When men get invited to a wedding, the first thing they think about isn’t usually what they’re going to wear to the ceremony and reception. The cost of airplane tickets, hotels and gifts are likely to come to mind first.

You will need to find something to wear however. While many men rely on one or two suits, there’s a big difference between black tie wedding attire and casual wedding attire for men these days.

Keep reading to learn more about how you can figure out what you’re supposed to be wearing. You don’t want to be caught in casual wedding attire for men at a black tie wedding, and you definitely don’t want to be in black tie when all the other guys are in linen suits.

Read Your Invitation Twice

You would be surprised how many men get a wedding invitation and check the date, time and location in 10 or 15 seconds before tossing the thing in a pile of mail on the counter. Do that at your own peril, but don’t complain when you’re scrambling to find something to wear at the last minute.

Or you could thoroughly check your invitation as soon as you get it. Read it twice to try and figure out how you’re supposed to be dressed. Some invitations will state that black tie is expected of guests. Others will use phrases like black tie optional.

Even if the invitation doesn’t state what you’re supposed to wear, that doesn’t mean you can wear your basketball shoes and a pair of jeans. What it means is that you need to do a little bit of sleuthing on your own.

Of course, if your invitation says cocktail attire or casual attire, that should give you some indication of how to dress as well. We’ll get to those styles later though.

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Check the Venue

If the invitation you received in the mail from the bride and groom doesn’t tell you specifically what to wear, you need to look into the details of the wedding. Specifically, you need to check out the venue and see what it looks like.

Is the ceremony happening in a 200-year-old church, followed by a reception at the fanciest hotel ballroom in the city? If so, you’re probably on the hook for black tie, or at least a black tie optional style of dress.

On the other hand, if you’ve been invited to a wedding that will take place on the beach with a reception to follow at the couple’s favorite dive bar – trust us, it happens – then you probably do not want to wear your black tuxedo.

Get Your Black Tie Right

Black tie, black tie only and black tie required mean nothing but black tuxedos. You can wear midnight blue, but if you’re going to an old-school wedding, that might not even be the best choice.

Follow the basic rules for black tie if you get one of these invitations. That means tuxedo, white shirt, cummerbund, bow tie – the works.

If you get an invitation that says black tie preferred or black tie optional, that basically leaves the choice up to you. You won’t be out of place in a tuxedo, and chances are the bride and groom want you to wear one. They just don’t want to force the issue for guests that don’t have a tux or will feel out of place in one.

Cocktail Attire

Cocktail attire is becoming increasingly popular at weddings these days. Without a long primer, cocktail attire means a dark to mid-gray suit with a basic shirt, understated tie and perhaps a pocket square for style.

Skip the lighter colored suits and incredibly bold accessories when you go to an event asking for cocktail attire.

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Casual Wedding Attire for Men

Casual wedding attire for men still means a suit. Unless specifically themed in western wear or Hawaiian shirts, you don’t get to wear that kind of stuff.

Pick a suit that’s lighter in color or walks the line between dark and light. You can’t go wrong with lighter gray, high blue or suits in green or brown if they look good with your skin tone and features.

Linen and even cotton or cotton-blend suits can also work particularly well if you’re looking for casual wedding attire for men during the summer. Pair these suits with lighter accessories, but don’t be afraid of a colorful tie or bolder shirt, like one with a micro-dot pattern.

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men's fashion advice

Ralph Lauretta

About Ralph Lauretta

Ralph is a co-owner of Sal Lauretta for Men. His areas of expertise include custom clothing as well as being the primary clothing buyer for the store. When not at work you can find him hanging out with his family, reorganizing his garage or watching a Denver Broncos game.

One Comment

  • FredC1968 says:

    Since I live in the white sock wearing “city” of Tucson, I’ve seen people complain about being asked to dress for a wedding.

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