What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

Wedding season is here. If you’re anything like us, you’re drowning in wedding invitations. But, with so many “special days” to attend, how can you be sure to hit that sartorial sweet spot every time? As a guest at a wedding, there are certain unspoken rules that you need to consider. One wrong step can make you stand out like a sore thumb — and that’s not to mention the fact that your fashion faux-pas will be evidenced in the thousands of wedding snaps that will inevitably find their way onto Facebook.


In this guide, we’ll show you the fail-safe ways to stay looking sharp throughout this wedding season.

What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

Read the Invitation

Ah, the wedding invitation. More than just an opportunity for your hosts to experiment with extravagant fonts and pretty patterned borders, these little slips of paper are your first clue to nailing your wedding look. More often than not, an invitation will have a dress code attached. Unfortunately, these codes can be a little cryptic. What even is cocktail attire, anyway?


Thankfully, we think we’ve cracked it:

    • Black tie: A black tie dress code is pretty much what it says on the tin. A tux and a bow-tie. Simple, really.
    • Formal (black tie optional): A formal dress code asks for a suit, dress shirt and tie. If you’re feeling particularly fancy, a tux wouldn’t look out of place at this wedding.
    • Semi-formal/Cocktail attire: Don’t mistake a semi-formal dress code as an opportunity to be lazy. Think formal. While you may get away with small modifications to a smart look, such as swapping your brogues for a pair of loafers, stay on the safe side by opting for formal attire.
    • Festive attire: The festive dress code has become more popular in recent years. For a wedding with this dress code, your hosts are asking for something a little fun and playful. Think bold colours and extravagant patterns.
    • Casual: A casual dress code is one of the hardest to dress for. While you don’t want to look like you’ve stumbled out of a ball and into a wedding by wearing an extravagant tux, you also don’t want to don jeans and a t-shirt and look as if you couldn’t be bothered, especially after all the money your hosts have no doubt spent on their big day. In that case, what do you wear? This leads us to our next point…

Go with a Suit

You can rarely go wrong with a suit. When it comes to a wedding, a suit is always your best bet. Suits are incredibly versatile and work perfectly for formal and casual dress codes alike. But the key is to get the right suit. A poorly-fitted, cheaply-made, shiny suit will always look shoddy. On the other hand, a well-tailored suit in a high-quality fabric is near impossible to get wrong. For more casual dress codes, you can dress it down with accessories, shoes and colour and, for more formal weddings, you can dress it up in exactly the same way.

So it goes without saying that you should invest in a well-made suit. We’ll concede that an off-the-rack suit is okay for office wear or times when fashion isn’t your priority, but when it comes to a wedding, you really should be going tailored.

If the thought of going to a tailor and getting measured up by a stranger makes you break out in a cold sweat, try an online service. Not only can you avoid an awkward encounter by measuring yourself, but it’s also typically a more economical option. Simply send off your measurements and then wait for your handmade, impeccably-fitted suit to arrive at your door.

What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

Consider the Location

Why does wedding season always fall in the summer? It’s the weather. While perfect, blue, sunny skies may not always be on the cards — in fact, weddings and weather always seem to be at odds — brides and grooms all over still haven’t given up on the hope of the weather falling right for them. Whether or not the big day is blessed with gorgeous sunshine, one thing is for certain: you need to think about the heat.

Even if it’s stormy outside, things are going to get hot on the dance floor. Nobody wants to be the guy with huge, yellowing sweat stains all over an otherwise stylish suit, while they insist on showing everyone they can still do the worm. Make sure you’re prepared by picking a cool, breathable fabric — steer clear of the polyester. Worsted wool, linen, cotton and tweed are all excellent choices. Lightweight and breathable, you’ll be able to dance the night away, without putting the other guests off (unfortunately, we can’t say the same for your dance moves).

What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

Add Some Personality…

Weddings are a celebration, but we’re all prone to mistaking formal wear for sober wear. When you next attend a wedding, scan the room. How many outfits actually stand out amid the sea of black suits and white shirts? Male fashion at weddings often resembles a business conference more than a celebration of love.

Instead, add some character and flair to your look. We’re not talking huge statement hats or rapper-like bling; just subtle touches of personality and colour that elevate your formal look. Try throwing a patterned tie or pocket-square into the mix — pastel colours like lilac and soft pink work well, as do classic patterns, such as paisley. Alternatively, use a wedding invitation as an opportunity to finally wear those cufflinks you’ve had lying in a drawer since Christmas. There are a number of different ways you can transform your look by going a little bold.

What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

…But Don’t Upstage the Groom

Let’s be clear: there’s a huge difference between adding a touch of character and being full-blown flashy. Remember, you’re a guest at the wedding. However close you are to the bride or groom, it’s not your day, it’s theirs. Women have long been aware of the ultimate unspoken rule of wedding dressing — never upstage the bride — but we don’t really talk about male guests upstaging the groom. The same rule applies.

Don’t be the guy who dons his most outlandish outfit in an attempt to draw all the attention to him. You want to be humble in your fashion choice; you want to look stylish and stand out, but not too much. It’s a delicate balance, but one that can prove disastrous if not achieved. Save the show-stopping looks for the dance floor and keep your look classic. We’re sure you’d expect the same from your guests on your big day.

A wedding is your rare opportunity to experiment with your formal wear. No matter how many invites you’ve got this year, looking sharp and rocking the perfect look is easy if you follow our steps. Once you find an outfit that’s a hit, there’s no reason why you can’t wear it time and time again. All it takes is a small modification — there’s no reason why you can’t rock the same suit every time.

What to Wear to a Summer Wedding

Anthony Horner is the director of Empire Outlet, a luxury menswear company that provides high-quality suits and accessories at a price that doesn’t break the bank. Empire Outlet operates online and serves customers all over the world.

Written by : Imogen Bakelmun


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