How to Dress for a Wedding

So I attended the beautiful wedding of two good friends this week. It was a brilliant affair, full of all those things any good wedding should have, like requited love and alcohol. Bar the missing drunken brawl towards the end of the evening, it was a perfect day. Even the sun shone on a day that was surprisingly pleasant, sandwiched between two characteristically wet and cold British May days.

A few months earlier, I had returned home from work to be greeted by an unusual foreign object lying on my doormat. Catching my eye from underneath a mountain of bills and various home delivery food flyers, I opened the fancy and ornate envelope, like Charlie opening the chocolate bar revealing the golden ticket.

Opening the envelope revealed an invitation to the wedding of the year and my outfit selection instantly became the big question. You see to me, a wedding is like an elaborate moving catwalk. Everyone makes an effort. Indeed the main subject of conversation between my friends over the following few months, during the build up to the wedding was on what everyone was going to wear.

Now being a director of a suit company, I have been blessed with the not so original title of ‘The Suit Guy’. It’s not an exciting title but it beats my old title of ‘Empty Bed Seb’, which although admittedly has more of a ring to it, doesn’t really inspire a positive reaction from anyone. As the Suit Guy, it seems that any occasion where formal attire is required, I am now the first person who people turn to when seeking advice on what to wear and how to wear it.

Whether it’s advising you on how to match your suit with your shoes or how to wear a pocket square or constantly unbuttoning the bottom button on well anyone’s suit jacket, (mental note: stop doing that to strangers on the tube). It seemed that I had been unofficially elected as the personal stylist to all the male attendees at the wedding.

It did get me thinking though, that maybe I should share a little with you. You wonderful, magical human (not you mum, you don’t count) reading this right now, on what options you may have for any wedding you might be attending in future…

The Invite

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Deciding on what to wear to any occasion that you have been invited to, by way of invitation can be like a detective mystery. Like any good detective, you should of course start with the clues that are available to you. Most of the time, the invitation should offer enough information to help you on your way to solving this riddle.

A formally laid out invite can often point to a more formal affair and equally, a more relaxed/fun looking invite can reflect the expected dress code. This however should not be the only clue you rely on. Indeed turning up at the church in your shorts and an Iron Maiden t-shirt won’t be accepted, even if the invite did look like it was written by your friends talentedly untaleted 5 year old son.

Commonly, an invite will have the expected dress code written on it. There tends to be four main categories for wedding wear.


Make sure you wear a well-tailored suit and combine it with a long-sleeved dress shirt, with a classy tie, pocket square, belt and matching well-polished shoes.

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A tie is not necessary, but you should stick to wearing a well-matched blazer and a pair of smart trousers, along with a long sleeved dress shirt. Semi-formal does not mean sloppy, still smart, just more relaxed. I would also advise that if you choose not to wear a tie, a colourful pocket square will help add a little colour and detail to the overall look.

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Black Tie

Always wear a black tuxedo, with matching bow tie and cummerbund. This traditionally is only to be worn after 5 p.m and because of this, when you’re attending an all day wedding, a business suit may be more appropriate before.

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White Tie

Not very common and the most formal of the dress codes. Somewhat outdated, if this is the dress code required, a tux with tailcoat will be expected, along with gloves and a white tie. You’ll also want to practise being super posh, practise phrases like – “Yea, one gave the scamp a bloody good seeing to!” or something to that effect.

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The Date

The date and time of the wedding can also be a good indication as to what to wear.

Spring and Summer Weddings

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Typically, although not always the case in Britain, spring and summer weddings tend to be a more warmer affair. Hopefully the sun will shine and temperatures will rise. Now this weather is what future brides and grooms pray and dream for and although indeed a nice sunny day does add to the feel good factor of the day, the heat can result in a sweaty, sticky and somewhat uncomfortable situation.

Keep away from thick wool suits. A breathable linen or cotton ensemble will help keep you cool, without resorting to fanning yourself furiously with one of those order of service leaflet things. For a daytime wedding, lighter colours are an option. A light blue, cream, beige or grey suit will always be a hit. If the wedding starts later in the day, a dark coloured suit is preferable. Think more navy, grey or charcoal.

The rule of thumb: try and keep to a lighter coloured suit for when the sun is shining.

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Autumn and Winter Weddings

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Typically, and always the case in Britain, Autumn and Winter weddings tend to be wet and cold. If you’re lucky, it may snow (a little).

A thicker material like a wool or cotton suits is the best option against the probable sub zero temperatures. It is also a smart bet to stick to the darker colours like navy or black. A smart overcoat will also add sophistication to your look and keep you warm. Stay away from rain macs or any casual looking coats and make sure your overcoat either matches or is darker in colour than your suit.

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Other Tips

Tie Knots & Pocket Square Folds

Remember your tie and pocket square are often the best way to add an element of character and colour into your look. If you do decide to wear a tie, the way you tie it can be equally as important as colour and style. A Half Windsor or Full Windsor is always a safe bet but if you are feeling somewhat adventurous, why not try the Trinity Knot? Just make sure you practice it a few times before the big day to ensure a perfect execution of this fairly tricky style.

If you decide on wearing a Bow Tie, make sure it is a real one that you have tied. Stick away from the ready made ones. Tying a bow tie honestly isn’t that hard and everyone will be mega impressed when they realise that yours is real. It also allows you the option of untying it and leaving it undone around your neck, which everyone knows looks super cool right?

Shoes & Belts

Black or Brown, plain-toe oxfords will always work. Your belt colour should match your shoes. A black shiny belt with matching shoes is the easy choice, If you are not sure what colour shoes to wear our guide will help you. Obviously make sure your shoes are clean and polished. Also, I cant believe I’m saying this but I have seen it, if wearing braces (suspenders to our trans-american friends) a belt is not necessary. You look like a idiot.

Essential Wedding Outfit Rules

  • Don’t try to outshine the wedding party (it won’t be appreciated)
  • No jeans, trainers or short sleeve shirts
  • No tuxedos before 5 pm
  • Keep double breasted dinner jackets buttoned up
  • Make sure your suit has been dry, cleaned and your shirt well ironed.
  • Don’t forget to polish your shoes.

Remember, weddings are usually a special affair and many photographs will be taken. Which will either be placed in an album, that is brought out from time to time or framed and placed on someone’s window-ledge or fireplace, as a way to remember the magical day. Make an effort, you don’t want to be known as the sweaty guy in the ill fitting suit and horrible shoes.

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