In addition to the frequency - honestly, there's only so much Cava, small talk and miniature beef wellington a man can take - summer weddings are an expense most of us could do without.
Stag dos, presents, train tickets, flights, hotels, drinks, hangover breakfasts etc. etc. - and all that before you've even put your suit on.
That, though, is one way to soften the blow. Making sure you're the best-dressed man at the ceremony (or just the reception if you didn't quite make the cut – no one cares about the vows anyway) is a sure fire way to make the weekend easier, even if it is the eighth nupitals of the summer.
With that in mind, we've pulled together the ultimate guide to dressing for a wedding – no matter the location, theme (God forbid) or most importantly, the budget. The bride will take one look and wish she were marrying you.
£300 & Under
For less than £300, you're going to struggle to find a suit in non-shiny fabric that fits you well and keeps its shape (though it can be done: one of my favourite suits is a single breasted navy hopsack from H&M that cost less than £100. The trick is to get it tailored, but more on that later…).
The best option, therefore, is to invest in one great piece rather than a mediocre outfit - and that piece has to be a blazer. This is a summer wedding, so it needs to be light. Linen is the ideal fabric, but it will crease up as the day goes on (especially if the dance floor beckons), so something mixed with wool, silk or cotton will be better - and make sure it's unlined, or at most, half-lined. Colour wise, navy is a safe bet, but weddings are a good chance to up the ante, so if you're feeling bold, try muted pastel shades, or even a striped seersucker (summer tailoring's zenith).
The list of brands to consider in for the above is long – the trick is to visit stores and see which house cut best fits your shape – but three good places to start are H&M, Kin at John Lewis and Folk. The former has a fine range of entry-level tailoring and separates, Kin is a high street revelation and the affordability regularly surprises me, while Folk, though at the top end of the price bracket, is a reliable source of easy-wearing, style-savvy menswear.
Wear your new blazer with a pale blue (maybe even a light chambray) spread collar shirt, knitted tie and contrasting chinos that finish at the ankle. Then a pair of suede derbies with a soft sole, and no socks. A pocket square for a little sprezzatura and sunglasses, and you're all set.
£300 - £600
This is where the suit comes into play. You can get really good tailoring at this price, but it might not fit as well as it should. The answer, therefore, is to take your new suit to a tailor and have them rejig it to perfection. If you're in London, Mr Mandalia on South Molton Street is where the Esquire editors go for alterations, but you'll be surprised at how many tailors there are dotted around wherever you are. You can get the trousers tapered or widened at the seat (my usual request, sadly…), or the jacket nipped in at the rear seam, or even have the sleeves rotated to better suit your arm shape. Prices vary, but trouser and jacket reshaping combined amount to around £100, probably less. If you paid around £400 for the suit (say, this brilliant wool sharkskin from Hardy Amies) then all in all, it's a steal.
Alternatively, many brands now offer alteration services on their ready-to-wear suiting. Tommy Hilfiger, for example has just started offering men a free altered suit if they buy four more, but that's perhaps better suited to grooms and their groomsmen. Reiss is still a fantastic made-to-measure option, especially now that they make shirts to order too, and even Moss Bros has recently given its M2M service a revamp, offering Cerruti and Zegna fabrics. Essentially, if you're spending in in this price bracket, there simply isn't an excuse if your suit doesn't fit.
You'll more than likely want to wear it to other, less romance-based occasions; so again, blue is a good option and swerve charcoal or black, reserving them for gloomier appointments. A stone or beige chino suit will stand you in good stead for the rest of the summer, but this is chance to explore subtle checks and stripes, or at least some variation in the fabric. This single-breasted number from J Crew is cut from Italian linen-wool and features a very subtle micro check that sets it aside from its plainer rivals.
The trick with any suit at a wedding is to make sure it isn't too business-y. White shirts are fine, but make sure it's new and perfectly pressed. Then bring in a soft, slim-knotted club tie that's louder than normal, but not overbearing. Something like this from Drake's will do the trick. A pair of Neopolitan loafers, and we're off to the church.
£600 & Over
The blazer and the aforementioned suit will see you through wedding season without a hitch - or with it. 'Hitch'. Geddit? – But it's a canny move to get pieces that you'll wear again and again. For the £600 & up bracket, though, you can enjoy a suit that you reserve for weddings, and weddings alone. The same rules apply really - unlined, light and airy, capable of being dressed up and down etc. etc… – but now the fabrics get really good, and the fit impeccable.
Getting the balance right here is tricky. If you outshine the groom you'll piss him off, and in turn piss off his bride, so subtlety is king. You want fabrics that from afar look plain, but are in fact checked, slubbed or woven, for example. And you want accessories that are on a par with the suit, so a shirt from Turnbull & Asser or Budd, a tie from Hermes, and shoes made by hand, preferably in Northampton. Double Monks always look understatedly commanding. My tip here would be single button navy seersucker (yes, more navy) with a peak lapel, but then Prince of Wales check is always impressive, especially in double-breasted form, but only if the suit fits you perfectly. Too long or boxy and you can look a bit like an old landowner that's been called up to town for a chat with the brigadier.
Brands to consider here are Richard James, Thom Sweeney, Paul Smith, Brunello Cucinelli, Burberry, Tom Ford (at the very top end of the scale)… the list goes on. They all have their own styles, their own subtle touches of detail, and their own appeal. But if you're spending this kind of money, my recommendation would be to outlay a bit more and get something beautiful, and made to measure. Nothing beats the confidence that comes from a great suit, and that confidence is as important a part of any look as the clothes themselves.