Wedding Planning Guide

wedding suit tips

men tying bowties

Photo: KT Merry

When it comes to wedding attire, there tends to be an awful lot of focus on the dress. We get it, we obsess over a good wedding dress. But the groom’s (or grooms’) look is just as important! So let’s dive into wedding menswear, help you determine whether you want to go wedding suit or wedding tux, and give you a few tips on topping off the look with some killer-cool accessories.

Suit vs. Tuxedo

Let’s start at the beginning: Do you want to wear a tuxedo or a suit at your wedding—and also, what’s the difference?

If you’ve seen a few Downton Abbey episodes, you might have a more extreme idea of the difference between a suit and a tux, but they have more in common than not. Tuxedos—surprise!—don’t have belt loops, as they are typically held up by suspenders (and also worn above the hip and fitted enough to not need a belt). Tuxedos also have satin lapels, satin piping down the outside of the pant leg, and satin- or cloth-covered buttons. A tuxedo’s details will match, from buttons to lapels.

If your significant other has their heart set on a white- or black-tie wedding, the choice between suit or tux has already been decided for you: It’s a tux. If you’re getting married in the sand, or during the day, a tux is usually considered too formal (and warm). Otherwise, it’s simply a stylistic choice; one is not more correct than the other. Let the style of your day, your wedding party, and especially your future spouse dictate the look. Tuxes are more formal, so if you’re getting married at a grand venue and your attendants are going to be dressed to the nines, make sure you follow, um, suit. After all, you’re the groom! You should stand out.

How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Suit

There are five factors to consider when choosing the perfect suit for your wedding:

1. The fit. Nothing matters more to looking—and especially feeling—good than the right fit. This means complementing and working with your body shape, not against it. Generally, suit fits fall into three categories:

  • Regular: A classic, comfortable fit that allows for a little extra room and movement. Good for those with an average or larger build.
  • Slim: A more modern, less forgiving, but super-sharp fit. Good for those with a slimmer body type.
  • Tailored: The halfway point between regular and slim, this streamlined look still allows for some room to move.

We still recommend that all grooms get their suits altered to fit their exact measurements, no matter what the fit of your suit is. Tailoring makes all the difference in the world.

2. The season. We’ve created a guest-centric guide on what to wear to a wedding based on the season, but the rules are similar for the wedded couple. If you’re having a winter wedding, make sure you look great...but are also warm. Adding vests or cumberbunds can help, as can your fabric choice (see below).

3. The fabric. Fabric has a huge influence over suit style. Wool, wool-blended, and worsted suits have a stately, high-quality look to them and tend to be a bit heavier (i.e., warmer). A linen suit, on the other hand, is incredibly breathable and light, and pairs beautifully with outdoor, summer, and/or destination weddings. And cotton and polyester suits are a great go-to for any occasion (and budget).

4. The color. This is where coordinating with your other half, the wedding party, and the wedding itself is most crucial. A lot can help steer you in the right color direction, particularly the season (Summer? Go light! Winter? Dark.) and the dress code (they don’t call it black tie for nothing…). If you’re still left with color options after those considerations, go with what makes you comfortable! If you have a bigger build, we recommend a darker-colored suit, as darker colors are slimming. Note: This is not the time to trot out your Dumb & Dumber costume.

5. The buttons. The classic look is a two-button suit jacket (note: you only button the top one, not the bottom one; we don’t know why, either). For taller gentlemen, a three-button jacket might work better for your look (and you’ll only button the top two buttons in this case). More casual suits, such as linen suits, will sometimes just have one button, in which case you would button it when you want the jacket to close.

How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Tuxedo

The first step in choosing your wedding tux is to decide whether to rent it or buy it—and no, renting your tux as the groom is not tacky. If your lifestyle doesn’t demand the occasional tuxedo, or if you can’t imagine ever wearing your wedding tux to another event afterward, you can save a lot of money (and time) by renting one. If you do choose to buy one, we recommend going with a classic style—something that will last you for years and not look dated.

Tuxes, in general, have a little less in the way of variety than a suit—which might be a blessing if you find yourself already overwhelmed with other wedding decisions. Still, there are some key style choices to consider:

1. The color. The classic tux colors are black, navy, and white. Talk to your dearly beloved and figure out the right color for your big day, and for your comfort zone. Hot tip: All three are wonderful, so it’s really about what looks right on you, and what looks best in your surroundings.

2. The vest or the cummerbund. When it comes to tuxes, there are two preferred waist coverings: the vest and the cummerbund. And you never wear both. One is not more preferred than the other, so it’s simply a matter of taste; the goal is simply to cover the waist of your trousers. That said, the nice thing about a vest is you can take your tux coat off and still look dressy. Either way, we recommend matching your vest or cummerbund to your tux color, but you can get away with mixing it up if you’re feeling bold and less formal. If your tux is black, you’ll still want to go dark with the waist covering, like dark green or burgundy red.

3. The lapels.There are three types of tuxedo lapels: the notch, the peak, and the shawl.

  • The notch lapel is both the most versatile, marked by the “notch” where the bottom of the collar and the top of the lapel form a 75-90 degree angle. This works for all body types, all occasions, and single-breasted tuxedo coats.
  • The peak lapel is the most formal and fashion-forward, marked by edges that point up toward your shoulders. They can create an elongating and slimming effect, so they’re good for gentlemen who are height- and/or build-conscious. This lapel is ideal for double-breasted coats.
  • The shawl lapel has a continuous curve down the coat and is the most common lapel for tuxedos. It’s perfect for all your fancy affairs ( your wedding), and works well for most body types; however, since it is rounded, it’s ideal for slimmer, more fit gentlemen.

The Groom's Wedding Accessories

Calm down, we’re not talking about jewelry. Accessories are a huge part of what makes the groom’s suit (and the groom himself) stand out, while complementing the style of the day and his groomsmen. Plus, we think this is the fun part! Here are some accessories to consider—you don’t need to wear all of them, but we wouldn’t be mad if you did:

  • Cuff links: They add a touch of shiny sophistication to your look—or humor. If you’re a music buff, a pair of treble-clef cuff links are pretty adorable.
  • Ties/bow ties: Aside from white tie, which demands a bow tie, you can take your pick between these options. Go classic with a nice black, white, or navy tie, or have fun with patterns if it suits your wedding’s style!
  • Boutonnieres: Pinning a flower adornment to your lapel is a great way to match your wedding flowers and/or colors.
  • Pocket square: The perfect opportunity for a splash of color, and a great way to tie the groom’s look to the rest of the wedding party.
  • Shoes: You didn’t think we’d forget the shoes, did you? Shoes are dictated entirely by your outfit: the more formal your ensemble, the more formal the shoe. And for the sake of all things holy and matrimonial, make sure they match!
  • Socks: Even the most formal weddings can embrace a colorful sock (it’s the fashion version of a wink). Bonus points: Get your groomsmen and/or future husband matching socks for some playful pictures.