8 Things Men Should NEVER Wear To A Wedding

Weddings are one of the most special days in a couple’s lives. You should feel honored that the hosts want you to be part of their big day. You should also keep in mind that this honor comes with an important obligation: don’t mess anything up, like your outfit. Here are 8 things you should never be wearing while wedding bells are ringing.

There are lots of ways that a guest can ruin a wedding – getting drunk, starting fights, or running away with the bride. You can avoid most of these problems by following basic wedding etiquette but, today, we’re focused on one important pitfall: clothing mistakes.

Whether you’ve intended it or not, how you dress at a wedding communicates how you feel about the couple, other guests, and the wedding itself. Raphael details exactly what you should wear as a wedding guest in a separate guide. But, today, we’re taking the opposite approach with things you should never wear to a wedding.

I’m going to stop myself right here with an important caveat. Nowadays, people are hosting all kinds of interesting and unique weddings, so it is possible that some of you might be invited to a wedding where you can actually wear some of these items on the list. Maybe you’ll attend a rodeo-themed wedding or an extremely casual beach wedding.

Attending a wedding in formal and traditional attire.
Attending a wedding requires guests to dress according to what the couple wishes.

But, in those cases, you’ll be explicitly asked to dress a particular way by the hosts. Obviously, if your hosts want that kind of wedding, you should go along with their wishes. Today’s list is intended for the preponderance of weddings that will follow a more traditional dress code.

1. Anything Below the Stated Dress Code

The first two items on our list are closely related because they relate to dress codes. Dress codes help set the mood and atmosphere for a wedding and ensure that everyone knows exactly how they are expected to attire themselves.

Raphael in an informal dress code attire.
Raphael in informal attire.

One of the most common ways that people violate a wedding dress code is by dressing below the stated standard. Not only does this detract from the unified look of the other wedding guests, but it also disrespects your hosts.

Preston recently delved into the topic of why dress codes seem to be dying, and one of the main reasons is that people today simply feel comfortable ignoring them. We understand, if your wedding hosts require a particular dress code, it might be difficult or confusing to comport yourself to its rules and regulations. But, that’s an obligation that you assume when you RSVP “Yes” to a wedding. You’re not allowed to show up to a Black Tie wedding in a day suit just because that’s the only thing that you had. The results could be extreme.

A formal ensemble to have when attending a wedding.
A formal ensemble, which may be worn to a formal wedding.

As soon as your hosts provide you with a desired dress code, start planning an outfit that is appropriate. And don’t worry, you don’t have to do it alone because, here at the Gentleman’s Gazette, we have dedicated guides that clearly and concisely explain all the details of major dress codes.

2. Anything Exceeding the Stated Dress Code 

While it’s less likely to happen today, some people are tempted to overdress for a wedding, garbering themselves in a more formal dress code. We love fine clothes, so we appreciate the impetus to really dress to the nines. Though, weddings are one of the few times when it’s just as bad to be overdressed as it is to be underdressed.

Overdressing can imply a negative opinion when attending a wedding.
Overdressing can imply a negative opinion when attending a wedding.

Overdressing can make you appear snobby or aloof at the wedding, and implies that you think your hosts were an error by not choosing a more formal dress code. Most importantly, overdressing could make it appear that you’ll be attired more formally than the marrying couple, which will take attention away from them.

The 1922 edition of Emily Post might state that weddings taking place after 5 PM should require Black Tie. But, if your hosts prefer something more casual for their wedding, leave your tuxedo at home and dress according to their requested standards.

Casual and over-the-top outfits are to avoid wearing when you are attending a wedding.
Casual and over-the-top outfits are to avoid when you are attending a wedding.

On all occasions, but especially at weddings, it’s important that you simply follow the stated dress code; being neither too casual nor too formal, and striking the proper tone of formality as a sign of respect to your hosts.

3. Anything That Might Cause Confusion About Your Role

Gentlemen dressed in their wedding attire for their roles.
Gentlemen dressed in their wedding attire according to their roles.

Just like you don’t want to eclipse your hosts or the wedding party, you don’t want to give the impression that you’re a member of the wedding party or even the groom himself. Unless, of course, you are.

Nowadays, it’s common to have the wedding party set themselves apart from other wedding attendees by wearing unique or interesting clothing articles. These articles are usually statement pieces to draw attention to the wearer. Ivory dinner jackets, high-contrast waistcoats, ornate floral boutonnieres, and even top hats are popular items that are usually associated with grooms or groomsmen.

Unless you happen to be one of those things, you should avoid wearing them lest you give the wrong impression, even if they might be acceptable under the dress code.

Instead of these high-impact items, you can opt for more sedate alternatives like a dark, double-breasted dinner jacket; a tastefully-sized boutonniere like those from Fort Belvedere; or a Homburg hat. Articles like this will help you look the part of a well-dressed dinner guest, while ensuring that no one mistakes you for the best man.

4. Anything Excessively Flashy

Wedding attendee in a bright pink suit ensemble.
Attending a wedding in a bright pink suit may be too much.

In addition to avoiding items commonly associated with the wedding party, you should also avoid anything that will bring undue attention to yourself on their wedding day. All attention should be on the people getting married; don’t inadvertently steal their thunder by wearing clothing that draws all eyes to you.

Keep in mind that your accessories can also be distractingly flashy, like wearing an excess of jewelry, the wrong type of wristwatch, or even distracting shoes. Raphael has a great deal to say about flashy footwear in this post, but today we’ll highlight a common offender: high-contrast outsoles.

That pop of color from an unexpected source is especially jarring at weddings, where guests should be focused on the ceremony and not busy trying to figure out where these weird flashes of color are coming from.

5. Ill-Fitting Clothes 

Preston wearing a loose jacket that is not too appealing.
Preston wearing a loose jacket that is not too appealing.

For many, weddings represent a major step up in formality from their regular clothing. This often means that wedding guests will be wearing clothes to which they are unaccustomed – either buying something new or digging up something all they don’t often wear. As a result, these clothes often fit poorly, and an obnoxiously poor fit can be just as distracting as the wrong formality of a jacket or a pair of bright blue cowboy boots.

No one wants to see you at their wedding squeezed into skin-tight trousers that are three sizes too small or swimming in a suit that looks like it was cut for Andre the Giant.

Skin-tight trousers that look too uncomfortable to see. [Image credit: Kojo Fit]
Skin-tight trousers that look too uncomfortable to see. [Image credit: Kojo Fit]

Once you know what you’re planning to wear to the wedding, put it on and make sure it still fits and adjust as needed. We’ve got 10 guidelines to help you out with good fit.

Want Clothes With Perfect Fit? Follow These 10 Guidelines!

If you plan to buy something new, give yourself plenty of time to have the garments altered. To make sure you’ll get alterations done well, leave yourself at least several weeks of time in which to get your clothes altered, and check out my top tailoring tips to help you get started.

You must have plenty of time to have the garments altered.
Plan your outfit to have ample time to get garments altered.

If you’re looking for rentals, Raphael and Preston share with you the realities of trying to reach a good fit with a rental tuxedo in another guide

6. Uncomfortable Clothes

In addition to your clothes fitting properly, they also need to be comfortable. Weddings are often multi-hour affairs in which you’ll often spend time sitting down for the ceremony, milling about during the cocktail hour, sitting again for dinner, and then dancing the night away.

Comfortable outfits to wear that could last for hours.
Wear comfortable outfits you could wear for hours.

You’ll need your clothing to stand up to all of that activity while keeping you looking and feeling your best. That means you want clothes cut to a reasonable fit that’s going to allow you a full range of motion.

Maybe you’re planning to chat up a few of the bridesmaids, and you think you’ll impress them with a pair of painted-on trousers? But, we suspect they won’t be too impressed if you split your too-tight pants while busting a move on the dance floor. Likewise, those chisel-toe alligator Chelsea boots might have looked great in the store, but they can have just a little too much bite when worn for hours on end.

Avoid wearing this type of shoe - a dark brown Chisel toe alligator Chelsea boots
While aesthetics is important, comfort should also be considered.

So, be sure to select clothing that looks great while being comfortable so that you don’t ruin your evening because of a constructed waistband or extremely pinchy shoes.

7. Vulgar Items 

While it’s true that many weddings feature a healthy dose of good-natured, ribald joking, it’ll be very easy to take things too far – especially with joke or novelty items that are going to feature ironic, vulgar, or dirty jokes.

Things that feature ironic, vulgar, or dirty jokes.
Do away from things that connote vulgar humor.

Remember that weddings usually include a variety of guests from different age groups and with various sensibilities. You don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable with an off-color phrase or a picture embroidered on a tie or a lapel pin that would violate YouTube’s terms of service. So, we’ll just say, keep anything that you wear to a wedding rated G.

The ceremony and the reception are not the bachelor party. We’ve covered a variety of circumstances in which particular types of clothing are not appropriate for weddings, we like to circle back and conclude with a few items that we feel truly have no place at a wedding, largely because they are far too casual.

Being mindful of anything that you wear to a wedding and not to a bachelor party. [Image credit: Warner Bros.]
Remember that you are attending a wedding and not a bachelor party. [Image credit: Warner Bros.]

8. Extremely Casual Clothing

We understand we live in an increasingly casual world, but, for the majority of weddings, you’ll be best served leaving these items at home on the big day.

Tracksuits and joggers are not part of a wedding outfit.
Tracksuits and joggers are not part of a wedding outfit.

First, avoid athleisure and athletic wear, unless you’re planning to get a run-in between the vows and the exchanging of the rings.

Tracksuits, joggers, and similar garments have no place at a wedding. And maybe the groom is a huge fan of the Minnesota Twins, but unless the wedding is being held at Target Field, you shouldn’t be in jerseys or other team-branded items at a wedding.

While it always helps for wedding shirts to have long sleeves, they should definitely have some kind of collar. Like athleisure, T-shirts are extremely casual garments that are incongruous with the festive and formal mood of most weddings. And yes, that includes tuxedo T-shirts.

I recently tackled the subject of whether or not jeans are now fancy pants, and without giving away too much of that post, they definitely are not fancy enough for weddings.

We understand that jeans are increasingly being paired with sport coats, blazers, and even formal wear, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are still fundamentally casual trousers that are at odds with most of the demeanor of most weddings – except, of course, that rodeo wedding we mentioned earlier.

The particular look and more relaxed appeal of shorts.
The particular look and more relaxed appeal of shorts.

While shorts may have a place in the classic style, they do not have a place at most weddings because of their particular look and more relaxed attitude. It’s possible that shorts might work for very casual beach weddings held literally on the beach. But, in most cases, you’ll want to adhere to the advice of classic summer shorts offered by Raphael here. And check out our dedicated guide to resort wear that will make a much better impression than shorts.

Resort Attire: Resort Casual & Resort Evening Dress Code Guide

Speaking of beach weddings, even if you’re attending a beach wedding, you should still not be in flip-flops. Flip-flops, slides, and similar footwear are transitional articles that should only be worn when entering or exiting a body of water, so you shouldn’t be wearing flip-flops at a wedding.

Flipflops are used only during water types of activities.
Flip-flops are reserved for water activities.

If you find yourself at a tropical wedding, check out our guide to summer shoes to find stylish footwear that is appropriate for both the climate and the occasion.

We understand that this prohibition might be a little controversial, especially with the rise of dress sneakers, so we’ll just say that weddings are definitely no place for casual sneakers. You can peruse our existing content on when and how to properly wear sneakers to help your decision. Although for weddings, we feel, about 99% of the time, you’ll be better off in dressier shoes anyway.

Choosing more formal black leather shoes when attending a wedding. Black & White Two-Tone Solid Formal Evening Socks for Black Tie & White Tie - Fort Belvedere
Choosing more formal black leather shoes when attending a wedding. Black & White Two-Tone Solid Formal Evening Socks for Black Tie & White Tie – Fort Belvedere


Now that you know what to avoid wearing to a wedding, you’ll be able to free up your mind to create a truly classic wedding outfit and, of course, to just enjoy yourself.

Let us know in the comments what you think should never be long for a wedding!

Outfit Rundown

Today, I’m wearing a navy striped suit jacket. It’s double-breasted over a navy turtleneck with a Fort Belvedere silk pocket square, along with tan dress pants and chocolate Chelsea boots with Fort Belvedere socks.

Check out the Fort Belvedere shop here for socks like these.

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