A Complete Guide To Men’s Wedding Suits For Guests & Grooms

Invitations piling up? As wedding season gets well underway and you’re looking for wedding suit ideas, we’ve deciphered one of the trickiest dress code questions to get right: what suit to wear to a wedding?

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There comes a particular time in your life when you find that every available weekend in your diary has a wedding pencilled in, particularly during the height of the season between May and October. As a whole, of course, these are joyous occasions, but figuring out what to wear as a guest (or, indeed, groom) tends to be a source of anxiety in the run up to the big day. Formal? Casual? Somewhere in-between? There’s a lot to consider. Here, we’ve done our best to decipher it and offer you some wedding suit ideas to spark your sartorial imagination.

Decoding Wedding Dress Codes

Worrying about what to wear to a wedding and fretting over wedding suit ideas, when really, the happy couple are just thankful for your attendance, isn’t the best use of anyone’s time. But making an effort is still non-negotiable; and more often than not, that means wearing men’s designer suits to weddings. The most important thing to keep in mind is that, unless previously specified by the invite, you don’t upstage the main event: the newlyweds. And, if you’re unsure of what to wear or whether your suit is appropriate for the occasion, we promise, they won’t mind you reaching out and asking for a bit of clarity.

What To Consider When Buying A Wedding Suit?

The main thing to consider when buying wedding suits or wedding outfits for men is the nature of the occasion itself, of course. But another thing to keep in mind is longevity and durability. Once you get to a certain stage in life, it can feel like another wedding invitation arrives every single week. That can add up, both sartorially and financially speaking. The good news is you don’t necessarily need to buy a different men’s designer suit for each ceremony. Instead, if you equip yourself with a couple of versatile options – timeless choices, tailored well in high-quality fabrics suitable for both summer and winter weddings – you can have every base covered.

Grooms vs Guests

Choosing groom suits, that is, the suit you wear to your own wedding is a slightly different conundrum. For starters, the groom suit you settle on will likely be something that’s agreed with your intended and will largely depend on the mood of the wedding. Ultimately though, the unwritten wedding dress code rules that apply to wedding guest suits, don’t when it comes to groom suits or groom tuxedos. If you don’t want your wedding pictures to date, something timeless – such as a tan linen suit for a summer or beach wedding or a groom’s tuxedo for a winter wedding – is the most classic option for a groom’s suit. But always remember, it’s your day, too: and if that means you want to wear pattern, print or a bold colour, you absolutely should.

What Colour Wedding Suit?

Unlike business occasions, a coloured suit is considered particularly appropriate option for wedding guest suits: it is, after all, a celebration. Pastels – like lilac, dusky pink, pistachio green or soft powder blue – are particularly popular in the warmer months, as are neutrals such as tan or brown. In winter, a deeper and richer colour scheme will go down well: in this case, consider out-of-the-box alternatives like burgundy or forest green for such occasions. One word of warning though: if you’re a guest, avoid matching your wedding guest outfit to the wedding colour scheme, lest you be misidentified as a member of the wedding party (or even the dinner entertainment). The invitation is often a good indication of the palette they’re going for, but if in doubt, politely asking won’t hurt.

Can You Wear Pattern To A Wedding?

The short answer to this question is: it depends. Pattern and prints can be entirely acceptable in certain wedding contexts. For a black-tie wedding, it should be avoided. For more casual affairs – garden weddings, destination weddings, or festival-style ceremonies – you can get away with a floral suit or bold pattern.

If you’re still in doubt, and a plain suit simply isn’t your style, why not try a textured weave or a checked suit, which has the benefit of still being considered classic, while offering a little more visual interest. The safer option is to restrict pattern to your accoutrements: by wearing a patterned or striped shirt or tie, for example (more on this later). As a guest though, you shouldn’t be detracting attention away from the happy couple, so definitely steer well clear of anything that borders on novelty – that goes for ties and shirts as well as suits.

Summer Wedding Suits

As a general rule, summer weddings tend to be more casual than winter ones. In part, that’s dictated by the weather: in the heat, formal, buttoned-up tailoring is stifling. Summer wedding locations – such as beach weddings, garden weddings and destination weddings – mean you can often get away with something a lot less formal and undone than you might previously think. A popular choice is a tan or neutral suit in a lightweight fabric like linen or a hopsack weave, but pastels and paler colours are also de rigueur.

On the other hand, if you’re not a fan of colour, you can still match the tone by choosing a lighter blue than you’d usually wear to the office, for example, or opting for a checked suit. If the celebrations are taking place outdoors, you may also want to consider opting for a more relaxed fit or even an unstructured or unlined suit jacket so you don’t overheat in the sun.

Winter Wedding Suits

Winter weddings on the other hand, tend to call for something altogether a bit more formal. This will, of course, depend on the location and style of wedding, but overall, it’s best to err on the smarter side of things when picking your winter wedding suit. Ceremonies that take place around the festive period, increasingly, require black-tie wedding tuxedos.

This is the only instance where it’s appropriate to wear black to a wedding. To avoid looking like you’ve just raced there from the office, however, alternative colours are an excellent option. But rather than softer tones, look to a deeper and richer jewel-like palette for wedding tuxedos: burgundy, dark green, chocolate brown or even purple are all first-rate possibilities.

What Fabric Wedding Suit?

While classic business suits tend to stick to finer textures: think sharkskin or smooth worsted wool, there’s more freedom when it comes to fabric and texture for designer wedding suits. Depending on the weather and temperature, you’ll want to pay close attention to your fabric choice: richer textures like velvet and jacquard are apt in winter, as are weightier wool weaves like tweed or herringbone; whereas lighter weight weaves – hopsack, seersucker or twill, for example – in breathable fabrics like linen, cotton and silk-blends are ones to look out for in summer.

Wedding Suit Shoes & Accessories

Unless you’re wearing a tuxedo, you don’t necessarily need to wear your smartest black Oxfords with a wedding suit. You can, instead, opt for Derby shoes, brogues, monk strap, Chelsea boots, or even, depending on the formality, smart trainers – though you might want to clear that option with the happy couple first. Colours, too, can vary: black and brown are the most traditional for shoes, but if it complements your suit, oxblood or tan can also work. The important thing is comfort – after all, they’re not just wedding shoes, they’re dancing shoes, too.

As for other accessories, a pocket square is a nice touch to add to designer wedding suits – especially as it’s not the sort of thing you wear every day to the office. When picking one, choose one that complements rather than matches your tie: pick out a specific colour rather than selecting one in the exact same pattern.

Wedding Suit Cufflinks

If you’re wearing a double-cuffed shirt as part of your wedding outfit, you’ll need a pair of cufflinks. But which to choose for a wedding? As a rule, novelty cufflinks aren’t suitable for more formal weddings, but if proceedings are bound to be a little more casual, then something light-hearted or relevant to the theme (namely, love, in case you’re wondering) is a charming addition and can make your suit feel more personal to the occasion.

A Note On Wedding Boutonnières

When it comes to wedding outfits for men, there’s been a trend in recent years of male guests adorning their lapel with a boutonnière – a small floral arrangement traditionally worn on the groom’s suit, best man suits and by male members of the wedding party, often to match the bouquet. While a lovely idea, if you’re not a groom, groomsman or best man, it’s wise to steer clear of this particular fad. If you’re still set on donning florals, try a patterned tie or shirt instead as a happy alternative that’s unlikely to get you into trouble.

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Published: 03.23

Words: Molly Isabella Smith

Photography: Ollie Thompson