What to Wear to a Summer Wedding: A Guy’s Style Guide
Guys, discover what to wear to a summer wedding in this dress code-decoding style guide from Team SG. From casual wedding outfits for men to men’s black tie wedding attire, you’ll find outfit ideas for every kind of nuptials.
What you’ll find here:
- Men’s casual summer wedding attire
- Men’s semi formal wedding attire
- Beach wedding guest attire for men
- Tropical or destination wedding guest outfit
- Men’s cocktail attire for a summer wedding
- Black tie-optional wedding attire for men
- Black tie wedding attire for men
Last summer I attended the wedding of an old roommate down in Memphis, Tennessee.
The theme? Summertime Fly.
Even if you knew the couple, you were still like, “So…what does that mean, exactly?” My girlfriends and I eventually agreed that printed cocktail dresses were perfect for the ladies in attendance—but I drew a blank when trying to imagine what the guys would wear.
What do men wear to weddings where the dress code is murky at best?
Turns out that most guys’ interpretation of Summertime Fly was…a navy suit and brown lace-up shoes.
Classic? Sure. But “fly?” Not exactly.
These guests blended together like the sea of businessmen I battle each morning in Midtown Manhattan.
That is—everyone except one guy.
A friend of the groom wore a beautiful washed teal linen suit, white shirt, and no tie. Full disclosure, I may or may not have had a crush on him years ago, but believe me when I say, he looked incredible.
The point, you guys, is that he embraced the unique wedding dress code! And here, a year later, I can still picture his head-to-toe look perfectly.
Don’t you want to look this memorably stylish at all your summer weddings?
I bet you do.
Unless we’re talking black tie wedding attire for men (and we will!), you’re probably recycling the same couple suits over and over again. And while that may be economical—it’s not very fun!
That’s why Team SG put together a stylish and inspiring guide on how to interpret every dress code for summer weddings this year.
From a backyard barbecue that just happens to include a marriage ceremony to a lavish destination wedding on some far-off shore, we promise you’ll look amazing in your wedding guest outfit.
Below, what to wear to a wedding, a guide for men:
Men’s casual summer wedding attire
AKA, YOUR COUSIN’S BACKYARD DAYTIME WEDDING
I really hope this isn’t the first time you’re hearing this, but casual wedding attire for men doesn’t mean jeans.
So, what should a man wear to an outdoor summer wedding that’s casual?
You can absolutely wear your favorite pair of nice chinos or lightweight dress pants. AND you can leave the blazer (and socks!) at home.
This is still a special occasion, though. So when it comes to what to wear to an outdoor summer wedding, think: comfortably upgraded.
Even if you’re simply headed to a local park where your uncle’s flipping burgers at the communal grill for dinner, you still want to honor the happy couple with an outfit you put effort into.
A slim, great fitting polo is definitely an option, as is a printed shirt.
Like the iconic (to Team SG, anyway) short-sleeved Riviera shirt from Bonobos in a fun, summer pattern, or a button-front shirt with the sleeves rolled up!
You’ll look cool and fun, but not like you’re trying too hard. And remember, this is still a special occasion—so tuck your shirt in!
Odds are you’ll be the best-dressed guest no matter what, but why not really drive the point home with your finishing touches.
Think: a woven leather belt and some suede espadrilles. They’re the perfect shoes for dancing the night away with your adorable nieces under strings of twinkly lights since they’re ridiculously comfortable.
When you’re deciding what to wear to a casual wedding, remember that a little effort goes a long way.
You want to look stylish, cool, and put-together.
So! Iron you shirt, trim your beard, and be the best goddamn version of “casual” you possibly can be.
Men’s semi formal wedding attire
AKA… MOST OF THE WEDDINGS YOU’RE GOING TO THIS SUMMER
There’s something about seeing the words “semi formal” printed on gorgeous, expensive card stock that makes me salivate slightly.
Maybe it’s because I’m imagining that first, crisp sip of a Negroni at sunset. Or maybe I’m imagining all the handsome dudes on the dance floor, looking totally debonair.
Semi formal attire follows a lot of the same guidelines as a formal dress code, but lets guests be a bit more playful with stylish details.
A dark suit is definitely the move. You want something that’s just slightly more saturated and vibrant than a typical navy, and for that reason, looks beaucoup plus expensive.
From there, take a few liberties with shirt styles!
Think subtle prints like swiss dot and mini-gingham—which pair nicely with on-trend floral ties and your most whimsical pocket squares.
When it comes to semi formal attire for men for a summer wedding, you want the overall effect of your outfit to be dressy, but not rigid.
That’s why, as a finishing touch, you could swap out your go-to lace-up dress shoes for a really nice pair of leather tassel loafers!
If mixing prints makes you nervous, remember that it’s all about balancing proportions and tying colors together.
None of the prints should be the same. In the lewk above, peep that tiny navy swiss dot print on the shirt with a lavender seersucker pocket square, and a floral tie with elements of navy, purple and white.
Semi formal attire is like the Negroni itself. Sleek and sophisticated with a refreshing twist.
Avoid the urge to dress like you do for the office and kick your favorite suit up a notch with playful, fashion-forward details.
Beach wedding guest attire for men
AKA: YOUR COLLEGE ROOMMATE’S SUNSET NUPTIALS IN THE SAND
The dress code for a beach wedding can be a head-scratcher.
You’re used to wearing flip flops when hitting the sand, but that’s not the move here.
A suit is always appropriate for a wedding, even at the beach. (Sorry Bermuda shorts, you’re not welcome at this party.)
As for the best suit for a beach wedding? The one you won’t sweat through.
Opt for one in a lightweight and airy material. And if you’re itching to branch out from your tried-and-true navy, I encourage you to explore the summery range of beige, light grey, sky blue, pale pink or even off-white.
A simple, ultra-crisp white shirt in linen or cotton will keep you in the “safe zone” of looking dressed up for this special occasion. But! If, for example, this beach happens to be in the Virgin Islands and not Martha’s Vineyard, feel free to get a bit creative with a punchy print.
Only nerds wear socks to beach weddings, so embrace this opportunity to rock a pair of suede loafers or woven slippers with some exposed ankle.
A light sandy suede or natural leather will go nicely with any of the above suit colors.
For accessories, keep your location in mind.
A Caribbean or Hawaiian destination wedding is your moment for tropical florals and palm prints on your tie or pocket square.
For a coastal wedding in Washington or Maine, on the other hand, think stripes, gingham and tiny, subtle florals.
And I know it’s the beach, but, reflective lens sunglasses ring a bit “over” to me in the Year of Our Lord 2022.
Instead, try a colored, semi-transparent lens in blue or green as a fun alternative to your typical dark grey or black.
Love your beach wedding look the way you love the beach.
Embrace the breeze. Embrace the tropical vibes. And don’t make a big to-do out of getting sand in your loafers, nerd!
*A note: It’s up to you to judge based on the couple’s vibe, but for beach weddings you can usually opt out of wearing a tie.
Leave the top button of your shirt undone and accessorize with just a pocket square.
Men’s tropical attire for a destination summer wedding
AKA, YOUR COWORKER’S LABOR DAY NUPTIALS AT THE FAMILY’S KIAWAH ISLAND SUMMER HOME
Much like a beach wedding, the tropical dress code encourages guests to prioritize comfort and fun with their looks.
Tropical weddings are warm and humid, so we’re talking: linen. We’re talking: shoes that let your feet breathe.
Consider a camp collar shirt as a great alternative to a dress shirt. You could even get really into the theme with a shorts suit! I know, wild, right?
When it comes time to dance, throw off the jacket, and you’ll be ready to bust a move.
Men’s cocktail attire for a summer wedding
AKA, YOUR COOLEST FRIEND GETTING HITCHED IN A BROOKLYN LOFT
Oh boy, right? Cocktails make for a fun party, but when it comes to figuring out, What is summer cocktail attire for a wedding? These invites are not without their challenges.
First of all, yes, it is slightly vague.
Second, it can be intimidating if you’re not a typically adventurous dresser.
For the uninitiated, cocktail (you’ll also see “festive” sometimes on invites, which basically means the same thing) is a small step above semi-formal.
What sets it apart? The hosts’ encouragement to add a dash of whimsy to your outfit.
Meaning? The couple wants you to get creative with your look!
Of course, you can approach your cocktail wedding guest outfit a few different ways.
You can dress up a classic suit with a bold printed shirt and pocket square.
You could wear a traditional wedding look with statement-making shoes in a fun color. Or, you can deconstruct a suit and try mismatched separates with a cool print and a pop of color or two.
For finishing touches, you’ll have to judge by the venue and the time of the wedding how formal to go.
A more relaxed setting and a 3 p.m. ceremony means you could probably go sans tie and wear a cool pair of canvas or leather sneakers.
For a festive wedding after five, opt for your dressy loafers or lace-ups—but no matter what don’t forget your no-show socks.
It’s summer, after all! Ankles out!
Don’t miss this chance to be truly creative with your ‘fit.
As long as the foundation of your look is solid, you can take all kinds of fun “fashion risks” that really aren’t that risky. The big print. The ivory jacket. Those fresh sneakers you still store in their box…
Black tie-optional wedding attire for men
AKA, YOUR TRUST FUND BABY BESTIE’S 300-PERSON WEDDING AT THE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
Obviously, if the invite indicates “black tie optional,” you don’t have to wear a tuxedo.
But if you have one (or are in the market to invest), why not take advantage of this rare opportunity to get really, really dressed up?
They’ve been around awhile now, but I still stan hard for midnight blue tuxedos. The classic black will always be a classic, but the blue just photographs really well. (#Trust)
For summer (and, ahem, fall and spring) weddings, a velvet slipper makes for a dapper alternative to classic black lace-up dress shoes. This tasseled Paul Stuart pair is top-of-the-line, but if you shop around, you can definitely find more affordable options out there.
As far as finishing touches, a bow tie is required with a tuxedo—so pick one that’s formal without being too stuffy—like a nice dot print!
Oh, and do I need to mention that you should learn to tie a bow tie If you haven’t already? Because it’s a fun life skill to have, and a black tie wedding is a great excuse to add it to your style toolbox!
And finally, a simple white pocket square is fine, of course, but why do that when you could really splash out with something bold like a Gucci pocket square covered in bees?
We so rarely get to truly dress up these days, so why not do it really, really right. A tuxedo is the pinnacle of masculine elegance, and honestly, when was the last time you felt elegant anyway?
Black tie wedding attire for men
AKA, YOUR BOSS’S BOSS’S THIRD TRIP DOWN THE AISLE AT THE PLAZA
To me (and most women, let’s be honest), there are few things more attractive than a man done up in full black tie regalia.
That perfectly draped shawl collar jacket, with a single-button defining your silhouette, a daring tuxedo stripe that draws the eye down to a perfect break above your dressiest shoes.
Unless you are a concert pianist, or say, a movie star, you probably don’t have too many chances to wear a tuxedo. So take the opportunity when you have it!
Tips on decoding wedding dress codes for men
When your next wedding invite arrives in the mail, consider stepping out of the grey suit/navy suit box.
Your role as a wedding guest is the perfect moment to see an opportunity where others see just another night in their go-to suit.
Don’t get me wrong—I love your go-to suit. You love your go-to suit. But testing the proverbial waters by changing it up with, say, a bright, bold printed shirt or (cough, cough) a gorgeous ivory blazer, could be the difference between a good wedding outfit and a great one.
Plus, the stylish impression you make may just be burned forever on the brain of your lady (or a cute lady in attendance). Win-win!
Want 1-on-1 style support for all your wedding dress codes for men conundrums? Team SG can help!
If you’re ready to tear up the dance floor looking like a star at all your weddings but don’t want to do the hard work of putting all those outfits together, consider having Team SG shop for you!
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