Wedding Attire for Men: Dresscode, Outfits & Tips

Husband and Bride On The Beach

Are you frantically typing, “what should I wear to a wedding” on Google as we speak? For many men, a friend’s wedding (or their own) is the very first time they have to consider ‘real’ men’s clothing. Maybe that band t-shirt and ratty pair of Levi’s have been perfect for you to date. Or perhaps you have a working wardrobe, but it’s mostly a few shirts and those pants you bought quickly at the mall. That’s not going to cut it for a wedding! So how do you even start to track down the right look? What do men wear to weddings? Luckily for you, the expert team from Oliver Wicks is here to rescue you.

Today we’ll be looking at all things wedding, no matter the dress code. We will walk you through it all, from beach wedding attire for men to interpreting black tie. You’ll learn how to make what you pick look great, even if you are new to suits. We’ll look at accessorizing and how to walk the balance between respectful attire and showing up at the wedding party. And we’ll even give you some hints on color and style! Ready to get going? Let’s dive in.

What Should Men Wear to a Wedding?

Let’s start with the broad question. What do men wear to a wedding? It’s a question rather like the old one about the length of a piece of string. It’s not clear enough! Before you decide on your outfit for a wedding reception, you’re going to need some more details, namely:

  • What is your role? Are you the groom, a groomsman, the father of the bride or groom, the best man, or an invited wedding guest/plus one?
  • What is the dress code? Not all weddings will state a dress code on the wedding invitation, and that’s not a good thing. So if you don’t know the dress code, reach out and ask for clarity. It’s good to understand what the expectations are.
  • When is the wedding? Morning, afternoon, or night? 
  • What season is the wedding? Winter? Spring, Summer, or Fall? 
  • What is the venue? Is this bash happening on a beach or in a ballroom?

Armed with that information, you’ll be in a far better place to make sure you get your outfit right.

The Basics of Men’s Wedding Attire

How to Measure Suit

When you clear all of the information mentioned above, you’ll be in a better place to play this game of “What to wear to a wedding: Man Edition.” If you’re already a savvy suit wearer, feel free to skip the next bit, as you probably know it all. But if you’re new to the suit world, let’s dive into a few basics you should know by default.

Fit Matters (and Flatters)

No two men have cookie-cutter builds. So cookie-cutter suits rarely fit well. If you want your suit to look good on you, don’t go for the nearest thing you can physically squeeze into and call it a day. This is where made-to-measure from the Oliver Wicks team rally is the best choice. 

We know shopping can be frustrating but look at it as an adventure in discovering the suave man waiting inside. And it all starts with good measurements. The Oliver Wicks team has put together a detailed measurement and fit guide to help you get everything perfect, so why not take a look? When you receive your suit, a tailor can always make the final adjustments to ensure you look magnificent in it, but the better the initial fit, the smoother you will look.

Know your Colors

If you were assuming we were just going to toss a white shirt and a dark suit on you and call it a day, think again! That combo screams ‘undertaker’, not a wedding! If you just rolled your eyes reading that, hang in there! If you’re very into looking your best, you probably already know how matching the colors you pick up to your skin tone, eyes, and hair color can matter.

What makes you decide between this shirt color and that one, for example? It’s often because we know we look better in certain shades. Subconsciously, you could already gravitate towards particular looks because they work better for you. And for wedding attire, you don’t always have a lot of choices, especially if there’s a dress code. However, it pays off to know how to choose colors for you, not just in general. We find this article on pairing color to skin tone rather useful. If you want to dive deep, remember that you can also play looks up or down by choosing shades to complement or contrast hair and eye colors. 

Your Limits

And we don’t mean at the open bar! The very last thing (we promise) that you need to consider is your comfort zone. If you’re fashion-forward and love it, then you probably already have a double-breasted suit with all the bells and whistles planned out in your head. Or you will once you figure out what a double-breasted suit is! If you’re already wincing in pain at the idea of wearing a suit, however, there’s no need to go overboard. Unless you’re the groom, no one will look at you in microscopic detail. Even if you are the groom, don’t panic! Folks will remember your overall vibe, not the intricacies of what you chose to wear. So if you can feel comfortable and confident in a basic suit that fits the occasion and dress code, go for it. The idea is to look smart and respectful, not indulge your inner avant-garde fashion lover.

Armed with these basics, it’s time to dig deeper into wedding dress codes.

Demystifying Wedding Dress Codes for Men

The bride, groom, or wedding planner has given you the dress code. Now what? Let’s dig in.

Black-tie Wedding

Black Tuxedo Suit With Bow Tie

Black tie wedding guest dress, for men at least, couldn’t be simpler. In fact, it’s very restrictive. You don’t get much room for personal taste at all. You will wear a tuxedo or a ‘tropical dinner jacket,’ an ensemble of a crisp ivory dinner jacket, and fancy black pants. That’s it - and you need to make sure the season and weather, and venue all work before opting for tropical black tie. Plus, it’s sometimes viewed as a faux pas, as it should be reserved for the wedding party only, at least traditionally. So a tux is a safer bet. There are a few style options for tuxedos, and you can add personal touches, but you’re not going to show much personality.

This is the sort of dress code that comes with night receptions, big formal wedding receptions at venues like ballrooms and hotels, and a large wedding ceremony in a traditional venue like a church or synagogue, or with an entire mandap, or the relevant equivalent for the couple. Oh, by the way, there’s one dress code higher than this - white-tie. Unless you move in some glitterati-filled circles, you’re unlikely to hit that one, but good to know, right?

What do men wear to a black-tie wedding: 

Wear a black or midnight blue tuxedo. If there's any reason to avoid those colors, pick another dark color. Use dress shoes - think black patent leather or velvet oxfords. You need a collared white dress shirt, preferably a proper tuxedo shirt. You can spice up the look with a white or black bowtie, lapel pins, or tuxedo studs, but you don’t have a lot of room for individuality. 

Sample black tie wedding guest outfit:

  • Black/Midnight blue tuxedo
  • Black satin bow tie
  • White tuxedo shirt
  • Cufflinks
  • Black shoes, preferably patent leather

Formal Wedding

Dark Blue Tuxedo Suit with Bow Tie

By the way, a formal wedding is a dress code, not merely a description. A tux is still a fantastic choice here, but it’s a little bit less formal than a black-tie event. It’s also the best bet for what men should wear to a wedding with no stated dress code. Tuxedos are optional, but they will expect a full formal suit at the very least. Not sure if it's formal? If the women are still planning on long dresses, assume it's formal.

A wide variety of weddings could be formal, but they typically lean towards traditional. It’s unlikely you’ll find an offbeat bride or quirky couple throwing a full formal wedding (but again, rather check than assume). Think receptions in the early evening or late afternoon and formal settings like hotels, halls, and ‘wedding venues.’ The ceremony is probably indoors and probably in a traditional chapel-like venue too.

What Do Men Wear to a Formal Wedding?

Pick a dark, but not black, suit. 2-piece is ok, but a 3-piece is very suitable too. Charcoal, navy, gray, and midnight blue are fantastic. Use a collared dress shirt. White shirts are a safe choice. You can use colors, textures, and patterns, however. Pinstripe, or a lovely pastel, can add some personality. You can wear a bow tie or choose a smart necktie. No novelty ones, though!

Sample formal dress code wedding outfit:

  • Charcoal, grey, or navy suit
  • Button-down dress shirt
  • Smart tie or bow tie (not black)
  • Elegant accessories including cufflinks and an elegant watch
  • Black leather dress shoes and belt
     

Cocktail or semi-formal Wedding

Light Grey Suit Sleeve Close Up

Finally, we reach a wedding dress code for men with some individuality. Cocktail or semi-formal weddings are still sleek and chic events, probably in the evening, and a loosened necktie isn’t going to get you the side-eye from the old ladies! The ladies can take their dresses up to cocktail level (a little shorter, or with higher splits and heels), and you can have some fun too. It’s still a fancy wedding, although a tux may be a little out of place outside of the wedding party.

This type of wedding can happen anywhere, but there’s going to be an overall veneer of elegance and probably some nods to tradition. For example, it could be a destination wedding with the chapel in the middle of a game reserve or on the deck of a yacht, but everyone is still wearing heels and sipping cocktails. The ceremony may be traditional or may just be glamorous. Many modern weddings fall in this dress code, but don’t assume!

What to wear to a wedding for men with a cocktail dress code:

Wear a suit, still. Or, if you’re confident you can pair it well, suit separates like a smart blazer can be acceptable. Patterns like plaid, pinstripe, or windowpane are also a good option. But they must be tasteful. We’d suggest a navy blazer for evening cocktail events. You can, however, venture into colors like forest green and saturated blues. Wear a matching necktie (no bow tie) to start, but don’t feel bad about loosening it up once the dancing begins. You have more personalization here. Choose sophisticated, muted jewelry, maybe in wood. Crack out the tie bar or pocket square but stay chic. Think ‘Italian billionaire’.

Sample cocktail dress code wedding outfit:

  • Navy pinstripe suit or blazer with chinos
  • Solid color dress shirt, or pattern if the suit is plain
  • Necktie with elegant pattern
  • Tie clip and cufflinks
  • Leather shoes

Casual Weddings

Blue Denim Suit With Opened Jacket

What to wear to a casual wedding as a man is one of the most confusing things out there. You’d think casual wedding attire for men would be easier to quantify than the more formal dress codes, but think again! It’s broad and kind of confusing. You can also underdress and overdress! While overdressing is never disrespectful and far better than underdressing, it can make you feel uncomfortable and gauche. Where and when is the reception? The ceremony? Is the invitation fancy, or did you get a text? Is either part of the couple willing to elaborate on what they want? What is the wedding party wearing? A smart dinner jacket and pants are probably the best bet here, although a more casually styled suit may be the norm, too. 

What to wear at a casual wedding:

Shelve the suit unless you’re at the wedding party. Opt for a smart-casual blazer for added sophistication, but you can add some pops of color now. You can’t go wrong with a smart chinos and a crisp shirt. Color is acceptable for the shirt, as are patterns. In fact, we encourage you to opt for a bit of color overall. The casual wedding dress code doesn’t need to be dark, and you might look overdressed if you go too dark and sleek.

Sample casual wedding dress code outfit:

  • Suit (anything but black or navy) or smart blazer and pale chinos
  • A dress shirt that has personality
  • Necktie, but you can take it off later
  • Smart shoes and a matching belt
  • Accessories you like, but don’t overdo it. Cufflinks and a tie bar will be a bit formal. A good, elegant watch is excellent, though.

Anything Goes Wedding

Man Wearing Casual Suit

It’s a trap! Go back! Weddings are a big deal. Even if the couple is very chill and laid back, you’re celebrating a symbol of their love, hopes, and dreams with them. They’re pouring at least some money into the day if they’re having a ceremony and reception, and you were important enough to get an invite. There’s gonna be food, drinks, speeches, and dancing. Put the band tee down and do them the favor of looking good for a day. 

Maybe they genuinely don’t care if you come in shorts. Shorts are actually acceptable as daytime beach wedding attire for men for a quirky couple, no jokes! Regardless of their casual and laidback invitation, you still gotta look presentable. After all, these pictures will be staying with them for a lifetime, and the photographer isn’t cheap. It’s probably an excellent idea to pick up the phone and ask what they’d like. If they don’t have fixed ideas, sniff around the wedding party. See what they’re wearing, and dial it back a bit. But remember- clean, new, well-styled, well-fitting even if it’s a casual blazer and shorts!

What to wear to a wedding (for men) as a guest for a no-dress-code wedding

As we mentioned, it is far better to ask for guidance here. Much of what we said in the casual wedding section will work well unless you discover otherwise. Keep it clean, but don’t be afraid of color.

Sample wedding outfit for men with no dress code:

  • Crisp but relaxed charcoal suit or smart blazer in a fun color
  • White or solid dress shirt
  • Patterned tie (you can take it off if it seems appropriate)
  • Cufflinks or other sophisticated jewelry
  • Leather semi-casual shoes

Men’s Wedding Attire by Season

But wait, there’s more! Although the dress code is the most essential guide for a wedding, seasons have different expectations. After all, no one wants to sweat in a full wool suit at the peak of summer. While you’ll still stay within the basic dress code guidelines we mentioned, let’s look at some seasonal variations.

What Should Men Wear to a Fall Wedding 

Dark Burgundy Red Suit

No matter the wedding dress code, Fall is a tricky season. It can be freezing in the morning and evening but get quite hot during the day. We would suggest considering a mohair suit that will insulate you to stay warm and allow you to breathe. You could wear a waistcoat or vest, so you can take it off as if it gets hot. Unless it's strictly black tie, let the fall colors creep into your wedding attire for a fall wedding. Terracotta, forest green, ruby red, chocolate brown - it’s a fun palette to play with. If not for your suit, then for your shirt and accessories.

What Should Men Wear to a Winter Wedding

Middle Grey Suit

While winter isn’t as cold as it once was, you’ll probably still want to wrap up. Most winter weddings are formal or black tie, so you don’t have that much variation. The good news is that traditional men’s suits are made of wool, making them perfect for the winter weather. Velvet and corduroy touches at the accessories look great and add some texture. Avoid warm colors. They look out of season and strange. Crisp, cool greys are sophisticated, and blue’s always good, but don’t get depressing. If the venue and dress code allow it, sky blue can be refreshing and appropriate, be it the whole suit or on the shirt.

What Should Men Wear to a Spring Wedding

Deep Green Suit

It’s best not to view a Spring wedding the same as a Fall one. The mood and colors are very different. Depending on where you are, the weather may be, too. In fact, some places may already benefit from a lighter fabric for your suit, like linen, to avoid sweating. If the wedding is outdoors, you can already bring in paler colors, like dove grey suits and pastel shirts were appropriate for the dress code. Keep it lighter and more hopeful than Fall, but also gentle and soothing.

What Should Men Wear to a Summer Wedding

Light Stripped Grey Suit

Sure, people still throw black-tie weddings in summer, but this really isn’t the season for such stuffiness and formality, especially if the wedding is going to be held outdoors. Summer weddings are different beasts, and the Oliver Wicks team has looked at them in depth just to help. Think thin fabrics, like cotton, seersucker, and linen, accompanied by light colors, and both pastels and brights. Socks and ties seem restrictive, but you’ll have to double-check the dress code. Imagine walking among grapevines on rolling hills at your winery in the Greek Islands. Skip the Panama hat, but bring that same vibe, and you’re sure to fit in and look fantastic.

What Should Men Wear to an Out-of-the-Box Wedding?

Just when you thought you had this mastered, along we come with more questions. What do men wear to a beach wedding? Or for a destination wedding? Don’t worry! These will only be considerations if there isn’t a rigorous dress code, as black-tie is black-tie no matter where you go. Still, let’s look at some common locations and how to match the location with your wedding attire.

What Should Men Wear to a Beach Wedding

Wedding on the Beach

Beach weddings are trendy and romantic, but finding the right outfit for such a wedding can be challenging. You’ll have to know the couple well here, too. Some couples will determinedly want a chic cocktail vibe no matter the sand and surf. Others will choose a beach dress and shorts for them, let alone you. We suggest checking out our tips for summer weddings regarding colors and fabrics. Light fabrics, light colors, and a little fun. The less formal the wedding and the couple, the less formal you need to be. However, if you venture into shorts territory, stay with classy leather shoes and a collared shirt and make it a polo. It’s still a wedding, after all!

What Should Men Wear to a Yacht or Cruise Ship Wedding

Yacht and harbor-style weddings tend to have a cocktail vibe, even if the bride and groom haven’t given you a dress code. Color and playfulness should be acceptable here. Choose your colors by season, going cooler and darker for cold and brighter and bolder for warm.

What Should Men Wear to a Garden or Outdoor Wedding

It’s tough to separate garden/outdoor weddings and summer weddings, so be sure to check that section too. Typically, outdoor events are more relaxed than comparable indoor events. Steer away from somber and dark colors. 

Does The Time of Day Matter?

Adjusting Suit Sleeve Over Wrist

It does, but not as much as the dress code. The couple is actually supposed to have set the dress code with the time of day in mind! Still, afternoon events are the least formal, evening events are the most formal, and morning events typically have a cocktail-type vibe called ‘champagne breakfast’.

What About Wedding Themes?

Don’t be that guy. If the couple set a theme, go with it even if you think it’s cringey. If you really can’t go with the theme, pick an appropriate suit level for the formalness of the occasion and look smart. But it’s better to do what you’re asked, honestly.

You’ll hear talk of ‘wedding colors.’ It’s a thing for the decor and wedding party. If you’re a guest, you can ignore it unless asked explicitly on the invitation to wear specific colors.

Did I mention I’m the groom?

Husband and Bride Shoes

Congratulations! What should the groom wear to the wedding? Typically, whatever he likes, in line with your chosen dress code. However, you should be the most formal and stylish man in the room, that’s for sure. You don’t have to be a peacock (unless you want to be), but do accept that attention will be on you. Even the most subdued outfit isn’t going to make people forget you’re there. So be smart and proud! You can check out our tips for male wedding guests to make a good pick for your dress code, location, and season. Just kick it up a notch, so your guests don’t outshine you. Don’t dress the same as your groomsmen, either. You can contrast or be different.

As well as your dress code, take a look at your partner’s outfit. Matching is twee, but you want to echo the look and feel of your partner's gown or suit. You’ve probably chosen a color scheme together, and it’s nice for the groom to honor that. Cummerbands, pocket squares, ties, and shirts are all excellent ways to add color while still ending up with a suit or tux you can reuse. Wear leather shoes and belt, stick to elegant accessories, and enjoy your wedding day!

What if I’m the Best Man, Father, or a Groomsman?

Pink Tie Close Up

You have it a lot easier than the groom or guest because you’ll be told what to wear. Remember you should be better dressed than the guests, but not outshine the groom. If they don’t want a matched wedding party, go for neutrals with a pop of the wedding colors, and we’d suggest looking at the formal dress code tips for men we wrote earlier unless otherwise advised. Grey is fantastic for this, and navy is never wrong either.

The Best Man doesn’t have to be wildly different from other groomsmen, but do remember this is a position of honor. Look smart! Keep your tie on until after speeches, unless it’s a very informal event.

If you’re one of the fathers, you have the best of all worlds. A little prestige and no responsibility! Well, one. It is your kid’s day, after all. Let them have it. Don’t be that cranky old guy refusing to dress ‘different’ or wear a specific color, even if you hate it. Offbeat weddings and unusual weddings are more normal today than they once were. Don’t bring an office suit and refuse to buy something special. Remember your wedding day, and how important it was. Jump into the spirit, break out your best suit, and celebrate the milestone your child is crossing with grace and decorum. 

DONTs for Men’s Wedding Guest Attire

Navy Suit With Light Blue Shirt

As a wedding guest, you’re rather lucky. No stuffy wedding party rules for you! As a man, you’re even luckier. Not only do you not have to contend with literal dress codes and colors, but you don’t have many of the superstitions and gaffes that women attendees face. That doesn’t mean you’re free to do what you like, though! Here are a few notorious fashion errors at weddings men should avoid:

  • White: You don’t wear white to a wedding. Sure, you’re not going to be confused for the bride, but just don’t. Not casual, not formal, just never. 
  • Boutonnieres: These are also typically for the wedding party only, so opt for items like lapel pins and pocket squares for interest instead.
  • Upstaging: Are you the groom? Yes? Go wild! No? Then don’t be that guy who upstages him. Don’t know what to wear? Talk to the couple. If you don’t get a definitive answer, try and keep a classic. Go for a clean line that doesn’t scream, “Look at me, not the groom!” Now’s not the time to wear your Mr.T bling.
  • Incorrectly deploy a tuxedo: Anything from a cocktail dress code down does not need a tuxedo. You’re not terrible, but you’ll look like you’re upstaging.
  • Mix and match: It’s acceptable to wear a smart blazer and slacks for less formal weddings. It’s not ok to take a suit jacket and slap it on pants. Suits are a holistic set, so don’t wear them as separates.
  • Miss the shoes: Scruffy shoes pull a look down immediately. Almost all the dress codes require dress shoes, and even casual weddings will need a loafer or something equivalent. Be sure they’re neat and clean, too. And do we have to talk about open-toed shoes, flip-flops, and other such items?
  • Denim: C’mon, guys! No, not even if it's black. No, not even if it’s a very informal wedding. Jeans are fantastic, but this isn’t the event for them.
  • What about my band tee? Weddings aren’t for t-shirts, guys. Even it’s a very informal wedding, say a daytime beach wedding with the bride in a sundress, wear a collared polo or a poplin shirt with short sleeves. No printed tees. No matter what. Promise us?
  • Can I wear my distressed X? No, you can’t. No dirty/stained clothes. No rips, tears or holes, even if it’s designer and intentional. Dress to impress, not depress.

And there you have it! What to wear at a wedding if you’re a man can be confusing, especially if you’re not used to formal menswear. However, with this helpful guide from the Oliver Wicks team, you can’t go wrong. Remember, if you’re looking for a made-to-measure suit for a wedding, there will be a lead time, so book your slot as soon as you can.