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 suit styles, help you determine whether you want to go suit or wedding tux, and give you a few tips on topping off the look with some killer-cool accessories. We have tried to arrange the most all-inclusive wedding suit guide to answer all your pressing menswear questions.
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 don’t have belt loops, as they are typically held up by suspenders. They are 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. The list below includes some of the other major differences between a suit and a tuxedo.
Satin- or cloth-covered jacket buttons
Satin stripe on pant legs
No belt loops
White shirt with stud buttons
Lapels in the same suiting fabric
Plastic or fabric jacket buttons
No satin stripe
Belt loops or side adjusters
Standard dress shirt
Necktie or no tie
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 style 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 are too. After all, you’re the groom! You should stand out.
Photo: Will Reid
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO WEDDING SUITS
The 4 Types of Wedding Suits for the Groom
Have you decided to go the wedding suit route? We put together this handy wedding suit guide below that outlines the four major types of wedding suit styles to consider, listed in rank order according to formality.
1. Two-piece suit
The pieces: Single-breasted jacket and pants
Formality: Less formal than a three-piece suit
Best for: Daytime weddings, casual weddings, summer weddings, outdoor weddings, beach weddings
Wear with: Belt (if the pants have belt loops), dress shirt, necktie (or skip the necktie for a super-casual look), and pocket square (optional)
Photo: Carly Statsky
2. Three-piece suit
The pieces: Single-breasted jacket, pants, and vest
Formality: More formal than a two-button suit
Best for: Evening weddings, fall weddings, winter wedding, outdoor weddings
Wear with: Belt (if the pants have belt loops), dress shirt, necktie, and pocket square (optional)
Photo: Carla Ten Eyck
3. Double-breasted suit
The pieces: Double-breasted jacket and pants. Double-breasted simply means there are two rows of buttons that close the jacket.
Formality: These wedding suits for grooms tend to be more formal and statement-making compared to a two-button suit.
Best for: Evening weddings, fall weddings
Wear with: Dress shirt, necktie, and pocket square (optional). Keep the jacket buttoned-up until you sit down.
Photo: Sebastien Boudot
4. Morning suit
The pieces: Single-breasted, elongated jacket, worn with a vest and pants
Formality: Very formal
Best for: Formal daytime weddings (more commonly worn in Europe)
Wear with: Dress shirt with French cuffs, necktie, cuff links, and a pocket square
Photo: Jose Villa
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.
Photo: Austin Gros
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. Read more on fabrics in the next section below.
Photo: Ashley Largesse
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 (and warmer). The same goes for textured fabrics such as velvet, tweed, and corduroy. A linen suit, on the other hand, is incredibly breathable and light, and pairs beautifully with outdoor, summer, and destination weddings. Cotton and polyester suits are a great go-to for any occasion and budget.
Photo: Yvette Roman
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 and the dress code. If planning a summer wedding you could consider a lighter color, while a winter wedding could inspire a darker colored suit. 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. This is not the time to trot out your fluorescent orange Dumb & Dumber costume.
Photo: Lana Nova Photo
5. The buttons.
The classic look is a two-button suit jacket. You only need to button the top button, 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. Did you realize there were so many etiquette details and information to review regarding a wedding suit guide?
Photo: Kendra Elise
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO WEDDING TUXEDOS
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 (we've got more on the rent vs. buy decision down below). 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. All three are wonderful, so it’s really about what looks right on you, and what looks best in your surroundings.
Photo: Clary Pfeiffer
2. The vest or the cummerbund.
When it comes to tuxes, there are two preferred waist coverings: the vest and the cummerbund. You could certainly opt to skip both, but you should 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.
Photo: Kelsea Holder
3. The lapels.
There are three types of tuxedo lapels. The notch, the peak, and the shawl.
- Notch lapel: This 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.
Photo: Gianny Campos
- Peak lapel: This 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.
Photo: Heather Kincaid
- Shawl lapel: Features a continuous curve down the coat and is the most common lapel for tuxedos. It’s perfect for all your fancy affairs (like 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 wedding suit (and the groom himself) stand out, while complementing the style of the day and his groomsmen. Here are some wedding suit 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 or humor to your look. If you’re a music buff, a pair of treble-clef cuff links are pretty adorable.
- Neck ties: A suit is typically paired with a necktie. Wider neckties tend to skew more traditional, while skinnier ties are more trendy and hip. You could go full hipster or country Western by opting for a bolo tie with cord or braided leather.
- Bow ties: A bow tie is traditionally worn with a tuxedo, which exudes a classic feel. However, you could choose a bowtie to wear with a suit, to add a touch more formality to your overall look. There are four popular types of bow tie shapes: butterfly (the classic bow-tie shape), wide butterfly (which stands taller), diamond tip (which features pointed ends), and batwing (slimmer and narrower; basically the skinny tie of the bow tie world). As for necktie and bow tie colors, classic hues like black and navy are always elegant, or you could choose a color or pattern to complement the overall wedding colors and style.
- Boutonnieres: Pinning a flower adornment to your lapel is a great way to match your wedding flowers or colors. If you need help with wedding flowers, we have an impressively detailed post written by a seasoned florist.
- 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.
Photo: Dane Roy
- 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 playful sock, it’s the fashion version of a wink. A great gift is to get your groomsmen and/or future husband matching socks for some fun pictures.
Photo: Julie Paisley
RENTING VS. BUYING
Not sure if you should rent or buy a suit for your wedding? We've outlined the pros and cons for both options below. Use our guide to help you decide the best menswear move for you.
- Renting is cheaper. A standard suit rental usually starts at around $100, while buying a decent-quality suit will likely start around $300 and go up from there. Prefer a tuxedo? Renting a tux can start at $125, versus purchasing one, which will run you close to $1,000 or more.
- If wearing a suit that matches your groomsmen is important to you, then renting identical suits is the best way to ensure a uniform look.
- If you prefer an on-trend style, renting a suit or tux allows you to wear something fashionable and current without having to commit to buying a style that might not be "in" in five years.
- By renting, you'll be able to afford a higher-end suiting style.
- Someone else has worn the suit or tux before. But a quality rental shop will clean their garments well, so don't let this one deter you!
- Suit rental companies these days do a solid job of tailoring the rental suit to fit you nicely. Gone are the days of the awful, ill-fitting rental suit! However, if you want your wedding-day attire to fit like an absolute glove, you'll have to get something custom made.
- Coordinating fittings, rental pickups, and post-wedding returns can be a bit of a pain.
Photo: M&J Photography
- The suit or tux will be measured, cut, and tailored to fit you perfectly.
- If you regularly attend formal events, or if you already know you have several weddings to attend on the horizon, then buying a suit or tuxedo can be an investment that will pay for itself.
- It's brand new. If you're uncomfortable with the idea of wearing the same suit as another dude, then purchasing your own garment is the only way to go. Also, if you like the idea of adding custom touches to personalize your suit like different lapels, pocket designs, or lining, then a custom-made suit is the way to go.
- If your size changes in the future (say, you lose or gain weight), your suit won't look as great as it once did and you might not ever wear the garment again.
- Buying something custom-made can be expensive.
- You might not ever need to wear a suit or tux again. If you simply aren't one to wear formalwear to occasions and events, then you'll be shelling out quite a bit of money for a one-time use. Talk to your partner to see if your wedding budget can accommodate a purchase like this, or if it makes more financial sense to rent instead.
Photo: Sally Pinera
WHEN TO ORDER OR RENT YOUR WEDDING SUIT
Use this helpful timeline to guide you through the wedding menswear process so that you're ready to suit up on the wedding day.
6–9 MONTHS IN ADVANCE
- Decide on the dress code.
Figure out what you and your groomsmen will wear. Make sure your wedding suit style matches the formality of the overall wedding as well as the wedding venue and setting. You should also decide whether the groom will wear the same attire as the groomsmen or something different to set him apart.
3–5 MONTHS IN ADVANCE
- Go shopping.
Once you've decided on groom and groomsmen attire, it's time to start shopping. If you've decided to buy your own wedding suit or tuxedo, visit a few menswear stores to try on different styles in person. Or, buy a few different wedding suit styles online to try on at home. Going the rental route? Visit a local branch of a rental shop to try some suits on.
- Get measured.
Next, it's time to get measured to ensure a perfect fit. If you're renting, head to the shop to have everyone's (yours as well as the groomsmen) measurements taken. If you've decided to purchase something custom-made, head to your selected menswear shop to get measured.
- Buy it / book it.
Regardless if you're buying or renting, do not wait until the last minute. Book your suit or tux rental as early as possible to ensure that your prefered suiting style is available. If you're buying, purchase your suit three to five months before the wedding day to make sure there's plenty of time for additional fittings and tailoring.
Photo: Erich McVey
2–7 DAYS IN ADVANCE
- Pick up your suit.
About a week before the wedding, pick up your purchased or rental suit. If you rented and selected home shipping, make sure that your suit or tux is delivered at least a week before the wedding.
- Try it on.
Try the complete wedding outfit on right away, including the pants, jacket, shirt, tie, shoes, and all accessories. Evaluate the entire look and make sure you're happy with the fit. Double-check the alterations to make sure everything is looking sharp. If you need any last-minute adjustments, book an appointment ASAP (either at your suit-rental shop or the store where you purchased your suit from).
- Get ready.
Shower, shave, and get dressed in your wedding-day attire, either with or without your groomsmen (depending on your preference).
- Get married!
DAY AFTER WEDDING
- Return any rental suits and tuxes, if necessary.
This might involve coordinating with a designated groomsman to have him pick up any rental items from the groom and return it on his behalf. The groom most likely has other important tasks on his plate like departing for the honeymoon.
Photo: Vicki Grafton