NOTE: We first published this story just as the pandemic was breaking out in the spring of 2020. Like most everything in our lives, weddings took a blow. This updated version addresses the impacts of the pandemic and how you can best work through them with your bride.
Like many couples, there’s a good chance your wedding was impacted by COVID-19. And may still be impacted!
Let’s assume that the time for waiting is over, and pandemic or not, you’re moving forward with your wedding.
Even a small and intimate wedding is a big undertaking. You want to make sure every detail is perfect. After all, you’re making memories that will last a lifetime.
Looking your best for your bride-to-be will send a message of love that will last your entire lifetime. In other words, your wedding attire and personal grooming mean everything on your wedding day. A haircut, neatly trimmed facial hair, and possibly a manicure are givens.
But what are you going to wear?
Up until a few years ago, the norm was a wedding tuxedo, bowtie, cummerbund, and similar accessories for grooms on their wedding day.
All that has changed.
More and more, grooms are opting for custom suits instead.
Even if the pandemic has affected your plans—some of the ceremony will be virtual or the guest list is going to be pared way back due to virus transmission concerns—you still want to be able to look back years from now with great memories.
A custom suit for your wedding day makes sense for a lot of reasons. Let’s dig into the post-pandemic specifics.
What to consider when deciding between a custom suit and a tuxedo for your wedding
There are several things to factor for your wedding attire when deciding between a custom suit or tuxedo.
Something most did not have to consider before the pandemic was considering the impact of something that has affected just about everyone, whether they have had the virus, know somebody who has or has had someone close to them die because of it.
Think of the Academy Awards a few years back when the nation was in a recession/depression. Suddenly, wearing custom tuxedos seemed completely out of touch for the times. Instead, actors and other Hollywood types opted for suits to be more appropriate for the time.
There is a strong case to be made for being highly sensitive to those who attend your wedding.
Let’s dig into your options.
How formal is the wedding?
What started out as a formal, tux-required wedding pre-pandemic may now be taking on a less formal approach.
Even without a pandemic overlay, weddings today are often less formal, giving the groom flexibility with his day-of-ceremony choices. For example, if your bride is wearing a tea-length dress for a summer wedding, then a custom suit is a more appropriate choice.
If you’re going for a friendly, small, and intimate event, then a custom suit may be preferable, although a custom suit is appropriate for larger gatherings as well.
Whatever you decide, don’t be afraid to inject your personality into your outfit. If you’re a musician, wear clef-note cuff links or perhaps musical note socks for a bit of whimsey. Pandemic or not, that is one part that hasn’t changed.
What time is the ceremony?
Time of day does play a part in the groom’s attire. According to many wedding planners, tuxedos are more appropriate for evening weddings, while custom suits make more sense and are more socially acceptable with a morning or afternoon wedding.
If the festivities start during the day but run into the evening, then either one is fine, depending on your personal preferences.
In many cases, time frames for wedding day ceremonies and festivities are being shortened. A 12-hour bash may now be scaled back to a ceremony, a simple but elegant dinner, some dancing, and then calling it a night after about 4-5 hours.
Staying true to your style
A custom wedding suit allows you also to have more options when it comes to customizing your accessories. A special tie, brightly colored socks, or a pocket square tend to work better with a custom suit.
Just remember to check with your wedding planners and stylists to get their input so that your special day does not turn into a customization fashion mess.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to be individualistic on your wedding day.
The pricing vs. value factor
A man should always have at least one great suit in his closet, but that’s not necessarily the case with a tuxedo.
Here’s another pandemic-practical consideration: A custom suit is probably going to cost more than a tuxedo rental, but you are going to get multiple uses out of a custom suit, and when you amortize those costs over 50 or so times that you wear a suit, guess which one makes more economic sense?
The same thinking also applies even if you buy a tuxedo for your wedding. Unless you’re a regular at black-tie events, a custom suit has many more practical applications in daily life.
And let’s face it, until we get back to normal, how many black-tie events do you expect to attend?
Depending on how you live, and what your work and social life are like, do the math and see which option makes more sense over the long term. In most cases, a custom suit comes up a winner.
The other thing to consider is that when you buy a custom suit, you’ll also need to purchase accessories such as a belt, shoes, socks, and a tie. You may not wear the custom suit frequently, but you may wear the accessories time and again.
The wedding party factor
Pandemic or not, wedding party style is another critical part of planning your wedding. One thing that might change is the size of your wedding party. Instead of opting for six groomsmen and bridesmaids you may want to pair that down to three or four of each.
Traditionally, groomsmen will wear attire similar to what the groom wears (but it’s your wedding, and this is up to you and your bride).
In some cases, you personally may want to ramp up your level of dress to a tux but choose custom suits that are coordinated with your look for your groomsmen. If you all decide to wear custom suits, you can differentiate yourself as the groom by choosing different accessories to help you stand out.
Also, groomsmen and bridesmaids should have a coordinated look as well. In case this slips your mind, we’re pretty sure your bride-to-be will remind you of this several times before your big day.
Wedding style trends for men
With tux styles changing and a greater acceptance of custom-tailored suits for weddings, the lines are blurring more than ever when it comes to telling the two styles apart.
Even though the pandemic put a screeching halt to many in-person weddings, designers and fashionistas have been as busy as ever in coming up with new wedding looks.
For the past few years, the trend has been that modern tuxes are no longer just a classic black and white look. Many newer styles also incorporate grey, navy, tan, and other colors as well.
The main difference that remains is that tuxes have satin details, such as lapels, buttons, or a satin stripe down the side of a pant leg. On the other hand, custom suits are crafted from the same material throughout. Buttons are usually made of bone or plastic or are fabric covered.
Custom suits are more versatile when it comes to accessories. For example, you can choose to wear a bowtie or a traditional tie, both being equally acceptable for weddings.
Black patent dress shoes are almost always worn with tuxedos. Custom suits offer a broader range of footwear choices ranging from oxfords to loafers in a variety of colors.
Custom suits also allow for a greater variety of dress shirt choices in either a solid color or a pattern. Tuxedos are almost always worn with white shirts that have a wing or a turndown collar.
If you’ve had a year or more delaying your wedding, one of the first places you might want to stop is at a fine men’s clothing store like Savile Row and or your local tux shop to see what’s new.
Building a custom suit for your wedding…and beyond
If you’ve decided to wear a custom suit for your wedding, the process is quite a bit different than simply going to your local formalwear shop and renting a tux.
Here’s what you can expect when building a custom suit for your wedding, while also thinking about your suit’s life and purpose after you’re married.
Step 1 – Analysis. With a one-time tux rental, the thought process is straightforward. You and your bride decide on the level of formality, color scheme, style, and a few other important details, and you’re done.
But with a custom suit that’s going to have a life beyond your wedding, you need to approach things a bit differently.
While getting it right for your wedding is essential, you also need to think about how and when you’ll wear your suit after the fact. How do you want to present yourself in a business or a social setting?
Is dressing well critical to advancing your career, and will your superiors and clients/customers judge you in a good way if you make the investment? Are you willing to up your game with other parts of your wardrobe so that it more closely aligns with the level of your custom suit?
One thing to consider is whether your work situation has become more virtual than before, or if what was a more formal work environment pre-pandemic has transitioned toward more business casual.
There’s a lot to consider these days.
Step 2 – Vision. This is where you drill down to a more specific idea of how you want to look for your wedding, and how you can adapt your custom suit for use after the fact. Your vision will translate into your image and how others will see you. Make sure you like what you’re wearing and that you have a style consistent with what works best for you. Again, even if your dress code has been modified at work, it’s still a good idea to have an A-list suit in your closet ready to go wherever the office takes you.
Step 3 – Planning. In consultation with a custom suit clothier, this is where you will make final decisions about how to execute your look. Materials. Budget. Accessories. Adding other complementary pieces to flesh out a high-quality look.
Step 4 – Implementation. Weddings come with deadlines and custom suits are not created overnight. Give yourself plenty of lead time. Work with your custom suit provider on a timeline that builds in leeway just in case Murphy’s Law decides to visit you.
Consider that what you thought was an appropriate lead time before may no longer be an appropriate lead time now. Be sure to ask.
Step 5 – Update and Maintain. Think of your custom suit as an investment. And just like any other investment, you’ll need to maintain it and update the elements and accessories involved with your custom suit purchase. Typically, this takes place about every six months or so.
Trends come and go, both personally and professionally, so to make sure you enjoy the full value of your suit, be sure to stay current by consulting with your custom suit clothier.
A closer look at the vision and planning processes
The hard work with a custom suit takes place before you’ve made decisions about how you want to look. You’ve got dozens of options to choose from, and until you can narrow those options down, you may be a bit lost in how to best proceed.
That’s why breaking down the vision, and planning processes are critical.
From our experience, there are six key considerations as you move forward. They are
Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to be born a perfect 42 regular and fit has never been an issue for you. Yeah, that’s probably not the case. For 99% of men, fit can be elusive.
You’ve seen it. You have maybe even worn it.
For example, how many times have you seen men whose blazer, suit coat or sport coat doesn’t fit close to their shirt collar? There’s a gap, sometimes a big gap, and something is obviously wrong. If you notice so do others, even if they don’t know why they notice.
In most cases, there’s nothing wrong with the suit or the shirt. The man wearing it may have an unusual posture, causing a poor fit. A custom suit clothier pays close attention to you and how your custom suit fits on YOU.
Department store sales staffs and alterations departments are often inconsistent when it comes to the details of fit, which can be the beginning of big disappointment on your wedding day.
Also, in this post-pandemic environment longtime employees with excellent tailoring skills may have moved on from where you’re used to going. Even if you had a “regular guy” before, that may not be the case now. At Savile Row we’ve been very fortunate to be able to keep 100% of our employees, including Nurko our master tailor.
When it comes to style, the right style for you is based on a few critical questions and observations.
Let’s take a moment to talk about what hasn’t changed due to the pandemic. Here are several things that are good to consider.
- Which style do you like best? You must love what you’re wearing, whether on your wedding day or for the next two to three years. Choose carefully.
- What style best suits your body type? Let your eyes be the best judge (but also seek advice from the tailor). Generally, a fuller cut suit coat or jacket benefits a heavier man, whether short or tall. A thinner frame, whether short or tall, may be better suited for the newer, shorter, and trimmer styles.
- Which style is more appropriate for your office? Once you can agree on what’s going to work best for your wedding, you need to consider then what is acceptable for your office. Pay attention to the written (and unwritten) dress code of your company. Try to dress to the high end of that range, and you’ll never go wrong. Again, pay attention to how the pandemic has impacted your office dress code.
- What is the proper coat length? More traditional suit coats or jackets typically cover the rear end, where the butt and hip meet. The new shorter style jackets tend to fall somewhere between that point and the waistline.
- What is the proper sleeve length? We live the sleeve to allow for no more than one-half inch of your shirt cuff to be exposed at the end of your coat sleeves. The shirt cuff should hit right around the large bone of your wrist when your arms are relaxed. When in doubt, err on the side of too long with your suit coat sleeves. It’s an easy adjustment to shorten if needed.
- How should a coat look when buttoned? The two sides of the coat should come together and button comfortably, with the lapels smooth against your body. For a more traditional style, close just the top button on a two-button coat. If you notice an X-shaped crease forming or the lower edges flare, then it’s too tight. A small opening at the bottom of the coat, just above the waist of your trousers is perfectly fine, and very little, if any, of your shirt below the coat buttons should be visible. For trimmer styles, the same rules apply for when a jacket is too tight; if the fabric wrinkles when it is buttoned, it is too tight.
- How should the pants fit? Pants should fit smoothly across your legs and buttocks. The drape shouldn’t form sagging wrinkles below the seat. If the seat is too tight, you’ll typically see horizontal wrinkles under the buttocks. To plan for the inevitable change in your body shape, most custom-made clothing shops add extra fabric to their pants so you can sneak in a few pounds during your happy married life.
- What is the right length for pants? The traditional approach is for the hem to fall just on the top of your shoes, with a slight crease where they meet. The back of the pant should fall no lower than the top of the heel of your shoes.
- How should the shirt fit? You should be able to fit one finger comfortably between the collar and neck. Most off-the-rack shirt collars are cut at one-half inch intervals. At Savile Row we cut our collars to the one-quarter inch. The shirt should fit comfortably around your torso, with three or more inches of extra fabric. The best length for a sleeve is for it to hit just below the wrist bone (or just above the hand), ensuring it doesn’t crawl up when you raise your arms. If you purchase custom shirts, you can have the cuff on your watch hand-made slightly larger to accommodate the watch.
When trying on your custom suit, put it through some paces. The fit needs to be perfect. You should be able to move around comfortably. Try twisting, raising your arms, and even break out a few dance moves. People love to dance at weddings, and so should you!
A thousand little decisions…
Buying a custom suit is one of those little decisions that can have a nice ripple effect on your life and on how you feel about yourself. As you approach your big day, and when you’re ready, we’re here to help you. We invite you to visit our showroom to see how a wedding suit can best suit your needs.
It’s our sincere wish that at worst, the pandemic only slowed down plans for your perfect day.
We offer our heartiest congratulations!