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Groom & Guest Formal Attire Day Vs. Evening

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

At what time is a formal wedding - at 6pm or after? What should be the attire of the groomsmen and guests?


Need Answer

Dear Need Answer,

A formal wedding can be at any time of day. The formality of the wedding is set by how the bride plans to dress. If the bride's gown has a train (cathedral, sweep, or chapel), the wedding is considered formal. The wedding is considered more formal when it is in the evening, on or after 6pm.

While the bride's dress can be the same for formal daytime 'or formal evening, the formal attire for the groom and other men in the wedding party (i.e. groomsmen, ushers, fathers,) changes when it's formal daytime versus formal evening. Formal daytime wear is a morning suit, which is a cutaway coat with tails, gray pinstripe trousers, gray vest, ascot or tie. Formal evening wear is full dress, which is black tailcoat, matching black pants, white shirt, white vest, and white tie.

The above is a basic guideline. The groom and other men can wear a tuxedo instead of a morning suit for formal daytime or instead of full dress for formal evening.

A groom can distinguish himself from the rest of the wedding party by varying an accessory such as the boutonniere, tie, or vest. However, to be in total correct dress for a formal evening wedding, there is no variation between the men, they all wear white tie and tails.

For a less formal daytime wedding the groom and men in the wedding party can wear a stroller without tails in black or gray. For a less formal evening wedding, the men can wear tuxedos.

Consult with the formal wear shop about options and accessories. There are many styles of coats, vests, cummerbunds, ties, studs, cufflinks, shoes and handkerchiefs to think about.

As for guest attire, if you specify Black Tie on the reception invitation, male guests should wear tuxedos. If you specify White Tie on the invitation, male guests should wear full dress identical to groom. For female guests, a nice outfit in any length is appropriate, except for a very formal (white tie) event, where more elegant long dresses should be worn. If dress isn't specified, male guests could wear sportcoats or suits.