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Sep, 21 2023

Wedding Attire for Men: Complete Guide for the Big Day

Man wearing a black suit on the street

Understanding wedding attire for men is essential for those who want to look good on such a special occasion. While more formal weddings require black tie, other less traditional weddings allow you more leeway with your overall look. Getting the attire right ensures you stand out in the wedding party yet don’t overshadow the groom. However, the level of formality the wedding couple set is just one factor you need to consider. The venue can also play a vital role in how you’ll dress, along with the theme.

Read on to learn all about wedding attire for men and how to create a look that is right for the occasion.

The Basics of Wedding Attire for Men

Man in a black tux sitting backwards at a piano and holding his drink

Before observing the final details like color, lapel type, and accessories, you’ll first need to master the rules of basic wedding attire. For the most part, the dress code is usually spelled out on the invitation but it’s good to have a general idea.

Suit vs. Tuxedo: When to Wear Which

You’ll first need to choose between a tuxedo or a suit. Tuxedos are the expected choice for black-tie events and more formal weddings. They’re also appropriate for non-wedding evening events. Make sure to ask for the dress code to make the right choice.

On the other hand, suits are more casual yet still give a degree of formality. Wear navy, black, or charcoal gray to keep it classic. You can take note of the difference in the fabric and accents on both. Tuxedos have satin buttons, lapels, and a satin stripe running through the pant line, while suits are less adorned.

Wedding Dress Code: Decoded

Let’s look closely at some of the most common dress code types and their formalities.

  • Black Tie – This is one of the most formal dress code options. It’s reserved for formal weddings, galas, and evening dinners. You’ll need a tuxedo, white shirt, and black leather shoes for this look. For neckwear, you’ll also need to learn how to tie a bow tie.
  • White Tie – While rarer than black tie events, the white tie dress code is the most formal. Some signature elements include a black tailcoat, white wing collar shirt, white vest, white bow tie, and black leather shoes.
  • Semi-Formal – Many weddings are semi-formal. This dress code allows you to mix and match more conservative color pallets. When thinking about how to dress semi-formal, some essential elements include conservative color suits like navy, charcoal gray, and black. Contrast these tones with a lighter color shirt and leather shoes.
  • Cocktail attire – A cocktail dress code is much more flexible. In most cases, you’ll be set with a simple suit and tie. The exact colors will depend on the venue, theme, and time of day. Lighter and pastel palettes are acceptable for daytime events, while darker colors are better for the evening.
  • Casual dress codeCasual attire for men at weddings is an opportunity to add personal flare to your style choices. The exact colors will depend on the venue and theme. However, you can choose lighter options, suits, and ties with patterns. In some cases, even a button-down shirt or polo might do. However, this is rare, and you should ask about the dress code to be sure.

Popular Wedding Attire Styles

Man, wearing a black tuxedo, posing in front of a white wall

Instead of building up your look from scratch, let’s closely examine some more popular wedding attire elements styles.

Suit Jacket and Blazers

When choosing a suit jacket or blazer, first decide if you’re going for a single or double-breasted option. Fortunately, both can be used on formal occasions. Single-breasted suits don’t have buttons or panels that overlap, while double-breasted options do. If you want to stand out yet be formal, you can choose double-breasted. That isn’t to say you can’t look unique with a single-breasted option. Ryan Reynolds has appeared on the red carpet multiple times wearing an eye-catching Brunello Cucinelli single-breasted suit with a deep maroon color pallet. Some men may also opt for suit separates as a styling choice. However, this option is less formal. Suppose you have trouble finding a whole suit that fits your proportions. In that case, you can buy individual suit elements separately with matching or complimentary colors. When doing so, make sure you match the material as closely as possible.

You’ll also want to accessorize your suit for some additional flare but do so properly. To do so, consider a lapel pin and some cufflinks to add a distinct detail to your outfit.


Since you’re going to a wedding, it may be wise to opt for a crisp white button-down shirt to go with the jacket or blazer. This is a timeless element that never goes out of style and works with everything. At the same time, it can be paired with just about any color.

If your wedding is casual, wearing a polo shirt might be acceptable. This will most likely be the case for beach weddings or more casual garden weddings. Polos look polished yet relaxed and can be easily matched with a specific venue or theme. Pastel colors during spring or summer time are also a popular look.


Regarding neckwear, you’ll have to choose between a traditional bow tie or a long tie. If it’s a black-tie event, you’ll be expected to wear a black bowtie, while less formal dress codes allow you to choose color and tie type more freely. Also, consider using a tie bar. This clips to the middle of the shirt and the tie and keeps the tie in place while adding more sophistication to your outfit.


With everything else in place, you can finally choose what pants to wear with your outfit. Remember that chinos are for casual or semi-formal events and usually match with a polo for more relaxed wedding occasions. If you want to take formality up a notch, consider dress slacks. They’re the more formal option and can be paired with other colored blazers and shirts.

However, the most traditional choice is to wear a suit or tuxedo pants to be safe. Since they come with a suit or tuxedo, they’re specifically made to be worn with a matching jacket of the same color and material.

Dressing for the Occasion – Wedding Themes and Venues

Man in a beige suit sitting in a room of greenery

Once you’ve considered the dress code, it’s time to think about the theme and wedding venue. Doing so will help you sort out the details of your look, such as material and colors.

Beach Weddings

Both beach and garden weddings are the most casual, allowing you to choose linen suits or even polo shirts for the event. Remember that linen suits are more lightweight, casual, breathable, and relaxed. But be careful with linen as it wrinkles easily. You can choose from lighter colors, such as pastel blue or yellow.

Winter Weddings

Winter weddings tend to be more formal due to the seasonal backdrop. Venues are frequently festive, with a highly romantic and sometimes even seasonal ambiance. This makes it perfect for a more sophisticated look. The classic winter wedding choice is typically wool suits. They’re practical, warm, yet sharp, and drape well to give you a tailored fit due to their fitting and weight.

Cocktail or Evening Weddings

When attending a cocktail or evening wedding, you want a look that exudes formality and elegance. For such an event, we recommend choosing a midnight blue tuxedo. The slightly lighter color (as compared to black) gives the tuxedo a touch of uniqueness without robbing it of its classy style.

When attending cocktail events, you’ll want a tuxedo or suit in a conservative color, with all the classic accessories. Choose a white shirt and only use subtle patterns on your tie or pocket square.

Wedding Attire by Season

A bride and groom holding hands and walking across the snow

The season is another critical factor when choosing what to wear on the big day. Let’s take a closer look at some of the general guidelines for seasonal weddings.


While the wedding theme will be the deciding factor, spring allows you to use unique and fresh colors that adhere to the theme, yet stand out tastefully. Hues like baby blue, lighter shades of gray, light fern green, and even lavender are popular color pallets for the season. In terms of material, you can choose from cotton, twill, and even lighter-weight wool.


During the hotter months, you can still use some of the colors that were popular during the springtime. However, the more popular options are tans, baby blues, and white. Likewise, summer suits tend to look more relaxed when they’re made from linen. Cotton-linen blends are also acceptable if you’re easily worried about the material wrinkling.


You can start using deeper and darker hues as colder weather comes around. This adds a splash of sophistication to your overall look. Some unique yet popular choices include burgundy, brown, wine, and even deeper greens. It’s also better to transition from cotton to wool or tweed during the fall.


This season requires the most formal wear in terms of colors and material. This is due to the natural ambiance of most winter wedding venues and the practicality of wearing darker and thicker attire. Choose more conservative colors like black, navy, brown, and charcoal. You can also wear three-piece suits as they heighten the formality while being warm.

Tips for the Wedding Guest

Man in a dark gray suit walking out of a record store

Sometimes, wedding dress codes can be vague. To help you choose, you can always ask the bride or groom for clarification. However, there are a few key points to remember. Black tie optional usually means you should choose between a black tuxedo or a darker suit. If you want to play it safe, choose the slightly more formal option, as it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. For semi-formal attire or cocktail looks, go with a darker suit. Beach formal implies a linen suit rather than a casual polo shirt.

While you might want to show some personal style flair, remember that it’s still a wedding, and your outfit shouldn’t overshadow the bride’s or the groom’s attire. You can add personal style using traditional accessories like tie bars or cufflinks. Avoid anything too flashy or colors that don’t match the backdrop.

Accessories to Elevate Your Look

You can choose the right accessories once you have your outfit’s main elements together. This will finish off your look with sophistication without overshadowing anyone else.

There are mainly three types of accessories to consider:

  • Pocket squares or cufflinks – Here, you can use a sophisticated monochrome or add a pop of color depending on your personality and the event. Choose brighter colors against a more neutral-colored suit. For instance, a burgundy pocket square works with navy. For a more formal look, choose more muted colors. Also, consider cufflinks, which can add boldness to your overall look.
  • Shoes – The type of shoes you wear plays a huge role in the outfit. Black-tie events call for the classical leather dress show. At the same time, more casual options include boat shows, espadrilles, and in some cases, boots.
  • Lapel pins and tie bars – To complete your look, add a tie bar or some lapel pins. Nothing too extravagant, as too many accessories can overpower the whole look.

Final Thoughts and Considerations

A man in a blue suit sitting in front of plants

When attending a wedding, your outfit should not overshadow the groom’s. Avoid bright colors or heavy patterns. Typically, the groom will have a slightly more elaborate outfit with patterns or a slightly different color palette.

Instead of shopping for the suit, you might want to consider tuxedo and suit rentals. This is especially true for events where the color tone is very specific, and you probably won’t be able to wear the outfit more than once. Generation Tux has a selection of tuxedos and suits, perfect for any wedding occasion. On the other hand, buying a classical tuxedo or suit can be an excellent long-term investment if you know you’ll be using it frequently.

While you want to look sharp, make sure you’re comfortable by choosing the right fit and size. Your tie should firmly fit, but it shouldn’t make breathing hard. The material plays a huge role in comfort as well. Don’t show up with a linen suit in the middle of winter. Not only will you look out of place, but you’ll be freezing!

Choosing the Right Outfit for Any Wedding

A man wearing a black suit in front of a white barn door

When attending a wedding, it’s important to dress appropriately according to the desired dress code, venue, and theme. This shows respect for the groom and bride while enhancing the occasion’s backdrop and overall feel. All that’s left is to enjoy yourself. The final fit should make you feel confident and authentic, allowing you to enjoy the occasion while looking good at the same time.

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