Suits Versus Tuxedos: Which Is Right For Your Groom?

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Black and white photo of a groom standing by corn field

Let’s face it: when it comes to wedding fashion, the spotlight has traditionally fallen on the bride and her dress. Thankfully, a shift has been taking place in the world of wedding fashion for some time. The modern groom now approaches his wedding day attire as a reflection of his style and personality. Some grooms are taking the road less traveled and wearing laid-back looks like jeans and dress shirts, even foregoing formal jackets altogether. But the two most traditional wedding attire choices for a groom, a suit or a tuxedo, still remain the most popular. It’s easy to see why: they work well with the aesthetic and formality of many weddings. Yet the decision to don a suit or tuxedo on the big day is often a difficult dilemma for guys. Grooms, if you’re not sure which is right for you, check out this guide on suits versus tuxes.

The Difference Between Suits & Tuxes

At first glance, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the physical appearance of a suit and a tux. The main difference comes down to the fabric—tuxes tend to have satin features (the buttons, the lapels, a stripe down the side of the pants, etc.) whereas suits do not. Additionally, other small features usually set the two looks apart. For example, tuxes are typically worn with bow-ties and a cummerbund or vest and the jacket might have a tail. Suits, on the other hand, usually have a standard jacket and are paired with a long tie. Depending on style preference, some grooms may also wear a vest that complements the wedding’s color palette.

Like we said, not a whole lot of difference, so there’s no reason to stress over these small tailoring details. Instead, it’s key for you to focus on which style makes you feel comfortable, fits into your budget, and matches the formality of your wedding.

Now that you’ve got a good grasp on the basic distinguishing features of suits and tuxes, let’s talk about other important details that should factor into your wedding clothing selection.

Man in black tuxedo with black bow tie, black buttons, and a white-tipped black pocket square

Photo Credit || GH Kim Photography

A row of groom and groomsmen in black tuxedos standing outside under a live oak tree

Photo Credit || Riverland Studios

Price Comparisons

Despite doing all that we could to find a consistent answer about which garments are more costly, there is unfortunately no straight answer. In basic terms, it all depends on where you live, where you shop, the design and designer of the suit/tux, and whether or not you decide to rent or buy. To make the decision easier, we suggest both you and your fiancé(e) shop around to compare prices (be sure to think about renting versus buying and the benefits of each). During this shopping session, be sure to schedule time to try on various styles at staggered price points. This will help you determine what makes you feel your best, and will give you both a clue about what you can truly afford to spend.

For a basic idea of what to expect price-wise, the following rules of thumb seem to be true most of the time: if buying, tuxes tend to cost more than suits; if renting, suits tend to cost more than tuxes.

Groom in gray suit and groomsmen in suspenders standing by brick wall

Photo Credit || 3eight Photography

Formality Matters

It’s true that suits are an acceptable choice for grooms’ wedding fashion, even if the wedding is formal. However, there are times when a tux is more appropriate than a suit and vice versa. What are those times? How can you tell which is a better fit for your wedding? Here’s some general advice to keep in mind:

  • Suits | Suits come in all kinds of different styles and can usually be tailored to fit various levels of formality. However, a suit is often best when the event is slightly less formal or altogether informal. For example, if you’re having a barn wedding, a groom might look out of place in a tux with a tail. Similarly, a tux-clad groom would probably be uncomfortable at a boho-chic backyard wedding. For scenarios like this, suits are the better choice. The same goes for weddings during the day: if you’re having a daytime soiree, it’s often less practical to don a tux, especially if you’re not trying to go for that black-tie look.
  • Tuxes | Just like suits, tuxes come in more varieties than you could ever begin to imagine. Despite this wide range, the tuxedo will always fall into the “more formal” category. For example, if you’re having a wedding at a crystal-studded ballroom, the groom might look a little out of place in a lightweight suit, especially if it isn’t black. The same goes for a “no expenses spared” evening wedding. If the event is highly formal, then the groom’s attire should be, too.
  • The Bride’s Attire | Finally, if the groom will be standing next to a bride all day, the extravagance of the bride’s dress should be taken into consideration. If the bride is wearing a very formal gown, then the groom should probably opt for a tux. If the bride is wearing a simple, less-formal dress, then the groom can wear a suit and look just as dapper. When everything is said and done, you and your partner should complement each other!
Groom in black tuxedo with white rose boutonniere

Photo Credit || Ciprian Photography

 

Groom and groomsmen in black suits with black ties standing in an urban backdrop

Photo Credit || IQ Photo

Pros & Cons

What if your wedding style falls in the “in-between” category on the formality scale? Another great way to assess the winner in the suits vs. tuxes battle is to look at the pros and cons. Create pro/con list specific to you and your wedding—it can really help you narrow down a clear fashion victor.

Note: we created this list under the assumption that the groom-to-be will buy his attire rather than rent.

Suit—Pros:

  • Can be worn multiple times after the wedding day to all sorts of events
  • Can be more personalized to fit the groom’s look
  • Available in many different colors and styles
  • Easily paired with details, such as pocket squares, ties, shirts, etc.
  • Can be more comfortable
  • Great for slightly-less formal or informal weddings

Suit—Cons:

  • Expensive to buy outright
  • Light-colored suits aren’t as versatile (often cannot be worn in ritzy restaurants and for some occasions & seasons)
  • Looks out of place at really formal weddings

Tuxedo—Pros:

  • Great for formal, black-tie weddings
  • Can look more polished
  • Easy choice for cohesion across a large group of groomsmen
  • Can pair better with the extravagance of the bride’s gown (but depends on if there is a bride, and what she’s wearing)
  • Available in many different styles
  • Most popular choice for grooms’ attire

Tuxedo—Cons:

  • Often not worn much after the wedding (unless the groom attends many formal, black-tie events)
  • Very expensive to buy outright
  • Looks really out of place at informal weddings/events.
  • Requires a special type of dress shirt (typically white with black buttons).
  • Available in other colors, but black is most widely available.

Lastly, keep in mind that nowadays there is such a thing as a “suit/tux”—it sounds weird, but it’s true. If you really can’t decide, visit your local menswear shop and talk to the experts. They’ll help guide you through it. Happy suiting!

Featured Photo Credit || Maria Mack Photography

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