How I Matched Your Mother
Ladies, brides, maids – step away from the magazine.
I mean it. Hand it to your fiancé and never look back. Instruct him to remove these pages and, having read them, burn them. Or eat them. Just so long as you can never read these words.
OK, gentlemen. Is your fiancée out of the room? Good. Now here’s how to throw a proper bachelor party without your lady finding out.
Just kidding. But seriously, girls, give this article to your betrothed. It is for him.
Dude, Look Like Your Lady
Let us face it, gentlemen – this whole thing is for your lady. It might not seem fair (because it’s not), and maybe a little crazy (because it is), but that’s just how things are. It is why you’re reading New Orleans Bride instead of New Orleans Groom. Some of you won’t mind, others will want to provide input – just remember, pick your battles. (Don’t pick this battle.) It is good to want to be involved in the process – so long as “being involved” means “agreeing with your fiancée’s decisions.” Even if she asks you to choose between two options, be advised – there is a correct answer, and you’d sure as shooting better figure out what it is. Good luck.
Your wedding attire is no exception. The experts agree – the sartorial decisions begin with your bride and only trickle down to you. Mandy Streif, who runs Bridal Boutique by MaeMe (3331 Severn Ave., Suite 102, Metairie, 266-2771, Mae-Me.com), warns grooms that, “their brides have been dreaming of this day their entire lives … roll with it.”
It starts with the wedding dress, which translates into an oft-overlooked element of the groom’s outfit. “First thing with a groom is, we’ll ask the bride’s dress color,” says Joey Hunter, part of the three-man team that runs John’s Tuxedos (3200 Houma Blvd., Metairie, 455-5553, JohnsTuxedos.com). “White or ivory, the shirt needs to match the dress color.”
The same holds true for the next layer of the groomsmen’s attire, although it’s slightly less stringent. “In general, the bride chooses first,” says Streif, and “she’ll choose the color of the bridesmaids’ dresses, and usually the groom’s attire is chosen from that.”
Fortunately, there’s some leeway in this department. Kevin Rome, proprietor of Rome's Tuxedos (3213 17th St., Metairie, 324-7227, RomesTuxedos.com), says that his customers will complain that, “it’s too much like going to a prom if I match the girl,” and that “more people are headed toward neutral colors.”
Hunter concurs. “A lot of people choose a neutral color, like champagne or silver,” he says; “but to keep it the most formal – black tie.” So if you don’t fancy the pastels and gem tones that are growingly en vogue for summer, and if your bride is willing, perhaps ply her with entreaties of how badly you want your groomsmen to look their very best – for her, of course – and you absolutely must adhere to strict black-tie conventions.
Liz McDaniels, who runs Al’s Formal Wear (3544 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 885-3545; 1801 Manhattan Blvd., Suite H, Harvey, 368-1838; AlsFormalWear.com), upholds the matching-to-neutral spectrum, but offers a third option: “We have also seen a trend in the last couple of years where the men will wear a black vest and tie and the pocket square will match the wedding color.” But, as far as black-tie is concerned: “Of course, the classic black tuxedo with black vest and bowtie is always going to be an elegant choice.”
And remember, you can always – and probably should – customize your boutonniere to match the colors of the bridal party.
gray is the new … something
Fashion trends come and go (hence “trend”). Some are better than others. For example, history may still vindicate the brown tuxedo, but it will almost certainly remand teal satin and orange ruffles to the same fate as parachute pants and shoulder pads.
so what’s up for 2012?
“A new thing that’s out right now is the gray tuxedo,” says Hunter. “We have light gray or charcoal grey.”
Rome agrees. “Basically it’s a three-piece suit, a two-button notch coat with matching vest,” he says. Despite being less flamboyant than its fluorescent predecessors, the gray tux retains traditional satin lapels.
If you’d like to jazz it up but keep it traditional, Hunter recommends swapping a white or ivory dinner jacket into an otherwise traditional, black-tie outfit, especially for outdoor weddings. But remember – and we can’t stress this enough – to match the bride.
What to wear where when
Kevin Murphy, who manages Uptown fashion mainstay Perlis (6070 Magazine St., 895-8661, Perlis.com), has the same take on the white (or ivory) dinner jacket’s versatility and black tie’s classic appeal, but there are other traditional options as well – particularly, the “cutaway” or “stroller jacket” (also known as a morning coat) for daytime weddings (until 3 p.m.) and tailcoats, or white-tie attire, for weddings after 7:30 p.m.
(Hunter suggests the gray tux for outdoor weddings but adds that it’s rather flexible.)
But when it comes to cut and fit of the jacket, the experts agree that single-breasted jackets with narrow lapels and short plackets are the way to go. “We’ve seen a lot of couples choosing one- or two-button, classic tuxedos,” says McDaniels. “Peak lapels have made a bit of a comeback, but the notch is still popular.” There are options for framed versus solid satin lapels, so you can customize your jacket to your liking.
The debates between bowties versus long ties and cummerbunds versus vests rage on, but these are largely Coke-Pepsi debates: whichever side you choose, you’re right, because it’s a matter of taste and doesn’t actually matter. The one thing to keep in mind is that, while vests can pair with either tie, cummerbunds really only pair with bowties – and bowties are considered slightly more formal. And when it comes to designs, keep it solid – although Hunter concedes that subtle stripes can be acceptable.
exceptions to the rules
If your bride has a particularly lax sense of humor – and you’re sure – you get a little more rope from which to dangle.
Cecile Hardy, who runs NOLA Couture (319-5959, NolaCouture.com), has some ideas for slightly more festive outfits.
“Seersucker ties are super fun for summer,” she says, but she also can engineer more conventional neckwear that can give your wedding an individual twist. “We do custom ties by color,” she says; “People also have their own custom ties designed.”
These ties generally serve as gifts for groomsmen, although they can go with bridal attire as well. “We’ll even dye to match something,” says Hardy, in case you have trouble finding ties to match bridesmaids’ dresses. “Our factory can match fabric swatches exactly.”
And we would be loathe to omit the hallmarks of Southern style – white linen and seersucker suits. “In New Orleans, a white linen suit can be worn day or night as semi-formal attire,” says Murphy. “Seersucker is always a popular choice in the South.”
for everyone else
Although the strictness of sartorial etiquette has relaxed somewhat, it’s still rather gauche to completely ignore the dress code for a wedding. White tie is tails, black tie is tuxes, formal means suit and casual means change out of those damn sneakers and put on some slacks and a tie, you oaf. Your friend is getting married.
So that’s it, guys. If you in some way misinterpret these guidelines, New Orleans Bride will disavow all knowledge of their contents. These pages will self-destruct in five seconds.
And remember – if she’s happy, you’re happy.