You're getting married (congrats!) and the time has come to go shopping for the groomsmen suits. (We have lots of fantastic suppliers for just that here!) Of course, it should be a fun part of the planning process, but you might feel like you're swimming in murky waters about the awkward question of who pays for the suits - the couple or the groomsmen. If you're a groom- or bride-to-be and this is your predicament, there's good news! We've broken it down, to give clarity on what might reasonably be expected. Here's everything you need to know about who should pay for the groomsmen's suits for your wedding.
Who Pays for Groomsmen Suits?
What this really means is who is expected to pay for the wedding party suiting. Obviously, nobody has to do anything, unless of course, you want to. But what you decide for your groomsmen can be influenced by four main factors, which we'll discuss below in more detail. Back in the day traditional wedding etiquette was that the groom's side, or the couple, chip in for the groomsmen attire. However, times have changed somewhat, and today couples and their wedding parties operate by their own rules to suit their own personal circumstances and budget. It's just important to be very clear with everyone about what you are and aren't paying for, and mindful of whether your choices will add any extra costs to your groomsmen.
The Deciding Factors
Where You're From: Depending on which side of the Atlantic you hail from, customs may differ when it comes to who pays for the groomsmen suits. Much like the question of who pays for the bridesmaid dresses, if you are from the US, it's most often the groomsman himself who will pay for his own suit. However, if you're from Ireland or the UK, it is almost always the couple who foot the bill.
Size of Your Wedding Party: If you are paying for your groomsmen suits, it follows that the more guys you have, the bigger your budget must be. Or alternatively, you have less money to dress each groomsman which can limit your choices in terms of style and quality. With big parties it might even make more financial sense to hire suits, or compromise and buy suits on the high street. Work all of this out with concrete figures before of popping the question, just in case that extra groomsman is the difference between a sensational look, or something more standard. But remember, at the end of the day, it's your choice as to how many groomsmen you have, so numbers aren't an excuse not to pay out. Simply put, if you can't afford seven, don't have seven.
The Style: Groomswear has come on so much, and we love seeing a groom and his crew express their own personal style on the big day, whether that's a burgundy velvet tuxedo or a handmade tweed suit. But these aren't standard looks, so you'll more than likely have to pay more for your fabulosity. So while it'll be worth it to go off-piste style-wise, that cost is yours to bear.
Your Budget: If you're on a smaller budget, then it's possible to ask your groomsmen to wear something they already own, such as a black, grey or navy suit. If you're working with a particular colour scheme, then you could gift them the shoes, shirt or accessories like the tie and pocket square, to unify your party's look. If you're asking the groomsmen to wear their own clothes, then don't request looks that your groomsmen won't already have in their wardrobes.
What About Renting?
Suit hire can be a very practical option, especially if you're going for a style that the groomsmen might not want or get the chance to wear again. Again the couple picks up the tab, but note that good suit hire can be almost as expensive as buying a suit, starting anywhere from €150-200+, as it includes fittings and alterations. Groomswear expert Vincent Nally from Benetti Menswear says: "An option is that the groom might pay the rental part, and the groomsmen themselves can pay the balance to buy out the suit. If the suit, for example, is €300, the couple cover the first €150 for rental, and if the groomsman would like to buy it because they like it, they're getting a great suit for €150."
What About Groomsmen Gifts?
Vincent says that with a large bridal party, you have to manage your budget. "Ask yourself: 'Okay, is it realistic for me to buy seven or eight suits and give it to them as a gift? Or do I set aside a small gift that's more sentimental? More often than not, your groomsmen are honoured to just have been asked." Vincent says that buying your groomsmen their suits is a great gift in and of itself. "You're giving them a token of your appreciation, but also you're giving them a great suit and they've had a great day. They're walking away with a timeless piece. Sometimes people think they have to over-give and that's not necessarily the case."
Groomsmen Footing The Bill? A Few Things to Think About...
If your groomsmen are paying for their own suits, bear a few things in mind. Firstly, that they too might be on a budget (even saving for their own wedding) and that budget may vary between them. Choose suiting that is affordable for everyone involved. Secondly, choose a look they'll be able to wear again, even just from a sustainability perspective. Go for something classic they can turn to when another smart occasion arises. We should point out that these are just guidelines, so speak to your groomsmen to figure out what works best for everyone. While everything comes down to the number crunching (both financially and how many groomsmen you have by your side), the most important thing is to be clear with your groomsmen about what's expected of them - expenses and all, that way there are no hidden surprises along the way!
Need more inspiration on finding your groomswear look? We have lots here or watch Episode 2 of our Virtual Wedding Series where we talk Bridesmaid and Groomswear!