Wedding tuxedos are a tradition that’s almost as old as the hills. But like those steep, rocky outcrops, the rules and etiquette surrounding this archaic piece of formal wear can seem daunting and impenetrable to the modern man.
What kind of tuxedo is acceptable at which type of event? What are the different styles of wedding tuxedos, and how can these details change the wearer’s appearance? What shoes and accessories can you combine with your tuxedo without committing an unforgivable sartorial faux pas?
These and other equally obscure mysteries will all be revealed in our full in-depth guide to wedding tuxedos.
When Should You Wear a Wedding Tuxedo?
There are subtle differences in tuxedo etiquette. And not every tux-based outfit will be suitable for all occasions. Before going any further, then, it’s important to establish precisely what kind of wedding you’ll be attending.
Black Tie events were once considered only semi-formal. Today though, unless you win the Nobel Prize or are in the habit of hanging out with royalty, a Black Tie wedding is about as formal an event as most of us are ever likely to be invited to. And as a formal event, a Black Tie wedding calls for a full wedding tuxedo in black, with all accessories – including the tie, funnily enough – also in black.
Creative Black Tie
As the name would suggest, a Creative Black Tie dress code allows for a little more self-expression than with a regular Black Tie wedding. Where the name is somewhat more misleading, however, is in the fact that your tie doesn’t need to be black at all. In fact, if you’re looking to get a little creative, the tie is one of the first areas where you might consider experimenting with some color.
You’ll still be expected to wear a tux at a Creative Black Tie event, though. So be sure to read on for tips about how to add a little personal style to your wedding tuxedo ensemble without falling foul of the age-old formal dress codes.
Formal/Black Tie Optional
At a wedding with a Formal or Black Tie Optional dress code, nobody will be offended if you show up in a regular suit. But just as equally, no one will think you’re overdressed if you opt for a tuxedo either.
But because a Black Tie Optional event is the least formal of the three tuxedo dress codes, guests now have the go-ahead to really splash out and personalize their wedding tuxedos as they want. Of course, you can totally stick to a more classic look, too, if you prefer. Whatever your preference, though, in most cases you’ll still want to roll up in a dark-colored tuxedo and smart black dress shoes, using this as a base to add whichever more personalized touches you may wish.
Wedding Tuxedo Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts
Do: Keep It Classic
Here at 8th Lining, we appreciate a subtle touch of self-expression in a suit. And we’re certainly not averse to breaking with tradition whenever it makes sense (we use high-tech 3D body scans to take our clients’ measurements, after all). But although heavily “fashion-forward” looks can be fun in certain contexts, a wedding tuxedo is probably not one of those contexts. If for no other reasons than A) there will be photographers present, and B) unlike all those useless snaps of sunsets occupying memory on your phone, people do actually tend to look at wedding photos again in the future.
You will no doubt have seen a few ridiculous wedding photos from the ’70s; groups of smiling guests decked out in spectacularly wide-collars and bell-bottomed suits. If that isn’t how you would also like to be remembered in the future, we urge you to stick to a more classic silhouette.
And if that’s true for wedding guests, it’s doubly so for the groom. Big statements or major concessions to fashion tend not to age well. Want to look back on your wedding day in twenty, thirty, or forty years' time and still feel good about how you turned out? Keep things simple and sophisticated.
For example, super short and tight suit jackets were all the rage just a couple of years ago. But as fashions have started to get looser over the last few years, ultra-fitted wedding tuxedos are soon going to start to look very dated indeed. In fact, we’ll go out on a limb here and predict that the “painted on” suit won’t even get to ten years before it will start looking ridiculous. Never mind forty!