How to Choose Father of the Bride Attire
As the father of the bride, you’re going to be one of the focal points of the wedding.
You’ll escort your daughter down the aisle, for one, placing you in a square view of everybody. Plus, you have a speech to give, making you the center of attention for a few minutes to the point where you need to have the right father-of-the-bride outfit for the occasion.
That brings you to a question – how do you choose a suit as the father of the bride?
Keep reading and you’ll discover some father-of-the-bride outfit ideas, as well as a few rules for all dads to follow on their daughter’s special day.
The Importance of the Father of the Bride’s Attire
Father-of-the-bride attire matters for two reasons.
First, you’re going to be the center of attention for at least a few minutes during the wedding and you’ll want to make the most out of those minutes by looking sharp.
But perhaps more importantly, the wedding has a theme you need to match.
Going down the wrong route with your attire could mean you clash against the entire bridal party, turning those few minutes when all eyes are on you into hours for all of the wrong reasons. For example, going down the white tie formal route during a beach wedding will, frankly, make you look ridiculous if everybody else wears more casual beach clothes.
So, you need to find the right attire because doing so helps you to complete the look that the wedding party – as a whole – wishes to achieve.
Understanding Wedding Dress Codes
The wedding invitation is your first port of call when picking an outfit to wear as the father of the bride. That invitation should mention a dress code, with “formal,” “semi-formal,” and “casual” being the most common options.
Let’s say your invite says “formal”, what does formal attire look like? According to Esquire, the formal dress code could indicate that you should wear anything from a tuxedo to a classy suit, ideally featuring a dark color like black or navy. So, this can be an easy dress code as you can find the right attire by simply searching for the most popular wedding tuxedos. Semi-formal is typically the domain of suits – with more color choices – whereas casual could allow you to avoid suit jackets altogether.
There are other codes. For instance, a “beach formal” outfit would be a suit with lighter tones, such as khaki or beige. But the point is that your invitation at least sets an expectation for father of the bride wear that you can follow.
Classic Choices: The Tuxedo and the Suit
“A lot of fathers of the bride go down the more traditional route with their attire choices,” says Generation Tux. “Part of that is a generational thing – they likely wore a suit or tux to their own wedding – and the other part is that these are the safer options that are unlikely to look out of place.”
That may be your line of thinking when parsing through father-of-the-bride suit ideas, so it’s worth highlighting the pros and cons of tuxedos and cool wedding suits.
Formality is the name of the game with tuxedos, making them the attire of choice for white tie, black tie, and, in some cases, formal events. A tux comes with a certain level of dignity, too, making it befitting of somebody as important to the event as the bride’s father.
However, that formality is their biggest downside. Tuxedos aren’t good choices if the event isn’t “dressy” as you could look out of place when the rest of the wedding party is in standard suits.
They may cost more, too, in addition to being attention grabbers on a day when you want all eyes to be on your daughter.
Suits are still formal – especially if you get the color combinations right – but you have a little more leeway with them than you have with tuxes. For instance, it’s easier to color coordinate with suits. While variations on the traditional black tuxedo exist, you won’t have as many options open to you as you do with suits.
That versatility is why most male wedding attendees opt for suits. But that versatility can also be a downside – you won’t stand out if you choose a suit and everybody else wears one.
Whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on just how much attention you want to draw to yourself with your father-of-the-bride suit color and style.
Coordinating with the Groom and Groomsmen
As the bride’s father, you have a special role to play in the wedding. But you’re not technically part of the wedding party. That designation is reserved for the bride, groom, and their bridesmaids and groomsmen. So, coordinating with the groom and groomsmen is not necessarily about choosing an outfit that matches theirs. That’s actually bad form unless the event is specifically black tie and all men are expected to be in tuxedos.
Instead, you coordinate with the groom and groomsmen to find out what they’re wearing so you can go in a slightly different direction. Your goal is to stand out from the wedding party without going too much in the opposite direction.
For example, a tuxedo for the father of the bride will certainly make you stand out when everybody else is wearing tweed suits, but you’ll look ridiculous compared to the slightly less formal wear of the wedding party.
Ask the groom and groomsmen what they’re going to wear and choose a suit that complements without copying. You could always ask the groom if he has any specific ideas in mind for wedding suits for the father of the bride.
The wedding color palette is another consideration when choosing a father-of-the-bride outfit. Let’s say your daughter is having a beach wedding. Blacks, navies, and similarly dark colors go out of the window in favor of light colors paired with fabrics like linen and cotton.
But if you try to wear those colors for a formal evening wedding, you’ll clash with the event just as much as if you choose formal wear for a day at the beach.
The easy solution here is to ask your daughter if there are any specific wedding colors she’s chosen. She may have a theme in mind, and matching that theme is the simple way to get color right.
But there’s another aspect of color you need to get right – your accessories. Namely, your tie and pocket square. This is less a question of tie or no tie for a wedding (hint – the answer is usually: yes, tie) and more of choosing a color that complements your suit.
The goal here is non-garish contrast. You don’t want a tie that matches the color of your suit – barring black bow ties for black tuxedos – and instead should go for something that delivers a pop of color without being out of place. A red tie set against navy blue works well, for example.
Seasonal and Venue Considerations
There are more considerations to take into account, with both the season and the venue potentially playing a role in both your suit style and color choices.
Starting with seasonal, some considerations are already covered above for the father of the bride. Summer wedding attire usually features lighter colors – beige, khaki, cream – while evening weddings lean toward a darker color palette. That contrast between light and dark also comes into play with suit styles. Linen and cotton, both breathable materials, are better choices than wool or tweed for a beach wedding, for instance.
As for the venue, you may base your outfit based on the nature of the venue itself and the color scheme the bride and groom choose. If the wedding is at a church, for example, a traditional suit with more somber colors (again, black is a good choice) is far more fitting than something summery.
Ultimately, you can break down this aspect of your attire considerations as follows:
- Warm Weather Wedding – Choose breathable fabrics and lighter colors.
- Cool Weather Wedding – Thicker fabrics will keep you warm, with dark or earthy tones typically complementing the season.
Modern Wedding Trends for Dads
As is always the case with each new year, wedding attire trends emerge that can also help you to choose between father-of-the-bride outfits. For 2023, those trends include the following:
- Double-Breasted Suits – A traditional style that never went out of fashion, double-breasted suits have come roaring back for the modern wedding, making them a great (and safe) choice.
- Seersucker for Summer Weddings – Sometimes referred to as “railroad stripe,” Seersucker works for summer weddings both because it’s made using thin cotton and because the stripes set it apart from the non-patterned colors most guests will wear.
- Subtle Plaid – Rather than going for over-the-top plaid, consider a light grey plaid suit that works for semi-formal events while still being refined enough for formal weddings.
That’s just a handful of modern wedding trends, but remember the one key piece of advice when choosing your father-of-the-bride outfit – never overshadow the bride and groom.
In other words, don’t allow your pursuit of modernity to make you the center of attention.
Rules All Dads Should Follow When Choosing Father of the Bride Suits
By now, you have plenty of information that’ll help you choose between different father-of-the-bride outfits. But it always helps to have a few extra rules to follow.
Rule 1 – The Wedding Party Takes Center Stage
Though you want to separate yourself from the wedding party, your outfit should never stand out to the point where it overshadows the members of it. It should go without saying, but never choose a white suit – the bride won’t be happy.
Rule 2 – Don’t Wear the Same Suit as the Groom
While the wedding is your daughter’s big day, it’s the groom’s, too. His outfit is supposed to make him stand out from everybody else – barring his wedding party – so choosing to wear the same thing as him is a massive wedding faux pas.
Rule 3 – Get a Fitted Suit
An off-the-rack suit might save you a little money, but that won’t be much solace if you end up with an ill-fitting suit. If you choose an off-the-rack suit, get it tailored to achieve the best quality fit.
Remember, even though you’re not part of the wedding party, you’re still expected to go the extra mile with your suit.
Additional Tips for Fathers and Father Figures
Beyond the three rules above – and the rest of the advice you’ve already read – here are some final tips for both fathers and father figures when choosing their attire:
- Coordinate with the groomsmen to ensure your outfit doesn’t clash with their choices.
- Think about the wedding’s theme – and dress code – to ensure you don’t choose attire that’s not in keeping with what the wedding party wants.
- Choose an accessory, such as a pocket watch or a colorful tie, that helps you to stand out from the rest of the wedding party.
FAQs About Wedding Suits for Father of the Bride
What should the father of the bride wear to a black-tie wedding?
A tuxedo is the best, and most obvious, choice for a black-tie wedding. You may be able to add a pop of color by wearing a red bow tie, but you’ll generally coordinate with the other male guests for this type of wedding.
How can the father of the bride distinguish himself from the rest of the wedding party?
A nice pocket watch or a patterned pocket square add something a little different without being too attention-grabbing.
What is the father of the bride’s main duty?
Ceremonially, the father of the bride walks the bride down the aisle and delivers a speech during the wedding breakfast, with that speech typically focusing on how wonderful the newlyweds are. Beyond that, helping in any way to create a calm atmosphere during the stressful preparation for the wedding is another major duty.
Choose the Right Father of the Bride Outfit
You have more to think about than you might initially imagine when choosing your father-of-the-bride outfit. There’s the wedding dress code – along with the season and venue – to consider, along with ensuring your outfit doesn’t clash with what the wedding party wears.
Plus, you’ll want to find something, such as an accessory, to make the outfit pop without drawing so much attention that your daughter doesn’t have all eyes on her.
Then, there’s the cost.
Buying a brand-new suit for a wedding can be expensive, especially if you don’t intend to wear that suit again. Another option is men’s wedding suit rental. With Generation Tux, you can order from the comfort of your own home, with at-home fitting allowing you to tweak the suit so it’s ready for the big day – perfect for fathers of the bride who want the right fit while sticking to a budget.