To Tuxedo or Not Tuxedo – That is the Question 

With minor exceptions, such as pastel colored polyester tuxedos with contrasting trim from the 1970s, the formal tuxedo has made few changes throughout its long history. What has changed in more recent years is what the groom will wear on his wedding day. Besides a military uniform, no longer is a tuxedo the only acceptable form of dress. Below are guidelines to help you decide what might be the best choice based on the time of day and formality of the occasion:

  • When planning a formal daytime wedding (before 6 pm), it is traditional for the groom to wear a morning coat. This is a gray cutaway coat paired with gray striped trousers, pearl gray waistcoat or vest, white shirt with either a wing-collar or lay-down collar, ascot or black and gray striped tie, and black kid-style, smooth-toe shoes. Gray gloves, top hat, and spats may be used to accessorize.
  • For a semi-formal daytime wedding, the dress can be the same as a formal wedding, with the exceptions being a white formal shirt, vest or cummerbund to match the coat, bow-tie or striped tie instead of ascot, and only gray gloves to accessorize if so desired. Today it is also acceptable for the groom to wear a tuxedo to an afternoon wedding. The tuxedo should be black or dark gray. For a contemporary look, navy blue is also acceptable.
  • For a formal evening wedding (after 6pm), the traditional attire is a black tailcoat and matching pants, white pique wing-collared shirt with a matching vest or waistcoat, white bow tie and black patent leather smooth-toe shoes. White gloves may be worn to accessorize.
  • A semi-formal evening wedding has several options. The groom may go with the formal wear as described above with the exception of the gloves. Or, he may choose to wear a white pleated or formal shirt, black vest or cummerbund and bow tie to match or complement. The groom may also decide to wear a classic black tuxedo, or for a summer wedding, a white dinner jacket.

There are other criteria to consider in selecting your wedding attire:

  • If your wedding is a beach or similar destination wedding, a khaki-colored or light gray suit may be more in keeping with the theme. However, the important thing to keep in mind is what will work best with the bride’s dress. If she is wearing a formal, bead and jewel-encrusted gown, then the groom will look out of place in a seersucker, linen, or similar type suit. If a suit is opted for, then a more formal, dark color is appropriate.
  • Three months or more before the big day, the groom should meet with the tailor or rental shop associate to choose his attire. It is important to have the right fit in whatever style is chosen.
  • If the groom and groomsmen are buying suits off the rack, it is vital to have fittings done to make sure they are properly tailored.
  • When selecting a suit option, select accessories at the same time. The groom may want to stand out from the groomsmen by choosing a different tie and vest. Also, the groom should convey the appropriate color and style of shoes and socks, as well as any other accessories he would like his groomsmen to wear.

Always consult the bride for her opinion!