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Storybook Weddings: 5 Formal Decisions

Dressing for a Storybook Wedding: 5 Formal Decisions

So she wants a storybook wedding…

Let’s be clear on this. There are a lot of different kinds of weddings out there with equally varied standards and expectations.  There are traditional church weddings, destination weddings, informal or semi-formal weddings, black tie weddings, and even shotgun weddings.  Your options are wide open. But what do you do if she tells you she wants a storybook wedding?  What does that even mean?!?  Don’t sweat it.  We’ve got you covered.

First and foremost, communicate and confirm your fiance’s expectations with her.  What most women have in mind when they say “a storybook wedding,” is actually “a formal, picturesque, and timeless wedding.”  Only very occasionally will a woman have shining armor and dragons in mind.  Before you go any further, make sure that “formal, picturesque, and timeless” is what she’s after.  If so, read on.  If she wants dragons, you’re on your own.

Below we’re going to name 5 crucial decisions you’ll likely face when trying to dress for a Storybook Wedding, what we’d do when faced with those decisions, and why.


1. Tuxedos vs. Suits: Which to wear?

“Can I just wear a suit to my wedding?  I mean, suits can be just as nice as tuxedos, right?”

-Me pretending to be Anonymous

Wedding Tuxedo or Wedding Suit: Which to wear?

Wedding Tuxedo or Wedding Suit?

Sure you can.  This day belongs to you and your wife-to-be and the two of you can dress for it however you want.  To that end, you can wear cut-off shorts and Viking helmets too.  But if a storybook wedding is what you’d rather remember down the road, here’s our take on the “Suit vs. Tuxedo” dilemma.

Suits are great, but not for a formal wedding.  The truth is, you can wear a nice suit to a wedding and feel very dapper and dressed up, but so can everyone else in attendance.  Besides, you can wear that same suit to work and feel all dapper and dressed up any other day of the year.  Wear something that sets yourself and this day apart from the rest.

The point of dressing up for your wedding isn’t simply to look your best.  That’s a big part of it, but it’s also to commemorate your marriage in an ensemble that’s designed for that very purpose.  This is a special day that deserves a special dress code.  A tuxedo says “I have come to share this moment with you.  I would look out of place anywhere but here.  There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”


2. Prom Tuxedo vs. Wedding Tuxedo: What’s the difference?

“I had a lot of fun in my prom tux.  Can’t I just wear that again for my wedding?”


-Anonymous pretending to be Me.  …Weird.

Prom Tuxedo or Wedding Tuxedo: What's the Difference?

Prom Tuxedo or Wedding Tuxedo?

Simple answer, probably not.  Proms and weddings both mark important rites of passage in a man’s life, and those rites of passage warrant being commemorated by a fine, well made garment like a tuxedo.  (Think of it as your suit of armor into a new chapter of your life.) But, the life lessons that drive these events should also impact how you dress for them.

A prom marks the beginning of a boy’s journey into adulthood and all of the freedom, responsibility, risks, uncertainties, and opportunities that come along with it.  As such, his life lesson is rooted in taking care of himself and making his mark on the world, at the same time celebrating the boyhood he’s leaving behind.  He should be well groomed and dressed in a tuxedo, but one that reflects his personality and has some boyish flair.  Bright colors and contemporary styling in this setting are completely appropriate.  For some great examples of Prom Tuxedos, click here.

Weddings are different.  Weddings mark a fellow’s transition from man to husband.  The lesson he must learn is that he is an important part of something bigger than himself.  He’s now the co-founder of a family.  Formal tradition draws a direct correlation to this life lesson.  For the marrying man, his tuxedo should adhere to the time-tested principles of this tradition that connect him with something larger than himself.


3. Current Fashion vs. Classic Style: What are my options?

“I really want to make a splash at my wedding.  What’s in style right now?”


-A “Well-Meaning” Guy… Still Me.

Current Fashions vs. Classic Style: What are my tuxedo options?

Current Fashion or Classic Style?

Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!”  Let me stop you right there.  While there is certainly merit in looking at the current trends, this can be a mine-field you want to be careful in.  Have you ever seen those wedding photos where the groom is wearing a bright plaid tuxedo with bell-bottoms and a ruffled shirt (with or without flashing lights on the over-sized bow tie?)  It’ll make you cringe for sure.  I’m willing to bet that, 30 years later, that same picture makes the guy in it cringe too.  But at the time it was cool.

That’s why we recommend going with a style that has already stood the test of time.  You want to be able to look at those pictures and think back on how thin you were, how much hair you had, and how classy you looked in a tuxedo.

First, do your research.  Figure out what elements of formal wear are classic and aren’t going out of style anytime soon.  Next, find out what’s in style now.  Once you’ve got a good grasp on the basics, it’s entirely possible to incorporate the elements of current fashion that also adhere to timeless tradition.  This is the best way to make sure you don’t fall prey to the lasting photographic folly of a fleeting fashion.


4. Long Tie vs. Bow Tie: What’s the best look?

“I’m thinking Long Tie for a wedding.  I mean, the vertical lines will help me look thinner, right?”


- Knight in White Poly/Satin Blended Material.

Bow Tie vs. Long Tie: What's my best look?

Bow Tie or Long Tie?

While there’s some debate about that, the simple fact of the matter is; if you want to go formal you need a bow tie.  It’s really going to be your best look anyhow.

The thinning power of vertical lines not withstanding, a bow tie is going to emphasize your manly physique as a whole.  As mentioned by The Black Tie Guy in a recent blog post, one of the strongest elements of formal tradition is the starkly contrasted white “V” of the shirt against the black buttoned jacket.  The wider top of the “V” accentuates and broadens the shoulders, while the narrow bottom creates the illusion of a thinner waist.  The bow tie is integral in this illusion, as it draws attention to the wearer’s face.  A long tie, however, dissects the formal “V” into smaller and more obscure sections that just don’t have the same effect.  Long ties also direct attention away from the face and towards the naval.

Also, long ties are more common when wearing a suit.  The saying goes, “If you wear your tuxedo like a suit, it will look like a suit.”  As discussed above, you want your wedding tuxedo to look like one; different from a suit you’d wear any other day at the office.

Time has proven that a tasteful bow tie worn with a tasteful tuxedo will never go out of style.  It’s no coincidence that the bow tie is the namesake for the Gold Standard in Formal Tradition, “Black Tie.”


5. Colors vs. Monochrome: Should I match the women?

“To match or not to match.  That is the question.

-Michael Shakespeare

Color Accessories or Monochrome Pallet: Should I match the women?

Matching Colors or Monochrome?

This is actually a very common question with a lot of confusion surrounding it.  Here’s our take.

For the men in a wedding party that aren’t getting married, we feel either option is appropriate.  Most people can agree that, while the bridesmaids and groomsmen in a wedding party are there for a variety of reasons, one of the biggest functions they serve is to stand there and look pretty.  When talking about the aesthetics of a wedding, tastes get pretty subjective.  To each his own.  Because a big reason for the groomsmen being there is aesthetic, we feel that either color or monochrome accessories work equally well, being a matter of preference, not correctness.

On the other hand, we feel the groom in a wedding represents more than just moral support and aesthetics, so we feel his attire should reflect something more as well.  For a storybook wedding (read formal, picturesque, and timeless), the groom should wear monochrome accessories (read black, white, or grey/silver.)  Here’s why.

Strikingly elegant formal wear is all about contrast and drawing attention to the best features.  Traditionally, a man wears an understated monochrome pallet so that he can look powerful and sophisticated, but also so he can step out of the spotlight and let the woman he’s with (his best feature) really shine.  This places the man in a very important and chivalrous role.  For a storybook wedding, the emphasis should always be placed on the bride.  Poetically put, the bride is the painting and the groom is the canvas.


In Conclusion…

If you’ve made it all the way to the end here, I commend you and congratulate you on your newly acquired wisdom.  While you may not get to wield a sword on your big day, you can wield your nearly unlimited sartorial prowess when you confidently walk into your local rental store and tell them exactly what you’re looking for.  To make things even easier, we’ve picked out a few styles that we feel bridge the gap nicely between classic and current, perfect for a storybook wedding worth remembrance!


Jean Yves Steel Grey 'Twilight' Tuxedo

JY Steel Grey 'Twilight' Tuxedo

Jean Yves Black Stripe Fitted 'Ridge' Tuxedo

JY Black Stripe 'Ridge' Tuxedo

Calvin Klein Black 'Allure' Double-Breasted Tuxedo

CK Black 'Allure' DB Tuxedo

After Six Black 'Troy' Tuxedo

A6 Black 'Troy' Tuxedo

Lauren Ralph Lauren Black Stripe 'Starwood' Tuxedo

LRL Black Stripe 'Starwood' Tuxedo










But don’t stop here!  Check out our Entire Wedding Tuxedo Collection and decide for yourself!  Take the initiative on this and you may find that you don’t need a suit of armor to be her hero.



About Michael Armstrong

Michael Armstrong is the resident staff writer for, the web’s premiere resource for mens rental formal wear styles, news & information, and local listings. He aims to provide the most up to date industry and style information available, while sharing the many venues and ways that mens formal wear presents itself every day. Michael would like to take this opportunity to wish joy to the world, to all the boys and girls now. He’d also like to extend joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, but especially, joy to you and me.

  • Anonymous

    Nice read!  Just so’s were clear, your sayin dragons are TOTALLY out or just Mostly out?  LOL!  No, really this is nice.  I wish this had been around when I tied the knot.  Maybe the ruffles weren’t such a great thing after all!

    • Anonymous

      I’m glad you liked the post!  As a general disclaimer, this post is not only an opinion article, but one that targets only one kind of wedding.  There are as many kinds of weddings as there are different kinds of couples.  We hope to offer our take on some of the other more common wedding themes pretty soon.  That said, I’m sure you looked great in ruffles!  The main thing is that you and your wife have a good time on your wedding day.  With all the pressure to make your big day “perfect,” that’s something that sometimes gets overlooked.

      P.S.  I still say dragons are out… completely.  I mean, dragons are great and all, but ultimately, I fear they are a little too deadly for your typical wedding scene.  :-)

  • Guest

    Funny and helpful to boot! 

    • Anonymous

      Thanks!  I’m glad you liked it.  :-)

  • Leah

    To vest or not to vest?  That is the question, or rather, the argument, currently going on in my wedding planning process?  What are your opinions regarding this?  I, the bride, am petitioning for NO VEST but wonder what, if any, style etiquette dictates.  Thanks! 

    • Michael_Armstrong

      Hello Leah!  First of all, congratulations on your big day coming up!  Secondly, I’m inclined to agree with you… mostly.  Style preferences are fairly subjective, and far be it from me to tell anyone what they should prefer, but there are a few formal ‘best-practice’ guidelines to be aware of regardless of which direction you go.  

      1.) The V: One of the most striking elements of good formal wear is the deep white ‘V’ made by the shirt when the coat is buttoned.  That deep V contrasted with the black or darker tuxedo promotes the illusion (or reality) of height, wide shoulders, and a thin waist.  Basically, it creates a very streamlined and masculine physique.  Wearing a vest that comes up too high can encroach on the white V’s effectiveness.

      2.) Colors.  This is Very subjective, but you asked my opinion, so here it is.  The current trend in weddings is to have the men wear accessories that match the bridesmaid dresses or wedding theme colors.  While this trend is counter to the original idea of color in weddings, I’m actually ok with it.  But, like Socrates, I think all things in moderation is best.  A vest takes up a lot of visual real estate on a person, and that much color can really stand out, sometimes to the detriment of the rest of the ensemble.  I think a little splash of color with a cummerbund and bow tie is a much better look, because it ties in thematically, but isn’t overwhelming.

      3.) Waist covering: Traditional formalwear requires that the hidden or functional elements of the outfit be hidden or covered with satin.  The pocket openings, the trouser side seam, and especially the waist.  Where the shirt is tucked in to the trousers is a really awkward spot, because the shirt always gets bunchy.  And unless you’re blessed with Daniel Craig’s movie physique, an exposed waist can make a guy look pudgy.  Covering the waist is important, but can be done with a vest or cummerbund.  Because of the other reasons listed above, I prefer cummerbunds.

      Last thing.  There’s one other option that, depending on context, is my favorite.  The waistcoat (i.e. Low V Vest.)  The waistcoat covers the waist, and the V comes down far enough not to encroach too much of the formal V.  In fact, it can even preserve the V if the coat is left open.

      So, in short, my opinion is that you should either go with a bow tie and cummerbund, or a low V vest.

      You can compare the two below:



      Good Luck and Congrats!

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