The Style Blog

Groom Guide: Suit Vs. Tuxedo For Weddings

By Courtney Baldwin on 2019-08-13

Updated on 2021-04-12

How to decide between a suit vs tuxedo for your wedding

When speaking about men's attire for the wedding day, the words suit and tuxedo are often used interchangeably, especially by gents who may not wear suiting often. For some, their wedding day is the first occasion in their adult life when they have had to wear suiting and so they assume them to be the same thing. 

Tuxedos and suits are definitely not the same thing and should not be confused as such! The greatest difference between a suit and a tuxedo is the presence of satin or silk on a tuxedo.  Different than a suit, a tuxedo jacket has satin on the jacket lapels, the jacket buttons, and the trim of the jacket pockets.  The trousers of a tuxedo also typically have satin at the waistband and down the side of the pant legs.

How to Wear a Suit or a Tuxedo

In addition to the physical differences between a tuxedo and a suit, they are typically styled differently -- especially for a wedding or traditional black-tie affair. 

ShirtsTuxedos are typically styled with a white tuxedo shirt. But when we say a tuxedo shirt, there is not just one variety.  There are tuxedo shirts with pleated, plain, or pique cotton bib fronts. Each of these styles are considered to be traditional and equally appropriate for black-tie.  In addition to the different options for the front of the shirt, there are different collar options to consider when selecting a tuxedo shirt. The most traditional option is our Classic Tuxedo Shirt, a wingtip collar shirt with black stud buttons. The more modern option is a point collar tuxedo shirt.  This selection can be made solely on your preference.

How to decide between a suit vs tuxedo for your wedding
How to decide between a suit vs tuxedo for your wedding

Kenzie Leigh Photography / Lindsay Connors

AccessoriesThe white tuxedo shirt is typically accessorized with a stud set and cufflinks. Most tuxedo shirts have a strip of removable buttons that can easily be replaced with a stud set and French cuffs to receive cufflinks. There are many options for stud sets and cufflinks in a variety of metals and materials including silver, gold, rose gold, pearl and mother of pearl.  Select a stud set and cufflinks that are complementary to the other elements of your wedding or your attire. If your accent metal for the wedding is silver and/or your bride will be wearing silver jewelry, then consider purchasing a silver stud set and cufflinks to be consistent with these details. On occasion, your tuxedo shirt will come with a hidden placket in which case a stud set will not be necessary, just cufflinks. Click here for more tips on sporting cufflinks with your tuxedo. 

How to decide between a suit vs tuxedo for your wedding
How to decide between a suit vs tuxedo for your wedding

Yasmin Alesia

Neckwear: With a tuxedo, it is proper etiquette to wear a bow tie not a necktie.  And in the past, black-tie events called for wearing actual black bow-ties but this rule has relaxed a bit over the years. You will now find that it is acceptable for men to wear bow ties in a variety of different colors, patterns and fabrics. For a standard suit, a necktie or bow tie is acceptable but for black tie, stick to a bow tie. We always recommend a hand tied bow tie. Check out our guide and video on How to tie a bow tie

How to decide between a suit vs tuxedo for your wedding
How to decide between a suit vs tuxedo for your wedding

City Savvy Imaging / Lindsay Connors

Shoes: The foundation of any look is the footwear and wearing a tuxedo is no different.  Tuxedos are typically worn with patent leather lace-up shoes. Our Danny or Don Juan tuxedo shoes are great options. In recent years, patent leather and velvet smoking slippers have also become popular to wear with tuxedo looks.  If patent leather lace-ups or smoking slippers are really not your thing, consider wearing black leather whole cut shoe.  It is not quite a formal as patent leather oxford shoes but they will provide a look formal enough to be worn to a black-tie wedding. 

How to decide between a suit vs tuxedo for your wedding
How to decide between a suit vs tuxedo for your wedding

Lindsay Connors

Where to Wear

Tuxedos should be worn for any wedding or event indicated as black-tie.  If the invitation states “black-tie” then you must wear a tuxedo. It is not proper etiquette to wear a suit to a black-tie.  Alternatively, if the event is indicated as “black-tie optional” then you may wear a dark suit in navy, midnight or black.  If you are planning a wedding and are unsure on whether to designate your wedding as black-tie, consider the level of formality of the event that you are planning.  Does your wedding venue, style, and theme dictate that the event should be black-tie and your guests in tuxedos? If the answer is “yes”, then black-tie it is. If you are not set on requiring each of your guests to wear tuxedos, and maybe you want something a little less formal in nature, then indicate “formal” on the invitations and allow your guests to wear suits. Either way you choose, make sure it is clearly stated on the invitation so your guests have been given clear instructions on the attire for the event!

We know it can be hard to keep all of these details straight so we’re here to help! Our stylists are always available to talk though wedding style with you. Contact us today!

About the Author

Courtney Baldwin

Courtney Arrington-Baldwin is the co-author of GROOMS: A Professional Stylist’s Guide to Wedding Planning for Every Budget. She has a seasoned background in menswear styling and provides style advice and wardrobe planning. Living in one of the fashion capitals of the world, New York City, she has a sophisticated understanding of wedding style, fit, and budget.