Tuxedo or Suit? How to Decide on Wedding Apparel
While brides traditionally wear white, menswear for weddings isn’t always as cut-and-dried. The biggest decision? Choosing between a tuxedo and a suit. Which is best for your sense of style? And what about your attendants?
Breathe! Here you’ll find all the answers to your questions about tuxedos, suits, and how to choose between the two, plus some sartorial advice for same-sex couples and mixed wedding parties.
Tuxedos vs. Suits: What’s the Difference?
A suit is any outfit where the top and bottom are made of the same material. For traditional menswear, this means a jacket and pants, though occasionally a matching vest is added to make a three-piece suit.
A tuxedo is a type of suit. It’s considered formalwear, and so it’s fancier than your typical business suit. Tuxes are most often black, though sometimes you might find one in a dark color with black accents instead.
Why are tuxes formalwear? It’s all about the satin. Tuxedo jackets have shiny satin lapels that contrast with the matte fabric of the rest of the suit, while tuxedo pants have a satin stripe running down the outside of each leg. Other satiny extras include pocket linings and fabric-covered buttons.
Tuxedos are often styled differently, too. For example, tuxedo shirts often have vertical pin tucks that create subtle stripes around the button placket. They also have wing-tip collars, where just a small point of the collar folds down to show off a snazzy bow tie.
How to Choose Between a Suit and a Tux for Your Wedding
Fashion is highly personal, so you can’t go wrong by choosing an outfit that makes you feel great. Feel free to take your time! After all, your choice will live forever in your wedding album photos!
That said, there are some pros and cons to consider:
- Classic Good Looks: Tuxedos are traditional choices for weddings, so you’ll be fulfilling everyone’s expectations.
- Fashionable Black: Black looks great on everyone, all the time. It’s also quite slimming, as is that vertical strip on the legs.
- A Real Standout: Unless you’re hosting a true black-tie wedding, your guests will be sporting regular suits. You’ll stand out in a tux — as well you should on your big day.
- One-Trick Pony: A tuxedo is so formal that the odds of wearing it again are pretty slim — unless you often attend the Oscars or black-tie galas.
- Too Formal: There’s an old rule about never wearing a tuxedo before 5 p.m. For outdoor or afternoon weddings, a tuxedo is a little too much.
- Lots of Colors: Suits are available in so many different colors and fabrics that you’re sure to find something you love — and that coordinates with your wedding stationery, reception linens, flowers, etc.
- Versatility: Unlike a bridesmaid’s dress, you’ll definitely be able to wear your suit again. A great suit works for the office, other weddings, funerals, and more.
- Budget-Friendly: Whether you rent or buy, a suit will almost always be less expensive than a (good) tux.
- Color Clashing: All those suit colors make it harder to coordinate with bridesmaids’ dresses, so be prepared to bring fabric swatches.
- Where’s the Groom?: If you choose a suit that happens to be popular right now, your guests might have trouble spotting you at the reception among all the other guests.
Gender, Tuxedos, Suits, and Your Wedding
Lots of weddings feature traditional lineups of women in dresses on one side and men in suits/tuxes on the other. But what if you and your spouse-to-be are of the same sex? Or if you plan to have a woman be your best “man”?
Today’s wedding line-ups are more creative than ever to honor important friendships and include loved ones of all gender identities. There’s no right or wrong way to line up at the altar — but it you’re feeling uncertain, consider these ideas:
Groom + Groom Weddings
Assuming you both present as men, you should be able to each choose your own outfit. You can match if you like, but it’s not required if the colors coordinate well. While two different colored suits would look great together, you should dress at the same formality level: both in tuxes or both in suits.
Bride + Bride Weddings
If one or both of you prefers menswear, go for it! Tuxedos (thanks to the satin) are the more feminine choice, and they can be tailored with a nipped-in waist if you prefer. For a more masculine presentation, choose a suit.
Mixed Wedding Parties
For wedding parties where the groom’s “team” includes women or the bride’s “team” includes men, you have a lot of choices. The simplest thing to do is have women dress alike and men dress alike, regardless of where they stand. If you have non-binary or trans folks in your wedding party, let them decide how they wish to present.
If you’re really hoping for color coordination on each side, women can rock a tuxedo if it’s well tailored — just make sure all the men wear one, too. For a “bridesman,” consider a shirt or accessories that coordinate with the bridesmaids.
The Bottom Line for the Big Day
The only real “rule” about dressing for your wedding is to make sure you are comfortable and feel great about how you look! Formal tuxedoes and stylish suits are both great options, and you can choose to accessorize them with long ties, bow ties, or no ties to match the level of formality and your overall wedding theme. Let your own sense of style be your guide, and you can’t go wrong!