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Your Guide to Dressing the Father of the Bride “Suit”-ably

Father of the bride

The father of the bride has an important role to play in the wedding party.

You may have prepared a witty speech, practiced walking down the aisle or any other jobs related to the specifics of the wedding. One thing that is common to most weddings is that there will be photographs, possibly even a video.

Not only do you want to look your best for these keepsakes which people will reminisce over for years to come, but you want to feel good about how you look on the day. It’s no fun if you spend the day in discomfort in an ill-fitting suit or clothing that is not suitable for the weather.

So, how do we dress Dad for comfort and style? Here are a few “father of the bride” dressing tips:

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#1. Follow the wedding dress code

The number one tip for any fathers of the bride or groom is to find out what the dress code is for the wedding and follow it. Talk to the bride and groom about what their plans are for attire and colors, bearing in mind that you will be in the photos too!

As an integral part of the wedding, parents of the bride and groom help to set the tone for it that other guests will follow. The possibilities for dress code are endless, often depending on the venue, season, theme, time of day and preferences of the bride and groom.

Here are some basics of wedding dress codes:

  • Black tie – Wear a tuxedo or formal dinner outfit.
  • White tie – This is even more formal than black tie. It generally involves wearing a tuxedo with tails, a formal white shirt, white vest, bow tie, white gloves and formal footwear.
  • Semi-formal – Wear a suit in a color appropriate to the time of day.
  • Casual – Usually for outdoor or beach weddings with a more laid-back vibe. Dress pants or khakis and a collared shirt are generally appropriate. You can add a tie and sports coat, but they aren’t usually essential.
  • Nighttime wedding or winter – The colors considered to be appropriate are usually black, charcoal or navy.
  • Daytime wedding or summer – Appropriate colors tend to be brown, beige and navy. If it is not black tie, then a sport coat, tailored trousers and a shirt with a tie are generally good choices.
  • Color themes – Sometimes the bride and groom will state a preference for a color theme – red and white is common for Valentine’s Day weddings.
Father of the bride

#2. Style can match the groom

There is hot debate over whether the father of the bride (or groom) should match their outfit with what the groom and groomsmen are wearing. This same debate is carried through to the mothers and the bridesmaids.

As a general rule, the style of the father of the bride suit should fit in with the groom. For example, if the groom and groomsmen are wearing tuxedos, then the fathers should too. The same goes for wearing suits. The important part is to match the level of formality. You wouldn’t want to go without a tie when everyone else is in a tuxedo.

When it comes to “exact match” of the outfit, this may not be necessary. Instead, you could coordinate with the groom or groomsmen without being identical. For example, you could wear a tie that matches the color of their vests or wear something in similar colors but with a different cut or accents. This can make for great coordination in photos – you don’t want to wear colors that will clash with the bridal party!

#3. It’s not the same as office wear

Another rule of thumb is that if you look as you would heading off for a day at the office, you’ve probably done it wrong. Wedding attire should look special and distinguishable from just another day at the office.

Your father of the bride suit should always be tailored to fit to ensure you are presented well. You should be wearing a color that is appropriate for the time of day, although for formal attire, you usually can’t go wrong with black.

If you’re ever in doubt, it’s better to overdress rather than under-dress for the big day. A tailored suit and accessories will always look good.

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#4. Consider your accessories

Accessories may well be part of the stated dress code, or they may be left up to you. Sometimes the bride or groom will be very specific about how they’d like their parents to dress with photos in mind – in which case, that’s the way to go.

Accessories can be a great way to add your own stamp to an outfit – just don’t go overboard! “Less is more” is a good rule of thumb. There are multiple accessory options depending on the wedding venue and color scheme. Here are a few to consider:

  • A boutonnière – the floral decoration worn on the lapel of a suit or tuxedo jacket. This may be chosen for you when the flowers for the wedding are arranged, otherwise, a nice touch can be to match the bride’s bouquet.

  • Cummerbund – A broad waist sash, usually pleated, worn with a tuxedo.

  • Pocket square – A handkerchief styled in the pocket of your jacket.

  • Cufflinks – Any tasteful pair of cufflinks that you desire to wear.

  • Cravat – A neckband that was the forerunner to the modern necktie. Stylish fathers might choose to wear this to a more casual daytime wedding.

  • Vest – Choose a vest that blends in with the colors chosen for the bridal party.

  • Shoes – Always pay attention to your shoes! A smart pair is a must. Black is safe to wear with most suit colors, although it is better to wear brown with brown. Choose a style appropriate to the occasion, for example, loafers, Oxfords, Derbys or Monks.
Father of the bride
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#5. It’s all about fit

There’s an old stereotype of the father at the wedding – fidgeting and uncomfortable in formal attire that hardly ever sees the exterior of a closet. Don’t let this be you! There’s no need for wedding attire to cause discomfort.

The whole idea is that you barely notice you’re wearing anything different while everyone around you can see you looking dapper. Shirt collars, shirt size and pants should never be too tight or too loose. The same goes for your jacket.

The best solution is to get your suit tailored. Whether you have it made from scratch or tailored from an off-the-rack choice, you will notice the difference wearing something that is made to fit you and so will everyone else. Those wedding photos will show you at your best and become a precious memento.

Your tailor can help with style and fabric choices to suit the dress code and can also advise on accessories to have you looking sharp. This is something that we at Family Britches enjoy helping with on a regular basis.

Final thoughts

If we were to give one overall tip for any parents of the bride or groom, it’s to talk with them about what they would like in terms of dress code for their special day. Clear communication is the best way to ensure that the day (and the photos) come out as they envision.

Follow the dress code and match the formality of the bridal party. You don’t have to be in exactly the same clothes, but it’s nice to coordinate colors.

Finally, make sure your clothes fit well. You will appreciate having a tailored suit and looking good for the occasion, rather than feeling uncomfortable.

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