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Well-Groomed Q&A: The Groomsmen Can’t Afford Tuxes. Now What?

By Well Groomed

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* This post could also be titled: Can the groom wear a tux and the groomsmen wear suits? * It’s a lengthy one, so get out your readers and hang in there.

Q: My fiance and I love your blog! We’d love to get your insight and advice on determining wardrobe for the groom and his groomsmen…It will be a church ceremony and an evening reception at a former bank with amazing art deco architecture. Our colors are black and ivory with accents of gold and green.  Our theme will be modern vintage (art deco/1930s/old Hollywood glamour).

The questions we have are about the grooms and groomsmen. Would it be ok for my fiance to wear a midnight blue tuxedo and his groomsmen to wear black suits? Or, would it be best if he wear a suit as well, maybe in gray to differentiate himself? If he wears a tux, do the groomsmen need to wear them, too? Not everyone can afford to buy a tux, but they are amenable to buying a black suit since it can be used more often. We really want to make the event look formal. What about accessories? Any feedback you can provide would be greatly appreciated!!!!! -Joana

A: Thanks for the question, Joana. You’ve got a tricky situation to sort out, so let’s tackle the easy stuff first. You said your palette is black, ivory, green, and gold. Your fiance shouldn’t wear a blue tux. It’s outside your color palette, and he’d be the only one wearing any blue. That would make it look like the tux shop made a mistake, not an intentional choice. Gray is an informal choice, and traditonally, tuxes are reserved for evening ceremonies, but I wouldn’t have a problem with you doing it anyway.

On to the tux/suit mash-up. If you want a truly formal wedding, any mixing and matching you do will take away from that effect. Since some of the groomsmen can’t afford tuxes, you’ve got a few options.

Option 1 | Forget formal, include everyone. Choose well-tailored, three-piece suits for all. The groom could wear ivory to stand out, while the groomsmen wear black. Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in The Great Gatsby is a great example. It’s set in the 1920s at the height of The Roaring Twenties, before the economy tanked during The Great Depression.

Option 2 | Go formal, tux it up, and gently un-invite some folks. If you’re really set on a formal tone, you could let the guys who can’t afford the tux opt-out of being in the wedding. Let them know there won’t be any hard feelings, and mean it. Don’t try to passively-aggressively guilt them with junk like, “If you really cared about us, you’d…” No one should be pressured into going into debt for your dream wedding.

Option 3 | Rent tuxes. You’ll probably sacrifice on fit, even if it’s tailored, but it might be a good compromise.

Option 4 | Ante up! You pay the difference of the cost of the suit vs tux to get the formal look you want.

Choices about accessories will have to wait until you decide whether you’re going formal or giving the guys the boot. To make your choice easier, decide what’s most important. The look of the men standing next to you, or the men standing next to you. No matter what you do, tread lightly. Financial situations are sensitive matters, and you don’t want to damage friendships over a suit.

Alright, W-G crew are there any options I missed? What do you think of the tux/suit combo?

pics: The Great Gatsby

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