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An Easy Guide To Wearing Black Suits To Weddings

Deciding what to wear to a wedding as a guest can be pretty stressful, and a lot of the time this stems from dress code confusion.

One question that is commonly asked is whether it is appropriate for guys to wear a black suit to a wedding. 

Let’s get into answering this question to give you some peace of mind when it comes to choosing your wedding outfit.

Can You Wear A Black Suit To A Wedding?

Black suits can be worn to weddings that stipulate a formal dress code, or in other words, a black-tie optional dress code.  Black suits are less suitable for cocktail attire dress codes, and not suitable for casual attire or black tie dress codes.

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Although that’s the answer in a nutshell, let’s go through this in more detail.

To understand this better, we need to run through the main types of dress codes associated with wedding guest attire.

  • Black-Tie – The most formal type of wedding attire. You must wear a tuxedo with a bow-tie, in traditional colors such as black or midnight blue.
  • Formal/Black-Tie Optional – Slightly less formal than black-tie attire. A tuxedo is optional. You can also choose to wear a black or dark colored suit. You can wear either a bow-tie or a necktie. 
  • Cocktail Attire (Semi-Formal) – A very common wedding dress code. Lighter colored suits or suit separates are recommended for this dress code. Sports coats and navy blazers are a popular choice, combined with a necktie. 
  • Casual – Often a confusing dress code as it can be interpreted quite broadly. To be safe, it’s best to opt for a business-casual type look, with chinos and sports coats. Wearing a T-shirt or open toed shoes such as flip flops would usually be seen as too casual for any wedding.

So, as you can see, the best time to wear a black suit to a wedding is if the dress code is described as formal or black-tie optional.

For the other dress codes, a black suit will either be too formal or not formal enough.

The important message here is to study your wedding invitation, as this will usually contain information about the dress code the event expects of you.

By doing this, you can avoid any nasty surprises on the day and a potentially awkward situation.

What Color Shirt Should I Wear With A Black Suit To A Wedding?

So now you know when it is appropriate to wear a black suit to a wedding as a guest. But what color shirt should you wear with a black suit when attending a wedding?

White is the safest and most formal shirt color you can wear with a black suit, and is the most suitable for a formal or black-tie optional wedding dress code. 

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There’s no denying a crisp white shirt paired with a black suit is a sharp look. And you can’t go too far wrong if you choose a white collared dress shirt to wear with your black suit to a wedding. 

A white shirt will give you the most formal appearance out of all the color options, and hence is better for formal/black-tie optional weddings. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t wear any other colored shirt to a formal dress code wedding with a black suit.

If you don’t have a white shirt on hand, or want to try something new, you can opt for a light blue, or light grey colored dress shirt.

These colors of shirt are still acceptable if worn with a black suit at a formal wedding. Just bear in mind that they are less formal than a more traditional white shirt.

As a general rule, you should avoid wearing darker colored shirts with black suits to formal weddings, as they tend to appear less formal and at worst can risk looking garish and out of place.

What Color Tie Should I Wear With A Black Suit To A Wedding?

When choosing what color tie to wear with a black suit to a wedding, it is best to opt for darker shades and muted tones for a formal wedding. Solid ties or ties with micropatterns are preferable to heavily patterned ties.

Examples of suitable colors include purples, plums, darker shades of grey and silver, as well as navy blues. 

These subtle tones mean that your tie won’t stand out too much, but will still add some color to your otherwise only black and white outfit.

When it comes to tie patterns, avoid anything too heavily patterned that will stand out too much, and instead choose a micropatterned tie or a solid tie.

Neckties with a slight sheen, such as silk neckties, add a luxurious quality and are also good for formal events compared with matte fabrics, which can risk looking a little too casual. 

Wearing a solid black necktie with a black suit is a little more controversial; some people seem to love it and others seem to steer clear.

A black necktie with a black suit for a wedding can be suitable in some cases, however it is riskier in that you can inadvertently end up appearing like you are attending a funeral – which is definitely not the vibe you want to send out at a wedding.

If you are unsure how a black tie/black suit combo might be received at the wedding you are attending, it’s best to steer clear of this option.

What Color Shoes Should I Wear With A Black Suit To A Wedding?

It is safest to pair your black suit with a pair of classic black shoes when attending a formal wedding. It is recommended to avoid pairing a black suit with light or bright colored shoes. 

A pair of classic black Oxfords is the safest choice here, when attending a formal or black-tie optional wedding. Black Oxfords are sure to match well with a black suit at a formal wedding.

It is best to avoid wearing light or color-contrasting shoes, as they are not easy to pair well with a black suit, and risk looking too informal.

The contrast between non-black shoes and a black suit also draws attention – and not in a good way. 

You may have heard that some people advocate the brown shoes with a black suit look. This is controversial, and is a risky style to adopt at a formal or black tie optional wedding. 

My advice is therefore to stick to black shoes when wearing a black suit to a formal wedding. 

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m hoping that at this point in the article, you’re feeling a little more knowledgeable and confident about when and how to wear a black suit to a wedding.

There are still some questions that come up time and time again, however.

We’re going to answer these main questions here. 

Can You Wear A Black Suit To A Summer Wedding?

You can wear a black suit to summer weddings which are held in a formal setting. For casual summer weddings, you do not need to wear a black suit as this would look too formal for the event.

Deciding whether or not you can wear a black suit to a summer wedding again comes down to the type of attire expected at the wedding you are attending, and the formality of the wedding event.

For formal weddings, black suits are suitable, even if the wedding is being held in summer. Often formal weddings will flow into an evening event, so the temperature will be cooler and hence it will be more comfortable to wear a full suit.

However, if the wedding you are attending is an outdoors beach wedding and casual attire is expected, then a black suit is definitely going to look out of place. 

For casual weddings you would look better in a business-casual outfit, for example chinos and a sports coat.

The take home message here is – check your wedding invite to understand what type of wedding you will be attending. 

Can You Wear A Black Suit To A Black-Tie Wedding?

You should not wear a black suit to a black-tie wedding, as this is too informal. A black-tie wedding means that you must wear a tuxedo with a bow-tie, in a traditional color of either black or midnight blue. 

If you receive an invite to a black-tie wedding, this means that tuxedos and bow-ties are the expected dress code. Any other type of suit will look out of place. 

On the other hand, if you receive an invite for a black-tie optional or formal dress code, then you have the option of wearing either a tuxedo or a black suit.

It’s important not to get the two confused however, as being the only person attending a black-tie wedding in a black suit can leave you feeling pretty awkward. 

Can You Wear An All Black Suit To A Wedding?

It is recommended that you don’t wear an all black suit to a wedding, as this can appear too informal or sombre for the occasion. 

The only time you should consider wearing an all black suit to a wedding is if the dress code explicitly states this. 

A black suit with a black shirt and tie can risk making you look like you are either attending a nightclub, or attending a funeral. 

It will also stand out and may draw too much attention.

If the wedding dress code hasn’t requested you wear an all black suit, or if the couple haven’t verbally requested you do this, it is best to stick with traditional white collared dress shirts for formal weddings. 

Is A Black Suit Too Formal For A Wedding?

A black suit is suitable to wear to weddings with a formal or black-tie-optional dress code. A black suit is too formal for semi-formal or casual wedding dress codes, and too informal for black-tie weddings.

A black suit is entirely appropriate for weddings that have a formal/black-tie optional dress code. 

A black suit would only be considered too formal for weddings with a semi-formal or casual attire dress code. 

The general atmosphere and level of formality of the wedding will set the tone of what type of wedding guest attire you are expected to wear.

The information about the type of wedding you are attending and any dress code is usually included in your invitation, so make sure to triple check this before you choose your outfit. 

Conclusion

By reading this easy guide to wearing a black suit to a wedding, I hope you’ve gained some insight into the main do’s and don’ts when it comes to black suits and weddings.

At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is check your wedding invitation.

This will give you a big clue as to what you will be expected to wear, and by using this guide you can make sure you look your best while celebrating someone’s special day.