Groom Prep & Menswear Tips For a Smooth Wedding Morning

groom prep tips advice and checklist

#LinPernilleGrooms – this post is for you!

I’ve learned so much about menswear since becoming a wedding photographer.  Photographing so many Groom Preps has taught me how to fold a pocket square, the difference between French cuffs and barrel cuffs, the different types of shoe lace styles, how to put on a boutonniere, how to SPELL boutonniere, and I’ve almost mastered how to tie a real bowtie.

Here is a detailed list of all of the menswear tips I’ve learned over the years, a checklist of details to remember on your wedding morning, along with tons of advice & tricks for a smooth groom prep!

groom prep details checklist

How to Fold A Pocket Square

There are lots of ways fold a pocket square. The three most common methods I’ve seen are the “dunaway fold” (for a more relaxed look), the “presidential/square fold” (for a clean cut, neat look), or the “two point fold” (my favorite – modern and neat yet not too “perfect”). Once you decide which option you prefer, make sure you spread the word to all of your groomsmen so your outfits look consistent. Whichever style you choose, I recommend practicing the folding technique before the day of the wedding (you’d be surprised how long it can take to get it right!) so you don’t waste precious time watching Youtube tutorials on your wedding morning.

pocket squares wedding groom attire menswear

Ties & Bowties

how to tie groom wedding tie real four in hand half windsor full windsor symmetrical

Most men these days are pretty good at tying a tie. The “four-in-hand” method is the easiest method but I wouldn’t recommend it – the “full windsor knot” tends to look more symmetrical and neat. However, tying a real bow tie is a whole nother ball game.

how to tie groom wedding tie full windsor symmetrical

It’s harder than it looks so I would definitely recommend practicing ahead of time, or designating one guy to be in charge of mastering it & tying it for all the guys. If you think you’re going to really struggle with this, there’s no shame in getting the clip-on kind. Be sure to get your neck measurement when you’re at the tailor to make it easier to size it correctly – you don’t want it to be loose and saggy but you also don’t want to feel like you’re choking all day long.

how to tie groom wedding tie real bowtie full windsor symmetrical

French Cuffs vs Barrel Cuffs

barrel cuff vs french cuff wedding groom attire

How to put on cuff links is fairly straight-forward, though it’s pretty hard to do by yourself. I would recommend asking your best man, dad, brother, etc. for help. This also makes for a great photo op!

However, how to fold your shirt sleeve before buttoning usually makes guys hesitate. There are two main cuff styles: French cuffs* and barrel cuffs. When you are using your own “fancy” cufflinks, French cuffs (pinching both ends together) are usually the way to go, whereas barrel cuffs (overlapping the ends to make a round shape) are usually meant for everyday use with a regular button closure.

*Fun Fact: it’s called a “French Cuff” when there’s extra fabric that’s folded backwards to create a double layer or “Single/Link Cuffs” when there’s a single layer.

groom cufflinks french cuffs

Shoelace Styles

dress shoe lacing options straight bar cross cross

There are two main types of dress shoe lace styles: straight bar lacing and criss-cross lacing.

how to tie shoelaces mens wedding shoes laces

Straight bar lacing is recommended for Derbys, Bluchers, Oxfords and Balmorals (both open & closed lacing styles), while criss cross lacing is recommended for Derbys and Bluchers (open lacing styles).

how to tie shoelaces mens wedding shoes laces  

How to Put on a Boutonniere

Hold the boutonniere against the upper left lapel (the guy’s left-hand side, the pinner’s right-hand side). With your other hand, from the backside of the lapel, insert one of the pins diagonally into the fabric, catching onto some of the stem of the flower, then poking back through to the backside of the lapel. Repeat this with the other pin, going diagonally in the opposite direction so it forms an “X”.

how to put on and pin a boutonniere

Button Etiquette

Always keep the bottom button of your jacket unbuttoned. If you’re wearing a suit with three buttons, only button the top two. If your suit has two buttons, only button the top one. The same “rule” also goes for vests.

Pro Tip: When taking photos with family members & friends, be sure to unbutton your jacket so it doesn’t create a crease when you put your arms around them. If you prefer not to unbutton your jacket, just keep your hands low, in front of you, or in your pocket(s).

Another Tip: Unbutton your jacket whenever you sit.

button suit vest jacket bottom unbuttoned

Set Yourself Apart

Whether you plan on wearing a tuxedo or a suit, a tie vs a bowtie, vest vs no vest, I highly recommend choosing one way to set yourself apart from your groomsmen to highlight your role as the groom. There are lots of ways to accomplish this:

  • The groom wears a vest, the groomsmen don’t
  • The groom wears a bowtie, the groomsmen wear ties
  • The groom wears a different color tie or bowtie
  • The groom wears a black suit, the groomsmen wear a lighter color
  • The groom wears a full three-piece suit, the groomsmen wear vests without jackets
  • The groom wears a different boutonnière, pocket square, etc.

groom with bowtie on and groomsmen with ties on 


After spending all of this time and effort choosing the perfect accessories to showcase your style on your wedding day, we want to be sure to capture every little detail on camera! Here is a checklist of all the items you may want to gather together on your wedding morning for us to photograph:


   Tie / Bowtie





   Pocket Square






   Tie Clip


   Vows / Vow Book

   Letter / Gift (Please wait until we arrive before opening/reading them if you’d like these moments documented)

groom prep details checklist


Some Extra Reminders:

  • Before we arrive, cut off all tags from your clothes and cut open any pockets that are threaded shut.
  • When picking up items from your rental shop, take a careful, thorough inventory of what’s in your bag to make sure nothing is missing and all the colors, sizes, and options are correct. Far too often I’ve seen men receive the wrong color tie, the wrong size shoes, or a missing pocket square. It wastes a lot of valuable time to have to drive back to the store to get it fixed – take the time to check everything before leaving!
  • Don’t forget to pack an undershirt! They’re very commonly forgotten because rental companies don’t usually include them in addition to the dress shirts. I recommend a white tank top instead of t-shirt so your sleeves don’t show through the shirt sleeves.
  • If you’re having a summer wedding and you tend to sweat a lot, consider packing a spare button-up shirt to change into halfway through the day to freshen up.


Read more helpful wedding planning blog posts here.

January 9, 1202

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