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The Ultimate Guide for Grooms: How to Style Your Wedding

The first thing you'll learn when planning your wedding, after the euphoria of the "yes" wears off, is that weddings are very expensive. Anyone you hire to assist in the planning will charge you more than they would if a wedding wasn't involved. So the best way to cut costs without sacrificing on the vision is to DIY as much as you can. While you can recruit family members like getting your mother-in-law to make centerpieces and your cousin to film the ceremony, there are certain things you just have to do yourself. For the groom, being your own personal stylist is a great DIY cost-cutter.



We put together this step-by-step guide to walk you through the process of styling yourself and your groomsmen for the big day. We'll cover how to pick between a suit or a tuxedo, where to get it, and all the finishing touches. There are tips for coordinating a look for the entire wedding party and matching that look to your wedding's theme and color scheme. Yes, you will have a theme and color scheme, but your bride will probably make those decisions for you. With our help, you will have all the knowledge you need to put together your own personal perfect wedding look.

A groom and groomsmen in blue suits.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When to Start

You got the yes! Congratulations! Now when do you start planning your outfit? There are a few details that need to get locked down before you have all the information you need to start styling. Getting those details together first will help you form a picture in your mind of the look you're going for. They will also give you a reference guide for decisions like formality level and colors.

Step 1: First, you should pick a date and a venue because that will give you an expectation of weather and a setting to base your outfit on.

Step 2: Next, you and your fiance need to pick a theme that will include a color scheme to work around. Don't worry, they will do most of the work for that part.

Step 3: Then you need to wait until the bridal party is fully styled. The look of the bridal party will help you gauge the formality level you need to hit and, most importantly, give you an accent color for your accessories.

Two men putting on cufflinks.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Setting the Level of Formality

This is a decision that will be made earlier in the planning process that will give you a guide for styling. Generally speaking, the more formal your wedding is, the cleaner and more traditional your look needs to be. This is a decision that you should always defer to your fiance on.

It is common for grooms to pick exactly the same outfit for themselves and their groomsmen, but we recommend setting yourself apart. Use the one step down rule. Whatever level of formality you set for yourself, set your groomsmen one step down. For example, if you wear a tuxedo, they can wear suits. If you wear a three-piece suit, they can wear two-piece suits. If you wear a tie, pocket square, and boutonniere, then they can just wear a tie. This will add a level of distinction to yourself.

A groom fixing his bowtie.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Suit or Tuxedo

Picking between a suit and a tuxedo will depend on budget and personal feel. If you are buying, then a tuxedo will be about 50% more expensive, depending on where you get it. The cost difference for renting is much less. One important rule to keep in mind is that, no matter how formal or informal your wedding is, a tuxedo is never too dressy.

Step 1: Are you comfortable in a tuxedo? The tuxedo is the default look for grooms, so you should start by deciding if you are comfortable wearing one. If you are not, that is fine. You can put together a great wedding look in a suit. If you are comfortable in a tuxedo and you can afford one you like, then that is what you should go with.

Step 2: Shawl vs. peak lapel tuxedos. There are two basic varieties of tuxedos based on the lapel style. A shawl lapel is rounded off and entirely satin. A peak lapel is shaped similar to a standard suit lapel but with pointed tips and is satin on the chest panels while the collar fabric matches the rest of the jacket.

A shawl lapel generally looks better on taller, more slender bodies. A peak lapel is much more versatile and can look good on anyone. Peak lapels are best for someone with broader shoulders and a rounder chest.

Step 3: No tux, no problem. A well-put-together suit can make a great wedding outfit. If your wedding is informal, then a suit is an easy choice. If your wedding is on the formal side, but you really don't want a tuxedo, then you can go with a double-breasted peak lapel suit or add a vest to increase the formality of your suit.

Step 4: Black, blue or other? If you are wearing a tuxedo, then you will most likely stick to black, but dark navy blue tuxedos have become popular over the past decade. If you are wearing a suit, then the color options open up a bit. For a fall or winter wedding and for any higher level of formality, you want to stick to black or blue. Charcoal grays are acceptable too but less complimentary to accent colors. For spring and summer weddings or anything informal, you can try khaki chino, linen, or seersucker suits.

It's your wedding, so you can wear whatever color suit you want, as long as the bride agrees. But when you deviate from the more traditional colors like black or blue, styling gets much more challenging.

Step 5: Fit is foremost! Whether you go tuxedo or suit, the fit is the most important factor. So try everything on with plenty of time to make adjustments.

Step 6: You and your groomsmen can go different ways. Just because you wear a tuxedo doesn't mean your groomsmen have to. You can all wear one or the other, or you can wear a tuxedo while they wear suits. Just don't put them in tuxedos while you wear a suit.

Bride and groom in a vineyard.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Rent or Buy

Suit rental companies have come a long way with the rise of direct-to-consumer websites. They provide much better-fitting suits with a more stylish range of accessories. They also do most of the organizational work for you by allowing you to put together an outfit, plug in your groomsmen's emails, and they do the rest.

However, if you can afford to buy a new suit for your wedding, then you should because it will always look better than anything you can rent.

Step 1: Budget is important here. If you can't afford a new suit, then there are some great rental options out there. You also do not want to force your groomsmen to buy a suit, even if you are. They will be shelling out plenty of money to be in your wedding party, so cut them a break and let them rent. Allowing the rental company to get them set up will take work off your plate.

Step 2: If you are buying, then start shopping about three months before the wedding. Some things may have to get ordered, so this will give the shop plenty of time to get what you're looking for. Then, and this is important, wait till about one month before your wedding to do alterations. Most guys go on wedding diets and workout plans, so your body probably won't look the same three months before your wedding as it will the day of your wedding. Getting the work done about a month before your wedding will give the tailor plenty of time while also providing you with plenty of margin for error.

Groom and Best Man walking down the isle.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Shirt, Ties, and Pocket Squares

Once your suit or tuxedo is picked out, you have your foundation on which to build the rest of your outfit. Your shirt is more important than you think because you don't want anyone to notice it, so stay as simple as possible. The tie and pocket square, on the other hand, are your opportunity to add a splash of color and texture to your outfit if formality allows it.

Step 1: Your shirt should always be white.

Pro Tip: You should always wear a white shirt to a wedding, especially your own. If you wear a bowtie, then you can wear a wingtip collar; otherwise, stick to a pointed or spread collar. If you want to wear cufflinks, then you should have a French cuff. You do not have to be wearing a tuxedo to have cufflinks and a french cuff; they go just as well with a suit. If you are wearing a tuxedo, then you can get a vented front, but a plain front looks just as well.

Bottom line, the best shirt that will go with any suit or tuxedo you pick is a white, spread collar with no placket and a French cuff.

Step 2: Picking a tie can be a challenge if you just start looking around with nothing in mind because there are so many options. Look at all the other details already picked out for your wedding like the theme and the bridal party, then narrow your search down to something that will match those details. Your outfit will be predominantly white and dark colors; the tie should be a color that matches everything else going on at the wedding.

If you are wearing a tuxedo, then it has to be a bowtie. If you are wearing a suit, you can go either way, but a long tie will always look more flattering with a suit.

Step 3: Once you have a tie picked out, you can pick matching pocket squares. They don't have to be the same fabric, but they do have to match. When in doubt, go with a solid color. A squared-off white pocket square is a reliable default.

Step 4: If you wear a tuxedo and your groomsmen wear suits, you can either wear a traditional black or white bowtie, or you can find a bowtie and straight tie in matching fabric. Many tie shops offer bowties, straight ties, and pocket squares in matching sets.

Pro Tip: Do your best to find ties and/or pocket squares that match the color of the bridesmaids' dresses. That will tie the entire wedding party together.

Groom's watch and cufflinks with a french cuff.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Shoes, Belts, Watches, and Personal Effects

Your shoes, belt, watch, and any other personal effects will be the finishing touches on your wedding outfit. Use these items as an opportunity to personalize your outfit to say something meaningful about yourself. Just remember to keep it subtle because these items should not be any bolder than ties and pocket squares.

Step 1: When choosing your wedding shoes, you should refer to the level of formality you've set for the event and stick with something simple. If you wear a tuxedo and it's a classically formal wedding, go with patent leather. If you are having a casual wedding on the beach and wearing a khaki linen suit, then boat shoes or espadrilles are cool. For most suits, you will want to stick to lace-up oxfords or plain tie loafers.

Step 2: Your belt should be as subtle as possible, if you wear one at all. If your suit is properly tailored or you have a tuxedo, then you won't need one. If you do wear one, it should be leather that matches as close as possible to your shoes and the buckle should be silver or gold to match the color of your wedding band.

Suspenders are a good alternative to add a classic touch, especially with a tuxedo.

Step 3: Men can get very particular about their watches. If you are a watch fanatic, you probably picked out the watch you will wear on your wedding day before you even picked out an engagement ring. For the rest of you, there are a couple simple guidelines. The metal of your watch should match your wedding ring. If the ring is silver or white gold, go with a steel watch. If the ring is gold, go with a gold watch. If you are wearing a leather band, it should match your shoes. Please, no smart or digital watches.

Step 4: Any other personal effects are highly encouraged to add a touch of yourself to your wedding outfit. If you have a ring from a loved one, then you should wear it. If you have a family heirloom watch, wear it. A subtle pin can be worn as a lapel pin. Bracelets are good if they are subtle and match your wedding ring. As the old saying goes, feel free to wear something borrowed or old if it has strong personal meaning. Just try not to force something into the look that will disrupt the overall aesthetic you've built.

A bride and groom who just got married.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Notes on the Rehearsal

You will need to put together a second outfit for the rehearsal dinner. This will be a much easier process. Most rehearsal dinners are a semi-formal affair.

Step 1: Start with nice pair of slacks, not khakis. They should look like suit pants without the rest of the suit. A waist tab is a plus.

Step 2: Pick a solid-colored shirt, either white or blue, with a spread collar. Make sure it is crisply ironed.

Step 3: Bring a blazer, but you probably won't wear it much. It should be navy blue. It will look great draped over your chair all evening. Your fiance will probably end up wearing it longer than you will when they get cold.

Step 4: Wear comfortable dress shoes like loafers or leather Persian slippers. You will get progressively more anxious as the hours tick by leading up to your nuptials. The least you can do for yourself is to wear comfortable shoes.

Step 5: Above all else, do not drink too much. A hangover on your wedding day is a terrifying prospect.

The only other piece of advice we have for you is to always defer to your fiance. You may have started planning your wedding after she said yes, but she has likely been planning it since elementary school. Chances are, any questions you have, she will have the answer. All the guests that will attend your wedding and all the photos that you will be looking at for the rest of your life will be focused on her. You, my friend, are simply her most important accessory of the day. You have to look good according to her above anybody else, so never hesitate to ask.

Apart from that, always err towards subtlety and formality. Whenever you are stuck between multiple options, choose the simplest looking one. If something feels trendy, go with the classic alternative. Think of timeless style with every choice you make because there will be a lot of pictures of you in your wedding outfit that people will be looking at for a long time. Just as with life, you can always be underdressed, but you can never be overdressed.

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Brad Lanphear
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Brad spent a decade on the front lines of New York's fashion retail industry. He did time with Abercrombie & Fitch, Rugby…
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