Can You Wear a Bowtie to a Wedding: The Complete Guide

Last Updated on June 23, 2024 by Jo

Can you wear a bowtie to a wedding?

Whether you’re the groom, a groomsman, or a wedding guest, deciding what to wear can be tricky.

Bow ties have become an increasingly popular option, adding a dash of personality while still looking sharp.

But are bow ties appropriate for weddings?

Let’s dig into the nuances of bow tie etiquette.

Appropriate Time to Wear a Bow Tie to a Wedding

can you wear a bowtie to a wedding Image 2
Photo by Canva

A bow tie can be suitable for weddings, but context is key. Black or white bow ties work well with formal attire like a tuxedo. Playful bow ties in a color or print coordinate nicely with a suit for a semi-formal wedding. But for casual weddings, stick to long ties. The overall formality of the event and your role in it should guide your bow tie choices. When in doubt, it’s safest to opt for a traditional tie.

Types of Bow Ties Work Best for Weddings

The most formal bow tie options for weddings are black or white self-tie bow ties. These complement a classic tuxedo beautifully. For groomsmen or guests wearing suits, patterned cotton, silk, or wool self-tie bow ties can add personality while maintaining a polished look.

Pre-tied bow ties are ideal when you want the style but aren’t experienced tying them yourself. Avoid overly casual bow ties like those made from denim or featuring distracting patterns or images. Focus on timeless fabrics and prints. The bow tie you choose should fit the wedding’s level of formality and complement your outfit seamlessly.

Matching a Bow Tie With the Right Suit for a Wedding

When wearing a bow tie to a wedding, it’s key to coordinate it properly with your suit. For very formal weddings, a black bow tie matches nicely with traditional black, white, or gray tuxedos. For less formal suits, opt for a bow tie in a color or print that complements your outfit.

If your suit features a pattern, choose a solid bow tie in one of the colors. With a neutral suit, try a patterned bow tie for interest. The bow tie should never compete with or overpower the suit. Instead, it should complete the look seamlessly. Focus on congruent colors, complementary patterns, and consistent formality between the bow tie and suit.

can you wear a bowtie to a wedding - Image 4
Photo by Canva

Bow Tie Etiquette and Tips for Weddings

Beyond style coordination, there are some key etiquette tips for wearing a bow tie to a wedding. First, ensure the bow tie properly fits your neck and collar style. A too small or too large bow can look sloppy. When tying the bow, take care to tie it symmetrically. An uneven bow tie comes across as careless. Also, bow ties are meant to be tied by hand just prior to the event. Pre-tied bow ties lose their crisp shape. Finally, bow ties convey a polished, put-together look. Avoid fidgeting with or adjusting the bow frequently once tied. Following these etiquette guidelines projects an elegant, intentional style when wearing a bow tie for weddings or formal events.

Examples of Properly Styled Bow Tie Outfits for Weddings

Attending a black tie wedding? Opt for a crisp white tuxedo shirt, black bow tie, black tuxedo, and black shoes. For a semi-formal wedding, try a blue suit, white shirt, and patterned bow tie in blue hues. For a beach wedding, wear khaki pants, a navy blazer, white shirt, and printed bow tie. A barn wedding calls for dark wash jeans, brown boots, a white button-down, and knit bow tie. The possibilities are endless! The key is choosing bow tie colors and patterns that align with the wedding style. Pay attention to textures and accessories, too. Ultimately, let the wedding formality and your personal style guide you in crafting a dapper bow tie look.

Common Bow Tie Mistakes to Avoid at Weddings

Wearing a bow tie to a wedding can add a dash of sophistication, but it’s important to avoid some common mistakes. Steer clear of bow ties that are too small or large for your collar—an improper fit looks sloppy. Stick with silk or high-quality fabrics, not novelty prints or cheap materials. Make sure the bow tie complements your outfit without matching too directly.

Don’t attempt overly complex knots if you’re unsure of technique. It’s best to tie crisp, symmetrical knots. Keep bow ties properly tied all night—a loose bow tie can detract from your look. With the right attention to detail, you can craft an elegant bow tie ensemble for a wedding. Focus on fit, quality, and coordination for best results.

Creative Ways to Wear a Bow Tie to Formal vs. Casual Weddings

The formality of a wedding impacts how to stylishly wear a bow tie. For formal black tie weddings, stick to a traditional black bow tie and tuxedo. This conveys the appropriate level of sophistication. For less formal weddings, get creative with bow tie patterns, textures, and colors. Plaids, polka dots, and floral prints add personality. Try a knit bow tie for a textured look or tweed for vintage flair. Coordinate the bow tie pattern with other accessories like pocket squares. For casual backyard weddings, pair a fun bow tie with an unbuttoned shirt and suspenders. The key is ensuring your bow tie style aligns with the wedding’s overall formality.

can you wear a bowtie to a wedding - Image 3
Photo by Canva

How to Tie a Bow Tie for a Wedding

Perfecting your bow tie for a wedding requires a few key steps. Start by draping the tie around your collar evenly. Cross the left side over the right. Bring the longer right end horizontally across your neck. Then fold the left side vertically over the horizontal portion. Pass the longer end up through the loop behind the knot. Adjust until symmetrical and tighten carefully against your collar. Use a clip on the back tails to secure. Make sure the knot rests neatly at the center of your collar. Test that the knot is snug but allows room for your neck to move. Your crisp, elegant bow tie is ready to complement your wedding look.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can a guest wear a bowtie to a wedding?

Yes, guests can absolutely wear bowties to weddings. Bowties offer a formal yet fun look that works well for wedding attire. Just be sure the bowtie matches the formality of the dress code.

How do you wear a bow tie to a wedding?

Wear a bowtie to a wedding by pairing it with a formal shirt, vest or cummerbund, and suit jacket. The bowtie should complement your outfit without being too flashy. Stick to traditional patterns and fabrics. Make sure the bowtie fits properly and is tied neatly.

Can I Wear a Bow Tie to a Formal Event?

Bow ties are appropriate attire for any formal event, from black tie galas to posh parties. A properly tied bow tie elevates any tuxedo or suit. Just make sure your bowtie matches the formality of the dress code.

When Not to Wear a Bow Tie?

Avoid wearing a bow tie with casual outfits or for informal events. Bow ties come across as too formal when paired with jeans, shorts, t-shirts, etc. Also, don’t wear a bowtie if you’re not confident tying it properly. An uneven or sloppy bow tie negates the polished look.


Bow ties can absolutely be worn to weddings and formal events when paired with formal attire. The key is choosing a bowtie that matches the dress code formality. With the right outfit, a bow tie offers a dashing, sophisticated look perfect for weddings and black tie affairs. Just be sure it’s tied neatly and complements your outfit. So yes, you can wear a bowtie to a wedding with proper styling.

Leave a Reply