We all know roughly how much brides should set aside for their dress – but what should grooms budget for their wedding look? Natasha Radmehr investigates the costs of kilts and suits whether buying or hiring
Did you hear about the groom who hired the first kilt he could find a few days before he was due to get married? It’s a story I’ve been told many times. We’ve all been to weddings where it’s clear the main man’s outfit is little more than an afterthought – I even spotted one groom wearing a jeans-and-shoes combo reminiscent of an off-duty Richard Madeley – and frankly, it’s not on. Didn’t these guys get the memo that this day is, like, kind of a big deal?
I know not everyone can splash out on a bespoke tux, but I’ll tell you something else I know: in Scotland, looking incredible is possible on all budgets. We’re lucky to have a bounty of groomswear companies who cater to everyone, whether you have £100 or £1,000 to spend, and who take pride in making men look their stylish best. Here are the options available to you – and a little guidance on what they’ll cost.
Renting an outfit
Carrie Symonds might have thrust wedding dress rental into the spotlight earlier this year, but hiring is no new fad in the groomswear realm, where it has been a popular option for many years. As well as being wallet-friendly, it has the added benefit of being a more sustainable way to shop.
“Hiring your wedding outfit is always a great way to keep costs down,” agrees Sarah Mackay of MacGregor and MacDuff. “Our hire range goes through a strict quality control process before each piece is sent out, which ensures that every groom and groomsman looks his best on the day.”
Hire prices vary between outfitters, of course, but you can generally expect to pay between £70 and £150 to rent a full outfit, whether that’s a suit or Highlandwear. Hire packages almost always include the full suite of garments, right down to the accessories (although some retailers will sell the shirt and socks separately), which will come as a relief to anyone who feels a bit clueless about putting an outfit together.
If you’re hiring for a group, you can usually expect a discount too. “At Slanj, hire outfits start at £99 per person for a four-night hire. As the party size increases, though, the price drops – for example, a party of 16 works out at £80 per person,” explains Calum Grant of Slanj Kilts.
Three or four days is the typical hire duration, but if you need your outfits for a bit longer, most stores will be happy to arrange a bespoke timescale at an additional cost.
In an ideal world, however, just because you’re collecting them close to the wedding date, that shouldn’t be the first time you set foot in the shop.
“We aim to be as flexible as you need us to be, but the more time we have, the easier it will be to accommodate all of your outfit requirements,” notes Sarah from MacGregor and MacDuff.
The earlier you visit, the more likely you are to secure the style you actually want. Go at the last minute, and you’ll have to take whatever’s left.
“Once you know your wedding’s theme, style and colours, you can visit us for your outfit,” suggests Ellen Braithwaite of McCalls. “In fact, I would advise grooms to come in anything up to six months before the wedding to pick out their outfits.”
The only drawback to hiring (besides having to hand back the clothes once the wedding is over!) is that you’ll have a smaller range of styles to choose from than if you buy. So if you fancy more variety, consider allocating a bit more of the budget to your attire.
Buying an outfit
As you’ll know, if you want a suit you can generally walk into a shop, pick one off the rack and buy it there and then. On average, a decent quality suit will set you back between £150 and £200 – though, of course, there are labels that run into the thousands – and once you’ve factored in accessories and alterations, you could be looking at a spend of about £400.
Buying a kilt is a somewhat different experience, because many retailers will make them to order. “Our kilts are all handmade just outside of Glasgow by a small team of women, and in general will take between five and six weeks to make,” says Ellen from McCalls. “But the earlier a groom comes to us, the better.”
In terms of costs, Slanj Kilts’ made-to-measure kilt outfits start from £850, McCalls has launched a new range of off-the-peg outfits for £899, and MacGregor and MacDuff sells online-exclusive starter packages priced at £525. You’ll generally have a wider choice of tartans if you take this route, and most grooms will either buy the made-to-order version of their groomsmen’s rental outfits, or select a style that complements these.
“We also have an offer where, if the groom buys his outfit, we will give him two free hires for his groomsmen, which helps keep things within budget,” adds Sarah from MacGregor and MacDuff.
Can’t stretch to that sort of price? “To really cut down the cost, consider buying an ex-hire kilt,” advises Calum from Slanj Kilts. “Many of these will only have been worn once and are as good as new.” Ex-hire kilts can be picked up for between £150 and £200, which is around half of what they’d cost brand new.
Everyone has a controversial opinion tucked up their sleeve and here is mine: I think all grooms should get a custom-made outfit if they can afford to, because (whisper it) it’s going to get a lot more post-wedding wear than, say, a big white gown.
Most experts agree that, for a bespoke kilt outfit or suit, you’ll need around £1,000 to £1,500 – quite an outlay. But the benefit is you’ll get a say on every single aspect of what you’re wearing, from the cut of the jacket to the fabric that is used.
Sarah from MacGregor and MacDuff says there are more than 4,000 different tartans to choose from. And no detail is too small to be a design consideration: at McCalls, there are 12 different collar styles and eight cuff designs. Whichever kilt retailer you go to, you’ll receive expert guidance at every step of the process to explain all the different options available.
One of the coolest things about buying a custom-made outfit is that you can get really personal with the details. Some companies, for instance, can hand-stitch your wedding date into your kilt or have the jacket lined in a colour that matches the wedding colours. These little extras will increase the cost, of course, but one way to balance them out is to decide which elements of your outfit you are less fussed about. Swapping a silver kilt pin for a pewter one, for example, could save you £100, and sporrans can vary significantly in price too.
Whichever route you decide to take, have fun and enjoy the process – it’s not every day you get to dress up to marry the love of your life. And you really can’t put a price on that.