While a tie or bow tie may seem like an inconsequential choice, the right neckwear really can make or break a look. Read on to find out if you should wear a bow tie or tie on your wedding day.
If you’re wearing a tuxedo, a bow tie is the way to go. A bow tie and tux is considered one of the most formal wedding outfits for grooms, and is the proper dress code for a 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 a suit up or down. For example, a laid-back groom getting hitched at a rustic venue may opt for a 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 is more laid-back, you can even take off your necktie after the ceremony.
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.
There are plenty of different styles and designs of both bow ties and neckties. Color, texture, and patterns all set neckwear apart and allow for personalization. Here are some of the most popular options:
Self-tie 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 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.
Clip-on 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 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.
Windsor 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. It’s a timeless symmetrical style that looks fantastic with dress shirts and suit jackets.
Half-Windsor 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.
Four-in-Hand This knot is suitable for many occasions, except 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.
Like any wedding accessory for grooms, bow ties and ties are a chance to add a hint of flair to your outfit. 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.
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.