Fix up, look sharp: follow our rules for grooms

Words by Sarah Gillespie

When it comes to wedding outfits, grooms get it easy. But that doesn’t mean you can take your eye off the ball. Follow our rules and it won’t leave you dizzy

Unless you are Kanye West, you’re probably a bit of a backseat driver when it comes to wedding planning. You’ll allow your ear to be chewed off about the different types of gift list, fine-tune the art of recoiling in horror at the mere thought of a florist using the wrong vase in the centrepieces, and feign appreciation for yet another (possibly identical) cake. If you’re lucky, you’ll only have to sort out the cars and the clobber – but don’t use this as an excuse to slack off. Even if you make Ian Beale look like Gok Wan, reminding everyone just what a handsome devil you are on your wedding day is a highlight of the whole experience. Follow these expertly advised dos and don’ts and you’ll be swaggering down the aisle to an adoring fanbase in no time.

Kilts and tailoring from a selection at 21st Century Kilts
Kilts and tailoring from a selection at 21st Century Kilts


Although they’re all probably too polite to admit it, we’d bet that the staff in Highland­wear shops are sick of grooms-to-be looking blank and saying “a kilt” when asked what they’re looking for. Only a daftie would walk into a showroom and say they were looking for “a car”, and kilt shopping is no different. Megan Camlin, of formalwear experts McCalls, agrees: “Even if it’s vague, go with something in mind. Try the Outfit Designers option on our website – it allows you to interactively create outfits (to buy or hire) and share the finished look with others.” By having a basic knowledge of different tartans, types of shirt and jacket styles, you’ll save everyone’s time (and as less shopping time equals more pub time, it really is a no-brainer).


Northumberland Cross/Red Fox sporran, Slanj Kilts
Northumberland Cross/Red Fox sporran, Slanj Kilts
If you are hiring kilts for the men of the bridal party, make sure you leave yourself enough time to get everything sorted – it’s not like hiring a car where it’s sitting there ready to go, especially if you have more ushers than a R&B compilation album. “Quite a lot of grooms come in a few weeks before their wedding and don’t realise there are thousands of other people doing the same,” says Paul Swadzba of the Kilt Hire Co. During wedding season there’s likely to be hundreds of weddings on the same date, all of which need at least three matching kilts, jackets and accessories. “Booking your hire outfits at least 12 weeks in advance gives you plenty time to choose, and gives the kilt store time to manufacture anything if required,” Paul adds. For made-to-measure items, you’d be advised to give it four to six months, depending on the time of year.


If you’re on a tight budget, hiring is definitely the best option if you want a quality kilt that looks the part, but buying your own definitely has its benefits. “Each element of your kilt can be made to measure to your exact specifications – whether that be a certain fabric or perfect fit,” points out Megan. It’s more money up front, of course, but if you are likely to have work functions, friends’ weddings or other events on the horizon, it could end up cheaper to buy than to keep on hiring. (Plus, aren’t you always jealous of the proper Scots at Hampden or Murrayfield?)


When shopping for a wedding dress, brides are always told that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ and advised to bring along only a few supporters/critics. But, for men, going team-handed to your hire
Green Clunie tweed crail jacket and waistcoat with Ancient Craig kilt, made to measure or whole outfits to hire from Slanj Kilts
Green Clunie tweed crail jacket and waistcoat with Ancient Craig kilt, made to measure or whole outfits to hire from Slanj Kilts
appointments is essential to save stress and hassle. “It’s best to make an appointment and bring your whole party in. Everyone needs to be measured, then you select your kilt, jacket, shirt and accessories, and after that you can go ahead and book your outfits, ready for collection a day or two before the wedding,” explains Megan.
This is not to say that you can’t do a bit of light reconnaissance beforehand to get a rough idea of what you like and don’t like. The benefit of this approach is that it also minimises the time spent actually in store on the day of your appointment (even the most supportive best man will tire of trying on outfits while you make your mind up).


There are thousands of tartans (around 11,000, apparently), but only a fraction of these have ever been woven. If you’re lucky enough to be a Campbell or a Stewart, you won’t struggle to find kilts for your big day, but there are certain tartans that are rarely for sale, and not available for hire. House of Tartan is seeking to address this by launching a new hire service where, for parties of three or more, it will weave a bespoke tartan that would be impossible to find elsewhere. Director Philip Pass explains: “Many grooms don’t have the budget to purchase a custom tartan woven into an outfit, so by offering this as a hire service we’re giving them the opportunity to wear their family’s tartan, regardless of whether it’s popular or not. They can purchase the outfit afterwards, or even hire it from us again if they have events to go to.” To hire your own custom tartan outfit will cost £275 from House of Tartan, but subsequent hires would be around £100.


What you wear on your wedding day is up to you – don’t let anyone cajole you into wearing a certain tartan, or even a kilt, if you don’t want to. If you’d rather look dapper in a three-piece suit, or fancy one of the newer co-ordinated grey tweed kilt outfits, that is your decision.
We predict that more grooms will be making bolder choices with their outfits in 2014, as groomswear tends to rotate what’s fashionable, with everything having a renaissance eventually. Paul from the Kilt Hire Co agrees: “We still find kilts to be the most popular choice for Scottish weddings, but tartan trousers are currently making a comeback.”
Keep it reasonable, though. Not many brides want to walk up the aisle towards a groom wearing Beetlejuice’s suit, but a touch of colour can add character to your outfit. A bright pocket hankie or tie looks great with monotone outfit, but keep it to splashes or you and your best man run the risk of looking like Dumb and Dumber devotees.