Although many brides put a lot of effort into styling their bridal party and mother’s attire, the father of the bride is usually left by the wayside. Why? Well, many brides don’t really understand the etiquette rules that surround father-of-the-bride attire, especially as it relates to how and if he should coordinate with other members of the wedding party. More specifically, individuals are often unsure about the answer to one particular question: “Does the father of the bride have to match the groomsmen?”
The answer is simple, however: Brides should ask their dads to wear outfits that complement (not match) their groomsmen’s looks. According to Julie Sabatino, founder of The Stylish Bride, this will allow brides to distinguish their fathers as “an important person and a member of the wedding party,” while still allowing the groomsmen to shine in their own outfits. That said, if you want your father to match the rest of the wedding party, you can absolutely consider having him sport identical pieces, although it’s not a requirement.
For those who are interested in learning a bit more about Dad’s attire, we asked Sabatino to further explain the reasoning behind coordinated groomsmen and father-of-the-bride looks. Read on for more, including tips for dads to know when putting together their day-of outfits.
The History of Matching Wedding Party Attire for Men
The practice of matching wedding attire for men dates back to the medieval times. It was said that if the groom and groomsmen wore the same look, it would confuse evil spirits and ward them off from bringing bad luck to the newlyweds. Men would typically wear a morning suit for weddings, which featured a formal jacket with tails, a waistcoat, and striped trousers. They would also sport a top hat and gloves to complete the look.
While men’s wedding fashion has come a long way since then, the tradition of a wedding party donning coordinating attire is still followed by many couples today. However, in modern times, most individuals choose to incorporate one disguising element—whether that’s a tie, sock, boutonniere, or pocket square—to separate the groom, groomsmen, and fathers from all looking the same.
Photo by Lynn Dunston
How to Coordinate Father-of-the-Bride and Groomsmen Attire
Since the father of the bride will likely walk down the aisle and have a special dance at the reception, he should have the ability to stand out on his daughter’s big day. With that in mind, when it comes to coordinating his look with the groomsmen, Sabatino recommends that brides ask their dads to wear pieces that are in line with the overall vibe and theme of the wedding, in order to create a striking, but harmonized, ensemble.
“I think the most important thing is that he matches the level of formality set for the wedding itself,” she explains. “So, if that’s black tie, then he should definitely be in a tux. Same thing for suits.” The stylist further highlights that if the groomsmen are wearing black tuxedos, Dad could wear a navy tuxedo for a comparable aesthetic.
Similarly, fathers of the bride can opt to coordinate their looks with the groomsmen by way of accessories. Since it’s not always easy to get everyone to wear different, but similar, suits, Sabatino advises dads to read into unique add-ons—such as ties, pocket squares, or shirts—to make their outfits special. “So even if you have the same exact suit, you could show some subtle differences with accessories,” she shares, while also noting that another option is to opt for a suit jacket in the same color as the groomsmen, but with a subtle pattern to make the father of the bride look stand out.
Additional Fashion Guidelines for Fathers of the Bride
As the father of the bride starts to shop for his outfit, Sabatino advises that he figures out what makes him “feel the most comfortable, because these are long days and they can be stressful.” Additionally, the stylist highly encourages dads to consult with the couple about their preferences before shopping for their attire. Once a few guidelines are in place, dads will have a better idea of how they should be coordinating with the rest of the wedding party, if at all.
Another fashion tip for dads? “You’ll want to think about the colors that are being used in the decor, what the guys are wearing, maybe what the bridesmaids are wearing, what your wife is wearing, should you have one, so that from a photo standpoint it looks cohesive,” Sabatino shares. For example, if the groomsmen are wearing tan suits and the mother of the bride has a champagne gown, the father of the bride can opt for a black suit with a tan tie for a complementary look. At the end of the day, however, what matters most is that the father of the bride feels comfortable and special with what he’s sporting on his daughter’s big day.