When it comes to dressing for a wedding, risk-taking can easily go wrong. There are plenty of unspoken rules that are worth paying attention to. So, can you wear a tuxedo to a wedding?
Tuxedos should generally not be worn to a wedding unless the event is in the evening and black-tie has specifically been requested. Wearing a tuxedo to a daytime wedding without it having been requested could be seen as eccentric or an attempt to outshine the groom.
Although that’s the gist, there’s more to it.
After going through the reasons why you usually shouldn’t wear a tux to a wedding in a little more detail, we’ll discuss a few exceptions where it may be OK.
Let’s get to it.
3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Wear A Tux To A Wedding
Consider all of these factors before making your decision either way.
1. It’s Usually Daytime
While there are plenty of weddings that spill over into the night, most weddings will at least start during the daytime.
Tuxedos have, and always will be, evening wear.
They aren’t meant to be worn during the day and there are several good reasons for that.
For one, it’s the color. Tuxedos are usually either black or midnight blue, with the tuxedo shirt usually being made from an opaque white twill.
This dark, monochromatic appearance will simply look awkward and out of place at a daytime wedding – or any daytime event for that matter.
Another problem is the typical shine you’d get from the tuxedo jacket lapels. Once again, this would look unusual and would make someone look more like an entertainer and less like a well-groomed wedding guest.
Now, there are definitely formal alternatives to a tuxedo that are designed for daytime wear.
For example, you’ve got classic “morning dress” with its cutaway coat and colored waistcoat. Alternatively, you’ve got the slightly less formal stroller suit where the cutaway coat is switched for a more subtle dark suit jacket but keeps the colored waistcoat.
The problem is, both of these options are simply too formal to be worn as a wedding guest. It’ll attract too much attention and that’s not what you want to be doing as a guest.
This holds true even if part of the wedding (eg. the wedding reception) takes place at night time.
2. You Risk Looking Eccentric
Leading on from the last point, it’s important to note that overdressing for the occasion can make someone appear a little eccentric or over the top.
While it’s important to dress well and stand out with your sense of style, overdoing it could have the opposite effect.
It could simply seem as though you’re trying too hard to be different or make some sort of statement.
The key to dressing as a wedding guest is to keep things simple and subtle.
Going for a simple, 2 or 3-piece suit would be a lot more appropriate than wearing a tuxedo.
Tuxedos are better suited to events such as evening balls, for example, where black-tie is requested and anything less would be seen as inappropriate.
A wedding is usually not one of those events.
3. You Don’t Want To Outshine The Groom
Outshining the groom at his wedding is a faux pas you’d don’t want to make.
While a tuxedo would be inappropriate for evening the groom to wear to a daytime wedding, it would be perfectly reasonable for them to wear morning dress or a stroller suit.
They’re expected to stand out from the crowd with what they wear and to strive to be the best-dressed person in the room.
The trouble with wearing a tuxedo (anything similar) as a wedding guest is that it could be seen as an attempt to outshine the groom.
That probably won’t be your intention at all. But it is, unfortunately, what at least some people there will feel.
It’s a day where the focus and attention are supposed to be on the wedding couple – no one else.
People seen as trying to draw attention on a day that isn’t supposed to be about them at all could be seen as self-centered.
2 Exceptions Where A Tux May Be OK For A Wedding
While it’s usually not a good idea, here are a couple of exceptions to the rule you should consider.
1. A Black-Tie Dress Code
It’s possible that a wedding invitation specifically requests “black-tie” to an evening event.
If it does, you should be wearing a tuxedo at a minimum. A simple 2 or 3-piece suit won’t cut it.
That’s why it’s so important to be crystal clear about what the dress code is before you attend.
2. You’re A Groomsman
It’s pretty common for the groomsmen to be dressed pretty dapperly. Not quite as dapper as the groom, but a close second.
The dress code for the groomsmen will often be set in advance by the marrying couple. This is in order to ensure that what they wear is closely coordinated.
If you happen to be a groomsman and you’ve been specifically asked by the groom to wear a tuxedo, you should, of course, be wearing a tuxedo.
If the wedding couple hasn’t informed you as to what you should be wearing as a groomsman, definitely ask whether your dress code is set.
If the dress code hasn’t been set, ask them whether it would be OK for you to wear a tuxedo.
This is assuming it’s an evening event, however. If it’s during the day, you wouldn’t be wearing a tuxedo in any case.
But if it’s an evening event, you’re a groomsman, and you’ve got permission from the wedding couple, it may be OK for you to wear a tuxedo.
2 Tips For Wearing Tuxedos To Weddings (If You Can)
If you feel as though you fall into one of the exceptions and a tuxedo could potentially be appropriate for you to wear as a guest, consider the following tips to make sure you do it properly.
1. Go For A Traditional Color
While it’s possible to get a tuxedo in plenty of different colors these days, when attending an event as a wedding guest, keep things simple.
In other words, keep things traditional and classic.
Go for black or midnight blue – nothing else.
Red, blue, orange – it would simply be over the top. Ivory would be too.
At the end of the day, it’s a night where you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself.
Keeping things simple with the color of your tuxedo is a key aspect of that.
2. Minimal Embellishments
Other than the core components that make a tuxedo a tuxedo, don’t wear anything else.
Stick to the basics:
- Bow tie
- Tuxedo shirt
- Pocket square with a straight fold
Anything more and you risk overdoing it.
Even patent leather shoes can sometimes seem a bit too much as a wedding guest. Consider a well-polished pair of black Oxfords instead.
Shirt studs may seem a little too formal or over the top as well.
The main point here is to keep things simple. If you feel as though you could do without an accessory while ensuring the tuxedo itself remains complete, it’s probably worth removing.
Ultimately, it’s not worth doing. You’ve got better options than a tuxedo when attending a wedding. Keep things sharp, tidy, but subtle with a 2 or 3-piece suit instead.