Style

How to Dress for a Summer Wedding

If your experience is anything like mine, something strange starts to happen as you enter your 20s.

Suddenly, every person you've ever known is getting married.

You can expect to be booked up for weddings every summer for the foreseeable future.

Now you've got to navigate the tricky dress codes.

The summer struggle

Cold weather weddings are simple. Throw on a dark suit, a light shirt, a silk tie, and your smart oxfords. Fin.

But summer weddings can take place at beaches, backyards, rooftop bars, etc. The weather and the host of diverse event locations can present some challenges.

You want to look your best, but don't want to appear stuffy. Heat management is a priority, but you can't look sloppy.

And you want to be able to put together an outfit that respects the significance of the occasion, but isn't devoid of personality.

So here are some tips and inspiration to help you breeze through the summer wedding season.

Striking a balance

A summer wedding setting can run the gamut from the most luxurious five-star hotel to an easy-going backyard barbecue.

At one end of the spectrum, you would need the full black-tie ensemble. On the other end, a breezy linen shirt and sandals.

Most weddings don't call for either extreme, but being able to cleverly blend characteristics of both will have you dressed appropriately and comfortably all summer long.

If you learn one thing from me, I want you to develop the ability to get “dressed up” without looking like you're going to your first job interview.

Learning this skill will increase your confidence and comfort level significantly.

Inspiration

To help point you in the right direction, I have a few options to show you how I'd put together an outfit for three different levels of formality.

Comfortable and Upscale

summer wedding men's outfit formal

Suit: H&M, Shirt: Banana Republic, Tie: J.Crew, Watch: Nixon, Shoes: Ted Baker, Sunglasses: H&M

Example wedding sites:

  • 3-star+ hotel
  • Fine dining restaurant
  • Lux rooftop bar
  • Art gallery

If you're attending a more traditional wedding, I would opt for a matching suit. It can be lighter in color and weight than one you'd wear to the office.

You might want to consider a pastel or small patterned shirt to give the look a little personality.

For shoes, go with a traditional style in suede or brown leather.

Respect the bride and groom and don't go with anything too loud or informal.

Casual Cool

what to wear casual summer wedding men

 

Jacket: H&M, Pants: H&M, Shirt: Peter Millar, Sunglasses: H&M, Watch: Emporio Armani, Belt: H&M, Shoes: Allen Edmonds

Example wedding sites:

  • State Park (indoor)
  • Renovated barn
  • Historic building
  • Casual restaurant

A sport coat and odd trousers will be your best choice for this occasion. Make sure you choose lightweight summer fabrics.

You can have a little fun with a loud shirt, jacket, or pants.

Unless you're a pro, stick to one bold piece.

Avoid black shoes, lighter brown will look best. You can choose loafers, spectator shoes, or anything in suede.

Feel free to skip the tie and/or socks.

Laid-back Outdoor

what to wear to a beach wedding men

 

Shirt: Old Navy, Shoes: H&M, Bracelets: H&M, Belt: H&M, Pants: J.Crew Factory, Hat: H&M, Watch: Timex

Example wedding sites:

  • Beach
  • Pier or boardwalk
  • Park pavilion
  • Backyard

Almost anything goes here. If the event is actually at the beach, being too dressed up will actually detract from your appearance.

If it's a truly hot day, you don't need a jacket.

Your shirt can be long or short sleeved, but should be casual in nature. No un-tucked dress shirts.

You're probably going to want to opt for cotton or linen pants. Make sure they're chinos or a dress pant cut. Avoid the baggy “vacation” pants with the drawstring waistband.

For shoes, slip ons are best. You don't want to be the guy peeling off oxfords and black dress socks before stepping onto the sand.

Decision guide

To determine which of the looks above works best, here are the factors to consider in your decision-making process:

Geographic location and local weather

Consider the area of the country where the wedding is being held.

Even at the same 95 degrees F, you'll be going for a different vibe depending on whether the event will be in a small town in the Deep South, along the Chicago Lakefront, or in the heart of Manhattan.

On the day of the wedding, also plan a quick check of the weather before heading out.  You may need to grab an umbrella to combat rain, bring along a cardigan or jacket for a chilly night, or consider lighter weight materials for extreme heat.

Ceremony and reception venue

Is the ceremony in a church or a backyard? Is the reception at a swanky rooftop bar or a state park?

Though you should still be considerate of the ceremony, you'll likely spend a lot more time at the reception. So let that be your guiding factor for determining appropriate dress.

Time of day

Morning or midday events call for more casual attire than evening parties.

Do you know what the groom is wearing?

If he'll be wearing a tux, consider a suit. If the man of the hour will be in linen pants and a breezy shirt, it's probably not the right event for your jacket and oxfords.

Check the invitation

Does it state the dress code? Invitations may specifically note whether the event is black-tie or requires very formal dress.  If not, you can still extract a few clues.

Heavy stationary in muted colors with elegant script fit for a royal wedding likely points to a more classy affair.

Does it have illustrations of birds and flowers, bright colors, or other bold, graphic details? If so, you can probably plan for a more casual event.

Take away

Remember, to be considered stylish, you must be appropriately dressed, not merely dressed up.

Master this technique for your upcoming summer events and you'll look cool and confident for wedding after wedding.

How many weddings do you have to attend this year? Let me know!

All the best,

Nate

10 Timeless Wardrobe Essentials

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Andrew Miles
    July 9, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    So true – I’ve got 5 weddings to attend over the next 14 months, and one is my own! As soon as I hit 25 there seemed to be an engagement or wedding every other week. One of my friends has a wedding to go to for 4 out of 5 weekends this august!

    I’ll be wearing a mid-grey morning suit for my own, but no idea what to wear for the others, so I’ll definitely be referencing this down the line!

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