We shoot countless destination weddings on the tiny Caribbean island of Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras. It’s hot, very, very hot most of the time. For this reason, among others, most destination weddings incorporate a non-traditional approach to men’s attire for the groom and groomsmen.
While some guys may brave the heat and go for a traditional suit, or even a sport coat with slacks or khakis, most opt for the simple khaki pants look along with a white shirt. This is a perfectly fine look for the setting. But here are some important points to keep in mind when you go casual:
1. The wardrobe must be consistent. To photograph well and not look ridiculous, the wardrobe should be consistently matched across the groom and groomsmen. Asking groomsmen to “just wear khakis” is a bad plan. Khakis come in a very wide range of shades and asking the men to just grab whichever pair of khakis they have on hand will end with a rainbow of khaki shades on the men’s side. Worse is when all the khakis seem to match except one pair that stands out as much darker than the rest. Best plan? Plan a shopping trip with the groomsmen to pick out the khakis. If everyone lives nearby, bring the pants options they already own to a boys night and make sure (or let the bride make sure!) they match. Otherwise, go shopping and pick a particular pair and ask them all to purchase the same pair. If they live fare away, pick a pair at a nationally found store and get the exact info so that groomsmen elsewhere can find the right pants.
2. Certain combinations of casual pieces go better together than others. If you’re guys are going for the khakis and white shirt look, it’s better to not include a tie. In my book, the tie belongs with the more formal wear. If the groom (or his mother) wants a tie to be part of the ensemble, it should go with another formal piece like a vest or sport coat. A plain white shirt with a tie makes the wedding ceremony look as if a band of waiters got lost from cocktail hour and wound up standing in your wedding party. Khakis, a shirt and tie, is not the best combination.
3. A vest is a nice halfway point. If your groom doesn’t feel like going the whole way with a suit, a vest can be a great way to dress up the male half of the wedding party without roasting in a suit. The vest ties things together and also gives you the option of wearing a tie if you like without looking like the waitstaff.
4. Think ahead. One of the things no one ever thinks about are the boutonnieres. They order large boutonnieres for the men, with freesia and roses and then neglect to think about the fact that it has to stand upright on a thin white button down shirt. This doesn’t work. I cannot tell you how many weddings we’ve shot where we’ve had to keep fixing boutonnieres on shirts as they fall and pull. If you want boutonnieres, go for the the vest look, see number 3!
5. Consistency goes for styling as well. Just as the pants and shirt should all be the same, the styling should be consistent as well. All shirts should be tucked (or untucked), all men should be wearing a belt (or not), all men should be wearing shoes (and of a similar color or style). Unless you are actively going for the “each person wearing a different thing” look, it will look messy and unfinished.
6. It’s hot in the Caribbean. An undershirt is a must. Even though it seems like you are going to be too hot with a shirt on under your button down, it is a good plan. Make sure it is a breathable 100% cotton shirt. You will sweat. You will want the undershirt, promise!
7. Sunglasses. While most bridesmaids would never dream of wearing sunglasses during a ceremony, the men sometimes always end up with theirs on their face, or even hanging on their shirts or propped up on top of their heads. Not a terrific look. Make a ruling ahead of time, ask an usher or someone to hang on to sunglasses for everyone as they process and get them back to them immediately following the ceremony.
Follow these tips and have your groom and groomsmen styled appropriately for the climate, kept relatively cool but looking just as cool!