Does the groom have to look different?

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Traditionally, the groomsmen wear attire that’s the same as or similar to that of the groom, but it’s up to you. Even if you aren’t planning for all the men in your wedding party to wear the exact same suit or tux, it’s important that their outfits match in style and feel with yours. (It will look a little bit off if you’re up there in a tux while your buddies are wearing casual khaki suits.) Matching doesn’t just end with the guys either—your whole wedding party should have a cohesive style. To achieve this, aim to pair your groomsmen style to that of the bridesmaids—for instance, if the bridesmaids are rocking a vintage vibe, the guys can don retro three-piece suits. 

Though wedding themes and moods vary widely, and the wedding crew should dress accordingly, there are a few guidelines that can help make decisions about style and accessories for you and your groomsmen simpler. And even if your wedding is more alternative, it’s still good to know some of the basic do’s and don’ts of groomsmen style and then take it from there.

Although we do encourage you to let your personal taste be your guide, the first and most important rule of thumb you should follow is to coordinate with your bride. If you’re going for a traditional tux and bowtie, and she’s doing the bohemian look with flowers in her hair, the look won’t make sense. This doesn’t mean that you should dictate how the other dresses or accessories, as both of you should feel comfortable and excited about your attire, but, still, a little harmony goes a long way.

Sure, all eyes will be on the bride, but the groom should still set himself apart. Although wedding tradition dictates that the groom and his posse all wear similar outfits, it’s important to help guests identify the special guy who just locked lips with the bride at the altar.

The more formal the event, the more strict the codes of conduct. If you and yours are opting for an ultra-formal affair, your team will wear virtually the same tuxedo, so being singular becomes a tougher task. The more casual the celebration, the more leeway you’ll have. But regardless of the sartorial dictates of your wedding, grooms can use these four ways to stand out on your special day.

More often than not, the bride will usually be the centre of attention on your wedding day and understandably so, but that doesn’t mean that you – the groom – has to sit on the sidelines. At Whitfield & Ward, we believe that the groom’s wedding suit should be a standout look that complements the bride and fits in with the venue. The most asked question from couples hiring wedding suits is, “how do we make the groom different to the rest of the groomsmen?”. A good point, because while it’s obvious who the bride is, a sea of suits can make it difficult for the groom to stand out, but a few subtle changes can make a dramatic difference! Here are our top tips on how the groom can make his mark:


Mix and Match Ties

Letting your groom wear a different style of a tie than his groomsmen is a subtle way for him to stand out. In today’s fashion-forward world, both bow ties and long neckties are stylish options to choose from. Along with this, there are different options as far as the layering pieces underneath your groom’s suit or tux. This would be another simple way to help your groom stand out from the rest of the guys in your wedding. Suspenders, cummerbunds, vests – the options are endless!

Formalise the Groom

Your groom will certainly stand out when he is the only one in the bridal party wearing a vest and/or jacket. I love when the groom and groomsmen have coordinating outfits with the same pants, all while the groom is standing out on his own with a vest/jacket combo. Not to mention, this amps up the groom’s personal style and makes his look appear more formal than the rest of the guys – which is totally acceptable since he is one of the stars of the show! This example is especially great for outdoor weddings because it allows the guys in your bridal party to stay cool on those hot spring and summer wedding days. Your groomsmen will thank you. 

Classic White

There are a couple of ways to go about this! A lot of grooms will wear a white tie and vest, while his groomsmen wear a different colour. This is definitely one of the most popular ways for your groom to stand out. Along with this, you could ask for a different colour flower or completely different boutonnière for your groom! Another example that is actually more modern is to put your groomsmen in the classic white tie and vest, while your groom stands out in black or a colour to match your wedding’s colour palette.

Wedding Attire Ideas for the Groom

Alternative Coat

Wearing a different jacket from the groomsmen is a surefire way to make a mark. For a casual daytime affair (say, at the beach), it’s acceptable for the groom to sport a jacket, while the bridal party wears only the vest and tie. For a more formal setting, colour is an excellent way to stand apart. Consider dressing the groom in black with his men in grey. Or, if the groom’s tux has a satin lapel, the boys’ could be plain. Another option: Choose a white dinner jacket, and put the groomsmen in traditional black tuxes (or vice versa).

A Fancier Flower

A unique boutonniere, a “mini-corsage” worn on the jacket lapel, is the easiest way to help guests single out the groom. If your wedding will be very formal and mismatched tuxes would seem inappropriate, run with this option. For example, have boutonnieres made of the same flower for the groomsmen, but add a berry or herbal accent, such as rosemary, oregano or mint to the groom’s. Or, select a darker or lighter shade of bloom to differentiate (for example, burgundy for the bridal party and pale pink for the groom). But it’s a good idea to keep the flowers in the same colour family for a consistent look. Two more options: The groom can adorn himself with a two- or three-blossom boutonniere and the groomsmen with a single bloom of the identical flower, or the groom can wear a fully open blossom while the groomsmen don buds of the same flower.

The Telltale Tie

Boost the centre-of-attention factor by choosing a different-coloured tie or bow tie than the gang. For instance, if the groom wears a silver tie, the groomsmen could sport a different colour that complements or matches the bridesmaid dresses. Grooms can go one step further and wear a different type of neckwear from the guys. If he chooses a bow tie, the groomsmen could wear neckties.

Variety in the Vest

Vests are another element of the tux with which grooms can experiment. Pick a vest that’s a different colour from that of the groomsmen. If the groom chooses a black tie and black vest, the groomsmen can wear a colour that matches the bridesmaid dresses. Or, set the groom apart in a cummerbund and put the fellas in vests.

Opt for a different suit

If you’re looking to make a statement and wear something that reflects your style and personality, opt for a suit in a different style, cut or colour to the rest of the groomsmen. As the groom, no hard and fast rule says you have to have to match the rest of the guys perfectly. More and more grooms are choosing to differentiate themselves by wearing contrast jacket and trousers. For example, you may want to wear a patterned suit, while your groomsmen wear plain suits. But of course, it depends on your personality, and there are other subtler ways to stand out if this look isn’t quite for you.

Wear a contrast waistcoat

A contrast waistcoat for the groom is one of our favourite ways of setting him apart from his groomsmen. It allows you to experiment with pattern and colour to create a dynamic look that will instantly show your guests you’re the main man! Our only tip is to be mindful of mixing prints when selecting your groomsmen’s waistcoats – in our view, and it is best to opt for a plain colour that doesn’t clash with your own. However, if you’re looking for something a little more understated, you may want to wear an identical waistcoat to your groomsmen but in a different style. At Whitfield & Ward, we offer the same waistcoats in a large selection of styles from double-breasted to contemporary horseshoe – all of which will give you that wow factor.

Pick a different tie & pocket square

While your groomsmen can wear plain ties and pocket squares, consider something much more elaborate for yourself in a different colour or pattern. The pocket square doesn’t even need to be an exact match to the tie; in fact, mixing and matching will allow you to put your own individual spin on your wedding suit. This is the easiest option for groom’s who don’t want to stand out completely but still want to be different. Bow ties, which are often considered a formal accessory, are also becoming a more popular choice for weddings.

Make a statement with accessories

There are a handful of ways to incorporate statement accessories to really personalise the groom’s look, such as a fob watch, tie bar or lapel pin. Braces are also a great addition to your wedding suit and can serve as an alternative evening look when worn with just a shirt, trousers and a bow tie.

Wear different shoes

As the groom, you can take it up a notch with your footwear by choosing a style or colour that is different to your groomsmen. In recent years, black shoes have given way to other colours such as navy, brown and oxblood. This is a great opportunity to find something that corresponds with your personal style and could transform your look.

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How To Mix And Match Groom and Groomsmen Style

Right off the bat, here are two big “don’ts” that you really shouldn’t mess with, no matter what. The first is never to wear a belt and suspenders at the same time. Thankfully, we haven’t yet met a man that made that mistake. The second no-no is to wear a belt with a tuxedo – you either don’t wear anything, or you wear suspenders if you need them.

With tuxedos, some men choose to wear cummerbunds – sashes worn around the waist in order to keep the tuck of the shirt and waistband neat – instead of vests. They’re not a necessity, but they can elevate the look even more.

For suits, it’s really up to you whether you want to go with suspenders or a belt. Suspenders are eye-catching if you intend on taking off your jacket at some point, while belts give the spotlight to other groom and groomsmen accessories.

And you can do one thing and have your groomsmen do the opposite.

If your groomsmen are wearing belts, you can get them personalised belt accessories as gifts that also add to their style. For example, personalised leather key fobs with space for initials.

Don’t skimp out on cufflinks, even if you go for a more casual look. Many grooms have cufflinks handed down to them from their fathers or grandfathers, and those can make for very special touches to your style. Cufflinks are also one of the groomsmen accessories that make for simple yet meaningful personalised gifts.

Metal cufflinks need to match the metal on belts and watches. And, you and your groomsmen need to wear watches in order to stay on top of the wedding schedule. You don’t want to be pulling out your phones to look at the time (and quickly checking emails) on this special occasion.

One way to dress up your “watch wearing” is to opt for pocket watches. They can also be a very interesting option for groomsmen gifts. For example, this gunmetal pocket watch has exposed gears, roman numerals, and space on the back to add a personalised message of up to three lines.

Hats and gloves are much less common these days, in general, and for weddings. It’s really up to you if you feel like they’d add extra flair and if you’d feel comfortable with them. You can also choose to wear them for a specific purpose, such as for photos, and then go without the rest of the time.

Finally, small details can really help you coordinate your look with your bride’s look and your groomsmen style with the bridesmaids’ style. The colour of the pocket squares is one of those little details. For a formal look, like with a tuxedo, it’s better to go with classic white squares, while for less formal looks, you can add a splash of colour that matches the bridal party’s dresses or accessories.

The main thing I’ve found is that it helps to be open, honest, and adaptable. Your groomsmen are your friends, and they are there to help—you don’t want to create unnecessary tension by forcing anything overly specific on them. A wedding ought to be enjoyable, not strict; it ought to be a time to celebrate in style, but not at the expense of anyone’s comfort. What’s the point of having your friends there to celebrate with you if they’re annoyed about spending hundreds on a new suit for the occasion? And who wants to look back on wedding photos fifty years down the line only to cringe at a silly uniform? So keep a style in mind, but don’t risk alienation. As I’m starting to suspect, there are going to be plenty of reasons to stress out about the wedding that don’t include groomsmen or clothes.

Provide simple guidelines

“There should be no surprises on the wedding day, and the couple should be able to maintain creative control of how the mismatched groomsmen suits will complement the overall style and theme of the wedding. Just as a bride will advise her bridesmaids of the colour or colours and dress length they can wear to the wedding, the groomsmen should also receive similar rules to follow. “Guidelines are a must to achieve a coordinated look starting with the fabric choice, and including the belt, shoes and accessories. The couple should decide how much freedom each guy has in choosing his look for their wedding and make clear what suiting options and accessories will or won’t be allowed. “You want to avoid having someone’s ‘stylish’ boots steal the focus in wedding photos, and you don’t want to have that conversation on your wedding day.

When determining what guidelines to give the guys, start with colour direction. Brice at The Black Tux advises couples to ask to see photos of what each groomsman wants to wear before they walk down the aisle. For example, “If the colour palette is yellow, have them send photos of their yellow tie options. Your definition of ‘blue’ might be a totally different shade than what they own.

And when allowing groomsmen to wear their own shoes, Brice suggests asking for a photo of the pair they plan to wear to your wedding. Make sure they’re not cracked and don’t be afraid to ask them to give them a good polish, at home or professionally.

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