It’s become standard practice for brides to do an outfit change at their wedding, going from full-length gowns for the ceremony to party-ready numbers like glitzy minis and jumpsuits. But they’re not the only ones who can get in on the fun. Outfit changes for grooms are totally a thing and becoming more popular among men getting married. Full-on suit swaps are certainly a bold option for sartorially dexterous grooms, but simpler changes like shedding the jacket and tie, doing a shirt switch-up, or changing accessories are all stylish ways to change up a wedding day look.
“Sometimes the outfit change is a new opportunity to rock a second epic look,” says SuitShop co-founder Jeanne Foley. “If there ever was a special day to ‘go big or go home’ when it comes to your look, it’s your wedding day. An outfit change is an opportunity to give your new spouse and your guests another jaw-dropping surprise as you head into cocktail hour.
Meet the Expert
As Foley points out, “The groom has historically taken a back seat to the bride with the main focus on the wedding dress,” she explains. But as wedding style trends evolve—ranging from over-the-top black-tie affairs to romantic backyard budget weddings and courthouse ceremonies—grooms are more active in the style process. Plus, they have more to choose from for their wedding attire.
Jian DeLeon, the men’s fashion and editorial director at Nordstrom, also notes a trend in dressed-down formal attire for men. However, he says it allows for more personality and playfulness to come through for grooms on their wedding day. “As dress codes have gotten less fussy, and style has become a spectator sport in its own right (just look at the NBA and soccer), men are freer to express ourselves through how we dress,” DeLeon shares. “Men can have more fun with their clothes than ever now.”
And it's safe to say that we're here for the fashion shift! Keep reading for an expert-guided breakdown of outfit changes for grooms, according to DeLeon and Foley.
Can Grooms Change Outfits at Their Wedding?
DeLeon and Foley both agree an outfit change is A-okay for grooms at their wedding. “One of the biggest reasons that brides [opted] for an outfit change was to go big on the wedding dress but swap it out for something more practical and comfortable to party the night away after the formal ceremony,” Foley explains. “So, in the same way, it could be pretty reasonable and smart for the groom to plan a changeup as well, even if it’s just to show off a second killer look.”
Additionally, context plays a big part in outfit changes for grooms, according to DeLeon. He tells Brides, “As someone who has been to many multicultural weddings, I think one of the more common outfit changes I’ve seen is a couple changing from more traditional wedding ceremony attire into reception outfits that reflect a family heritage, or both parties might switch their shoes up for a pair of sneakers.”
When Should a Groom Change?
“There’s definitely an expected shift in tone between ceremony and reception, so an outfit change feels most natural here,” DeLeon advises. “Cultural traditions notwithstanding, I think it’s understood that once the vows are read, and the champagne is popped, the ties can be loosened.”
Foley also suggests an outfit change before cocktail hour. “It gives the couple the best opportunity to transition to a new location or room at the venue with time to change without guests wondering where you are,” she explains.
A bonus of changing earlier: “It’s usually early enough in the night that your photographer and videographer are still on-site to snap pics and lock those looks into the wedding album for a lifetime of looking back on your big day,” Foley says.
How Many Outfit Changes Are Appropriate?
While every wedding and groom is different, Foley says less is more with outfit changes on the big day. “It takes time to change, and that’s time away from your guests and party that you have most likely been planning for quite some time,” she tells Brides.
Most important is making sure your outfit change makes sense for your wedding theme, venue, and setting. Additionally, talking through timing with your partner and photographer is another consideration. “Making an entrance together can provide that ‘wow’ factor you’re looking for as well as the practicality of a change for the party portion of the night,” Foley says.
What to Consider When Changing Looks
When it comes to personal style, there’s always room for interpretation—especially for a groom on his wedding day. However, both experts agree it’s best to stick to elegant and classic attire for the ceremony but encourage bolder choices for the reception.
What to Wear for the Ceremony
“I think the ceremony is when a groom should stick with something timeless and elegant,” DeLeon says. “These are going to be the photos that will be looked at decades from now, so a classic look is always a sure bet.” In the most formal of settings, Foley suggests a three-piece tuxedo with a perfectly tied bowtie.
What to Wear for the Reception
Come reception time, the SuitShop co-founder suggests a fun suit in a trendy color to make a statement. “You could also trade in the black tuxedo jacket for a white dinner coat to keep the level of formality but give yourself a fresh look,” she says. Noting more casual reception venues allows grooms to go tie-less and dress it down a bit. “If the venue is still pretty formal, a change-up of an accessory or full look is a fun way to surprise your guests and get a second photo-op.”
Additional Styling Tips
According to DeLeon, you’re committing to your partner, not your ‘fit, when getting married. “I think once you get the ‘for better or for worse’ part of the vows out of the way, that gives you a bit more license to favor comfort over being 100 percent put together for the rest of the wedding,” he says. Meaning, changing from dress shoes to sneakers is perfectly okay—or switching out a white button-down for something printed and worn open for a more celebratory look.
Since a second suit or tuxedo can be expensive, Foley champions an accessory change-up for grooms who don’t want to do a complete overhaul. “Changing from a bowtie to a slim tie and a black tuxedo jacket to a white dinner coat gives you a totally different vibe without breaking the bank,” she shares.
What Not to Wear
When it’s your big day, anything goes, but Foley likens sweats at your wedding or reception to wearing a tuxedo to a rodeo. “It doesn’t fit the occasion,” she says. On the other hand, DeLeon says, “If the groom’s partner is okay with it, why not? Although my advice: A pair of minimal designer track pants from brands like Fear of God, Ami, or Balenciaga might be a better compromise—from a distance, they almost pass for proper trousers.”
Another alternative for sweat lovers from Foley: “Enjoy your sweats for the day after as you lounge around and reminisce about the amazing day you just had.”
In all, whether you choose to slip into something less formal or opt to dance the night away in your tux, what's most important is that you and your partner are happy, and make the best decision for your wedding day and beyond.