Ideally the principal adult male members of the wedding party (including the bride’s father) should all dress alike although the groom may choose to be slightly different. To create the perfect co-ordinated look visit the outfitters with your best man, the ushers and if possible your father and the bride’s father.
Hiring or buying from a creditable men’s outfitters is by far the best choice as they are qualified to advise you on your choice and style and will help you to avoid mistakes that you may later regret. The measurements an outfitter will require are: chest, waist, inner leg, sleeve length, collar size and height. It is important to be comfortable and to look and feel good in a suit that fits. Some of the most common mistakes that men make when wearing formal clothes are having their trousers too long and wearing a shirt with too large a collar that results in the shirt not hanging properly. For a good fitting shirt you should be able to fit no more than one or two fingers between your neck and your collar.
You should book your clothes at least three months before the wedding, allowing time for alterations to be carried out if necessary. It should be remembered that some weeks of the year will be busier than others and demand will consequently be higher. If your wedding date falls in this period (usually June through to the end of September), it may be necessary to book even earlier to avoid disappointment.
In the past it was usual for weddings to be held in the morning (hence followed by a wedding breakfast). Logically, the male wedding attire was a morning suit – with a later wedding requiring the wearing of evening suit. However, the rules, which once governed the style of dress have now become vague and passé, with most grooms preferring the elegance of the morning suit whatever the time of day. However, for those who wish to follow true tradition read on to find the style that is appropriate for your tastes and circumstances.
The morning suit is usually worn for weddings before 3pm and is still the most popular attire. The cut and style of the coat is very flattering to the majority of figures and consists of a blue, black or grey tailcoat paired with matching or contrasting trousers either, plain or pinstriped. The outfit is completed with a white wing-collar shirt, a waistcoat of any colour, a cravat often called an Ascot, top hat and gloves (not worn).
For a less formal wedding with a modern day slant, opt for a tailored jacket rather than tails and team with a classic white shirt. Knot your cravat as you would a tie and forget the top hat.
Lounge Suit (Day Suit)
A modern day suit can look sharp and sophisticated and is ideal for a register office wedding or for those grooms who prefer a more informal option. The colour and style is entirely up to you. It can be a two or three piece and single or double breasted. The choice of shirt and tie is endless and can easily be matched or contrasted with the bride’s attendants to create a more co-ordinated look. The choice of shoes is also personal, although the rule would be not to wear brown shoes with black trousers and vice versa. A good fitting pair of leather shoes is your best choice and the most appropriate but sport shoes are a definite faux pas.
Lightweight summer lounge suits, worn with an open neck shirt, offer a comfortable choice for overseas weddings in hot climates. The lounge suit has the added benefit of being able to be worn afterwards.
Black Tie (Dinner Suit)
Black tie is traditionally worn for weddings later in the day or those to be followed by a formal reception and is ideal for a grand evening reception or summer ball. You should wear a black dinner jacket, either single or double-breasted, with ribbed silk lapels, preferably not satin, with no vents or covered buttons. Trousers should be tapered, suitable for braces and, officially, have one row of braid. The evening shirt, in cotton or silk, with either a Marcella or pleated front has a soft, turn down collar. The bow tie is black and silk. Cummerbunds can be worn (with pleats opening upwards), but waistcoats are still much more acceptable and can be made as individual as you like with a colourful bow tie, matching waistcoat and pocket-handkerchief. Shoes should be black and well polished and socks plain black.
White tie is usually only requested for the grandest, most formal affairs and is not commonly worn at weddings. However, if this is the style of wedding that has been chosen, it is essential that you get it right. Strict etiquette desires that a black evening tailcoat be teamed with matching trousers with two lines of braid. The colour of your shirt is optional but it should have either a detachable or stiff wing collar and is worn with a white bow tie and white evening waistcoat. Black patent shoes with black ribbon laces and black silk socks complete the outfit.
A white tuxedo is an acceptable alternative for many ‘black tie’ events and is especially popular in the summer or for overseas weddings in hot climates. A white jacket is teamed with black trousers; a white pleated front evening shirt and black bow tie. Shoes should be black and well polished. White socks should never be worn.
A more unusual alternative but increasingly popular is the frock coat, which are available in many colours and fabric designs. Usually made in beautiful brocades, it looks great paired with a pair of plain black trousers and is worn with a winged-collar shirt and traditionally tied cravat called an Ascot.
Highland morning or evening dress is the traditional outfit for Scottish grooms both of which are acceptable for a day wedding. With an enormous range of tartans to choose from the kilt should be worn with a Bonnie Prince Charlie jacket or doublet, a sporran, laced brogues, socks, jabot (frill), cuff and skean dhu (a small dagger carried in your sock). The skean dhu is worn in the stocking on your right leg if you are right handed and vice versa. But beware! Tradition says that if you draw a skean dhu you should always draw blood even if it is your own.
It is acceptable for non-Scottish grooms to don highland dress, however, they are traditionally only allowed to wear the Stewart or Gordon tartans.
Many grooms in the armed forces choose to be married wearing their regimental uniform which are not only wonderfully ceremonial but are also well suited to the traditions of a wedding. The traditional uniform for weddings is the Blues uniform: a blue jacket with a high collar, adorned with five brass buttons down the front with two on each cuff for officers. The jacket is teamed with matching blue trousers with a red stripe down the outside of each leg. No shirt is worn but the uniform is accessorised with a white belt and gloves. Military uniform can be worn by all groomsmen who are members of the armed forces.
The groom, best man, ushers and fathers of the bride and groom usually have buttonholes in their left lapel, normally a single flower with a little foliage. The most common choice of flower is a carnation or rose. However, you can be as creative as you like, using themes or colour schemes, for example, a red rose with ivy leaves and holly berries for a Christmas wedding or heather and thistle if you are getting married in Scotland. The flower is passed through the button hole and fixed into place using a pin at the back of the lapel and is positioned upright.