Menswear Wedding Style: What to Wear by Venue

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
Alex Romstedt chose suits for his Ohio Village ceremony.

When it comes to weddings, one look does not, in fact, fit all. Guys: Think of your venue as another member of the wedding party, suggests Heather Boyer, store manager at the Polaris location of American Commodore Tuxedo. How will the two of you match up? To make sure you and your groomsmen are prepared, we consulted local menswear experts for the do's and don'ts no matter your venue.

At City Hall

There's no shame in a quick, low-key ceremony, but you should still dress for the occasion. Dark blue, black or charcoal suits are a safe bet, says Daniel Wiest, assistant operations manager at Men's Wearhouse in Upper Arlington, but don't overdo it with a tuxedo or bright accents. "Screaming bow-tie fancy is not the way to go," he says. "Being reserved is key." You might be able to slide by with a nice button-down shirt and slacks, he adds, but a jacket and tie say you're taking the ceremony seriously, despite the nontraditional venue. Avoid denim, sweaters, hats and sneakers.

In a Ballroom

"You should definitely be as formal as you can be," Boyer says. A dark tuxedo (preferably black), patent-leather shoes, cufflinks and studs are a must. Skip the low-cut vest and go with a cummerbund, which is more traditional and cooler during a long ceremony. (Covering your waist is essential for a black-tie look, as it tucks in your shirt and stomach and accentuates your chest and shoulders.) Tailcoats, while less common, are also an option, depending on the style of the bride's dress. Avoid suits-even three-piece suits-if possible. "You can't really be overdressed for this," Wiest adds. "The biggest thing to avoid is being underdressed." Accents that correspond with the season or the bridal party are optional, but "don't go too far," he warns. "Black and white are always safe." Pro tip: White bow ties are on-trend and can add flair to an otherwise standard tuxedo.

On the Farm

Rural, farm-style weddings are becoming more popular, Wiest says, in part because they allow guys more liberty, from suspenders to patterned socks. "[Patterned socks] make for great outside pictures-the guys lifting their pants and showing the patterns," he says. "It's a great look, especially if you find something to go with the wedding colors." Boyer and Wiest agree khaki or light-brown three-piece suits are almost always the way to go. Gray suits are a safe alternative to khaki, but they're not as easy to dress down. "A lot of guys who we've had in khaki even go without the jacket, a casual-groom look, which is very popular with any outdoor wedding," Boyer says. For this kind of wedding, don't feel uncomfortable if you are comfortable. "You want to avoid stiff, formal attire with patent leather or heavy wool or anything with black, especially being outdoors," Boyer says. "Black is just a horrible option."

Disguised as a Garden Party

"Coats are a little bit more essential than at a farm wedding," Wiest says. "You can get away with a light-tan suit if you wanted, but I would go a touch darker." For garden weddings, Boyer says American Commodore Tuxedo sells a medium-gray tux "with very little satin on it." She also suggests a white vest, with white patent-leather shoes. Both Wiest and Boyer recommend a colorful tie and pocket square, especially if they correspond with any floral arrangements that will be near the alter or in the background of your group and couple photos. Wiest says a standard black-tie look works, too, but should be considered only if a more creative pairing doesn't work.

Choose colors before you start shopping.

Heather Boyer of American Commodore Tuxedo and Daniel Wiest of Men's Wearhouse agree a groom and bride should decide on a color palette before doing any serious shopping. "Otherwise, it's hard for us to offer much direction," Boyer says.

Try on everything.

Don't go with your gut; go with your whole body. At American Commodore, Boyer encourages grooms to try on every item in consideration, which, in some cases, has led to an entirely new outfit. "You may think, 'I have my heart set on white and tan,' and you put it on and it's not what you expected at all," she says.

Be selfish-to an extent.

It's your wedding, so you, first and foremost, need to be happy with your look. Consult your groomsmen, but do so before visiting the store. "It's usually a lot less stressful for the groom that way," Boyer says. "There will be 10 of you all wanting to wear different colors." More than color or cut, Wiest recommends being conscious of any sizing restrictions your groomsmen may encounter.

It's never too early to start looking.

It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind that is wedding planning, but tuxedo shopping should not be the last item on your list. To be safe, Boyer recommends shopping around nine months to a year in advance. As far as cut-offs go: If you're renting, Wiest says you should be seriously shopping no closer than five months before the wedding.