Should the Groom Wear a Tie or Bow Tie for Their Wedding?

The style of a groom’s suit will help determine whether a bow tie or tie should be worn on their wedding day.

By Laura Hensley

Should the Groom Wear a Tie or Bow Tie
Photo by NST Pictures

The First Look ✨

While a tie or bow tie may seem like an inconsequential choice, the right neckwear really can make or break a wedding guest look. Read on to find out if you should pair your formalwear with a bow tie or regular tie on your wedding day.

What Are You Wearing?

If you’re wearing a tuxedo, a bow tie is the way to go. A bow tie tux is considered one of the most dapper and formal wedding outfits for grooms—and is the proper dress code for a black tie wedding, black tie optional, or black-tie event. That’s not to say a necktie can’t be worn with a tuxedo, though. If your wedding is semi-formal and you’re wearing a tux, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear a traditional tie instead. It really all comes down to the formality—and venue—of your big day.

Suits, on the other hand, allow for more flexibility. Traditionally, suits are worn with ties, but many grooms these days opt for bow ties. A bow tie with a suit jacket (or even just a dress shirt!) can dress a suit up or down. For example, a laid-back groom getting hitched at a rustic venue may opt for a trendy paisley bow tie with a light gray suit. A groom saying “I do” at a formal venue may wear a three-piece navy suit with a maroon bow tie. Both outfits feature bow ties, but are very different looks.

A tie can also dramatically affect the aesthetic of a groom’s outfit. Patterned ties can make a suit more formal or casual, depending on the print, just as lighter colors are best for spring/summer weddings and darker colors suit fall/winter events. If your wedding venue and style are more laid-back, you can even take off your necktie after the ceremony.

And if you want your outfit, as the groom, to stand out, consider groomsmen ties in a different color or pattern for your attendants. Or, you can wear a wedding bow tie with your groom's suit and accessorize your groomsmen with traditional neckties.

What Are Members of the Wedding Party Wearing?

Regardless of whether you choose to wear a tie or a bow tie, your groomsmen should coordinate with one another. Even if you aren’t sporting matching tuxedos or suits, you should be on the same page about neckwear. It can look very odd having a couple of members of the wedding party wearing a casual floral skinny tie, while others don a satin black bow tie. The exception to this rule? It’s okay for the groom to wear a bow tie while groomsmen wear ties. The groom is expected to stand out. And it's also ok for the ring bearer to wear something a little different, too - a bow tie in the same color as the groomsmen ties can be a very cute option.

Should the Groom Wear a Tie Photo Credit // Unsplash

Different Types of Bow Ties and Ties

Color, texture, fabric, and patterns all set neckwear apart and allow for personalization. For example, do you want your neckwear to be a neutral hue or make a colorful statement? Do you prefer a satin bow tie, or a silk bow tie? There are plenty of different tie styles and designs of both bow ties and neckties. Here are some of the most popular options:

Bow Ties


As the name suggests, a self-tie bow tie is one that requires you to actually tie it yourself. If you’ve never tied a bow tie before, practice before your wedding day, so you nail the look. It can be challenging at first.


Pre-tied bow ties come with the knot sewn in place. This means you don’t have to worry about tying the bow tie yourself, but you do have to secure it around your shirt collar. Pre-tied bow ties are attached to an adjustable band.


The easiest option out of all bow ties, a clip-on bow tie is ready to wear right away. It clips directly onto the collar of your shirt. While convenient, clip-on bow ties are often easy to spot, making them the most appropriate for children and not the most desirable option for grooms.


Ties come in a variety of fabrics, colors, and styles. Solid colors are classic choices for grooms, as they easily complement suits and dress shirts. There are many ways to tie a tie, but here are some of the popular styles.


A Windsor knot, also called the “Full Windsor,” is a popular way to tie a tie and creates a fuller, sophisticated look. It’s one of the most common and classic knots, because it’s worn in both formal and semi-formal environments - so it's a great option for a black tie wedding. It’s a timeless symmetrical style that looks fantastic with dress shirts and suit jackets.


A Half-Windsor knot is slightly smaller than the Windsor knot and is medium in size. Like the Windsor, this knot is very popular for its versatility. For grooms who want a formal or semi-formal look, consider a Half-Windsor knot—especially if your tie is made of a thicker fabric.


This knot is suitable for many occasions—except for the most formal. A four-in-hand knot is one of the easiest ways to tie a tie, which is why it’s so popular. It’s a slightly asymmetrical knot, and it’s best for casual button-down dress shirts. This knot is ideal if your tie is a heavier fabric.

Should the Groom Wear a Tie Photo Credit // Unsplash

How to Tie a Bow Tie?

1. Hang the bow tie flat around your neck, pulling one side about 1.5 inches longer than the other. The longer end should be on your right side.

2. Cross the longer end of the bow tie over the shorter end. Bring the longer end underneath the shorter one, then out from the center.

3. Fold the shorter end of the bow tie horizontally.

4. Place the longer end over the shorter end.

5. Fold the longer end of the bow tie horizontally.

6. Insert the longer end through the loop at the back of the shorter end, creating a loose knot.

7. Pull both ends gently to tighten the knot.

8. Adjust as needed!

Bow Ties and Ties Can Show Off Personality

Like any wedding accessory for grooms, bow ties and ties are a chance to add a hint of dapper flair to your formalwear. Some grooms like to wear a solid color suit with a polka dot bow tie, while others will match their tie to their wedding’s floral arrangements. It’s also fun to match your accessories with your wedding colors. Another way to get creative is by matching your bow tie or tie to your socks or shoes, which can really help ground an outfit.

Other Accessories to Elevate Your Attire

Accessories can instantly elevate and add personality to a tried-and-true suit look. If you're the groom, consider gifting your groomsmen one (or more!) of these accessories as a day-of wedding gift, thanking them for being part of your big day.


Cufflinks serve a practical purpose as well as an aesthetic one - they'll make sure your shirt cuffs stay neatly fastened. Choose a pair that are engraved with your initials or your wedding date, or shop for a novelty pair of cufflinks in a creative shape (maybe something that nods to your pet or a hobby!).


While your tuxedo should fit you well enough that you don't need a belt, suspenders can help keep your pants up - and are a must for a black tie wedding.

Pocket Squares

Pocket squares can work with casual wedding guest looks and groomsmen suits alike. If you're a guest at an upcoming wedding, you can wear a patterned pocket square in your suit jacket in place of a tie. Or, if you're the groom or one of the groomsmen, a pocket square can take the place of a boutonniere. Choose one in a color or pattern that reflects your personality to add a little bit of pizzazz to any formalwear look.


If your wedding reception is going to be a very formal white tie or black tie affair, you'll likely need a cummerbund to wear with your tuxedo. The functional purpose of a cummerbund is to cover the waistband and any awkward shirt bunching—keeping you photo-ready all night long.

Patterned Socks

One of the easiest ways to add personality to a suit and tie outfit is with a fun pair of socks. They'll only be noticeable when you sit down, so let a little bit of your personality come through with a quirky pattern or vibrant color.

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the decision to wear a bow tie or tie as a groom at your wedding is up to you. Consider your wedding style, your wedding venue, and what type of neckwear best matches your suit. It may seem like a small accessory, but it can really make or break a look.

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