The bigger Debate of Whether the Guys should Match the Girls

By Paul Pannone

The look and feel of weddings continues to evolve to match the taste of an updated consumer that no longer marches to the beat of tradition and protocol. The financial crash that happened in 2008 reset the wedding industry, after it rebounded after 2002. But like all things change is good most of the time, but not all.

After 9/11/2001 the outlook on life and what makes people happy permeated all aspects of living, especially how the United States– and the world– views marriage. Tradition, religion and all things that box people in by rules is under attack; the goal is freedom to do what we want, when and if we want it.

As far back as 2006 American Wedding Traditions wrote:

Every American wedding has subtle traditional elements, but there are no really strict guidelines that we follow when planning our big day. Over the last ten years, wedding etiquette has really relaxed and American wedding traditions have become a lot more liberal. This new liberal outlook has enabled couples to marry in a style that they are comfortable with, instead of the sometimes rigid standards that some used to associate with American wedding tradition.

Of course this information scares the life out of people and organizations that make a living at selling fairy dust marketing, speaking engagements and general falsehoods of how to double your wedding business when in reality, marriage– how we know it– is all but over.

“I disagree that marriage is over, it’s simply changed. And Change is good, if it truly is for the better. Some of the changes I’ve seen are magnificent and long overdue. In fact some of the changes shouldn’t have happened because things were wrong to begin with. What I am saying is if something is done right by a bride, a groom, a couple; and takes into account good sense and good taste, there should never be a problem,” according to Jim Duhe.

But even Duhe admits some of the changes are attempts to grasp at straws because business has been so bad over the past few years. Like-thinking members of the Wedding Water Cooler that agree with Duhe understand how important it is to provide relevant information, including building confidence in right of passage events and how to approach them. Sheryl Davies, Jacqueline Johnson, Christine Boulton, Paul Eilenberg,  Steve Lang and other members agree changes are good but they must be based on good data, better judgement, all guided by good taste.

At a recent meeting Jim Duhe told eWedNewz the wedding industry is at a crossroad.

“It starts at the cradle and carries forth through high school. By then the formative years are gone and young adults are set in their ways. The world doesn’t need redundant rules but does require some structure. It simply cannot be a free-for-all,” he told eWedNewz.

In his career Duhe has blasted editors that inflict their personal opinions where they don’t belong. According to Duhe information should come from an expert; a person that makes their living interacting with their product, thereby gaining knowledge in all aspects of its creation and how it performs in the marketplace.

“That to me is a true expert. In the old days we called them professionals,” he told eWedNewz.

Duhe’s aversion to  Self-Proclaimed Tuxedo Experts is particularly interesting. Although he is a women’s formal fashion expert his thoughts are quite clear when it comes to the men.

“If it’s a formal event and she is in a gown, he belongs in a tuxedo. End of story,” he continues to profess.

In a debate on the Internet yesterday Duhe weighed in a curious picture that proposes men’s formal wear accessories no longer need to match the lady’s gown color. According to views opposing the idea, adverse changes happening in weddings are the direct result of younger-age groups not getting the right information at an earlier stage in life.


A new decree from a Savvi member say’s it’s good to be different. What do you say?

“So, I am taking this picture has to do with proms? Well, this is my point; that’s where it all starts. If people are not told how to dress properly in their teens, what do you think is going to happen when it’s time to marry?” asks Duhe.

Another like-thinking member of the WWC, Paul Eilenberg, said the following:

“I’m guessing this was not a joke.  This is an absolute disgrace. Certain things just can’t be fixed. The first part that offends  to mind is the vest. Vests end at or just a hair below the waist, not at the crotch. Is this a 1975 was & wear suit from Robert Hall? It certainly has that less than tailored look. The shirt is abominable  as is the pre-knotted tie.  I am unqualified to comment on the dress, however it does look god awful.”

The debate on my personal Face Book page at first garnered wishy-washy statements, unsure of how to answer. Private messages asked if I somehow sanctioned the look. Throughout, I refrained from giving my personal thoughts and kept the creator of the look a secret.

Picking up on on the story were bloggers and other tuxedo people who gave their thoughts. Heather Sconza blogged about the debate and gave a good account of what is happening.

“I always get excited to see where Paul is going with these questions, and this one had me scratching my head at first. Paul showed us a picture of a light canary yellow bridesmaid dressed standing next to what would be a groomsmen outfit made of a grey tuxedo with a vest in a dated looking shade of green paired with a tie striped of what looked like a hunter green, mint green, olive green maybe. First reaction = “ewww”!,” writes Sconza.

Read the entire story to see what she finally thinks. Heather is the upcoming generation that we’ve written about in this story. It matters little what Savvi says or what I think.


Is Heather right? Is Jim Duhe wrong? Please comment and tell us about it.


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  1. I’m seldom completely wrong about anything that involves bridal apparel.  The only real fashion rule is . . . there are no rules that must be followed.   People don’t seek expert advice to learn what can be done.  They look to wedding professionals to understand the standards, the traditions.   People can select to do anything they wish with the information that is provided to them.

    The clothes featured in the photograph didn’t appear to be “selected.”  Rather, they offer a perfect example of what you should avoid.  You don’t need the team from Queer Eye to tell you that the clothes featured in the photograph have no sense of style and are in poor taste.  

  2. The formal wear protocol that I learned many years ago was that only two things govern what should be worn by the groom- Formal wear should not clash with the colours the bride has selected and it should not upstage the wedding gown. However, the groom and his groomsmen’s attire set the degree of formality. Traditionally every man in the wedding party dresses alike. However the groom may dress differently to distinguish himself from the other men in the wedding party……


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