Team effort: wedding formal wear guide for grooms and groomsmen

Formal wear shouldn’t be scary, but for the overwhelmed groom, the bewildering tartan options, logistics and fittings can seem like a lot. How will the crew get through it? Here’s our ultimate groomsmen’s shopping guide 

men wearing black suits and sunglasses
Groomswear Dinner Suit collection, from £69, Slater Menswear

Starting out

There is something about wedding attire that brings out real terror in men, but having a strategy can help. “Choosing a kilt outfit can be quite intimidating,” admits Izzy Tetlow at MacGregor and MacDuff. “Because there are many different elements to the outfit, it means there are quite a few choices to consider. We try to make everything as easy as possible, and have experienced, knowledgeable stylists with a passion for our products. They will be there to offer support and advice.

The biggest decision, she says, is the tartan. “Once this has been settled, each step gets easier, as you’re pulling together pieces that will work cohesively and complement the outfit as a whole.”

tartan kilt outfits
From left: Hunting Manx kilt and Lovat Blue jacket outfit, from £850, Slanj Kilts; MacLennan weathered kilt, pearl-grey tweed jacket and waistcoat, both £99 to hire (adult) and £69 to hire (children), £1,099 to buy, Kapital Kilts

Choose the tartan first

McCalls’ Steven Angus is on the same page: it’s tartan first, everything else later. “Your initial thoughts should turn to whether there is a specific tartan you’d like to wear for the big day,” he says. “Alternatively, your partner might have a colour scheme for you to play with. From there, it would be a case of viewing each store’s hire range in person or online. McCalls has a variety of tartans for hire, including the Pride line, which offers an array of hues.”

Plan to have your groomsmen measured a minimum of 12 weeks in advance

Your boys come in all shapes, heights, weights and maybe even ages. If you’re going for uniformity within the troops, you’d better start the planning ASAP, as hiring is most likely the route you’ll be taking. “The sooner the better!” urges Sarah Cameron of Slater Menswear. “The whole party can only wear matching outfits if there’s enough in stock. You are never too early to arrange your hires – once your booking is confirmed, it guarantees the outfits will be available and you won’t be disappointed.”

men and boys wearing checked suits and bow ties
Eton checked suits by Marc Darcy, £225 for adults and from £95 for juniors, McCalls

How to co-ordinate shopping appointments

Should you invite the whole crew along to try on some outfits? “If hiring, it is best to make an appointment where you can bring your whole posse in,” Steven at McCalls reckons. “However, the logistics of this can be difficult, so the groom can be measured and hire under a ‘party name’. Then, each person can come in individually at their convenience, quoting the party name, and we will book outfits as per the groom’s instructions.”

men and boys wearing suits in a garden
Selection of three-piece suits for adults and juniors, £POA, all Master Debonair

Style selection

As for how to choose the outfits, this is where the fun begins: will you have everyone matching? Or just in similar tones? Or will you throw caution to the wind and have a diverse range of kilts or suits? And where will you fit into all of this?

“A popular approach is for the groom to be in a lighter grey tweed, and the ushers in charcoal,” suggests Izzy at MacGregor and MacDuff. “Everyone is co-ordinating in terms of their kilts, but the groom stands out through his jacket choice. Accessories are another subtle way to distinguish the groom. This could be via sporran colour or with a different tie. If you’d like your outfit to be more traditional, wearing a fly plaid is a great idea.”

two men wearing checked suits
Three-piece bespoke suits (including Midnight Pride trews), from £710, both McCalls

Sorting the finer details

When you’ve got all the looks finally lined up, what then? How to gather up those groomsmen and get them suited and booted – literally – when you can’t even get them in the same room at the same time for a catch-up?

“We have 26 stores and our systems allow us to fit party members anywhere, as well as for them to collect outfits and drop them off to our different shops,” Sarah notes. “This makes it straightforward for grooms and their ushers – not everyone lives in the same area.”

kilt outfits
From left: Silver Mist kilt, Glen Orchy tweed jacket and waistcoat, tartan tie and black bulldog dress sporran, from £89 to hire, from £850 to buy; Skirl kilt, Lovat Blue jacket and waistcoat, tartan tie, chinchilla sporran and matching Lovat Blue socks, from £850 to buy, both MacGregor and MacDuff

Ready for collection

Pick-up typically needs doing a short period ahead of the wedding. “At least two days before, as this gives everyone time for a trial run to sort out any sizing issues,” says Izzy. “Each outfit will have been meticulously cleaned by our skilled warehouse team.” So no messing.

Now it’s over to the guys to take care of them. What about storage? “We supply our outfits in kilt bags to make it simple,” says Steven. “But we do recommend you take them out and hang them up to avoid creasing.”