Much like dad jokes, choosing father of the bride attire is no laughing matter. Keep papa from becoming a wedding punchline with help from our guide.
Whether he’s always been there for you, or just always been there in theory, your dad is likely to make an appearance at your wedding. If you observe classic wedding traditions, he’ll have a prominent role in the proceedings (think aisles, dances, and toasts). And if not? He’ll still be there, drawing attention by crying adult-man tears—the unexpected, gut-wrenching type. In either scenario, you’ll want him to look good (but not too good).
If you need guidance, we’ve got you (and dad). Whether you’re planning a wedding that’s formal or traditional, modern or casual, we’ll help you avoid common mistakes as you put together a father of the bride outfit, and land a look your pops will be proud to rock (and roll, because age). Read on for ideas and advice for outfitting the old man.
Table of Contents
Advice for Father of the Bride Attire
There are probably several questions that brought you here, the most obvious being “What should the father of the bride wear for a wedding?” That’s both easy to answer and a little complicated, so it’ll help if we cover the basics before we offer our recommendations. Sound good? Let’s dig in.
Match the formality of Your wedding.
If you’re planning a casual wedding where a suit would be appropriate, dad shouldn’t be decked out in a tux. To make it easy, figure out what the groom will wear first, then coordinate the father of the bride look.
But don’t match the groomspeople.
At the least, he needs to distinguish himself from the wedding party in some small way—like adding a vest or tweaking the tie color. For example, if your groomspeople are all wearing a classic black tux with a bow tie in one of your wedding colors, the father of the bride might wear a tuxedo and bow tie in another wedding color, or even classic black.
Use one wedding color, not all of them.
A subtle nod to your wedding colors makes sense, but there’s no need to pack every honorary shade into this one outfit. Sticking to one wedding color will ensure harmonious photos without creating a distraction.
Don’t let him out-dress the groom (even if he’s capable).
Dad has two goals for this outfit: he wants you to be proud of how he looks, and he wants to feel confident. Some fathers will prefer a reserved look, while others will be drawn to bold, unique styles. For example, my father owned and wore a full lavender suit for several years.
Unless the groom and wedding party are going big, stick to a classic, solid color suit or tuxedo for dad. Besides, it’s surprisingly easy to look awesome when a suit—even a tame one—really fits. Just ask my dad, who wore a classic black tuxedo to my wedding and totally nailed it.
Coordinate with the other father figures.
It’s up to you whether you want all of the dads to match, and there’s something to be said for the simplicity. But let’s say you don’t want a twinning scenario. If you’re the one assigning outfits, pick a slightly different look for each dad—similar to the way you coordinated the groomsmen outfits. If you’re letting them choose their own outfits, have them send you a pic of their choice, and don’t be afraid to veto a look.
Even if he’s not a big part of your life. (Really.)
If you don’t loop him in at all, who knows what that goofball will show up wearing. At least this way, you’ll know what to expect from his wardrobe, and that’s one less thing to distract you from focusing on the important parts of your wedding day.
All of the above applies to father of the groom attire, too.
Formal or Traditional Father of the Bride Attire
So you’re having a traditional wedding (or traditional-ish). Whether you and your wedding party are keeping it relatively formal (with suits), or going the very formal tux route, here’s how we would put together traditional father of the bride attire. Just remember: match the formality (a suit if everyone else is wearing suits; tuxedo for dad if everyone else is wearing a tux, too).
A classic black tuxedo and bow tie with black patent leather shoes work best for a formal father of the bride attire, as tuxedos are more formal than suits. If the wedding party is also wearing tuxedos and bow ties, this is the one case where it’s fine for dad to match. Otherwise, a dark suit (navy, charcoal, or black) and solid tie will keep his look traditional and formal enough for almost any wedding (if your dress code is black tie attire, stick to a tux). Match any of these looks with a crisp white dress shirt, or a bibbed tuxedo shirt for a very formal tuxedo look.
Modern or Casual Father of the Bride Attire
Maybe your wedding isn’t going to be quite so buttoned up, or just not in the classic way. It could be a rustic or beach themed wedding, or perhaps you’re just generally keeping it low key. Whatever the case, use our suggestions for casual father of the bride suits for any of these scenarios. Just be sure to dress dad in a suit if suits are the plan for everyone else—likewise with tuxedos (match the formality).
For a modern wedding look, try a suit in a brighter color. For example, true blue suits or grey suits are more vibrant than formal navy or charcoal suits, and work well in any season. Tan suits or light grey suits are best for spring and summer weddings, but fit the bill nicely as well. These suits work with any wedding color scheme (think ties and pocket squares), and they’re modern enough to keep up with anything you outfit the wedding party in. Pair these looks with a white dress shirt, and if it makes dad feel more comfortable, a matching vest.
Nobody wants to hear this (especially me), but… dads want to look hot too, you guys. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Even if they say they’ll be fine in their old stand-by—heck, even if they sincerely believe that—you can bet they’ll feel special, included, and a lot happier in a suit that actually fits, rather than one that used to fit (please send pics).
Finding father of the bride attire that fits isn’t impossible. In fact, we make it pretty simple. If your dad is an early adopter, techie, or simply does a good job of following instructions, he can find his suit sizes by answering a few simple questions here.
Or if dad is old school, book an appointment at one of our showrooms across the country (and select Nordstrom locations) to give him the VIP tux treatment he didn’t know he deserved. Just don’t be shocked when your avowed anti-suit father starts wearing a 3-piece on random Tuesdays.