55 Dos and Don’ts for Getting Dressed for a Wedding

Ariel Davis

It’s wedding season, folks. And whether you’re only attending a single celebration this summer or your fridge door is so cluttered with save-the-dates it looks like the Charlie Day meme, you’ve got some decisions to make. Chief among them: What the hell are you going to wear?

Dressing for a wedding requires a lot of careful deliberation. You need to be respectful of the dress code, of course, but you also don’t want to blend too much into the background. You want to look sharp enough to attract the right kind of attention—especially if you’re single—but not so much attention that you draw focus away from the happy couple. Your look should be elegant and refined enough to pass muster during the ceremony, but also comfortable and flexible enough to let loose on the dance floor.

And what if you’re the groom? In addition to finding the right ensemble for the most important day of your life, you’re also responsible for deciding what everyone else is going to wear—actively in the case of your wedding party and passively with regard to the rest of your guests. Should you go fully bespoke or find something vintage? Black-tie or semi-formal? Go full fashion freak or stick firmly to tradition?

To help you circumnavigate the ever-perplexing byways of matrimony style, we’ve reconvened GQ’s crack team of sartorial experts for a special nuptials edition of our Dos and Don’ts series. Here’s everything you need to know to look your best at a wedding, whether you’re the betrothed, an honored guest, or merely a plus-one.

<cite class="credit">Ariel Davis</cite>
Ariel Davis

Match your date’s vibe, not their color palette.

This isn't prom. If your significant other (or the person you met on Hinge three weeks ago) is dead set on wearing lavender taffeta to the reception, no need to track down a bow tie—or, God forbid, a vest—in the same lustrous hue. But if they’re going for a full ’70s redux, feel free to mix in a hint of disco-era flair, as a treat. —Avidan Grossman

Never rent your outfit.

Trust us: You will get enough wear out of that new tux or suit to justify the cost. And you’ll certainly feel better knowing it fits you properly and that nobody else has spent an entire night dampening the lining on the dance floor. —Yang-Yi Goh

Dress like yourself—only sharper.

Britt Theodora
Britt Theodora

Last year, celebrity stylist Britt Theodora (whose roster includes Pete Davidson, Elliot Page, and Celine Song) was tasked with outfitting her twin sister’s beachside wedding. That meant finding the right suit for her surfer brother-in-law Patch—a casual guy who knew he didn’t want to wear a tie for his nuptials.

“When I’m talking to anyone who’s getting married, I’m like, ‘What’s your personality, what materials do you like to wear?’ Because you need to be comfortable at your wedding,” Theodora says. A classic wool suit may be the standard, but there are plenty of other formal-ready textiles out there—so Theodora found a Ralph Lauren suit made of sturdy navy linen, and the groom invested in a pair of brown Gucci horsebit loafers. He was comfortable, but best of all, he looked like himself.

Skip the blue suit with caramel dress shoes.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The pervasive trend of guys wearing dark blue suits with caramel-toned dress shoes—or toffee, chestnut, cognac, or any other food-adjacent shade of brown—has gone on long enough. (Google “blue suit brown shoes” and you’ll see what I mean.) You look like an investment banker, and not in a good way. —Eileen Cartter

Grooms should get glam, too.

At every straight wedding I’ve been to, the bridesmaids have to report for glam at the crack of dawn on the wedding day, while the guys get to sleep in before going off and getting drunk somewhere. But grooms and groomsmen should spend some time in the makeup chair, too. A little foundation and light hair zhuzhing go a long way in photos, especially when everyone else around you is all glammed up. —Samuel Hine

If you’re a plus-one, maybe don’t bust out your best fashion flex.

Be mindful of the wedding hierarchy. If you don't know the names of the bride's parents and you're sitting at table 27, you don't need to be souring the party photos with your Studio-54-ass fit. —Noah Johnson

<cite class="credit">Ariel Davis</cite>
Ariel Davis

If you’re the groom, plan at least one outfit change.

It’s not uncommon for the bride to swap her dress midway through the reception in favor of something groovier, dancier, and more celebratory. (I went to one Chinese wedding, in fact, where the bride changed eight times—a new look for every dinner course served.) It’s high time grooms followed suit with a party-ready vibe shift of their own. —YG

Use your wedding as an excuse to buy a new watch.

This is the biggest day of your life—it deserves a commemorative talisman. (You know, other than your shiny new ring.) It’s time to finally pop for that grail you’ve been eyeing, whether it’s an elegant Cartier Tank, a sleek Rolex Day-Date, or even a bold anOrdain Fumé. —Cam Wolf

But you don’t have to wear a dress watch.

Steel sport watches have fully crossed over into formalwear—any red carpet snap will tell you that. Just make sure it’s slim enough to fit under your suit sleeve; subverting the rules is all well and good until your dive watch makes it look like you're smuggling a slider into the ceremony. —CW

No ring shenanigans.

Your life isn’t that “active.” You don’t need the silicone ring or the titanium “manly band” that looks like the rim of a Ford F150—and neither of them is appropriate on your big day. Also, learn this from Carrie Bradshaw: Wearing a wedding ring on a necklace or chain instead of your hand is a faulty proposition. —EC

Freak your wedding band.

Bernard James
Bernard James

For generations of men, shopping for a wedding ring meant fishing an anonymous gold band out of a bag at your local jewelry store. But Brooklyn-based jeweler Bernard James has noticed—and helped inspire—a recent uptick in guys seizing the opportunity to find something a little more expressive and personal to wear everyday. “A wedding band is something that’s really going to live with you,” James says. “You really have to feel like your soul is in the piece. If that’s a plain gold band, that’s fine! But more and more people are open to being experimental with different styles, colors, finishes, and stones.”

As far as ring customization is concerned, the possibilities are endless—from gleaming emeralds and rubies to bands shaped like floral bouquets—but if you’re new to wearing rocks, James recommends starting simple. “I love black diamonds,” he says, “because they have this gorgeous shimmer and shine when they interact with light, but they feel more muted and subdued than most gemstones for every day.”

Keep the dress code simple and clear.

“Barnyard” and “rustic” aren’t next to each other in the dictionary, and they don’t belong anywhere near each other on an invite. There’s a special place in hell reserved for couples who think it’s cute to append a dress code of their own design to the RSVP. Do yourself and your guests a favor: don’t. —AG

If the invite says “black-tie optional,” it isn’t.

In this case, the dress code is about as optional as a colorectal screening: You can ignore it, but you may regret that decision later. —AG

Don’t be afraid to break from tradition—especially at a queer wedding.

A groom in black and a bride in ivory is de rigueur for straight weddings. But at a queer wedding, there’s no need to adhere to heteronormative color assignments. A pair in black, a pair in ivory, elements of both or another color altogether—the conservatives are seething either way! Mix it up a little. —Raymond Ang

A tuxedo should either be blue or black.

You know those pastel-hued suits endemic to the Kentucky Derby? Avoid ’em at all costs. You’re not Rick Ross, and this isn’t Roc Nation’s pre-Grammys brunch. It’s called black-tie for a reason. Any other color will make you look like the least famous guy at the VMAs. (If you are Rick Ross, you can do whatever the hell you want.) —AG

When it comes to tuxedo lapels, notch is bad, shawl is better, and peak is best.

There’s a time and place for lapels so shrunken they’d make Thom Browne blush. That time is not your wedding day—unless of course, you’re wearing Thom Browne. (The only thing worse than a notch? A wimpy peak.) —AG

<cite class="credit">Ariel Davis</cite>
Ariel Davis

Embrace the boutonniere.

The more delicate the better, and make sure it’s a fresh flower. —SH

Your bow tie should be black, silky, and about 30 percent floppier than you think.

A black-tie bash is your best chance to harness the retro cool of Newman at the Oscars. Don’t bungle it by knotting up a feeble, floral-printed monstrosity. —AG

Don’t even think about wearing a clip-on tie.

You are a grown-up and Google exists. —Gerald Ortiz

Wear something wild to the rehearsal dinner.

The rehearsal dinner is your time to get sleazy, outfit-wise. Get all the flexing out of your system before wearing something classier for your actual nuptials. Bolo ties. Shantung silk dinner jackets. Those sick Comme des Garçons derbies you’ve been saving for a special occasion. It’s all fair game (just not all at once). —SH

Don’t forget to remove all the stitches on your suit’s vents and sleeves.

The most obvious rule of all, but it still needs to be said. —NJ

Knock out wrinkles.

Elise Taylor
Elise Taylor

Elise Taylor, a senior Vogue writer who has covered dozens of the world’s most stylish weddings, has seen more wedding photos than one could possibly count. Her biggest menswear faux pas? Wrinkled suits. “When I’m reviewing a lot of pictures of guests and sometimes even grooms, it’s quite obvious to me when they haven’t pressed their suits,” she says. Most hotel rooms and even Airbnbs have irons, and many hotels offer laundry or pressing services via the front desk. (Just be very careful when ironing your suit: Keep the iron on low heat and cover the fabric with a thin cloth or towel, or you might ruin it.) Alternatively, ask around the hotel block—or just text your wedding-pals group chat to see if someone else has a steamer you can borrow. As Taylor notes, “That’s something that women very much know to do when traveling” for a wedding.

<cite class="credit">Ariel Davis</cite>
Ariel Davis

Don’t cut your hair too soon before the big day.

You know how you can always tell when someone has just gotten a haircut? Avoid that. You want your flow to look natural. Plus, God forbid something goes wrong in the barber chair and you need time to recover. —NJ

Don’t wear the suit you’d wear to work.

There’s a difference between a two-piece meant for the boardroom and one designed for celebrations. Leave your stiff worsted charcoal number at home and don’t be afraid to suit up in something a little flowier, flashier, and more fun. —YG

If a friend solicits advice about his wedding outfit in advance, be honest. But if either member of the couple asks how they look on the day itself, the only correct response is rapturous praise.

Your buddy cries when the Knicks don’t make the playoffs. What do you think his reaction will be when you start criticizing his outfit before he waltzes down the aisle? —AG

Planning a gay wedding? Don’t wear the exact same suit.

Twin at your own peril. Matching looks can be stellar—if you calibrate them perfectly. But if you're even just a few degrees off, you risk looking like a couple of vaguely coordinated background singers. —RA

<cite class="credit">Ariel Davis</cite>
Ariel Davis

Skip the mandatory groomsmen outfits.

There’s nothing wrong with asking your wedding party to wear tuxedos or dark suits, but matching pastel blazers or “fun” cummerbunds? If most people don’t already have it in their closet, it’s probably going to look ugly. —SH

If you are asking your groomsmen to wear something specific, you should pay for it.

Your pals are already shelling out for the bachelor party, any necessary travel arrangements, and a gift. The least you can do is provide them with their required look for the big day—especially if it’s something they likely won’t wear ever again. —YG

No three-piece suits.

A three-piece suit is often considered the standard for grooms and groomsmen. But a three-piece suit is also … a lot. It’s hard to wear one and not look like you’re in costume. (Also, a waistcoat does not automatically make you look dapper. In many cases, it will make you look like a magician.) —EC

No stretchy suits.

Those “athletic fit” suits made from, like, Lululemon pant material? They look frumpy and cheap, plain and simple. If you can deadlift in it, you can’t get married in it. Stick to real-deal wools, linens, and cottons. —YG

Your wedding is not the venue to show off your gains.

Congratulations on achieving the sinewy, defined biceps of your dreams. However, your friends and family did not gather here today to ogle the curves of your muscles through your wedding suit. If it’s skintight, it doesn’t fit right. —EC

Take your time getting ready.

Davide Baroncini
Davide Baroncini

On the morning of his wedding, Ghiaia Cashmere founder Davide Baroncini woke up early, washed his ’72 Alfa Romeo, drove to a historic barbershop in LA’s Silverlake for a hot shave (a favorite routine back his in his native Italy), and then laid in the sun by the pool at his house—which, conveniently, was where he and his wife, LPA founder Pia Baroncini, were getting married. When it was time to get dressed, he laid everything out—freshly polished shoes, watch, tie, glasses—“almost like the scene of a Tom Ford movie.” He remembers every detail: a crispy white pocket square, a brand-new white shirt, a new pair of knee-high Filo di Scozia socks. “I wanted to take the time to do that,” he says. “That was almost more important than the suit itself.”

If you’re a groom and feeling nervous about getting ready, make a little ritual for yourself. This is a special day for everyone. That day, says Baroncini, “I truly felt like a million bucks, like Americans say.”

Bring sunglasses.

For a whole bunch of reasons, a wedding can be a bleary-eyed affair. Whether it’s nerves, the emotionality of the day, or the six “signature Moscow mules” you downed during the cocktail hour getting the better of you, it can be comforting to just slip on some sunglasses—especially when the photographer comes around. A good pair of shades can cover all (well, some) sins. (And if you needed an excuse: Now’s the time to ditch the cheap plastic souvenir frames you got for free at a conference that one time and invest in a nice pair.) —EC

Consider your eyeglasses.

Opting for specs over contacts during the festivities? Great. Just ensure you’ve got the right frames to complement—and not distract or detract—from the rest of your ensemble. In other words: Maybe save the thick-rimmed, jumbo-size, purple acetate joints for another time. —YG

No open-toe shoes, even if you're getting married on the beach.

Nobody wants to see your toes on your wedding day. Getting married by the ocean in Hawaii? Congratulations—now get a pair of understated espadrilles or woven leather loafers. —SH

Wear socks.

And while we’re at it, nobody wants to see your bare ankles either. A nice pair of solid ribbed dress socks—nothing novelty, please!—goes a long way. —YG

It’s always better to be overdressed.

If the dress code is vague or unambitious, err on the side of a blazer, tie, and nice trousers. Aim higher than your business casual office outfit. –SH

<cite class="credit">Ariel Davis</cite>
Ariel Davis

Dress for the locale.

If you're getting married on a ranch, it's fine to wear boots and a bolo tie. It ain't a costume if there's a horse nearby. —NJ

Your wedding is a bad time to order your first custom suit.

There’s a common misperception that custom tailoring is always better in every way than what you can get off the rack. The truth is more nuanced: Going custom can also mean bad fits, strange fabrics, and weird details tacked on just to show how bespoke everything is. (They’re not just any dumb purple buttonholes—they’re your dumb purple buttonholes.) The thing is, whether you’re doing inexpensive made-to-measure from an online company or the real thing when a Savile Row trunk show is in your city, custom tailoring means figuring out a lot of variables—and you aren’t guaranteed to get it right the first time. Is that really a gamble you want to take when you’ve got a hard deadline to look your best? —Chris Cohen

A white dress shirt is not a tuxedo shirt.

The difference mostly comes down to the placket. If it's exposed with regular buttons, save it for the office. If it’s seamless and needs studs—or better yet, is surrounded by a frilly pleated bib—let the good times roll. —AG

Break in your shoes a few days early.

There’s nothing worse than evacuating the dance floor to find Band-Aids. If you’ve got a fresh pair of shoes, test-drive them as much as you can before the big day. —SH

And shine them right before the big day.

Even if they’re brand-new. The extra effort will make your crisply tailored look pop even more. —GO

Look beyond Mad Men and Peaky Blinders for your wedding suit inspo.

This goes back to the “no three-piece suits” rule: Your wedding suit should not look like a costume from a TV period drama. But if you and your groomsmen actually are members of a turn-of-the-century Irish street gang, carry on. —EC

Switch up the underpinnings.

Matty Matheson
Matty Matheson

Ever since The Bear became a cultural juggernaut in 2022, Matty Matheson—the über-successful chef and restaurateur, who serves as a producer and costar on the FX series—has become one of the single-most electric dressers on the awards circuit. He’s done so by leaning hard into traditional tailoring (classic black tuxedos and natty plaid suits) and then mixing ’em up with offbeat accouterments (ribbon bow ties and fisherman sandals).

“It’s kind of a formula,” Matheson says of his approach to red-carpet style. “I’ve got like three options: a black tux, a white [dinner jacket], a colorful suit, and I’m good. I can play within that by choosing a different pair of socks, or a beautiful shoe from Bode, or a vintage tie I bought on eBay.” If you’ve got a gauntlet of summer weddings ahead of you and a limited number of options in your closet, following Matheson’s method is your best bet for keeping your suits feeling fresh. “I just keep it simple and stay in my lane,” Matheson says, “and it’s nice and it’s easy and it’s not stressful.”

Khakis are not a replacement for suit pants.

In 2024, khakis are all kinds of things: pleated, high-waisted, weirdly viral. The one thing they’re not? Appropriate wedding attire. If you’d wear them to the office on a Friday, they don’t belong anywhere near a chuppah. —AG

Keep a handkerchief on hand.

You can wear it as a pocket square, sure. But make sure you’ve got a clean linen hanky at the ready to offer up to your date—or simply use yourself—when the ceremony gets swoony and the tears start flowing. —YG

Be conscious of your buttons.

A few basic guidelines: Never button the bottom button on a suit jacket. Always unbutton fully when you’re seated to circumvent wrinkling across your torso. And be sure to do your jacket up at the altar. —YG

<cite class="credit">Ariel Davis</cite>
Ariel Davis

Don’t take your tie off before the groom does.

There’s nothing cooler than having your bow tie slung around your neck with a couple of shirt buttons undone at the end of the night. But wait until the man of the hour loosens up before you do, or you’ll risk being lumped in with that sloppy guy with his tie cinched on his forehead going buck wild in the dance circle. —YG

No sneakers with your suit.

As proud as you are of those Jordan 11s, the combo doesn’t look nearly as cool as you think. And definitely no sneaker-soled dress shoes, which are frankly even worse. If you’re bored of traditional lace-ups, there are plenty of worthy alternatives out there—from funky heeled boots to dainty Mary Janes—that don’t have a Swoosh on the side. —GO

You don’t have to wear the shiny black opera pumps, but why on earth wouldn’t you?

Nobody will bat an eye if you anchor your tux with gleaming cap-toes—but what’s a wedding if not an excuse to break out the daintiest dress shoes in your closet? Carpe the big diem accordingly. —AG

Bring back the cummerbund.

The right one (read: plain black silk) will make your tuxedo look hotter. Guaranteed. —YG

Leave the suspenders at home.

Unless you are a grandparent, suspenders are more trouble than they are worth. Your pants should fit. –SH

And please…no hats.

Especially not those dorky driving caps that were everywhere in the early 2010s. Likewise avoid fedoras of any kind: straw, wide-brimmed, or pickup artist. —GO

The best wedding merch is custom matchbooks.

Have you ever seen anyone wearing a wedding T-shirt? Exactly. Small, ephemeral mementos like matchbooks are the move, because you can never have enough of them around. –SH

Don’t try to look timeless.

I’ve made this case before, but if your most pressing concern when devising your wedding look is whether or not it’ll look dated in 20 years, you’re worried about the wrong thing. The most fun part about looking at old wedding photos is the sense of time and place you get from the way people are dressed—whether that’s your grandma’s elegant lace gown or your uncle’s goofy ’70s perm. That’s not to say you should wear a trending sequined shirt or baggy shorts to tie the knot, but a few subtle nods to 2024 style—like wider, sexier lapels or looser, high-waisted trousers—are swings worth taking. —YG

Originally Appeared on GQ

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