“It’s the bride’s day. All eyes on the bride.” These are probably the most quoted phrases in any wedding magazine. Remember though, without a bridegroom; there's no wedding. Even more crucial is that, no matter how gorgeous the bride, her starring man wearing an ill-fitting suit will darken her day in the spotlight. Worse still, the memory will be there in glorious photographic technicolour for many embarrassing years to come.
Your bridegroom suit is just as important as the bridal gown, and your fiancé will have pondered long and hard before she finally says ‘yes to the dress’. However, dressing the top man can be tricky. For starters, even the most fashion-conscious guys amongst us aren’t always comfortable in more formal attire. Also, the bride - the one usually calling the wedding shots - probably keeps her dress a secret from you. A lovely surprise for you on the big day but what a disaster if your suit doesn’t pass muster to complement her dress.
Do some detective work.
Ask your bride-to-be for clues. Is her dress a formal style? Perhaps it has a vintage vibe? Full-on Cinderella? Or has she opted for totally on-trend modern? Is there a colour theme for the wedding – bridesmaids matching the tablecloths matching your pet dog’s bow tie kind of thing?
Once you’ve got that bit of the wedding jigsaw sorted, think about your wedding venue. If it’s a grand stately home or castle, you can pull out the stops and go for a full-on formal three-piece suit. Even a fancy frock coat or tails could work as with Pride and Prejudice’s heartthrob hero Mr Darcy. (But please don’t be tempted to arrive via the lake!)
A smart-casual look is the best choice for a festival theme set in a field or a beach wedding. Consider a two-piece, mix and match combination of trouser and jacket or a smart linen shirt and trousers, especially if it’s a sultry climate.
You can bring the wedding theme into the type of fabric you choose for your suit – a touch of tweed, perhaps waistcoat or jacket, is an excellent detail for Country Style Weddings.
"A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them."
Timing is everything
The time of the wedding goes a long way to dictating the dress code. Black tie is a classic choice for weddings later in the day (after 4 pm). A tuxedo will work best alongside an evening-style wedding dress.
The other option for late afternoon weddings is lounge suits. This is the kind of look you may wear to a cocktail party and allows more flexibility. It can be a single-breasted or double-breasted, a two-piece suitor a three-piece suit.
Morning suits are the most formal daytime look with tailcoats, waistcoat and striped trousers – think Ascot.
Wherever the wedding, whatever the time, remember these wise words of Sir Edwin Hardy Amies, English fashion designer and Royal Warrant Holder:
Guide to dressing the groom
We put your questions to Sam and Edward from Robert Old, who've been expertly dressing bridegrooms for decades.
No. You’re the star. You come first. Make sure you are suited and booted before considering what the best man and ushers will be wearing. The bride chooses her dress before the bridesmaids because her dress defines the style of her maids. Your suit choice should do the same for your wedding entourage.
The recent trend is to subscribe to a colour theme matching the bridesmaids’ dresses. But let’s face it, not every man looks ‘pretty in pink’. Keeping your look natural and timeless is the way forward. Neutral tones, classy golds, smart navy or grey are choices that allow you to wear the suit again and never dates in your photo album.
Remember, neutral doesn't have to mean dull. The choice of fabrics for men's tailoring is enormous, and there are some outstanding checks, stripes and plaid detailing to add flair. Pick a cloth that you might be able to use again for future events. As well as colour, bear in mind the time of year of the wedding. Go for a cloth that will fit the season. You’ll be nervous enough on the big day, so over-heating in tweed in the height of summer is not a great look!
Do I need to order my suit as far in advance as my bride purchases her dress?
Wedding dresses often do need extraordinarily long lead times. Not so for men’s suits. Even the ones made to measure here at Robert Old take just six weeks. (We even managed a deadline of just 15 days for one somewhat disorganised groom!)
However, do allow time for alterations as both made-to-measure and off-the-peg may need some tweaking. Trying on your new suit on the eve of the wedding and realising the trousers are too long will not help pre-wedding nerves!
Three-piece suits give a more formal look and the opportunity to wear a fabulous waistcoat. Think David Beckham – different colour and fabric makes a statement. A weddings day is lengthy, and no doubt you’ll want to remove your jacket at some point. An eye-catching waistcoat is a great way to stand out from the crowd when being swept onto the dancefloor in a sea of plain white shirts.
Consider The Freedom of Mix and Match. Why not put best man and ushers in two-piece suits and you in three-piece with a snazzy waistcoat to make you the alpha male? You could also extend this to Dressing the Father of the Bride – he’s the second most important man in the room (even if he’s paying for the wedding!) As he gives his daughter away, he needs to set a stylish tone, so choosing him a three-piece suit with a different waistcoat to yours gives him status above the rest of the party.
Be careful, though – there are many Dos and Don'ts of Waistcoat Wearing. Being too over-the-top or wearing it too tight and you risk looking more like Toad of Toad Hall than football’s Gareth “lucky waistcoat” Southgate.
Classic and very James Bond – but black-tie is only appropriate if the wedding venue, timing, and theme suggest a formal dress code. The tuxedo is a timeless classic – the look has been subtly updated over the years with tweaks to button arrangements and lapels. Still, it remains the same stylish combination.
A tuxedo will work best alongside an evening-style wedding dress. Think A-listers George and Amal Clooney, who unsurprisingly pulled off the Black Tie Dress Code effortlessly - George in a tux and Amal in a stunning long lace gown.
A morning suit, also known as morning dress, is the traditional, time-honoured gentleman's attire for formal eventssuch as weddings, memorial servicesand daytime affairs. Think Ascot. It features a long formal jacket with tails, a waistcoat and striped trousers. The term originated from the mid-19th century when this attire was worn at daytime events before 6 pm.
Get the Lounge look Right, and it allows you to be more flexible and add flair. Choose from a two- or three-piece suit or even throw a blazer-style jacket with trousers into the mix for more individuality. Here is the opportunity to stand out from your entourage with many combinations that can be tailored to suit your personality and the wedding theme.
How often will you get the opportunity to wear a suit made especially for you? The bride will have her beautiful designer dress so why can’t you invest in a suit that will make you look and feel great on your big day and give you years of wear afterwards (unlike her dress!)