Having a great suit for the guys to wear at your wedding will have an affect on the way the boys feel and the way they look in your wedding photography. I guess it’s a bit like great make up and hair for the girls – looking good means feeling good and there’s nothing like feeling a million bucks at a wedding, especially when it’s yours!
In this audio interview with Elke from Diamond Weddings we discuss everything you need to know before hiring or buying suits for your wedding. Diamond Weddings are a wedding suit specialist located at Gindurra Park, Somersby on the Central Coast.
If you’d rather read the transcript of my interview with Elke, you can do that here.
Here’s What I Learnt
When the bride chooses her bridal gown, does she consult with the groom? Not usually. In fact, the groom often knows nothing about the style of the gown, the shoes or any of the accessories. It’s the exact opposite when it comes to the choice of the suit for groom. Usually, the bride has a lot of input into the colour and style, and it is not just because guys know nothing about these things. It is all about colour co-ordination and a fear the guys will pick something ghastly and mess up the ‘look’ of the bridal party and wedding.
Superstition tells us that it is unlucky for the groom to see the dress before the wedding. Even if you are far from superstitious in all other areas of your life, you will probably want to go along with this one if only for tradition. When it comes to colour, the bride will have to share the colour of the bridesmaid dresses in the interests of having a co-ordinated wedding party.
Mostly, the groom is happy to have a little help from his future bride.
I discussed these topics and many others with Elke from Diamond Weddings recently. Elke has been in the business of suits for 18 years and is now a business owner specialising in mens suits.
Elke’s Top Tip
Have the bride and groom make the initial selection of the suits. Once the basics have been decided, the groom and groomsmen can be trusted to handle the fittings at a later date, with the advice of the expert at close hand of course.
Another vital piece of information that Elke recommends couples start with is the location of the wedding. Some locations dictate the level of formality, for example a beach wedding. A waterfront wedding though, could be formal depending on the setting. If you want people to stand in the sand, go for informal, on a beautifully manicured lawn beside the sea, you could still have a formal approach as long as it is not the hottest day of the year.
What are the Main Decisions when Hiring a Wedding Suit?
- Color Palate
- Level of Formality
- The Cut of the Suits
The Colour Palette
The wedding gown is white, right? How difficult can it be to match the groom’s outfit with that? Very difficult actually. If the bridal gown really is white, the poor groom might look as though he is wearing a grubby, greyish shirt. Whites can clash. There are blue whites, yellow whites and even grey whites – we haven’t started to consider creams yet. How terrible would it be if you were in your beautiful, creamy-white gown but because of the colour of your groom’s shirt, your dress looked dirty?
So, if your groom is going to be wearing a white or off-white shirt, he needs to have a swatch of the bridal gown fabric to help the suit hire people get it right. They will insist on this if they are good at what they do.
If you are not prepared to let your groom even see the fabric before the wedding, there are two options: go and talk to the suit hire people on your own about the shade of white he can wear, or insist he wears a coloured shirt. But what colour would that be?
The colour of the bridesmaids dresses can be a big factor in the selection of the suits. For example, if the colour palette is very soft, then the suits need to be light as well. A pale pink or apricot theme in dresses and flowers needs to be matched with the right colour suit.
Initially, if the bridal couple met the suit hire staff armed with swatches of fabrics, it will be relatively easy to choose the suit colours. Any good suit hire company will have plenty of experience and will offer a range of possibilities – matching shirts, ties and suits with the colour palette you supplied. All you have to do is decide what looks best for you.
Going It Alone
It can be a little more awkward if the groom decides to go it alone. The worst case scenario would be for the groom to make suit choices alone and with no idea of the wedding theme colours. Brides, this is one thing you must share with your groom if you want a well co-ordinated wedding party. Slip a swatch of fabric into the pocket of his favourite jeans, or better still, take a photo of the fabric with his mobile phone. He might change his jeans, but he is not going to go out without his phone.
The world of colour is not that straightforward. Your phone camera may not always give a true portrayal of the colour. Here Elke has the smartest tip of all; go to a paint supplies shop and take a bunch of colour sample cards for all the colours that are close to your colour palette. Then test them against the actual gowns until you have the best match to take to the suit hire firm.
Sometimes the dress designer will not allow the bride to take swatches of fabric away, so this is the best solution in these circumstances too.
The suit hire staff can work magic as long as they have the necessary information from you, the bride. Even if your man, for reasons of his own, is determined to wear an unsuitably dark coloured suit when a light suit would be preferable, through skillfully putting together a variety of options, he will be subtly moved toward something more appropriate. A charcoal suit would be less jarring than a black suit, and by degrees, he may come to see that a lighter option will work for him and for you. Not everyone can visualise how colours go together or clash, and if it is not a skill you have, take the advice of the professionals.
Another key tip from Elke is for the bride to drop in later (following the guys visit) and check the final choice if her man has forged ahead alone. If you think that sets a bad precedent for trust in your man, don’t do it. If co-ordination is important to you, that’s a road you’ll have to cross.
Beach Bum or Dinner Jacket
People like to know what to expect at a wedding as far as the level of formality is concerned, so it is worthwhile putting that information on the invitations. It is your wedding, so you have every right to dictate the dress code. If you let people know, no one feels out of place and you don’t feel let down.
The beach or surf club wedding is a popular choice for the bride and groom who want a relaxed, informal wedding. But, it is still possible to have a level of formality. This can be achieved with pants, vest, shirt and ties. The vest adds that edge of formality without being as warm as a jacket. Of course, the tie is likely to come off as soon as possible in an informal setting. Some grooms opt to go without the tie altogether. It is really all about what you want for your wedding.
Lounge suits can be ideal for semi formal weddings. A well fitted suit can look very distinguished with or without a tie. In the end, anything goes as long as you get what you want. A suit with sneakers, sandals or thongs – no problem, as long as there is also no tie. So it is all about having the vision and making sure you get the look.
A formal wedding can pose some difficulties. How do you describe the dress code? The terms dinner jacket, tuxedo and tails are often bandied around, but can mean different things to different people. Dinner jacket or tuxedo generally means the same thing – a dark coloured formal suit suitable for a black tie function. A dinner jacket or tuxedo will have a lapel, frequently made of silk. It is worn with a dinner shirt, perhaps with a wing collar or a ruffle and cufflinks. A bow tie and a cummerbund complete the look, although some people prefer a vest.
Sometimes people assume that a tuxedo means tails, but this is not so. Tails are another step up in terms of formality but not often seen at local weddings.
It’s usual for the bridal party to dress a little more formally than the guests.
Fit the Suit to the Figure
Just as you, the bride, will have chosen a style of gown that is the best choice for your figure, the guys will look fantastic if they do the same. This means the fitting is very important. The cut of the suit needs to be a style that compliments the groom although the suit hire people will do their best to make all the groomsmen look as good as possible. Ideally, the groomsmen will all wear the same suit and it will be chosen to make the best of the group.
One or two button suits add a bit of height and cover a tummy nicely if necessary. It makes sense that a suit hire firm would have the most flattering cut of suit. To achieve that, they will often subtly lead the guys away from a style he thinks is for him. Remember, their business depends on making the guys look great.
You might have five different groomsmen in three different countries, so how can a fitting be arranged? One way is to get them to have their measurements taken wherever they are and send them to the suit hire company. But that is not always going to ensure the best fit possible.
Once the styles and colours have been decided upon, you can ask your groomsmen to come in for a fitting when it suits them – they don’t all need to be there at the same time. Give them a deadline, though. The ones who live overseas can be managed closer to your wedding as long as those earlier guideline measurements have been sent through. If you have a large bridal party, it’ll be easier for the suit hire firm to fit the suits in this ‘random’ way.
It’s also more relaxing compared to turning the dressing rooms into something like a locker room after a game of footy.
To Hire or Buy?
Most suit hire firms also offer the option to buy. This applies to everything they stock. You might hire the suit and buy the accessories. You might look so good that you decide to buy the whole outfit, or you might hire everything except the shoes.
When you opt to buy, you are not buying secondhand items; they will be brand new. But don’t forget to gently unpick the tacking that is left in place to keep the jacket perfect until it is delivered to you. This includes the crossed stitches holding the flap at the back and the label tacked to the left sleeve.
Everything you need can be managed for you right down to the cufflinks if you don’t have a suitable pair. Even if your groomsmen cannot tie their own ties, just own up and the hire staff will supply the ties with perfect full Windsor knots already tied for the men to slip on and tighten.
It is possible to place a booking as late as a month before the wedding, but not recommended if you are getting married in high season – November onward. To be certain of getting what you want, booking five or six months ahead is my advice.
Costs range depending on what you want but consider paying from $120 – $250 to hire a suit. That will give you the whole outfit apart from the shoes.
To Elke of Diamond Weddings: www.diamondweddings.com.au, without her help with the interview I would never have been able to put this article together.