Grooms get short shrift from Hollywood. If they’re not cads, liable to scarper with a bridesmaid before the Mendelssohn plays, they’re bumbling goons who manage their one task with the finesse of a man playing piano in boxing gloves. Which is perhaps why real-world brides are loathe to let their partners in on the planning of ‘their’ big day.
But it’s your wedding too, goddammit. And if you can’t pick the hymns (“Wonderwall is not a hymn”), fiddle with the seating plan (“remember the last time uncle Dave sat next to cousin Julie?”), or have a say in the colour scheme (“I don’t care if pink and yellow is your five-a-side team’s away strip”), you should at least choose how your side of the aisle looks. And beyond your own getup, there’s a quartet of your best friends who need dressing. They shouldn’t look like strangers you bailed out because you needed wedding witnesses.
Don’t Tell The Bride has made parachute entrances passé. Which makes back-to-basics nuptials refreshing, not uninspired. Just don’t go all the way back. “Wedding parties are moving away from tails to more modern, three-piece suits, with a tailored fit,” says Mustafa Dhar, head of buying at Moss Bros.
“Blue is a key colour for weddings, and our spectrum runs from a dark navy from Moss 1851, via a light blue sharkskin, to a bright blue from Ted Baker.”
It’s the little details that keep blue suits out of the office. “Matching your tie and pocket square to the bridesmaids’ dresses is a sharp but traditional touch, as is a contrast-colour waistcoat to ensure that the groom stands out from the rest.” And tells lesser-seen relatives where to point their cameras.
Technically – and it’s only really a problem if you’re inviting people who know the queen as “Lizzie” – black tie is evening wear. Which means you shouldn’t wear it unless the ceremony is at night. But every man looks good in a tuxedo. And it’s worth the tutting for wedding snaps where your squad looks like James Bond.
Black tie also suits even the least style aware groomsmen. “You can play around with details, but as long as you remain reasonably within tradition, it’s pretty hard to go wrong,” says Nish de Gruiter, vice president of Suitsupply. Tradition means a bow tie, white shirt and braces.
When it comes to the details, you can play with everything from shades to cut. “We’re seeing a lot of navy tuxedos with a darker coloured lapel,” says de Gruiter. “But an evening shoe with a flat bow and a single cuff is the ultimate in black tie dressing.”
Before diving too deep into avant-garde options, remember that photos last forever. Trends, less so.
A wedding is, at heart, a big party to celebrate the signing of a contract. Your other half might not co-sign that viewpoint, but your dress code can. It’s damn hard to dance in tails and new shoes, after all. Steer smart-casual and you groomsmen can be buttoned-up in the church, but bust out a synchronised nae nae after dark.
“The most important thing with groomsmen is consistency,” says Freddie Kemp, stylist at Thread. “A good way to go traditional, but a bit more casual, is to have groomsmen wear a suit and shirt, but to leave the necks unbuttoned and to wear pocket squares instead of ties. (Plus pocket squares make great groomsmen’s gifts—much more original than ties.)”
If you’re looking to do away with the suit altogether, think mix-and-match. “As a groom, you can wear a full suit and ask your groomsmen to go for split tailoring that corresponds in colour – navy blazers, stone chinos, and shirts that meet the colour scheme.” And most important – you’ll be the best-dressed man standing.