Call it one of many tradition-breaking moves felt ’round the world. On Saturday, when Prince Harry married his fiancé Meghan Markle, their wedding’s music and sermon, including a gospel choir, reflected the bride’s background and made royal superfans of even the harshest cynics. And true to his reputation as the bad boy of Windsor, Harry showed up with his beard unshaven. Though it may seem small in comparison to everything else that happened on Saturday, it was a grooming choice that will undoubtedly have worldwide repercussions.
Men in formalwear have few outlets for sartorial expression. This is especially true on a man’s wedding day, when everything from the bow tie and pocket square down to the socks and shoes have to match the wedding’s overall color story. That leaves grooming and maybe a piece of jewelry up to a bridegroom’s discretion—sort of. Traditionally, beards and other facial hair on grooms have been frowned upon, seen as too casual or unkempt. But that won’t be the case anymore. This weekend, Prince Harry’s trimmed-up and polished ginger beard changed all that, setting an irrefutable wedding-beard precedent. British royal weddings have always been steeped in tradition and therefore set the standard for what your mother-in-law might call classy. Now, other bearded grooms-to-be have proof that keeping your scruff on your big day is undeniably de-riguer. Cue the swooning aunts and grandmas.
That’s especially great if you’re a guy whose whole look rests on a generous crop of chin hair—or if you just don’t feel like yourself without your beard. In that case, shaving just for your wedding day might feel like a big mistake, just like it would be a mistake to try out a new buzz cut for the occasion, or decide you want to start wearing glasses at the altar. And while it’s important to listen to what your partner wants, we’d say advocate for keeping your beard on your wedding day. If you’ve had it for a while now, chances are they won’t want you to shave, either.
But let’s be clear about one thing: Prince Harry may not have shown up clean-shaven, but his beard was definitely cleaned up. To make sure your facial hair looks its best, we suggest treating yourself to a professional trim beforehand and applying some great-smelling beard oil on the big day. Looking your best while still looking like you should be your grooming goal. Succeed at it and you’ll look lovingly at your wedding photos for years to come. Shave, and you might not recognize yourself when you’re looking back at the most important memory of your life.