As two married men (with each other’s wives), we thought we’d compile our thoughts on wedding suits. While our friends and families do ask us about business suits and casual jackets, most questions we get revolve around wedding suits.
Mostly these questions come from someone who’s looking to get their first suit made. This is quite understandable in the context of Indonesia, as wearing a suit is not as common as compared to the West. A lot of it is due to the heat, the perceived stuffiness of suits, and our love for Batik.
Most end up settling for ready-made black suits that get worn once or twice a year. Their wedding suit then oftentimes is their first experience of proper tailoring. This can be overwhelming, especially if you only get one chance to get it right.
Less commonly, the questions also come from seasoned suit connoisseurs. While they’ve had suits made, it will still be their first wedding suit – which will undoubtedly require more specific considerations for that (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime event.
While this article will perhaps be most useful to the former group, we hope that the latter group can still find this useful; at worst, this article will be a confirmation of the considerations you already have in mind.
It should go without saying that this article will be of little use when you are planning a traditional wedding, although Jeremiah will show some examples of combining some traditional Bataknese accessories with his wedding suit. We’ll provide our general thoughts and then supplement them with examples of how we implement them in each of our wedding suits.
Given the length of this article, here's a quick rundown of our in-depth discussion (which you can click through):
I. General Considerations
What wedding suit works for you would depend on the theme of the wedding. Several aspects affect the theme, including the decor, venue, and time. Wearing a tuxedo to a Bali beach wedding in the morning will seem out of place. And wearing an oatmeal linen jacket with white trousers in an evening ballroom wedding will equally seem out of place. So match your ensemble to the wedding theme.
Generally, weddings done earlier in the day and outdoors can work with more casual suits, while weddings done in the evening in ballrooms work better with more formal suits.
The formality of suits depends on several factors, such as the color (e.g., cream v. navy), fabric (e.g., linen v. worsted wool), style (e.g., notch lapels with patch pockets v. peak lapels with flapped pocket or single-breasted v. double-breasted).
Having said this, it is generally safer to err on the side of formality as suits by their nature are formal ensembles and weddings are formal events.
So if you have one suit for a morning wedding ceremony and evening reception, you could safely wear a formal suit to both, but not necessarily a casual one. You could also opt to have two suits made for the morning and evening, in which case their formality can be adjusted to each event.
We know some will consider wearing a tuxedo (as did we). Unfortunately, tuxedos are very uncommon in Indonesia and most Indonesians unfortunately are not accustomed to the traditional rules of black tie. We would generally aim to be dressed in around the same (or only slightly higher) level of formality as the guests. It’s simply unrealistic to expect all of your guests to show up in a tuxedo (even if stated so in the invitation). Most will wear a dark suit with a long black tie, and some will still show up in a Batik. Unless you're fine with being the only one wearing a tuxedo at your wedding, better skip the tuxedo.
The last point we want to make here is to allow time for your tailor to make the suit. Start seeing your tailor for consultation a few months (at least three) in advance. This is better for all parties involved: your tailor doesn’t need to be rushed and you don’t need to worry. This will also allow some time for last-minute minor adjustments (e.g., sleeve and trouser length).
a. NK's Take
My wedding ceremony was done outdoors on a deck against a mountainous backdrop at 4.00 pm and was shortly followed by the wedding reception in a ballroom at 6.00 pm. I elected to only wear one suit, given the short time between the ceremony and reception and similar theme of the two.
b. JP’s Take
My wedding ceremony and reception were done indoors, starting with the holy matrimony at 8.00 am at the church, wedding reception at 11.00 am, and traditional Bataknese ceremony at 1.00 pm in a ballroom. I chose to only wear one suit for the whole day, given the short time between the ceremonies and overall similar theme.
II. The Suit
Once you have considered the theme of the wedding, it is much easier to think about the wedding suit. Whatever suit you choose to make, there are general considerations you should take into account.
a. Timelessness and Reusability
The suit should still look good when you look at your wedding pictures 40 years from now. While style fluctuates from decade to decade, there is generally a safe midway point that will unlikely look bad in the future. So nothing overly anything. Lapels not overly narrow or wide, torsos not overly short or long, trousers not overly tight or wide, etc.
Avoid anything too shiny. In Indonesia shininess has somehow been conflated with style and formality. A little bit of shine can increase the formality of your suit and differentiate it slightly from business suits (more on this below), but if it is overly shiny it will only look tacky.
The suit should also be reusable. It is a shame when your best and probably most expensive suit only gets worn once. Unlike wedding dresses, wearing your wedding suit after your wedding does not make it less special. It instead makes the suit more worth the investment.
This is another consideration against wearing a tuxedo as there is very little opportunity to wear it after your wedding, especially in Indonesia. As an aside, if you really want to wear a tuxedo, but want to have the reusability of a suit, some tailors can remove the satin lapels such that the tuxedo jacket can be converted (to an extent) to a suit.
Weddings are whole-day events. And it is a day that you want to enjoy. The last thing you want is to have an uncomfortable suit on during that time. So make sure your suit is comfortable.
The main enemy in Indonesia is heat and humidity, especially if your wedding is outdoors. There are a number of mitigating actions you can consider.
First, the fabric should be light. We would generally avoid any fabric that is heavier than 300g. This means no flannels or tweeds. Yes, heavier fabrics drape better, but when properly cut and pressed, lighter fabrics can look just as good, albeit for a shorter period of time.
Second, minimize the lining when possible. Unlined suits will wear cooler than fully lined suits. If it results in a jacket that is too flimsy, you can also opt for half-lined suits. The flimsiness of the jacket will depend on the fabric – lighter fabrics are more prone to this. You can opt for heavier fabrics and no lining or lighter fabrics with half lining. We prefer the latter, considering that the trousers will wear cooler.
Third, opt for a style that has fewer overlapping fabrics. Single-breasted two-piece suits will wear cooler than three-piece and double-breasted suits. This one is trickier as a waistcoat and a double-breasted jacket can elevate the suit and differentiate it from regular business suits (discussed further below).
If you elect to wear a waistcoat, you can have an open back (no back, except for a piece of fabric at the back of the neck and hip) or lined back (back made of the lining of the suit, rather than the suit fabric). We would advise choosing the latter, especially if you plan on removing your jacket (say for your first dance or during the after party).
c. Harmony with the Bride’s Dress
Remember that the day is not about you. Sure, you may have your dream wedding suit in mind, but if it isn’t harmonious with the bride’s dress, it should be a no go.
The key word here is “harmony,” not “matchy-matchy.” As a general rule, the warmth of the color of the suit and the dress should be the same: a warm-toned dress should be accompanied by a warm-toned suit, lest the dress will look dull against the suit.
For instance, if the bride wears a champagne-colored dress, you can wear a warm tan or brown suit. If the bride wears a white dress, you can opt for a cold-toned suit, such as grey or navy. Although white is generally quite neutral in tone. So there is a lower risk of the suit (whether warm or cold-toned) not being in harmony with the dress.
But if the bride wears a colorful dress, the color of the suit should not be identical. For instance, if your wife wears a red dress, that is not to say that your suit must also be red. There are other ways you can subtly incorporate the red theme into your ensemble (e.g., with your tie or pocket square, also discussed below).
And remember the most important gentleman rule: let your lady be the spotlight; as above, the day is not about you.
While it is perfectly workable to wear a business suit (say, two-piece navy or charcoal suit with notch lapels) to your wedding, we think that a special day calls for a special suit. Without resorting to tacky colors and costume-like accessories, you can elevate the suit and differentiate it from business suits. Just don’t overdo it as you don’t want to (or be perceived as attempting to) outshine the bride.
The details that may differentiate your wedding suit include the lapels, use of waistcoat, button configuration, and shoulder style. Instead of a two-piece suit with notch lapels, you can opt for peak lapels with a waistcoat or a double-breasted jacket; roped shoulders (con rollino) for a more pronounced look, instead of regular shoulders.
Fabrics and colors are also a good way to differentiate your wedding suit. Instead of dark navy (almost black), you can opt for royal blue; mid-grey or light grey, instead of charcoal.
We should probably also discuss black suits (not tuxedos), which some readers may be considering. In the context of Indonesia and maybe Asia generally, black suits will work just fine given their ubiquity. As black is associated with mourning, black suits in past centuries have been closely associated with funerals, although in recent history they have made their way into evening wear (as an alternative to tuxedos), high fashion, and even business settings.
But black is very, very flat. Its flatness and intense darkness make black difficult to harmonize with other colors (hence why you don't see other colors on a black tuxedo). This makes black suits less versatile, and subsequently less reusable.
With blues and greys you can see the interesting hues, micropatterns, and textures. With black most of the time it's simply, well – black. If you insist on wearing black, better wear a black tuxedo instead.
Differentiating casual suits from business suits is more straightforward. Play around with colors, textures, patterns, and the details. Lighter colors, more texture, and more patterns equal more casual. If you want to go even more casual (for instance a beach wedding), you can wear contrasting light trousers (white, light grey, or beige) with your darker jacket and ditch the tie.
e. NK’s Take
My suit was made by A&E Tailors. I knew that I wanted to my suit to be in navy or royal blue. The main consideration was my high contrast complexion, which works really well with dark suits and white shirts. I picked blue over grey as I think blues are more vibrant and interesting.
The fabric I chose was navy, but lighter than the typical navy and darker than royal blue. The fabric is the Iconik Nano by Dormeuil, which uses super 120’s wool, weighs 250g, and is water repellent.
There are endless navy fabrics out there. What makes this fabric unique (apart from the water repellent qualities) is that it is slightly shiny and shows different hues of blues depending on the light source. This was my main consideration for picking this particular navy fabric over the countless other options out there.
I initially wanted to have the jacket in a double-breasted configuration. However, my wife was not a fan of it, so I decided to go with peak lapels and a waistcoat to differentiate it a bit from business suits. I also added a ticket for some interesting detail.
The lapel is what really made the suit. I wanted a wide lapel with a big belly (the curve between the peak lapel and the buttoning point). The shoulder was also padded to add structure that goes really well with the lapels. A&E Tailors really hit the mark on these details.
In the future the suit will mostly be worn to attend weddings and other formal events; so it will primarily be an “event” suit. Without the waistcoat, the suit can even be worn in business settings. Although, depending on the business event and the crowd, the shine of the fabric and the lapels may be too imposing.
f. JP’s take
My suit was made by Brillington & Brothers. To be quite honest, it really took me some time to decide the color. I wanted something that is not like a normal business/formal suit but is still appropriate for a daytime wedding.
Given that my wedding was not in the evening, I had the luxury of opting for lighter colors. I knew that I wanted a light brown or beige suit. The main consideration was that my wife’s dress was in a warm white color and the traditional Bataknese wedding accessories had a brown theme to them.
Light grey is also a good option for light-colored wedding suits. But I picked light brown over light grey as it gives a more vibrant and warmer feel. Furthermore, light brown will less likely be seen as a business suit.
The fabric is from Standeven’s Festival bunch (if memory serves me right), which uses super 120’s wool and weighs at 235g. Nothing too fancy, but I figured that the color goes well my slightly darker skin complexion.
I went with a classic single-breasted jacket with a three-roll-two configuration, wide lapels, and Brillington’s house cut (except with front darts for a slimmer silhouette). Check out our review of Brillington’s jacket for further details on their house style (click here).
The jacket is half-canvassed, half-lined, unpadded, and features Neapolitan shirt shoulders (spalla camicia). Brillington really delivered on this one.
The suit will work well for formal morning events (e.g., other morning weddings, fancy brunch events) but also for more casual and beach-y events. The jacket and trousers can also be worn separately if I want to further decrease the formality. In fact, I’ve been wearing the trousers as odd trousers with darker sport jackets. I can also most definitely see myself wearing the jacket with a Bengal stripe shirt, white trousers, and suede loafers.
III. The Shirt
Shirts are quite straightforward. You should generally stick with white, unless you’re having a very casual wedding.
What kind of white is trickier. You don’t want your wife’s dress to look yellow-ish next to your shirt and vice versa. So try to get the white as similar as possible.
Apart from getting the fit and color right, there’s not much you can change on the shirt, apart from the collar and cuffs.
Collars are fairly subjective so go with what you like and what works for your face. Although, we would stay away from button downs (unless you want a casual look) and stuff like collar bars – the day is about you and your wife (mostly your wife), not your collar bars.
Cuffs can either be barrel cuffs or French cuffs. If your suit is formal enough, we think it calls for French cuffs and a special pair of cufflinks.
If you’re wearing a tuxedo, the shirt should at the very least feature a hidden placket (to cover the buttons). For a more polished look, you can wear studs. But in our experience, they can be a bit finicky, especially on a long day. We would also opt for a normal collar, as wing collars can look a bit too costume-like.
a. NK’s Take
My shirt is off-white to match my wife’s dress and features a spread collar and French cuffs. I actually had two shirts made (for the ceremony and reception), the other being made with a point collar. But I elected to only wear the spread collared one as the tie sits better with it. The shirt is also made by A&E Tailors.
As an aside, as can be seen in the picture below, I wore suspenders with my trousers. They’re not seen by anybody as they’re covered by the waistcoat and jacket (I didn’t take off my jacket for the whole day). In my experience wearing suspenders is the most consistent way of ensuring that the height of my trousers remains the same all day, even after kneeling down to sungkem, lifting my wife on the first dance, and everything in between.
b. JP’s Take
Nothing too fancy as well. My shirt also features a spread collar and French cuffs. The fabric is from the luxury Turkish shirt fabric company, SÖKTAŞ, made of Egyptian cotton. Very smooth handfeel and breathable. Though not sweatproof, the shirt was really comfortable for the whole day. The shirt is also made by A&E Tailors.
I also wore suspenders with my trousers, mostly unseen, but very practical to keep my trousers (which were high-waisted) in check.
IV. The Shoes
The safest bet is to wear shoes that are slightly darker than your trousers. This means no tan shoes with navy suits.
Dark brown and black are safe bets for dark suits (but stick with black shoes for black suits and tuxedos). Mid-brown and tan can work if you wear light-colored trousers.
The style of the shoes should match the formality of the suit. Oxfords, derbies, and loafers all work, so go with your preference. But we would generally stay away from shoes that call too much attention unto themselves, such as bit loafers and double monks, which use bright metal buckles.
a. NK’s take
My shoes are black plain toe balmorals by Winson Shoemakers. This pair features custom medallions, which I designed myself to incorporate my wife’s initials. The fiddleback waist also features my wife’s and my own initials.
As to whether you should wear your shoes before your wedding day, it’s really up to you. I personally wanted to ensure that the shoes were comfortable on my wedding day. So I wore them for a few days in advance. I then simply applied wax on the sole to make them look a bit cleaner.
b. JP’s take
My shoes are dark brown plain toe balmorals with medallions by Winson Shoemakers. The leather is Ilcea’s museum calf in brown. The fiddleback waist also features my wife’s and my initials.
I opted for something classic, timeless, and sleek for my special day. I shoulxd also add that this pair was the very first pair made by Winson Shoemakers that features their new Aurora last. Winson has since received numerous orders for this last.
V. The Accessories
a. Tie and pocket square
In line with our timelessness point above, avoid anything too loud. There are many ways to add interest to ties and pocket squares without resorting to neon colors and satin finishes. You can use subtle textures, patterns, and colors.
To incorporate texture, you can choose to wear woolen or linen ties and pocket squares. Even though they may look a bit casual by themselves, if viewed as a whole with the outfit, they can still look formal.
For patterns, you can perhaps choose paisley or ancient madder. Just make sure that there is not too much contrast between the color of the pattern and background.
If you want to incorporate color into your ties and pocket squares, do it subtly. Resist the temptation to take the easy way out by choosing a bright, satin tie or pocket square. If you want to incorporate red, for instance, perhaps you can pick a maroon tie or white pocket square with a red border stitching.
If you want to play it as safe as possible, you can always pick a grey tie and white pocket square. This will always look good.
While we understand that boutonnieres a lot of times fall within the authority of the wife (as oftentimes they are ordered together with the flowers), we would advise negotiating to the best of your ability to have a small and subtle boutonniere.
The boutonniere should complement the outfit, not take over. It also doesn’t matter if the flower is different than the flowers in your wife's bouquet; nobody will notice. But people will notice if the boutonniere overpowers the lapel and the suit.
Traditionally boutonnieres are worn through the lapel buttonhole (and fastened at the back of the lapel). Nowadays boutonnieres are fastened with a pin, for which no buttonhole is needed. If it’s not possible to place the boutonniere through the buttonhole, try to place it around the buttonhole. We often see boutonnieres that are worn in the middle of the lapel. This interrupts the line of the lapel and throws off the balance of the jacket.
While we did not wear a belt, we thought we’d include a short paragraph or two on this as we see a lot of wedding suits not live up to their full potential simply because of the groom’s choice of belt.
As repeated numerous times throughout, the belt should not call too much attention unto itself. Big Hermès Constance “H” belts don’t inspire any emotions or thoughts, other than that you have USD 1,000 to spend on a belt. Sure, they can look good, but perhaps not with a wedding suit. The day is about you and your wife (mostly your wife), not your H belt.
Now for a more sentimental side on accessorizing: you will always remember the watch you wore on your wedding day. So long as they fit under the cuff, any watch can work. You can swap the bracelet with a strap for a more formal look.
But most importantly, wear a watch that is dear to your heart as it will be the only watch you wear on your wedding day.
e. NK’s take
My tie is a mid-grey linen tie by Open Quarter. Mid-grey is probably the safest color here as it is cold (like my shirt and suit) and colorless. I specifically chose linen for the texture to provide some contrast against the slightly shiny and plain suit fabric. My pocket square is white (made of the same fabric as my shirt) and my boutonniere is small and worn through the lapel buttonhole.
The watch I wore to my wedding was a vintage 1960s Omega Seamaster. In my opinion it is the quintessential dress watch: plain white dial, 36mm case, and paired with a black crocodile strap. I will forever cherish this watch and the memory that comes with it.
f. JP’s take
My tie is a purple (with brown undertones) wool-cashmere blend tie by Vanda Fine Clothing. I figured that the purple-brown tone fits well with my light brown suit. It is not too flashy but at the same time still gives the whole ensemble a pop of color and texture.
I must say that I am not really a tie guy. Even in my regular business meetings I would rarely wear a tie. For that reason, I thought it would be reasonable for me to pick quite a special tie that is relatively expensive compared to what you can find in the market. Vanda Fine Clothing ties are painstakingly handmade in Singapore with limited orders.
My pocket square is white (made of linen by Paradeus) and my boutonniere is small and worn through the lapel buttonhole.
I wore my vintage 1970s Longines Conquest gold-capped for my wedding day. I have always been a huge fan of Longines, especially their vintage dress watches. The Conquest's design is in my opinion probably one of the best dress watch designs ever. Perfect size at 36mm for my petite wrist, paired with a dark brown crocodile strap. The warm gold case and brown strap are perfectly harmonious with my light brown suit and brown shoes.
If you have any questions or need further recommendations for your wedding suit, please hit us up via our Instagram (click here) or email (at the bottom of this page).
But whatever suit you choose to wear, just remember to cherish the special moments on your big day. Here are some additional snippets from ours:
Written by: Nikki Krisadtyo and Jeremiah Purba