The modern groom now approaches his wedding day attire as a reflection of his style and personality. While some grooms choose to go much less traditional by wearing casual jeans and dress shirts (even foregoing jackets altogether), the two most classic wedding attire choices for grooms—a suit or a tuxedo—still remain the most popular.
It’s easy to see why: suits and tuxedos work well with the aesthetic and formality of many weddings. The decision to wear a suit, tuxedo, or something less traditional on the big day is often a difficult dilemma for guys, especially now that the relaxation of modern-day wedding etiquette means there are more options than ever. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to choosing wedding day clothing for men, check out our guide to groom’s attire below.
The most important part of choosing your suit is making sure that it’s sized appropriately for your body type. Getting measured by a professional tailor is vitally important to ensuring your wedding suit fits you perfectly and compliments your shape. Even if you’re going with a suit from a big box store instead of a custom clothier, as most people do, a salesperson in any menswear store should know how to take your measurements. From there, the choices about suit vs. tux, individual garments, materials, and cuts will all be easier knowing exactly what sizes you should be shopping for.
The Difference Between a Suit and a Tuxedo
At first glance, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the physical appearance of a suit and a tux. Here are the main differences between these two menswear styles:
- Tuxes tend to have satin features (such as the buttons, the lapels, and a stripe down the side of the pants) whereas suits do not.
- Tuxes are typically worn with bow-ties and a cummerbund or vest, and the jacket might have a tail.
- Suits usually have a standard jacket and are paired with a long tie (and sometimes a vest, depending on preference).
When choosing between a suit or a tux, focus on which style makes you feel comfortable, fits into your budget, and matches the formality of your wedding.
The Pros and Cons of Suits and Tuxes
- If purchased, can be worn multiple times after the wedding day to all sorts of events
- Easier to personalize to match the groom’s look
- Available in a wide range of different colors and styles
- Pairs easily paired with accessories, such as pocket squares, ties, and shirts
- Can be more comfortable
- Great for slightly-less formal or informal weddings
- Expensive to purchase
- Certain colors and styles, such as light-colored suits, are not appropriate in all settings and seasons and thus aren’t as versatile
- Looks out of place at really formal weddings
- Great for formal, black-tie weddings
- Can look more refined and polished
- Creates greater cohesion with less work for a large group of groomsmen
- Available in fewer styles, but cuts down on decision-making
- Most popular choice for grooms’ attire
- Often not worn much after the wedding (unless the groom attends many formal, black-tie events)
- Very expensive to purchase
- Looks really out of place at informal weddings/events
- Requires a special type of dress shirt (typically white with black buttons)
- Though possible in other colors, black is the most widely available
The price of a groom’s suit or tuxedo really depends on a combination of factors:
- Where the groom lives
- The store(s) where he is shopping
- The suit or tuxedo design
- The menswear designer
- Whether you decide to rent or buy
- How customized the details are
- The quality of the materials
Because so many of these pricing factors are circumstantial, it’s best to shop around to compares prices in order to get a true comparison. Be sure to ask about the cost of renting versus buying the suit or tux, and the benefits of each. Also do your due diligence by trying on various styles at staggered price points. This will help you determine what makes you feel your best, and will give you a clue about what you can truly afford to spend.
Buying Vs. Renting
- If buying, tuxes tend to cost more than suits.
- If renting, suits tend to cost more than tuxes.
And, of course, if you opt to forego a suit or a tux for something more informal, there’s a good chance you’re looking at a lower price tag. But, as we mentioned, it’s all relative—bespoke casual looks can cost a pretty penny, too, if you’re buying high-end designer jeans or custom-tailored shirts.
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 situations where both are just too stuffy for the occasion. 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 are better for less formal events. 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.
- Tuxes are better for more formal events. 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. If the event is highly formal, then the groom’s attire should be, too.
- It’s best to match your the dressiness of your partner’s attire. Finally, the extravagance of the your partner’s attire should be taken into consideration. If your fiancé(e) is wearing something very formal or very informal, then you should choose a complementary look.
Religious and Cultural Attire
If your religious or cultural ceremony requires different formalwear beyond a traditional Western look, you will most likely be seeking out a specialty clothier or tailor who can craft the traditional wedding garments you need. These experts, along with any knowledgeable family and friends you might bring along, can help you select and get fitted for the outfit(s) you’ll wear on your wedding day.
If you are a member of the military, you may wish to come to your wedding in your full military dress. Many branches of the military have various uniforms for different types of ceremonies, each with varying degrees of formality. Choose the most formal uniform or military dress suitable for your rank to wear to your wedding, should you choose to represent your military status.
Suit Care Tips
- Make Sure It Fits — As a first step when trying on your groom attire, make sure that your suit, tux, or other clothing choices are properly tailored to your body.
- Take Care Of Wrinkles — Make sure you know how to take care of your ensemble. If your suit needs to be steamed or pressed to look its best, get it done ahead of time. Don’t forget to properly wash, store, and iron (if necessary) your shirts, ties, and other fabric accessories, too.
- Store Someplace Safe — Before (and after) the wedding, make sure that your groom attire is stored in a safe, secure place that’s free of moisture, extreme temperatures, or pests that can damage the fabric.
Fabrics for Each Season
Spring and Summer
To stay cool and comfortable in the spring and summer heat, choose a lighter-weight fabric:
- Whipcord (a lightweight corduroy)
- Fresco (a lightweight wool)
Fall and Winter
For fall and winter weddings, choose from any warm, textured materials commonly used in menswear:
Styling and Details
While it might seem that grooms’ attire is pretty straightforward and ho-hum—with your only choice being a suit or a tux—there’s plenty of room to get creative with your look. Interested in injecting extra personality into your wedding ensemble? Play with pattern. Introduce a colorful shirt. Throw on a pair of fun socks—you get the idea. Customized suits are quite the trend, and everyone appreciates both personal touches and attention to detail when it comes to crafting a memorable wedding.Here’s a breakdown of the different menswear elements that typically make up a groom’s wedding day look:
As a general rule, slimmer and shorter jackets are in fashion at the moment. A baggy suit, or a jacket that’s too long, can make you look frumpy — like you’re twelve and trying on your dad’s formalwear.
Customization is easiest to pull off on a groom’s jacket. Whether choosing a funky print for the jacket lining, or choosing a jacket in a bright color or unique fabric like velvet, there are many possibilities here for adding a little flair.
Single- or double-breasted? This term simply refers to the way your suit buttons.
- Single-Breasted: A single-breasted suit has one row of buttons (usually no more than three) down the center.
- Double-Breasted: Double-breasted suits, as the name implies, double up, meaning you have four, six, or eight buttons in two adjacent rows.
Single-breasted jackets are more popular, as double-breasted jackets tend to look like they come from a very particular period in time—which might be handy if you’re having a retro-themed wedding.
Don’t forget the lapels. There are three main types:
- Notch: The notch lapel is the most common; it’s so named because there is a notch where the collar starts and the lapel ends.
- Peak: A peak lapel tapers into a point angled toward your shoulders. It’s a very formal, fashion-forward cut and can look out of place on the wrong suit. Suits with peak lapels tend to be more expensive because they’re more difficult to sew.
- Shawl: Shawl lapels are usually only seen on tuxedos and dinner jackets and feature a continuous curve. They’re very distinctive and also highly formal.
Even though they seem like small details, the type of buttons and cut of pocket that you choose will really affect the overall look of your suit. Don’t neglect these small, but impactful points of tailoring when choosing your wedding suit.
Waistcoats (or Vests)
- A waistcoat is usually the third part of a three-piece suit, or the star of a more dressed down shirt-tie-waistcoat ensemble. They button in the front and have a built-in cinch at the back so you can adjust how fitted the waistcoat is to your body.
- Dress pants are available to you in all the same cuts as a normal pair of pants, and how they hang on you will really affect their look. The most crucial part of choosing the right trousers is making sure that they are the right length, revealing just the right amount of ankle. The area where your shoes touch the hem of your pants is called the break of the trousers. There are three main types:
- No Break: No break means the pants don’t actually touch your shoes, which has the effect of making your legs look a little longer.
- Half Break: Trousers with a half-break rest on the top of your shoes and are the most standard trouser length.
- Full Beak: Finally, there’s the full break, which means the fabric folds all the way around the ankle where it hits your shoes. Trousers with a full break can be hard to pull off well, especially on shorter men, who run the risk of looking like they forgot to get their pants hemmed at all.
Even if you go classic with the main aspects of your wedding day look, there’s room to personalize on a smaller scale with accessories. Whether it’s a patterned tie or a pair of heirloom cufflinks, these details can add sophistication and let your unique self shine. Here’s a breakdown of accessories to consider adding to your groom’s attire:
- A bowtie or tie
- A belt and/or suspenders
- A watch
- A tie clip
- A pocket square
- A hat
- A scarf
- A lapel pin
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of these menswear choices, we understand. There are a lot of details that go into putting together the clothing you’ll wear as a groom on your wedding day. To make the decision-making easier, we suggest your start slowly by consulting experts at local shops and browsing through our collection of Real Weddings to see what other grooms have worn. And remember—there’s no need to stress. This is about having fun and finding attire that makes you feel comfortable and confident. At the end of it all, you’ll look sharp while marrying the love of your life.