what to wear to a wedding men

What to wear to a wedding: The ultimate guest dressing guide for men

23 May 2024 | |By Hitanshi Kamdar

The RSVP is sent and the present wrapped; the only thing left to figure out is what to wear

Marriage is straightforward enough: two people in love vow to be bonded together for eternity. Weddings on the other hand, are a complicated affair. While we won’t be getting into the nitty gritty of planning your own big day here (if you do need help in that department, you can find plenty of expert advice here), even attending as a guest can be a minefield – especially where dress codes are concerned.

Turn to your trusted black suit, crisp white shirt and freshly polished Oxfords and we concede that, on the surface, it seems simple enough to get men’s wedding guest attire right. But, of course, there is a difference between a men’s wedding looking that is fine and one that truly masters what to wear to a wedding. Especially when you consider the frills and pomp attached to modern weddings and the complex dress codes that accompany them.

Where couples once confined themselves to choosing between black tie, cocktail and business casual, with individuality and personality becoming increasingly important in  wedding planning, so unique and unusual dress codes have become the norm over the years. And while we’re not going to be of much help if the invite states ‘cowboy-chic’ or, god forbid, Star Wars style, if a loosened wedding dress code leaves room for personal style and experimentation, read on.

What to consider when choosing a wedding guest outfit

The easiest place to start, for men and women alike, is the invitation. Modern weddings run the gamut from glamorous black-tie affairs at five-star hotels to casual receptions in a rustic pub, and accordingly, the invite should outline the expected dress code. If the busy couple has forgotten to detail the dress code amid pre-wedding chaos, make sure to do your research. Consider the venue, time, and most importantly, the couple’s personal style. Take their lead when it comes to deciding how fancy or low-key to go with your wedding guest attire.

What not to wear as a wedding guest

For women, the easiest wedding guest no-no is no white. While an aversion to white isn't mandatory for men (unless the groom is going all white à la David Beckham), there are a few things to avoid. Unless you have some particularly relaxed friends, weddings are formal events so ditch anything that could pass as everyday weekend attire. T-shirts, denim and even your most fashionable running trainers are all a big no. Also look for any indication on the invite as to the couple’s colour scheme. If they’ve sent you an elegant card with navy blue lettering and pink accents, chances are that’s what the groomsmen will be wearing, so go with a different suit and tie colour combo yourself.

What to wear to a black tie wedding

It may seem intimidating but a black-tie wedding dress code is actually one of the easiest to get right. A prescribed list of rules and restrictions means you know exactly what to wear. Sure, formal menswear comes with a few fabric, collar and lapel technicalities to master, but the bottom line is, a black-tie affair calls for a perfectly tailored tuxedo, pleat-front shirt, bow tie and sleek patent leather shoes.

Opt for a classic tuxedo, such as Tom Ford’s black satin iteration, paired with a timeless pleat-front white Hawes & Curtis shirt and Dolce & Gabbana’s chic silk cummerbund. Finish the look with a pair of Crockett & Jones patent leather Oxfords and a classic Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso watch with a sleek black alligator strap. Eschew the pre-tied perfect bows for a grown-up Richard James bow tie.

Tom Ford Shelton satin tuxedo

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Hawes & Curtis white pleat front classic evening shirt

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Dolce & Gabbana pleated silk cummerbund

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Crockett & Jones Overton Oxford shoes

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Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso stainless steel and alligator watch

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Richard James silk-satin bow-tie

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What to wear to a summer wedding

For warmer weddings, steer clear of heavier fabrics like tweed and cashmere – especially if an evening on the dance floor is on the cards. Consider breathable natural fibres, such as cotton and linen, in loose single-breasted styles to keep you cool from ceremony to cocktail hour and beyond. The final thing to consider when picking your outfit for a summer wedding is the colour. Opt for light hues, such as pale grey or beige, or be a little more daring with shades of pastel pink or sky blue.

A neutral-toned linen suit, like Brunello Cucinelli’s sage green option, makes a great starting point. A white shirt is, of course, a completely acceptable option here but for a little vintage-inspired flair, a statement design, like this hand-embroidered piece by Kartik Research, will turn heads. Finish with Tod’s easy slip-on loafers, round-frame sunglasses, a classic signet ring and a gold Cartier timepiece for a bit of sparkle.

Brunello Cucinelli herringbone linen suit

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Kartik Research x Throwing Fits embroidered cotton shirt

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Tod’s suede slip-on loafers

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Tom Ford Lewis round-frame sunglasses

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Stainless Steel and Yellow Gold Santos de Cartier Watch

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Tom Wood mini signet ring

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What to wear to a country house wedding

Whether it's grand or intimate, a countryside wedding calls for a formal outfit with a few pared-back details. When deciding what to wear to a country house wedding, this is one occasion when men can skip the usual matchy-matchy suit for more relaxed separates. Opt for blazers and pleated trousers in natural hues such as brown, navy or green. Swap out stiff button-down collar shirts for more relaxed alternatives and leather shoes for suede loafers. You can also add a statement patterned tie or waistcoat in the autumn for a pop of colour.

Corneliani’s checked brown jacket embodies laid-back formal dressing and works well layered over an easy white shirt. Pair with Acne Studios’ taupe brown straight-fit trousers and take inspiration from your natural surroundings for accessories such as Gucci’s bee-print tie and Foundrae’s pear motif bracelet. For footwear, George Cleverley’s suede penny loafers will help you put your most stylish foot forward.

Corneliani check suit jacket

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Acne studios Ayonne straight-leg trousers

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Celine Homme linen shirt

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Foundrae pear gold diamond bracelet

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George Cleverley Cannes suede penny loafers

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What to wear to a beach wedding

Considering that beaches in the UK come with chilly winds and rocky shores, a beach wedding invite probably means a trip to warmer locales, so it stands to reason that your outfit should be sunshine-ready. The easy-fix for a beach wedding is a roomy camp-collar shirt paired with your favourite chinos. But why not go against the grain with a dapper linen suit and hat combo?

Our pick? Paul Smith’s pale blue linen suit paired with one of Eton’s classic slim-fit white shirts. Since having your toes out at the bar may be frowned upon, skip the beachy sandals and opt for Mr P.’s suede loafers instead. Finish your look with a polished straw Panama hat, sunglasses, silver jewellery and oodles of sunscreen.

Paul Smith tailored-fit linen suit

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Mr P. Peter suede loafers

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Frescobol Carioca Rafael straw panama hat

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Ray-Ban gradient sunglasses

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Hatton Labs Spikes sterling silver ring

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