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Lori’s question from last week (about what to wear with bridesmaid dresses) started Katharine’s and my wheels turning about all of the different options out there for wedding day attire.

In this day and age (which makes me sound like a grandmother, but oh well!), there are SO many options, from super formal to just-rolled-out-of-bed casual.

With all these options, we thought it might be nice to do a brief overview of the many possibilities. (Okay, we won’t be covering just-rolled-out-of-bed. But you know what I mean!) You can use our guide to heed sartorial etiquette, or to gain general awareness of which rules you’re breaking :) Let’s begin!

The most formal option for daytime wear (anytime before 6pm) is a black or Oxford gray cutaway coat, black or gray striped trousers, a pearl gray waistcoat, stiff white shirt, stiff fold-down collar with gray-and-black striped four-in-hand tie or wing collar with ascot, gray gloves, black silk socks, and black kid shoes. Whew! This is NOT a common look for weddings today, but we did manage to turn up a few examples:

Image credit: Jen Huang. See more from this wedding here!

The most formal option for traditional evening attire consists of a black tailcoat and trousers, a white pique waistcoat, a starched-front shirt with a wing collar, a white bow tie, white gloves, black silk socks, black patent-leather shoes or pumps or black kid smooth-toed shoes. Tuxedos are also acceptable. Not as elusive as the formal daytime option, and more popular in the South than other regions of the country, but still fairly rare.

For a semiformal daytime wedding, the groom might wear a suit-style dark gray or black sack (straight-backed) coat, matching trousers, a soft or white pleated shirt, a four-in-hand tie, and black smooth-toed shoes. For all of you non-menswear experts, that’s basically your standard “nice suit.” A dove gray waistcoat was the traditional pairing with this look, but grooms are switching things up left and right these days. A very popular option!

For a semiformal evening wedding, the attire options are split by seasons. For a winter wedding, a black or midnight blue tuxedo is most appropriate. Here, Katharine’s groom Kyle models the look with aplomb:

In the summer, a white dinner jacket and black cummerbund can be substituted.

Either can be paired with a pleated or pique soft shirt with attached collar, a black cummerbund and black bow tie, and a pair of black patent-leather or kid shoes. No gloves.

For informal day or evening weddings, it really starts to get loose. Lighter-weight suits or jackets and trousers, white suits, seersucker suits, khaki suits, khakis and navy blazers, trousers and suspenders… the sartorial options are almost limitless. Just remember to keep whatever you do choose in good taste and in keeping with the ceremony and reception location and time of year.

So, ladies: what will your men be wearing on the big day? Leave us a note in the comments!

Lastly, let’s have a big round of applause for Mr. Bryan Johnson! I turned to A Bryan Photo for the lion’s share of these images. If you’re ever looking for wedding inspiration (and great photography, of course), look no further than their galleries!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Elizabeth reply

    I went to a 6:00 wedding once in the fall and the groomsmen wore black, but their shirts were off-white. It looked really handsome! I was thinking of doing the same for our fall wedding because my dress is more of an off-white too. It seems like an ok move, but I’ve only seen it that one time. Is that strange?

    • avatar Katharine reply

      Hi Elizabeth! If your dress is more ivory than true white, an off-white shirt for your groom could be a really nice complement, especially if you already love the look! Warmer tones are also a nice touch for a fall wedding. Just make sure the groomsmen also wear off-white shirts and that there aren’t too many other white-white details in the ceremony or reception. (Your pictures could look a little funny if there are different shades of white floating around.) Congratulations and happy planning!

  2. avatar Tweets that mention Southern Etiquette: What to Wear When? « Southern Weddings Magazine — reply

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marissa Kloess and Katharine Waterman, Southern Weddings . Southern Weddings said: @EmilyAyer discusses what to wear and when in this week's Southern Etiquette + a special thanks to @ABryanPhoto! […]

  3. avatar Natalie reply

    My fiancee and I are getting married in a barn but we are still traditionalists and he wants to wear a tuxedo with the standard black tie. He chose his look and said he likes the classic look. Thank goodness I got a man who knows how to dress appropriately, ha. But I believe there is a lot of play with your attire on your big day because lets be honest it is YOUR day. You make the rules!

    • avatar Katharine reply

      Amen, Natalie! Tradition and formal etiquette are nice guidelines, especially if you’re undecided and looking for suggestions as you plan, but in the end the only rules you follow should be your own.

  4. avatar Erin reply

    My fiance said he definitely wants to wear a tuxedo to our 5:30/6 (still undecided!) wedding in September 2012. Originally he was interested in a white tux jacket, but I said he’d look like a waiter…but now I’m changing my mind as it does look extremely handsome. My only concern is that our wedding is September 22, the first day of fall that year (but usually it’s still hot around that time in Northern Virginia)–does this mean a white tux jacket is out since it’s technically fall??

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi, Erin! As Natalie said, it’s your wedding, so you make the rules! BUT, if you’re looking for etiquette guidance, I just checked Emily Post and she says tuxedos for winter and white jackets for summer. However, she doesn’t specify either for fall or spring. I’d take that to mean that you can use your discretion in choosing, which means that if you like the look of the white jacket, go for that! I can pretty much guarantee that your guests will NOT be horrified by the possible faux pas :)

    • avatar Erin reply

      Emily: Thanks so much for the response! It’s tough to find etiquette rules for seemingly ambiguous days/seasons/dates!

  5. avatar Lori reply

    We are STILL deciding… Thanks for sharing more etiquette and options!

  6. avatar Jess reply

    My fiance has requested to wear a collared, printed shirt, tie, gray vest, and nice designer jeans. We’re getting married on a deck in the woods with a picnic reception, so I think it’ll tie in perfectly with our wedding atmosphere.

  7. avatar Lindsey Richards reply

    Thanks so much for this post! My fiance and I are still deciding whether to go with the classic black tux or khakis with navy blazers. We’re having a traditional church wedding, but our reception is at a horse stable in VA. I feel like the navy blazer is more “him”, but at the same time this is the one day where he feels like he should definitely go all out in a formal tux. Our colors are navy, persimmon, and pewter, so navy blazers would look great in the big scheme of things. Too many options! What do you think?

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Lindsey! Katharine and I agree that the khaki and blazer combo sounds like the winner given your reception location and color palette. However, he’s the groom, so if he’s always wanted to wear a tux, he should go for it! And remember: as the groom in a tux, he’ll never stick out in a bad way.

  8. avatar Jennifer reply

    We are getting married outside in May at the home of the groom’s parents which sits on a small lake in Perry, Georgia. We want to have the guys wear gray seersucker, but our problem is we can’t figure out the right shoes. White bucks would be traditional, but they are pricey and not everyone owns a pair.

  9. avatar erin reply

    Hi, thanks for the post on men’s wedding attire! Our wedding is coming up very soon… it’s in the beginning of April, eeks!! It will be just outside of Chapel Hill , NC, with an outside ceremony (weather permitting) and barn reception. The groomsmen are all wearing charcoal gray suits. My fiance bought monogrammed light blue shirts as a gift for each of the groomsmen and we also picked them each out a different patterned tie in the same shade of green. My fiance will be wearing a charcoal gray suit with chalk stripes, a white shirt and another different green tie. I do have a question for y’all though… My dad is wearing a navy suit but he would really like to wear a bow tie. I think it’s a great idea and offered to find it for him… but now I can’t find one! Anyone have any ideas about where to find nice bow ties, preferably online? I am looking for a patterned bow tie in a moss green shade. Thank you!!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Erin! Of course I have a few suggestions! :) For patterned bowties, I love Forage ( The Tie Bar ( has lots of nice simple patterns in a nice price range. Southern Proper or Vineyard Vines are great for a preppy look. And lastly, Pierrepont Hicks has some AMAZING styles right now — LOVE! ( I hope that helps!!

  10. avatar Kyla reply

    I am curious about a patchwork madras sports coat. I am from SC and it can be incredibly hot sometimes into October. My fiance asked if he could wear his favorite patchwork madras sports coat to our wedding. I think it looks quite nice on him and would work with a navy and yellow theme but I was planning on an October wedding. I hate being restrictive about what choices he has to make in the wedding but also don’t wanna change everything because his outfit of choice isn’t seasonally appropriate. I can’t really find any material online stating that at some point madras is not allowed but I have always thought of it like seersucker and wouldn’t think you could wear it after Labor Day. Any thoughts? Our wedding is going to be outside so summer would be unbearable! :) Thanks!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Kyla! If there is a rule about madras (which I’m not entirely sure there is…), you’re right, it’s probably a “faux pas” to wear it after Labor Day. But I think the sportscoat option sounds lovely, and if it’s what your fiance wants to wear and you’re okay with it, then go for it! It’s so much hotter in the South than other parts of the country, anyway, that it almost seems like the Labor Day rule should become the Columbus Day rule :) Congratulations and happy planning!

  11. avatar Caroline Davidson reply

    Hi Emily!
    My fiance will be wearing a black tux (with a bow tie and suspenders) to our wedding and I want to wear my old boots with my formal dress. The ceremony will be in my hometown church.Is it appropriate for me and my bridesmaids to wear our boots or should we change into them for the reception? I also wonder if that would mean the men would have to wear black boots to match us? Thanks in advance! Your etiquette posts are just lovely!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Caroline! Love that look! (That’s what John is wearing, as well!) Between the tux and the church, I would say you should change into your boots post-ceremony. I do not, however, think that the men need to wear black boots to match! Best of luck with your plans!

  12. avatar Jennifer reply

    How faux pas it it to wear seersucker in late Feb on the beach as the groom?

  13. avatar charlotte reply

    Is it appropriate to for men to wear tux with white dinner jacket for a 6 pm wedding in March?

  14. avatar Meghan reply

    Our bridesmaids are wearing long black dresses for a ski lodge wedding on September 15. My fiancé would prefer to wear a classic black tux, and originally we had planned to have the groomsmen in black tuxes as well. My seamstress suggested breaking up the black in the party by having the groomsmen wear white dinner jackets (and the groom keep his black tux). My photographer expressed concern that it will look off balance during the ceremony. I can only find photos of either all of the guys in white dinner jackets OR the groomsmen in black tuxes with the groom in a white dinner jacket. I think the groomsmen in white could look sharp, but I’m nervous bc I can’t find where this has been done before! Help! Advice? Thank you!!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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Ladies and gents, please give a warm welcome to Marissa! She’ll be joining us about every three weeks to talk about fashion and style, and Southern fashion and style in particular. Marissa has a great eye and a knack for tracking things down, so if you have a question or a suggestion for a future topic, don’t hesitate to get in touch either by leaving a comment or shooting us an email! — Emily

Thanks for the great introduction, Emily! For those you that don’t know me, I’m Marissa! I’m new to the blog, but an old hand around SW. I’m a bit of a fashion addict with a healthy obsession with style — Southern style, especially! Classic wardrobe staples and vintage finds are a few of my particular favorites. I’ll be dropping in from time to time to give you a little fashion love!

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we thought it would be fun to kick off this feature with the color red! I’m going to show you some simple and stylish ways to add a splash of this bright and cheery color to your big day.

Let’s start with red lipstick. A long-time favorite of celebrities on the red carpet like Taylor Swift and Reese Witherspoon, red lipstick can actually make your smile appear brighter. Choosing a blue-based red balances out pink undertones and makes teeth appear whiter. If you’re red-shy, try a berry or wine hue for your big day.

Image credits from top: Jose Villa for Once Wed, Simply Bloom, Justin and Mary and The Nichols, and Lark Photography. The last image is from one of my absolute favorite parts of SW V3, the Amelia Lyon Sweet Love feature. See more of this gorgeous editorial here.

Much like red lipstick, we’re seeing red nails make their way from the red carpet to wedding days more and more. Even our own KTW got in on the action at her recent nuptials by donning cherry-apple red polish (“I’m Not Really a Waitress” by OPI, for those of you who are wondering!). Also a fan of red, Katherine Heigl kept her make-up classic + clean, but glammed up her entire look with red nails at her winter wedding. Just a few tips: be sure to buy the same color that your manicurist uses to touch up unwanted chips, keep your nails short and square and remember the color in the bottle will appear a bit darker on your nails once the traditional two coats is applied and completely dry.

Image credits clockwise from top left: Our Labor of Love (see the rest of this awesome wedding here), Jasmine Star, Sarah E. Evans, OK! Magazine, The Image is Found, Tanja Lippert and Shannon Nicole Smith.

Now we’re on to the fun part, y’all…the shoes! Lots of brides are opting for pops of coordinating color to peek out from under the hem of their dress, but I think there’s just something especially exciting about red shoes! And since this feature is about Southern style, I couldn’t resist two very Southern shoe options – the wellie and the cowboy boot. Wellies are a fun and stylish option for rainy day weddings like the one below from Gregg Gibson. Ditching the heels for a pair of cowboy boots? Be sure to check out Katharine and Emily’s great round-up of boot options here. A couple tips for the road: be sure to bring any shoes you plan on wearing to your dress fittings to be sure the hem lies just so. Wear your wedding day shoes around your house with a pair of socks on under them, which will help to break the shoes in without blisters.

Image credits, clockwise from top left: Gregg Gibson, unknown via Michelle Rago, Jagger Photography and Elisabeth Millay.

Looking for your own perfect pop of red? We’ve rounded up a few options below!

Okay, that’s more than a few options. We couldn’t help ourselves! Where to find these beauties:

A. Hunter Wellies ($125), B. Christian Louboutin Lady Bow ($735), C. RSVP Carol ($62.30), D. Salvatore Ferragamo Varina ($395), E. Carlos Santana Prestige ($71.96), F. Pour La Victoire Irina ($260), G. RSVP Larisa ($89), H. Kate Spade Darla ($298), I. GUESS Rapine ($90), J. Toms Wedge ($68.95), K. Unlisted Natural Glow ($59), L. MAXSTUDIO Sxishi ($128.95), M. BP Romantic ($69.95), N. BP Summer ($69.95), O. Badgley Mischka Randall ($200), P. Kate Spade Kamille ($325), Q. Via Spiga Marilla ($198), R. heart shoe clips ($25), S. RSVP Angelique ($95), T. Valentino Bow Thong Sandal ($295), U. Keds Champion Canvas ($35), V. Nina Electra ($92.95)

Lastly, I just couldn’t leave out these handsome beaus. Their burst-of-red ties works perfectly together with their subdued grey suits. So dapper, no?

Photo by: Heather H. Photography

Readers, weigh in! Did you or would you add a splash of red to your wedding day? How will you incorporate pops of color into your design? Will you be donning red nails or lips? Tell me about it in the comment section below!

I want to hear from you! Have a question or an idea for a future column? Leave a comment below or send me an email! P.S. I also enjoy love notes.

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Erin reply

    Great shoutout to OPI’s “I’m not really a waitress” red! I’ve rocked that color on my toes for probably two years straight, now! It’s *the perfect* red!

  2. avatar Kelly Sauer reply

    oh how pretty! talk about daring, but gorgeous!

  3. avatar Lauren @ ELD reply

    Looooove all of this Marissa! I adore your style- hopefully I can get some style tips for general everyday style too! :)

  4. avatar Tweets that mention Southern Style :: Red, Red, and Red All Over! « Southern Weddings Magazine — reply

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lauren Grove, Katharine Waterman. Katharine Waterman said: Just in time for Valentine's Day: the SW site is going RED! Plus a big 'ole howdy to @marissakloess for her 1st post. […]

  5. avatar *holly. reply

    such a cute post….love the red! thanks, marissa!

  6. avatar Lara reply

    Love love LOVE!!!! I want ALL of those shoes! So happy to see this feature, M! xo

  7. avatar Jean Cotten Schnaak reply

    Simply beautiful!!! I love my red lipstick….so glad to see its return to the main stage!

  8. avatar Paloma reply

    What a great new feature! Those Valentino bow flip flops are out of this world.

  9. avatar Stefanie reply

    Yay, Marissa!!!!! So excited for your new column and all that you add to the SW team! Been making good use of my red wellies with the all the ice + snow down here!

  10. avatar Patti reply

    I love the emphasis on red. It really makes the traditional “wedding white” pop. My daughter is getting married in May and she has opted for bright pink shoes under her dress – I was a little skeptical at first, but now I think it’s a great look! Too bad we can’t get the groomsmen to wear bright pink ties! And the cowboy boots are great!

  11. avatar Sara Kauss reply

    How FUN Marissa!!! Great article. Just because of this article, I’m going out right now and buying those amazing Louboutin’s in red. :)

  12. avatar Emily reply

    I keep re-reading this post because I love it so much! Great job, Marissa!

  13. avatar Marissa reply

    Thanks for the warm welcome and all the kind words!! This was such a fun feature to work on and I’m so glad y’all like it!

  14. avatar Annie reply

    What a great article! I’m so glad that you are here, Marissa! I think you have a great perspective and I’m really excited to read your next article. A great addition!

  15. avatar Kathy reply

    What a great article! I loved all the pictures! I used to wear red lipstick and thought it had gone out of style. I’m pulling it out of the cupboard!

  16. avatar Weekly Round-Up « Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] been keeping up with our posts from today, you know it’s from Marissa’s very first SW post on Southern style! This week, we went red-crazy as Marissa shined the spotlight on one of our favorite bright and […]

  17. avatar Wedding Weekend Roundup: Link Love + Giveaways Galore | Wedding Blog, Wedding Planning Blog | Perfect Wedding Guide reply

    […] Rich and robust red wedding fashion ideas, via Southern Weddings […]

  18. avatar Kristin Vining reply

    So excited for you, Marissa!! It is a GORGEOUS spread!! I feel the love!! CONGRATS!! xo

  19. avatar Lori reply

    I have been looking for the perfect red nail polish… I am going on the hunt for OPI’s “I’m not really a waitress” tomorrow! I swear by OPI polishes, in the rare event my nails are actually polished, and it sounds like this is one in need of being added to my collection.

  20. avatar Brit @ Landlocked Bride reply

    Ah, love this post Marissa!

  21. avatar Get the Look :: Kiley + Tim « Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] best part about Kiley’s wedding day ensemble? She went bold with red nail polish! Check out this post for Marissa’s “pops of red” tips! Save Facebook it Tweet […]

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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