Wedding Crashers: What a Man Should Wear to a Wedding

Party crashing is a sport that more than a few have successfully executed, especially during those “experience rich” college years. Wedding crashing, however, is a special form of party crashing – one which requires an extra level of preparation and chutzpah. Now, before you start feeling mislead about the direction of this short story, the following will apply to those who have an actual invitation to a wedding (though if one were to crash a wedding, being especially well dressed would certainly not be a disadvantage.)

When you are in the wedding party, the decision about what to wear is easy, since it is mostly dictated by the bride, and possibly the groom (just being honest.) But when you are a chosen, invited guest….now that is a golden opportunity to impress and express with how you dress.

Leaning formal…

Right down the middle
(It’s a suit, but lighter in color….so not quite as formal)

Leaning casual…

A few basic rules:

  1. Similar to other ceremonial occasions, a wedding is a time to dress up, not down, to ere on the side of being overdressed, not underdressed. When in doubt, wear a tie. (You can always remove it if no one else is wearing one.)
  2. Don’t dress like you’re going to a business meeting. A wedding is not a business meeting.
  3. Consider how the groom will be dressed. Typically a notch below the groom in formality is appropriate. If he is dressed formal, in a tuxedo, a creative dinner jacket would be a great choice, and you can’t wrong in a dark suit and tie.
  4. Consider the setting and the time of day. A friend of mine is going to a formal wedding in Los Angeles, set in a botanical garden. In that case, her date could wear a light colored suit if the wedding is before 6pm. Either one of the “leaning casual” looks above would rock! Otherwise, a medium to dark suit would be a safe bet. And since it is L.A., by all means, he should let the character inside of him out to play.

Russ L. (pictured at the very top) is a financial professional by day, generally being limited to conservative Wall Street attire. However, the real Russ enjoys showing a more creative side whenever the opportunity presents itself. At a late summer wedding, high up in the Sierras, he kicked up his style with a look inspired by late 40’s elegance, including braces for his pants, a tie bar, a summer trilby for his head, and a crisp pair of Aviators to finish the look. The other guests loved his style and he and everyone else had more fun because of his extra effort and thoughtfulness.

What are a few other easy ways to let your style shine?

  • Think SOCIAL. Wear something that is outside of your ordinary workday attire. I like to wear linen and cotton for late spring/summer weddings and muted plaid, window pane, or dressy shadow stripes for fall/winter weddings.
  • Add a VEST. Shown above are two examples. A practical advantage is that when you take your coat off, you still have a more finished, dressed up appearance.
  • Rock a BOW TIE.
  • Wear some COLOR.
  • Definitely add a POCKET SQUARE.

Note: Though it is somewhat rare these days, for a classic formal wedding (i.e., for day weddings – the bridal party is dressed in cutaways, for evening – in white tie & tails) you should go formal. For our purposes, unless you own a full dress suit (tails), you should wear a tuxedo/Dinner Jacket in the evening. For a daytime formal wedding (cutaway/morning coat) the proper attire is the long-forgotten stroller, or Stresemann, outfit. This is a solid black or charcoal jacket, grey checked or striped formal trousers, silver solid tie, and dove gray or buff waistcoat. This is worn with cap toe oxfords and a point collar, French cuff shirt.

Weddings are a celebration. The best ones I’ve been to were actually more like a great party, with lots of fun people, preceded by a romantic, uniquely sacred, and relatively brief ceremony. My suggestion: Dress to respect the ceremony and to enjoy the reception.

Sartorial Regards,


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