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What Does the Father of the Bride Wear? The 8 Rules All Dads Should Follow

Whether you’re a bride helping her dad or gearing up to walk your daughter down the aisle, it time to answer that time-honored question: What does the father of the bride wear to the wedding?

Hannah Henke Photography

The role of father of the bride is an important one. Not only are dads dealing with all the emotions of sending their little girl down the aisle, they may also be paying for a chunk of the wedding, writing and giving a speech at the reception, and figuring out what the heck fathers of the bride wear on the big day. Whether the father of the bride loves to shop or would rather watch his most-hated team win the Super Bowl than set foot into a tux shop, it’s essential that he do the legwork to find the right attire for the wedding. Fortunately, a father of the bride can find the right ensemble to wear in just a few simple steps.

Wondering what a father of the bride should wear to a wedding? These eight rules are all you need to know.

1. Match the wedding’s formality.

To answer the question “what does the father of the bride wear to the wedding,” it’s essential to know a few details about the big day, namely the location, date, time of day, and formality of the event. The attire for an evening wedding in a city ballroom will be quite different than the selected ensembles for a beach event on a summer day. The father of the bride should speak to his daughter and her future spouse about their event’s formality. Will the wedding be black-tie, super-casual, or something in between? Setting up an open line of communication about attire will ensure that everyone is happy with the end result.

2. Ask about the color scheme.

Dads might not be too familiar with the phrase “color scheme,” but when it comes to figuring out what the father of the bride should wear to the wedding, it’s an important one. Sticking to a pre-determined color scheme ensures that the wedding’s VIPs look cohesive in person and in photos. The father of the bride should ask the engaged couple if they have any preference as to the color of his attire. There are many options here, from a classic black tuxedo to a more informal gray or blue suit, or maybe even khakis and a button-down for a super-casual event. The father of the bride may also add a pop of color to his look with a tie, socks, or other accessories to complement the wedding color palette.

3. Remember: Dads are not groomsmen.

While it could be very easy for the father of the bride to wear the exact same attire as the groomsmen, resist the temptation. The father of the bride has a different role and should stand out from the wedding party crowd. If the wedding’s color scheme is pink and green, for example, and the groomsmen are wearing gray suits with pink ties, the father of the bride might wear a pink and green patterned tie or maybe add a vest to differentiate his ensemble. Yes, these may seem like subtle modifications, but they’ll help dad feel extra-special and show that he has a more significant job than the groomsmen.

4. Coordinate with the other dad, but don't match!

The father of the bride should communicate with the other father figures in the wedding, including stepdads, to coordinate their attire and ensure that they’re not totally twinning. Yes, it can be a bit tricky to give each dad his own unique look, but it’s worth the extra effort. Again, these can be subtle differences, such as one dad wearing a light blue tie and the other dad in navy.

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5. Add some personality—but don’t go overboard.

If Dad has his own personal style, there are certainly ways he can incorporate his signature look into his wedding-day ensemble. Sure, the father of the bride probably shouldn’t wear his signature Hawaiian shirt to a black-tie wedding, but maybe he can sport a fun pocket square or socks to infuse a little personality into his outfit. Accessories like pocket squares, socks, shoes, and cufflinks are all opportunities to add color and style into a father of the bride look.

6. Decide: To buy or to rent?

A new tuxedo or suit may be a costly endeavor, so deciding whether to buy or rent father of the bride attire may be a difficult one. The answer to the “to buy or to rent” question really depends on Dad’s style. If Dad has an appropriate tuxedo or suit in his closet already, he may certainly wear it to his daughter’s wedding—provided that it’s clean and in good condition. However, the father of the bride might consider purchasing a new tux or suit if he has other occasions where he might wear such attire, whether it’s to work or other social events. But if dad never wears a suit or tux, then renting may be the best option.

7. Allow enough time for shopping and alterations.

Figuring out what the father of the bride should wear to the wedding shouldn’t be a last-minute task. Dad should start shopping for his tuxedo or suit about four months before the big day, which leaves time for proper measurements to be taken, ordering, and alterations. Whether he purchases or rents his ensemble, he should be sure to pick it up a few days before the wedding so that he can try it on and ensure it looks picture-perfect.   

8. Don’t be afraid to seek help.

Dads might be feeling a bit overwhelmed at all of his wedding-related responsibilities. While the father of the bride shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help, his soon-to-be married daughter and her future spouse should offer assistance if they feel Dad may be struggling to find the right attire. And it’s important to be flexible—while everyone wants Dad to look his best at the wedding, it’s even more important that he feel comfortable and confident, too!