Dapper Dads: Dressing the Fathers of the Bride and Groom

father of the bride or groom
You're an important part of the wedding day, so dress to impress.

Your kid is getting married, and regardless if you're the father of the bride or groom, you're probably as anxious about the event as the ones getting hitched! Even though you're not there to say "I do," you're one of the most important members of the wedding party. Your attire should distinguish you as such -- even if your duties have you relegated to sitting in a pew.

Don't tie yourself in knots over whether to don a sport coat or a bow tie to your kid's big day. We'll set you straight on such matters as tux versus suit. We know what cuts and colors are appropriate for a wedding, and we'll even explain how to dress down for outdoor ceremonies. And, we have a few hints to help you maintain a sense of individuality when you're part of an identically dressed wedding party. After we prep you, your son or daughter will be relieved that your wedding day attire is one less thing to worry about!


First up, find out why it's not chic to wear a black suit to a summer wedding.

Setting the Standard

All eyes may be on the bride, but everyone in attendance will be appraising you. You won't have to worry about hairs escaping your updo, and no one's going to be judging the neckline of your dress. But, as the father of the bride or the groom, your attire should set a standard for the wedding's formality.

If the ceremony is black tie, you'll be expected to wear a tuxedo or formal dinner outfit. Black, charcoal and navy are generally considered appropriate colors for formal suits at evening and winter ceremonies. Brown, beige and navy dress are preferred for daytime and summer events; during the day, you can opt for a sport coat, tailored trousers and a necktie. Color options are much more varied at causal ceremonies, but just because you're sporting a blazer doesn't mean you can show up in something you'd wear to the office. This is your kid's wedding day, after all!


Your dress will be determined by the style and location of the ceremony, so even if you've always dreamed of wearing a tux when giving away your daughter, you're going to have to suit up in something more causal if she's having laid-back beach nuptials. You don't have to dress down in flip-flops and khaki shorts, of course, but dress pants and a lightweight sport coat would be more appropriate. Of course, the reverse is true as well, so don't get snappy about tying a bow tie if your son chooses to say "I do" in a formal ceremony at a cathedral.

If the wedding party is adhering to a specific color pattern or theme -- red and white for Valentine's Day nuptials, for instance -- your dress should reflect those colors. In this case, you could opt for a white tux with a red bow tie. You can wear something more traditional if you'd like, such as a standard black tux with a red pocket square, as long as it's not conflicting with the overall look of the wedding party. Along with the groomsmen and the best man, you're setting the style of the event, but you also have to conform to it.

Ultimately, it's the bride who gets the last say about wedding day attire, so seek her approval whether she's your little girl or your future daughter-in-law.


Standing Out -- "Dad" Style

father, bride, groom and mother
You don't have to dress identically to the groomsmen, but you shouldn't upstage the groom!
Digital Vision/Thinkstock

So, now that you know what to wear, all you have to do is figure out is how you're going to wear it. It may seem like you've got limited options (tux? charcoal suit? linen pants?), but just because you're donning a penguin suit doesn't mean you're stuck in black and white.

Be sure to dress as least as formally as the groomsmen, regardless if you're the father of the bride or the groom. Depending on the groom's attire, you can choose to dress more formally than the groomsmen if you wish, but never one-up the man saying "I do," no matter how fierce your good-natured rivalry is!


Even if all the men in the wedding party are sporting the same tux, you can still show off that classic "Dad" style by changing up the vest or donning a one-of-a-kind boutonnière. If you're giving away your daughter, let her know that she'll always be in your heart by matching the flower on your chest to the blooms in her bouquet.

Regardless if you stand out with a custom-made suit or you blend into the wedding party with a standard tux, the most important thing to remember is that the child you raised has grown up and is leaving the nest for good. Sure, you have to dress the part for your kid's big send-off, but we guarantee you won't be thinking about the knot in your tie when you're watching your child up at the altar. You're just going to be glad you were there to see him or her pair up and take flight!


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Black Tie Guide, the. "Late Victorian Era (Pt 1): Dinner Jacket Debut." 2011. (May 13, 2011).http://www.blacktieguide.com/History/04-Victorian_Late_Etiquette_&_DJ.htm
  • Roney, Carley. "Wedding Dressing Mom & Dad: What Does the Father of the Groom Wear to the Wedding?" The Knot. 2011. (May 13, 2011).http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-questions/family-questions-advice/qa/how-to-dress-the-dads.aspx?MsdVisit=1