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As the best man, what you wear to the wedding is just as important as what you say during your toast. You need to look the part and the clothes you wear have a lot to do with it. However, deciphering today's seemingly-growing list of dress codes can sometimes be as daunting a task as writing your best man speech.
To save you time and headache, we sought out the most common wedding dress codes and described - in detail - what each entails. Read on to determine how you should dress up for your buddy/relative's wedding.
White Tie - White tie is the mac daddy and most formal of all the dress codes. You MUST wear a tuxedo to a white tie wedding and the necessary pieces are a long-tailed black jacket, white wingtip collar shirt, white pique vest, white bow tie, black formal shoes, and even white gloves.
Black Tie - Black tie is the second most formal dress code and also requires a tuxedo. For a black tie affair, think James Bond and wear a single breasted tuxedo (either in black or midnight/dark blue), white turn-down spread collar shirt with a pleated front, black bow tie, black cummerbund, and black formal or black patent shoes.
Formal - The formal dress code walks the thin-dress-code line because you can show up in either a tuxedo or dark suit and tie, and still fit in appropriately. To decide whether to take the tuxedo or suit route, consider what the groom is wearing and go from there. If the groom's wearing a tux, you should as well and follow the Black Tie guide above. If he's wearing a suit, then reach for a dark suit, solid-colored button-down shirt, dark tie, and dress shoes. (Note: Use the Formal guide for the "Black Tie Optional" or "Black Tie Suggested" dress codes.)
Semi-Formal - Semi-formal weddings require you to show up in a suit and tie. For weddings taking place during the day, wear light colors and fabrics; and for evening weddings, go for a darker color combination with your attire. (Note: Use the Semi-Formal guide for the "Dressy Casual" dress code.)
Beach Formal - When dressing for a beach formal wedding, keep the "beach" part in mind and seriously take the heat and sand into consideration because you may be subjected to nature's elements for a while before the ceremony even starts. A light-colored summer suit is your best bet and though a tie is generally not required we recommend you double check that with the groom. As for foot gear, you'll most likely be barefoot during the ceremony but find out if the groom's wearing sandals, Top-Siders or loafers and follow his lead.
Cocktail - This dress code has grown in popularity and, though it's still a bit formal, it leaves some room for self-expression via a patterned tie and/or colored socks. A dark suit is required but you may be able to wear a subtly patterned suit. Just make sure to run the patterned suit and/or tie, and colored socks by the couple. Also, in terms of foot gear, wear dress shoes.
Business Casual - Business casual consists of a suit, button-down shirt, tie, and dress shoes. Sometimes a tie is optional but we'd recommend showing up with one already on because you can always remove it if need be. Also, assuming the couple is okay with it, feel free to play with patterns and textures - just be mindful that you are attending a wedding and you are attending the wedding as the best man.
Casual - The casual dress code is the most relaxed of all the dress codes and indicates the wedding will be laid back. However, given the role you play in your buddy/relative's upcoming nuptials, this doesn't mean you can show up in jeans and sneakers. We'd recommend taking your cue from the groom on this one or going with a business casual attire.