Whether you have been going to weddings for years or are about to attend your first one, eventually everyone gets caught off guard by the terminology used for wedding attire, especially for men. Or maybe you're planning your own wedding and now that you have sorted it out with the DJ he's only going to play The Greatest Wedding Playlist Ever, you're now turning attention to wedding attire.
As styles and trends have gotten less formal, a wide variety for wedding dress codes have emerged allowing for more flexibility for both hosts and attendees. Originally appearing in our The BestMan newsletter, we've debunked various wedding attires you might get invited to in the complete guide below. Let us know your thoughts or if we missed any themes in the comments below!
What Does Black Tie Wedding Attire Mean For Men?
Pretty straight forward. At its core, Black Tie says you have to wear a jacket and a bowtie. A black tuxedo will be the most popular outfit there, but you can also pull off a black suit or navy tuxedo. Whatever you decide, pair it with black shoes.
Flexibility Scale: Extremely Limited
What Does Black Tie Optional Wedding Attire Mean For Men?
There's nothing optional about Black Tie Optional. Groupchats around the country are wondering one thing - who's wearing a tux when it calls for Black Tie Optional? The answer should be everyone. Turns out the optional part really is a facade and guys should plan on wearing a black tux or at least a black suit. Unless you're David Beckham as that man can do whatever he wants. Ladies on the other hand have a bit more wiggle room & can ditch the floor length gown if desired.
Flexibility Scale: Pretty Limited
What Does Cocktail Wedding Attire Mean for Men?
How it got its name, nobody really knows but Cocktail attire means men are not off the hook for a jacket just yet. While less formal than Black Tie Optional its still not casual. What this leaves is room to mix it up. Ditch the tie for an allover print shirt or your favorite sweater. If you feel like you can't go to a wedding without wearing a tie than reach for one that says fun but not tacky. Dress shoes are still optimal but color is up to you, leather sneakers are known to make an appearance but you should probably pair it with a tie.
Flexibility Scale: Flexible
What Does Come As You Are Wedding Attire Mean For Men?
Conceptually we're all for the idea of the Come As You Are (CAYA) dress code. It's inclusive, and sets a tone that guests don't need to prep as if it's the Met Gala. For seasoned wedding guests this is a dream attire to read on the invitation as it allows you to pull together an awesome outfit without having to shop. However a lot of guys get lost in the ambiguity, being told to wear a tux can be a relief for some.
For starters, CAYA still means wear a jacket if you're old enough to hit the bar. But from there you're on your own. Ties, dress shoes & suit pants become optional; we say he should have at least 2 out of 3 but see what you can get away with.
Flexibility Scale: Very Flexible
What Does Casual Wedding Attire Mean For Men?
Don't fall for the trap, casual wedding attire means guys can have the flexibility to show up in what they feel comfortable while still looking good. No, this doesn't mean you get to wear shorts, but you are free to ditch the neckwear so be sure to tell the hosts its appreciated. Don't be any more casual than what you would wear to a third date. (If you're reading this then we probably don't have to spell that out for you).
Flexibility Scale: Very Flexible
Overall remember to always check the dress code and reach out to the happy couple or the wedding planner if you have any questions. When in doubt shade dressier rather than casual. Do not underestimate the importance of the shoes. Use accessories like our personalized cufflink set to make your look your own, but stay in your lane at the end of the day remember, its their big day not yours. If you ever have any questions feel free to text us (914) 719-7379 for a personal consultation.
Once you determine the dress code for men at your wedding you can continue learning about the key considerations when picking out mens wedding bands here.