A wedding is one of the most important days for any couple. As a guest, it’s your responsibility to honor the couple and to be respectful to their wishes. Obviously, it’s a happy event and you should be having fun, but the couple must always come first.
For many of us guys, knowing what to wear is difficult. All the different dress codes can make it confusing and then you need to consider the time of year and the weather. In this article we’ll be breaking down how you should dress to each types of wedding and how you can look your best whilst you’re there.
Tips for how to dress as a wedding guest
Follow the dress code
One of the most infuriating things as the bride or groom is when someone chooses not to follow the dress code. You might think that it’s not a big deal, but it’s about being respectful to them. Also, you’re going to stand out in photos and videos.
Get off your high horse and put the suit on. The day isn’t about you. Follow the dress code as closely as you can and don’t be afraid to ask the bridal party if you’re unsure.
It’s better to be overdressed
It can be difficult to wear a full suit, especially when it’s hot outside. It’s tempting to leave the jacket and tie at home, but it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
If you’re on doubt you should dress smarter. You can always take your tie and jacket off if everybody else is dressed more casually.
Coordinating with your date
If you have a date or a partner to the wedding you should coordinate outfits. This means wearing the same level of formality but you shouldn't worry about matching colors. Send them a quick photo of what you intend to wear so that neither of you feels uncomfortable.
Don’t steal attention from the couple or their parties
It’s still shocking that this happens. You are a guest. This isn’t the time for you to try a green jacket with red pants, or something that stands out. Have fun, but you don’t want to become the center of attention.
Be respectful to the couple and their parties. It’s also not a bad idea to find out what the groom and groomsmen are going to be wearing so that you can avoid wearing the exact same clothes.
Springtime weddings are one of the hardest to dress for. The weather can go from winter cold in the morning to summertime heat by midday. It’s generally better to have too many clothes than not enough. Stick to cotton and linen suits that are lightweight and won’t make you sweat.
If you get cold you can layer with an undershirt or waistcoat (vest to you Americans). This way you can remain stylish and smart without the weather ruining the day.
Spring gives you the flexibility to experiment with your colors. There’s no need for you to wear a dark work suit, consider tan, light navy and grey suits. If it’s in late spring or you live in a hotter area you might even consider a light pastel color.
Don’t be afraid to accessorize with colorful ties or patterned shirts. Spring is the season of new life, so, keep it interesting.
Examples of spring suits
- Check wool suit by Hugo Boss.
- Windowpane wool suit in grey by Ted Baker.
- Dark blue, classic fit suit made with wool by Hart Schaffner.
- Lightweight linen suit in beige by Boss.
- Classic fit grey cashmere and wool suit by Samuelsohn.
Weddings in summer usually include some time outside in the hot sun. It’s paramount that you wear a lightweight linen and cotton suit. Avoid anything darker than a light grey, light tan or pastel.
Avoid dark shirts that you make you hotter, choose a thin cotton button-up shirt in white or white and blue stripes.
It’s normally expected that you keep your jacket on at all times, but if the grooms party take their jackets off then you might choose to follow them. Make sure to drink plenty of water, cut down on the alcohol and stick the the shade where possible.
One mistake that most guys make at summer wedding is to wear the socks and leather shoes that they normally wear. If possible, you should pick out a lighter and thinner shoe that will let you feet breathe. If not, avoid wearing any thick socks. Head to your local grocery store and buy a cheap pair. They’ll be much thinner and prevent your feet from overheating.
If you sweat then you might consider wearing an undershirt. This might seem counterproductive to add another layer, but a good quality undershirt will prevent the sweat from being visible on your dress shirt.
Examples of summer suits
- Brushed-cotton beige suit by Paul Smith.
- Plaid sport coat by Stafford.
- Powder blue birdseye suit by Indochino.
- Natural linen suit by Perry Ellis.
- Cream sharkskin suit in wool by Tallia.
In fall you’ll want to start putting away your tan and pastel suits. For a fall wedding you should dress in charcoal, grey and navy suits. It’s best to avoid black if you have another suit that you can pick.
The weather is usually cooling down in fall, making wool the obvious choice. If it’s too hot then you should pick a thinner cotton shirt and avoid a heavy jacket.
Fall is halfway between summer and winter so you shouldn’t be afraid to use a little bit of color. You might consider a colored tie with a darker suit, but avoiding colored shirts is safe advice.
Examples of fall suits
- Solid blue wool suit by Tommy Hilfiger.
- Gray woven two-button suit by Michael Bastian.
- Deep navy two-button wool suit by Hugo Boss.
- Charcoal notch lapel two-button suit by Hugo Boss.
- Charcoal regular fit suit by Simon Spurr.
Winter weddings are when you should be wearing your thickest and most presentable suits. A quality wool suit is the best choice and a vest is advisable if there’s a formal dress code.
Black was traditionally worn to funerals and work, but in recent years it’s become more common in weddings. Winter is the ideal time to wear a black suit. Otherwise, charcoal, grey or a dark navy will look great.
If it’s particularly cold out then make sure to take an overcoat and matching leather gloves to keep warm. A stylish but small scarf might also be applicable, but take it off before you enter the building.
Examples of winter suits
- Italian virgin wool suit in dark blue by Boss.
- Textured wool slim fit suit by Armani Collezioni.
- Midnight fineline suit by Indochino.
- Grey wool overcoat by Hockerty.
- Black wool suit with white Madonna inset collar by Givenchy.
Beach weddings seem to be the popular thing to do these days. But they are pain to dress for. You should treat it similar to a summer wedding, but drop the emphasis on formality.
It’s common for guys to wear a tan or light pastel suit with colored shirts. Obviously, avoid wool and opt for a cotton and linen suit that will keep you cool through the day.
You should check with someone involved with the wedding planning, but it’s standard to not wear a tie or socks. Instead, open your top two shirts buttons and swap your dress shoes for some leather or suede loafers.
This should help to keep you cool but also looking stylish and ready for the wedding. To avoid sweating through your shirt it’s best to keep your jacket off until you get to the ceremony. Make sure to stay hydrated and sit near a fan as much as you can. There’s a special place in hell for couples who have beach weddings in the middle of the day.
Casual dress code
Casual wedding dress codes can be confusing. You’ll often find that guys turn up in a range of different outfits. In our opinion, your should still be well dressed. Jeans just aren’t right for a wedding.
Instead, try a pair of tan khakis or fun dress pants. A button-up shirt is still recommended, otherwise, you could wear a smart polo in a dark color.
Rather than leather dress shoes you might choose to wear some loafers or suede Chelsea boots. The key is to dress down but still remain smart. You don’t want to be underdressed compared to other guests. Dressing as if you were going on a first date to dinner is a safe bet.
Formal dress code
Formal is the most common dress code for weddings. It can sometimes be listed as ‘black tie optional’ too. All this means is that if you have black tie you should wear it, otherwise, wear the best suit that you have.
The bride and groom want you looking your absolute best but there’s no need to buy black tie if you don’t already own it. You should pick a classic dark suit that you’d wear to a meeting with your boss.
Formal means that you need to be wearing a dress shirt, button down shirts aren’t acceptable, opt for a spread or point collar instead.
Shirts should be white, colored shirts aren’t as formal and won’t look appropriate with a dark wool suit. One mistake that younger men often make is to think that they can wear brown shoes with their black suit. If the dress code is formal then you should be wearing dark shoes.