Wedding bow ties are a classic and sophisticated accessory that adds a touch of elegance to formal or fun wedding attire. Whether you're the groom, a groomsman, or a guest, a bow tie makes a statement. With so many different styles and ways to tie a bow tie, we've put together everything you need to make an informed choice about your neckwear and accessories. Let's start with bowtie knot types and their relevant occasions.
Bow Tie Instructions
Bow Tie Instructions - How to tie a wedding bow tie
The Classic knot
This knot is the simplest method for tying a bow tie. The classic bow tie knot is a slim and symmetrical option that is easy to learn and perfect for beginners while providing a look associated with sophistication and elegance.
This versatile bowtie knot can be worn at formal weddings and more relaxed celebrations. Wear a classic knot with your choice of collar, from traditional wing-tips to more modern spread collars, and with formal tuxedos, European cut attire, or more modern suits.
The "Thistle" knot
A unique and stylish variation of the traditional bow tie, this knot is also known as a 'butterfly' and a wider fabric is preferred ranging from 2.5 to 3 inches. The key to achieving this shape is to pull the middle loop slightly forward while adjusting the loops' size on either side. The result is a bow tie that has a distinctive appearance, with one side resembling the shape of a butterfly or thistle. It is a bold and unique style that can add a bit of personality and flair to any formal outfit.
The "Bat Wing" knot
The batwing knot is also known an a straight tie and is a unique and contemporary knot with a broader span across the neck and unflared ends. It is perfect for those who want a more modern look. The Batwing bow tie knot, as a unique and stylish variation of the traditional bow tie knot, is considered a bold and unconventional choice.
The "Victoria" knot
This more complex knot creates a large and symmetrical bow, similar to the look of a cravat. It is named after Queen Victoria and is perfect for those who want a more formal look.
How to choose a Wedding bow tie look
When choosing a wedding bow tie, the most important thing to consider is the overall style of your wedding. A black tie wedding calls for a more formal bow tie, such as a black silk bow tie, while a more casual wedding may call for a more relaxed, colorful bow tie or a more modern fabric. It's also important to consider the style of your suit or tuxedo. A classic black tuxedo calls for a classic black bow tie, while a more modern tuxedo may call for a bolder style.
Once you've chosen the perfect wedding bow tie fabric, it's time to learn how to tie it. We recommend watching a video or nominating a friend to tie your tie for you.
If you're ready to go it alone, let's create a beautiful bow tie! Follow these step by step simple bow tie instructions. Firstly, drape the tie flat around your neck with one side a little longer than the other. To prevent the tie from becoming too loose, press the two sides together against your neck. Create a loose knot by taking one side and bringing it behind the other. Take the shorter side and fold it to the left and then to the right, forming a bow tie shape between the collar points. Then, drape the longer side over the folded shorter side. With each hand, hold one of the 'wings' of the bow tie and use the longer side to make a knot by taking it behind, down and through the first knot you made. Finally, arrange both sides symmetrically to complete your bow tie.
Why wear a bow tie to a wedding?
The origins of bow ties as part of popular wedding attire can be traced back to the 17th century when they were worn by wealthy European nobles. They were originally made of silk cloth and worn as an essential formal attire component. The wedding bow tie became popular in the United States in the early 20th century and remains a popular look.
Bow ties have a timeless and classic appeal; they never go out of style, making them an excellent choice for any wedding. Choosing to wear a bow tie to a wedding is a way to show respect for the occasion while showcasing your personal taste and elegance.
Is it appropriate to wear a pre-tied bow tie to a wedding?
Yes, but it depends on the wedding's formality. In all likelihood, no one will notice if your bow tie is pre-tied and the choice is yours. Pre-tied bow ties are often considered less formal than self-tied bow ties. Invented in the 1950's, clip-on bow ties were a welcome convenience and nowadays a clip-on tie is easy to use, but a self-tied bow tie can be more confident and elegant.
As a rule of thumb, choose a pre-tied bow tie for a more casual event and self-tie for a grander occasion. Most menswear shops selling bow ties offer both and will be able to teach you a classic bow tie knot so that you're confident on event day.
If you're unsure about the wedding's formality, err on the side of caution and wear a self-tied bow tie.
Guide to tying a bow tie
To get confident tying your bow tie, read and watch a wedding bow tie guide and, once you've mastered the the moves, challenge yourself to tie your bow tie ten times. This will lock in your muscle memory and you'll find yourself capable to self-tying your bow tie for years to come.
A bow tie how to guide will take a while to absorb, and your first attempts might be all fingers and thumbs but, by your third time through the bow tie how to, you should feel like mastering the approach is within reach!
— Alex, Wedding Expert
Taking a few bow-tie practice runs is a good idea. You'll want to practice as soon as you choose your shirt and knot style. To best understand how the bow tie will look you need to practice with the shirt collar you'll wear at the event. Many men prefer to ask a friend to tie their bow tie or, if they are having a hair cut before the wedding, ask your barber to tie the bow tie for you.
Does a bowtie look good with a boutonniere?
Yes. Wearing a bowtie accessorized with a buttonhole flower is a tasteful look that can elevate the style and theme of the wedding. Often a buttonhole is worn by the groom and groomsmen or wedding party. Choosing to pair a buttonhole with a bowtie is an upscale look. For wedding guests, it is more usual to pair a bowtie with a matching pocket square.
"A bow tie and buttonhole flower are a classic and timeless combination for the groom and groomsmen. A bow tie is a sophisticated and formal accessory that adds a touch of elegance to any wedding attire. In contrast, a buttonhole flower adds a pop of color and personality to the groom's outfit."
— The Knot
Take advantage of the opportunity to coordinate men's attire wedding colors by selecting a boutonniere that complements the color of the bow tie. Pick colors in the same family, such as the primary color of the boutonniere and the hue of the bow tie. Also, consider the material of the bow tie to make sure the boutonniere has a coordinating element, like a splash of silk in the buttonhole arrangement to match a silk bow tie.
For added sophistication, you can harmonize or contrast the style of the bow tie and boutonniere, like pairing a black silk bow tie with a white flower boutonniere. In addition, be sure the size of the bow tie and boutonniere is proportional to each other and appropriate for the formality of the event. For example, a classic black bow tie and traditional flower boutonniere for a formal occasion, or a modern bow tie and wildflower buttonhole for a more casual event.
"A bow tie and a buttonhole flower can be a bit too formal and traditional for some couples, who prefer a more relaxed and modern look."
Alternative wedding neckwear accessories
For those looking for alternatives to a bow tie, there are several options. One popular alternative is the cravat, a less common type of necktie usually worn with a suit or tuxedo. Another alternative is the standard tie, which can be worn in your choice of style, fabric, pattern, and color to match the wedding's theme.
A cravat is a more refined version of a regular tie. Typically made of silk or other luxurious materials, cravats are a great alternative to a bow tie for those who want a more understated yet glamorous look. They can be worn in various styles and colors to match the theme of the wedding and can add a touch of elegance to any formal attire. The word "cravat" is derived from the à la croate—in the style of the Royal Croats - a famous military regiment. Consider a regency, Maharatta, Napoleon, or 'mail coach' cravat arrangement.
Wedding tie instructions
Standard neck Tie
Another alternative to a bow tie is the standard tie. Ties come in a wide range of styles, widths, and colors, making it easy to find one that matches the theme of the wedding. Try a "half Windsor" or "full Windsor" knot. Or read our wedding tie guide below for more unusual wedding tie knots.
If you're considering a more complex knot, maybe the "Plattsburgh," "St Andrew," "Merovingian," or the "Hanover" knot is suitable for you. These knots are all considered advanced. They take time and practice to tie but can add a striking note for formal events.
A pocket square can be a great alternative to a wedding bow tie for a more casual look and look great with an open collar. Pocket squares are small pieces of fabric that are folded and placed in the breast pocket of a suit or tuxedo. They can be made of various materials, including silk, cotton, or linen, and come in multiple colors and patterns. Pocket squares are a great way to add a pop of color and personality to your wedding attire.
Suppose you want to add a touch of personality to your wedding attire, but you want to leave the focus on the couple? A lapel pin could be the solution you need, as they add a touch of sophistication and elegance. Lapel pins come in a huge range of materials, styles, and sizes, including metal, glass, and enamel. Consider an heirloom or vintage pin, one made from precious metals, flowers or feathers, or initial/monogram lapel pins.
Lapel Pins come in a multitude of shapes and sizes
Wearing a scarf as an outfit accessory can add a touch of flamboyant sophistication. Consider the formality of the wedding and overall event style to decide if a dress wear scarf is appropriate. Try a white silk scarf with a classic black tuxedo, a silk scarf in a neutral color, such as navy or gray, to add a touch of elegance to a suit or sport coat, or a patterned scarf, such as a paisley or plaid, for a pop of color and personality.
A scarf can be an excellent option for a fall or winter wedding to add warmth. While a lightweight linen or cotton scarf can be a perfect accessory for an outdoor summer wedding.
How to pull the look together
Matching accessories are an excellent option for a more formal wedding, as it creates a cohesive and polished look for the wedding party. For example, the groom and groomsmen can all wear the same style and color of bow tie, pocket square, or suspenders. This creates a sense of continuity in the wedding party's appearance, which can be especially important for photos.
Complementary accessories are an excellent option for a semi-formal or casual wedding. This means that the groom and groomsmen can wear similar, but not identical, accessories that complement each other. For example, the groom and groomsmen can all wear the same color tie but in different patterns or textures. This creates a cohesive look while letting individual personalities shine.
Contrasting accessories are another excellent option for a more casual or non-traditional wedding. This allows the groom and groomsmen to express their style while maintaining a cohesive look. For example, the groom can wear a bow tie while the groomsmen wear standard ties, or the groom can wear a pocket square while the groomsmen don't. This creates a sense of variety and individuality within the wedding party's appearance, which can be especially fitting for a more relaxed or unconventional wedding.
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