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Spring Wedding Rules

The SocialPrimer's K. Cooper Ray shot on location at the Charleston Library Society. Photograph by Christopher Nelson

february 24, 2011

Spring Wedding Rules
Before your gent dons his dapper duds, forward this Q&A to him

Everything’s breaking out into blooms here in Charleston, which means the Charleston Weddings Spring Bridal Show is just around the corner—March 26, 2011 to be exact. We just got the show’s site up, so check out all the designers and fab doings at We strongly suggest buying your tickets early, as the show tends to sell out!

And in the spirit of fashion, here’s a little sit-down we had with K. Cooper Ray, author of the SocialPrimer , who schooled us about what men should—and should not—wear to weddings in the South. He should know. A one-time “ambassador” for Dom Perginon, former vice president of PR and events for Bottega Veneta, Cooper was born in Alabama and schooled at Auburn University. Last year, his line of bow ties debuted at Brooks Brothers, and after a 2010 move to Charleston, he scored a spot on the 2011 Charleston Fashion Week® Fashion Panel. Check out the full story on Cooper in the next issue of Charleston Weddings, which should start showing up around town this week and on newsstands in the next week.

Charleston Weddings (CW): Any no-brainers you’d recommend for a warm-weather wedding in Charleston?
K. Cooper Ray (KCR): The number one “do,” of course, would be to wear madras, seersucker, and gingham bow ties from Social Primer for Brooks Brothers.

CW: What’s the easiest way to tie a bow tie?
KCR: On SocialPrimer, I recommend a link and printing out the diagram.

CW: Can you talk about seasonally appropriate material for men?
KCR: Nothing gets on my nerves more than when I see a man in a nice white cotton sweater in January. Cotton is meant for the summer, it’s not meant for the winter.

CW: Wait a minute though. If it’s 75 degrees here in January…
KCR: Don’t wear a sweater! You’ll look like a fool. Believe me, I struggle with those transitional seasons, too. But I give a man until he's 25 years old to figure it out. He’s still got a post-college hangover up to that point and is still finding himself, you know. But at 25 years old, he has to start dressing seasonally and appropriately.

CW: What about suits at a summer wedding? Wool, linen, cotton?
KCR: I’m inclined to say don’t wear any type of wool in the summer, but that’s hard to say because most men’s suits these days are three-season wool. So I say it depends on the time. If it’s evening, indoor, you can wear your three-season wool. If it’s outside, you’ve got to wear linen, cotton, or seersucker.

CW: What about summer black-tie events—any tips for
men there?
KCR: I was in Palm Beach last May. Black-tie. Six o’ clock event. Because you get dressed in the middle of the day if an event starts in the evening, I was in black-tie in the blazing Palm Beach sun. My friend who had just flown in from Paris asks, “Why haven’t you broken a sweat?” I said, “Move slow. Follow the shade.” Because the minute you break a sweat it’s over. That’s the best advice I can give anyone at a formal summer wedding—move slowly and follow the shade.

CW: What hot-weather grooming and style tips do you have
for men?
KCR: Keep cologne and hair products light. Nothing’s worse than having a bunch of goo dripping down your neck as you’re sweating to death. There are light products out there.

CW: Back to seersucker, what shoes are appropriate to pair with it as a suit?
KCR: White or camel bucks. But never a dark loafer. Never.

CW: Nantucket Red trousers are popular here - can you share your thoughts on them?
KCR: First of all, Southerners can’t wear Nantucket Reds in the summer because they are made for Cape Cod summers where it gets down to 50 degrees at night. You can’t wear them here or you will sweat to death. I’ve got a pair that I wear in the winter because they’re that heavy.

CW: And what shoes with them? We see a lot of chocolate loafers with them.
KCR: I live in beat-up, salt-water soaked Sperrys. But if I wore the Reds to a rehearsal dinner in Maine, I would do brown-and-white saddle shoes—never, never dark loafers with them.

CW: OK. Let’s stick with footwear. Thoughts on flip-flops? With suits? In beach or plantation weddings? To a bachelor party
night out?
KCR: No. No. No. You should never see a man’s feet unless you’re coming out of the shower with him, or you’re at the pool, or you’re at the beach. In other words, you should only see a man’s feet if you’re in the water with him. That’s because, first of all, what man is going to get a pedicure? (Even though every man should get a pedicure once a year—every May.) Forget it. No man over 25 should be wearing flip-flops “out.” And to a bar? Oh my God.

CW: What about to a wedding?
KCR: No! It’s offensive and disrespectful to the bride. Definitely not. And I’m not a big fan of beach weddings.

CW: Are you serious?
KCR: You’ve got to have a place to sit. You can’t sit on the sand. It's just… I get it…I mean I get why people have beach and outdoor weddings, but there’s too much left to chance. Wind? Rain? No thank you.

Thu, 02/24/2011