. Avoid wearing any kind of shoe you would wear to the office, such as a wing tip. Instead, opt for a black plain toe oxford.