According to Brides magazine, the average cost of a wedding in 2016 comes to a vertiginous UGX. 800,000 to 2600,000, and that doesn't even include the honeymoon. Of course, it’s a once in a lifetime event [cue cynical smirk] which makes cutting off the corners of your big day all the more difficult.
Given that your wife-to-be will have plunged most of the wedding fund on her dress and ludicrous tonnages of flora and fauna, you might feel pressured to skimp on your wedding suit – or even worse, rent it. Whatever your budget, this guide will help you get the most out of your wedding suit, ensuring it will remain an integral part of your wardrobe long after
the divorce papers have been signed you get back from the Maldives.
Your number one consideration is what type of wedding you are going to have. Is it to be formal? Casual? During the day? In the evening? Themed (God forbid…)? These are all questions that will significantly affect your choices because each style of wedding demands a different style of suit. Sure, you can fly solo and have you and your best man in white tuxedos for the registrar’s office at 11am on a Friday, but don’t expect your wife to ever forgive you…
The Conventional Wedding Suit
For about 70% of couples, your big day will not occur in a church, which in sartorial terms means you have a much greater degree of choice regarding your suit. As with choosing a business suit, size should be your first consideration.
â??“Many people get this wrong even though advice can usually be provided when you buy,” explains Nick Keyte, head of menswear buying at John Lewis. “If you buy off the peg, certainly try plenty on to ensure you have the fit you want. It’s worth using an alteration service to ensure the suit fits really well and that the trousers and sleeves are the correct length.”
The milled check in the suit from John Lewis (above left) ensures you stand out from the crowd of cousins and workmates on the big day (UGX 1,230,000 – see it here). Or to step away from the standard blue or grey, Marks & Spencer offer this mauve textured wool suit for a steal at UGX. 450,000.
If you’re feeling flush, there’s no better option than bespoke but that doesn’t necessarily mean shelling out the best part of £6k. “A bespoke suit guarantees a perfect fit on the big day (and on any day, in fact),” says James Sleater, co-founder of Savile Row tailor Cad & The Dandy .
Bespoke also allows for consideration of environmental factors and colour schemes, especially where weddings are concerned – matching the suit lining to the flowers, for example. "Whichever way you wear it, every bespoke suit is an investment made with the future in mind. Savile Row guidelines dictate that we leave a 3” inlay throughout our suits meaning the suit can grow with you or be taken in as necessary.”
Cad & The Dandy offer a competitive bespoke service (you can expect to pay around a third to a half of the typical Savile Row bespoke cost) that constructs a suit using your own individual pattern rather than a standard block. Just bear in mind that made-to-measure and bespoke services will take anything from 4-12 weeks to turn around. Not ideal for a shotgun affair.
Style-wise, it really depends on your personal preferences. A double-breasted suit or even separates can look elegant provided you’re svelte of build and the jacket fits well. Next, above right, offer an extra point of interest with their blue gingham suit . Or for something more standout, Topman (above left) has a broad range of colours.
If you're not into double-breasted, you can’t go far wrong with a classic one button suit with peak lapels. “A paler grey or a brighter blue are popular colours for wedding suits as they look good in sunny weather and stand out from darker year-round work suits,” says Keyte. “Either of these paired with neutral, tasteful accessories are always a winning look, or alternatively take inspiration from the wedding colour theme or surroundings – plenty of weddings these days have a pop colour involved.”
If your budget is really tight, you can pimp out your business suit with a few little tricks. “â??Think about adding a matching or buff beige waistcoat to turn a two-piece work suitâ?? â??into an outfit more suitable for a wedding or celebration,” says Keyte. Pick up the tailored and textured cut for UGX. 450,000 at John Lewis – see it here. “Or add formal accessories such as a bow-tie and pocket square that have a summery feel; vibrant colours in a silk print or a linen mix are ideal to lift any suit.”
Avoid bold stripes or checks as they can look a little comical for what is a pretty serious day and instead focus on fabric. “A wool/silk/linen blend cloth will make a suit look more dressy and will work perfectly as a statement jacket when worn with jeans/chinos,” says Sleater.
The White Tie Wedding Suit
White tie or evening tails as it is also known is the most formal type of wedding attire and if you’re considering it as an option then you are likely 1) landed gentry 2) marrying into landed gentry or 3) absolutely loaded and marrying a knockout girl who has you wrapped around her smallest of digits.
Either way, a white tie wedding is in orders or magnitude more formal than any other and brings with it a stringent set of sartorial rules for the groom. Courtesy of Debretts, you'll need: a white marcella shirt with a detachable wing collar and double cuffs, fastened with studs and cufflinks; the eponymous white marcella bow tie is worn around the collar, while a low-cut marcella waistcoat is worn over the shirt. Over this is worn a black single-breasted barathea wool or ultrafine herringbone tailcoat with silk peak lapels. The trousers have double-braiding down the outside of both legs, while the correct shoes are patent leather or highly polished black dress shoes.
Let’s also be clear, unless you plan on attending state banquets or Fred Astaire tribute nights, you’re unlikely to wear your evening tails ever again, but you can bend the rules. Take the look above from House of Fraser. Retain the dinner jacket (useful for black-tie events at work), do what you will with the collar and treat the waistcoat as strictly optional.
The Formal Wedding Suit
Otherwise known as a white wedding, the formal day wedding most often occurs in a church and requires the bride to wear a white dress that will remain boxed for decades “just in case”, and the groom to wear a morning suit or morning grey.
The former consists of a one-button black cutaway coat with tails, a grey waistcoat and striped grey-tone trousers. The tie is usually of a single colour with a matching pocket square and a carnation boutonnière. A pair of black Oxfords on your feet polished with military endeavour. Top hat optional.
The slightly more casual morning grey is identical in form and fixtures, only it is an all-grey ensemble, and for our mind, the more elegant of the two. For advice, google Prince Charles – he knows how to rock morning grey better than anyone. The most common option is to hire a morning suit but for the amount you’ll pay you’d be better off trying to find a RTW version and have it tailored to fit. There are some excellent stores selling ex-hire and vintage outfits for a fraction of the cost.
Aside from attending other formal day weddings, opportunities to rock your morning suit are few and far between, nevertheless there are occasions where nothing else will do, Royal Ascot being the prime example. You could merge the waistcoat into a casually tailored look with a similarly coloured blazer, something David Gandy does extremely well, but don’t think about wearing it on it’s own.
Capture the feel without the finickity styling points by opting for something like the Reiss Melvin suit above (UGX. 3,041,962– see it here). The chalk-line check and luxurious 100% wool give you the formality, but also plenty of opportunities to wear again.
The Evening Wedding Suit
Evening weddings are becoming increasingly popular for the simple reason that they inflict far less financial damage as an all-day wedding. In sartorial terms, the evening wedding is also a boon for the groom because he has a number of very elegant and versatile options that will transition into his wardrobe effortlessly.
The classic evening wedding get-up, the black tie typically consists of a black jacket with a silk or satin shawl collar and matching black trousers, a pleated plisse shirt and black silk bow tie (above left). Black patent leather pumps or Oxfords as standard. Pull this look together for as little as UGX. 675991 at John Lewis (see it here).
However, there are many acceptable variants which make for a more versatile look. “Stay classic with a peaked lapel,” says Sleater. “Traditional black is by far the staple but we have seen an increase in midnight blue among our younger grooms in recent years. If you want to consider wearing the dinner jacket on a casual basis after the event, this is mainly determined by the cloth – e.g. a velvet dinner jacket without silk lapels is the most versatile in that it looks good at a black tie event or a normal casual evening, an item that can easily be dressed up or down.”
Model Oliver Cheshire has recently been rocking the peak lapel tuxedo jacket worn with a simple t-shirt for example. It’s a nice way to soften the edges of formal tailoring and it’s a look being picked up by a number of brands this season.
The Smoking Jacket
The more tactile and less formal cousin of the tuxedo jacket, the modern velvet smoking jacket has done away with the traditional brocading and even the shawl collar in some cases to become a versatile formal jacket that will look incredibly elegant next to your bride, but also with a roll neck sweater and tailored trousers in a smart bar.