What Should the Father of the Bride Wear?

Wondering what the father of the bride should wear on your big day? Read our complete guide to find out.

By Jennifer Prince

What Should the Father of the Bride Wear
Photo by Arvin Photography LLC

When it comes to wedding fashion for the bride’s parents, the attention seems to focus on the mother of the bride. However, dad has earned his place, too. From being a role model to encouraging you to bike without training wheels, dad has been there through it all. Although most fashion chatter centers around mom, what the father of the bride wears also needs to be top-notch.

After all, he will walk his daughter down the aisle and give a toast at the wedding reception. The bride’s father may even be footing the bill for the whole event. No matter his role, it’s a momentous day for dad. So, having him look—and feel—his best is of utmost importance. Here is a bit of sage advice about proper father of the bride attire.

Follow the Wedding’s Dress Code

All wedding guests should follow the dress code, let alone the parents of the couple getting married. However, there are a few suggestions beyond wearing the suggested apparel. Suppose the recommended code offers a bit of leeway, dress at the top of the code. It’s best to be a bit dressier rather than underdress.

But don’t let dad overdress. The bride’s father shouldn’t be wearing a tuxedo if the groom and wedding party wear upscale suiting. Not only will he stand out, but he may also feel awkward by garnering unwanted attention.

Quick Tip: The father of the bride should never outshine or dress more formally than the groom.

What Should the Father of the Bride Wear? Photo Credit // Unsplash

Dress Similar—But Not Identical—to the Groomsmen

Dad deserves his moment to shine, so don’t make him a carbon copy of the groomsmen or best man. After all, he is passing his once-little girl on to someone else. His look should stand alone, yet blend with other members of the wedding party. That includes details, such as pocket squares, socks, and shoes, too.

If your black-tie dress code has your attendants wearing tuxes, then the father of the bride should follow suit. He can wear the same tuxedo style, but he can go off-script a bit by changing the accessories. Have the bride’s father wear a necktie instead of a bowtie, or put him in a different hue.

Quick Tip: Order the father of the bride’s tuxedo while you place your bridal party order.

Keep His Attire Flawless

As with any suiting, dad’s look should fit flawlessly. Tuxedo companies adhere to reasonably strict measuring standards, which means that fitting is usually a breeze. However, if dad is picking out a suit from his closet or purchasing a new one, have it tailored. Also, check for any areas that need attention, such as loose buttons or seams starting to tear.

Take time to ensure that all dad’s pieces are in pristine condition, even for an ultra-casual beach wedding. In that case, check that dad’s Hawaiian print shirt and khaki shorts are clean, pressed, and ready to go. And don’t be afraid to tell him to ditch the cargo shorts.

Quick Tip: Even if they aren’t dry clean only, take the father of the bride’s shirt, pants, and suit to the cleaners. They will press them correctly for the big day.

Let His Personality Be on Display in a Good Way

Don’t stifle your dad’s personality by forcing him to wear something that isn’t quite him. Work with the bride’s father to develop a cohesive look that still allows his fun, quirky, or creative side to shine through.

Even if you’re adhering to a strict dress code, dad can get creative. A classically patterned tie, printed socks, or quirky pocket square can do the trick while not being the focal point. No matter what, be sure to talk to the father of the bride about his outfit. A chat will give him confidence while assuring you that he’ll arrive in style.

Quick Tip: Dad can also accessorize with jewelry, such as cufflinks or a statement watch—both of which make a sentimental father of the bride gift.

Stray Away From His Daily Workwear

Everyone enjoys a bit of a break from work, and that also includes workwear. If your dad is used to rocking a suit at the office, vary his wedding look from his daily go-to. Although this may seem easy and even make your dad comfortable, you want your wedding day to be set apart.

Look for suits in a different color or a subtle pattern to help him break from the norm. Ordering a tuxedo—most likely not his office wear—is a safe bet for a black tie event. However, if you choose a suit, help him choose a color and pattern different from what he already has.

Quick Tip: If the father of the bride is getting a new suit, purchase it far enough in advance for alterations.

Talk to Both Dads About What They’re Wearing

The last thing you want to do is create tension with the other father. Both partners’ dads should look their best and follow the above rules. However, they shouldn’t necessarily match. Have a conversation with your dads about wedding wear, and let them weigh in on the decision. Their looks can reflect their taste while harmonizing with the overall style of the wedding. Having a chat with both of your dads together—even over Zoom—can help build a relationship.

Quick Tip: Keep in mind that the father of the bride and groom’s rules for wedding attire is the same.

Get Dad a Boutonniere

When ordering flowers for your wedding ceremony, there’s a lot to think about. Bouquets, centerpieces, and ceremony arches are beautiful, but small details can make a difference in styling a look. Boutonnieres are a fabulous way to add a splash of color to dad’s lapel.

His bout can match the groomsmen, or you can take the opportunity to have matching ones for all father figures. Talk to your floral designer about how you can have a standout boutonniere for the father of the bride, without him standing out, of course. If your dad isn’t the boutonniere type, there are plenty of boutonniere alternatives to choose from.

Quick Tip: The bout goes on the left lapel—his left, not yours.

What Should the Father of the Bride Wear? Photo Credit // Unsplash

There Are Some Exceptions

Certain situations don’t allow for the father of the bride to be directly involved in the wedding ceremony. Distance, family dynamics, and even health can make for unique circumstances. In those cases, talk to dad about what he should wear.

A quick discussion will help him be confident about what he’s wearing, while also feeling included in your wedding day. It will also assure you that he’ll look his best on your big day.

Quick Tip: To bout or not to bout? Include him in your boutonniere order if it’s appropriate.

No matter your dad’s style, taste, or lack thereof, keep him in the loop on your wedding day plans. He’ll always cherish that his daughter is all grown up and ready to start her life with her love. Let him have his moment and look smashing while doing so.

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