Should You Wear a Tie or Bow Tie to a Wedding?

So, you have a wedding coming up and you’re not sure what to wear. Do you go with a classic wedding bow tie or necktie?

As a guest, perhaps this is the first wedding in a string of weddings that you’ll be attending this year. It makes sense that you’d want to find the perfect tie for all occasions and save some money for wedding presents. Or perhaps it’s your wedding, and of course your neckwear has to be absolutely perfect for your very special day.

It can be difficult to make a decision with all the styles, colours, shapes and sizes available to you. That’s why we’re here to help you make an informed choice.

In this post, we’ll break down the pros and cons of bow ties and neck ties. We’ll also give you some simple style suggestions. That way, you can knock ‘em dead with your style at any future weddings you’re planning on attending.

Wedding Bow Ties

Bow Tie vs Necktie Wedding Decisions

There’s no getting around it, your choice of neckwear has a big impact on your wedding outfit. But choosing between a wedding bow tie or tie doesn’t have to be complicated. With a little thought, it can be an easy decision. You simply have to ask the right questions. Is the wedding a formal event or a more casual affair? How do I want to feel on the day?

Wedding Neckties

Between the two choices, neckties might actually be considered the more casual choice for a wedding. Yes, they look smart, but if you’re attending a very formal wedding with a black tie dress code, a necktie would be out of style. If the wedding isn’t quite that formal, a necktie will be fine.

Benefits of Wearing a Necktie as a Guest

Many guests tend to wear neckties to weddings. Here are some pros to wearing a necktie to a wedding if you’re a guest:

  • Ties are convenient – everyone has a necktie or two in their wardrobe
  • Ties are easy and quick to tie
  • They are available in many styles and colours, and are easy to find in high street stores
  • A tie will allow you to blend in with the crowd (if you like that sort of thing)

Overall, a tie is a convenient and safe option for a wedding guest. You may already own a few, and new ones are certainly easy to find on the high street. They are comfortable to wear and can be teamed nicely with a suit of your choice.

Benefits of Wearing a Necktie as the Groom

Of course, neckties can also be worn by the groom at weddings and there are certainly some advantages to this:

  • Comfortable and familiar – it’s a big day and everyone will be looking at you, why put yourself out there with an accessory choice that’s new or feels strange?
  • Easy to tie – no panicking when you realise you don’t know how to tie it on the big day!
  • Better for heartier or taller grooms - neckties can help to elongate your figure
  • Ties are available in many styles and colours and are easy to find on the high street
  • Neckties look good with a smart suit
  • You can match the groom’s tie to the groomsmen’s ties
  • You can use the groom’s tie to give a nod to the colour scheme of the wedding

Whether you’re the groom or a guest, you probably only get dressed up a few times each year. Weddings are a great opportunity to make a statement about your look and style. They provide an opportunity to ‘peacock’ a little bit. Since most of us won’t be on the red carpet anytime soon, why not make the most of it?

Wedding Necktie

Drawbacks of Wearing a Necktie as a Guest

While neckties may be fine for more casual weddings, they are definitely a faux pas at others, especially those with a black tie dress code. Here are some drawbacks of wearing a necktie as a wedding guest:

  • Not suitable for black tie weddings – only a bow tie will do
  • Doesn’t make much of a statement – some might see a necktie as a ‘safe’ choice
  • You’ll look like everyone else in the wedding party
  • You’ll miss out on an opportunity to impress with a striking or unique accessory
  • Your tie might get in the way when you’re eating your soup or dancing!

While a necktie may be convenient, it won’t necessarily make a statement. It gives the appearance of “I tried my best” rather than “I dressed to impress”. What does it say if you pull out the same tie over and over again? Weddings are a chance to celebrate, so why not step out in style?

Drawbacks of Wearing a Necktie as a Groom

As the groom, a wedding is your time in the spotlight. You’ll be centre of attention and you owe it to yourself to look amazing and stand out among the other attendees. Here are some reasons why neckties don’t work for a groom:

  • Some might see them as too casual
  • Neckties don’t really make a statement, nor do they allow you to show your personality
  • You might end up looking the same as your groomsmen
  • You could miss the opportunity to impress on your big day
  • Not as classy as a bow tie
  • You might end up looking less dressed up than some of your guests

You can wear a necktie anytime. Ties are great for the office or a date night when you want to impress. But they don’t scream classy or unique. As the groom, it’s your time to shine. Do you want to walk down the aisle in the same style as you’d wear to the office? 

Wedding Neck Tie

Wedding Bow Ties

If you have a formal wedding coming up, the right choice is definitely a bow tie. If you see “black tie” or “black tie optional” on your wedding invitation, trust us, it means a bow tie. But that’s not the only reason to wear a bow tie to a wedding. Bow ties can make an excellent accessory for a more casual event too. Though they are less common, they are a fine complement to any suit and will definitely make you stand out from the crowd.

Benefits of Wearing a Bow Tie as a Guest

If there’s even a chance of a black tie wedding in your future, it’s essential to have a nice pair of bow ties in your wardrobe. But even if it’s casual, the right bow tie can make a dramatic statement piece to your wedding outfit.

Here are some pros to wearing a wedding bow tie as a guest:

  • Stands out in a crowd – you’ll certainly be noticed
  • Good choice for both formal and casual weddings
  • Makes a statement – your choice of shape and fabric will determine how much of a statement!
  • Many style choices – shapes, sizes, fabrics etc.
  • More unique than neckties and shows off personality
  • Great for shorter men
  • Looks excellent teamed with a waistcoat

Bow ties are incredibly versatile and therefore make an excellent choice for both casual and formal weddings. They always look classy and are usually a great talking point. If you’ve got a string of weddings coming up, why not throw a couple of wedding bow ties into the mix?

Benefits of Wearing a Bow Tie as a Groom

It’s your big day! As a couple, you’ve had this date marked on the calendar for months, if not a year. On your big day, you want to impress in a big way and a bow tie can help you do that.

Here are some pros to wearing a bow tie as a groom:

  • Bow ties are made to impress – you’ll look just fabulous in one!
  • Looks great at casual and formal weddings
  • Makes a dramatic statement
  • Looks incredibly classy especially in black silk
  • Looks just as good teamed with a waistcoat and tweed suit as it does with a formal tux
  • Distinguish yourself from the other groomsmen who could wear ties to compliment your bow tie
  • Can be colour-matched to the groomsmen’s ties
  • Can be used to link in with the overall colour scheme of the wedding
  • Many style choices – shapes, sizes, fabrics etc.
  • More unique than neckties and shows off personality
  • It's easy to get your own custom bow tie made which will meet your personal requirements for size, colour and material

Wearing a bow tie on your wedding day can help to make you feel really special. By making this fashion choice you are allowing yourself to be special on the most important day or your life. That’s why bow ties are an essential choice on your wedding day.

Wedding Bow Tie

Drawbacks of Wearing a Bow Tie as a Guest

Bow ties look debonair and sophisticated. Even so, there are times when a bow tie may not be the right fit. Here are some drawbacks to wearing a bow tie to a wedding as a guest:

  • May feel like a stylistic stretch if you’re not used to wearing them
  • Harder to tie than neckties (learn the basics here)
  • You might stand out in the crowd or be in the minority – are you comfortable with that?
  • You might outshine the groom!

Wearing a bow tie is a courageous act for some. But if a bow tie is good enough for James Bond, it’s good enough for you.

Drawbacks of Wearing a Bow Tie as a Groom

Bow ties tend to fit the occasion. But there are times when a bow tie may not work for a groom. Here are some drawbacks to wearing a bow tie as a groom:

  • You feel self-conscious in a bow tie
  • You feel you look better in a necktie
  • Harder to tie than neckties (although you could try a pre-tied bow tie)
  • You don’t like the way they feel
  • Your groomsmen are wearing bow ties and you want to look different to them

Bow ties are a classy accessory to any wedding day outfit. But sometimes, depending on the individual, they don’t quite work. That’s okay! You should wear what makes you feel most comfortable on your wedding day. After all, it is your day and you’ll have to look at the photos for the rest of your life.

For style tips and advice on the best bow ties to choose for a wedding, have a read of our helpful guide.

Wedding Bow Tie

Putting Together an Outfit

Whether your invitation says ‘black tie’ or not, you can’t go wrong with a classic wedding look. If you can afford a tuxedo, it’s definitely a great choice. It’s timeless, classy, and you can wear it to any formal event in the future. You could even mix it up a bit with a midnight blue tux.

If you can’t afford a tux or feel that’s too formal, a dark suit will do fine. Alternatively, you might want to invest in a beautiful tweed suit and waistcoat – they’re available in a variety of gorgeous shades.

It’s also an excellent idea to team your suit with a pocket square and cufflinks. These can match each other for a uniform look, or you can go for different colours/styles to give a more quirky and unique appearance.

Blue Wedding Suit and Bow Tie

Our Choice

While a necktie may be a good choice for a wedding, depending on the dress code and theme, nothing beats the classic look of a bow tie. Great for both formal and casual weddings, bow ties are versatile, classy and are always going to make an excellent talking point.

So, if you’re looking for something unique to wear at your next wedding, be you the groom or guest, go with a bow tie. You won’t be sorry! You’ll stand out, look the part, and I’m sure you’ll get a ton of compliments. For a range of styles, fabrics, shapes and sizes, check out our full bow tie collection here.

Groom in Wedding Bow Tie

For other helpful articles, you might want to check out…

  • Our ‘How to Tie a Bow Tie’ guide provides step-by-step instructions to help you tie the perfect bow tie. Here you’ll find a really useful video and written instructions.
  • If you’re interested in the history of bow ties and the different shapes and designs available, you may like to read our ‘Types of Bow Tie Styles’ article.
  • Have you ever wondered when’s a good time to wear a bow tie? Try our ‘When to Wear a Bow Tie’ article to get some inspiration.
  • If you're uncertain whether you should opt for a pre-tied or self-tie bow tie, have a read of our 'Pre-tied Vs Self-tie bow tie' guide.
  • For style tips and advice on choosing the best bow tie to wear to a wedding, for grooms and guests, try the 'Wedding Bow Tie Ideas' guide.
  • For 9 ways to fold a very handsome pocket square, try our 'Dapper Ways to Fold a Pocket Square' guide.
  • And for the ultimate guide to bow ties try our 'Definitive Bow Tie Guide'.
  • Bamboozled by pocket square rules? Take a look at our comprehensive 'Pocket Square Rules' guide.