Etiquette: Grandma is turned off by groom’s scruffy beard

Liev Schreiber and his scruffy beard star in the TV series “Ray Donovan.”
Liev Schreiber and his scruffy beard star in the TV series “Ray Donovan.”

Q. Our granddaughter is getting married this fall. It’s been an exciting time for all of us. I even got to go with her and the others when she went looking for her dress. Her future husband seems very nice, is intelligent and has a very good job in the technology world. We have known him for several years now.

The problem is this: He has decided to start growing a beard for the wedding, the kind of horrible looking scruffy beard like Ray Donovan has in that television series. I understand from my daughter that he says his best man and groomsmen are going to grow the same look. It simply breaks my heart when I think about how terrible they are all going to look. Is this the proper look for weddings now?

I want to talk to my granddaughter about it, but am not sure what I should say to her. My husband thinks he should be the one to talk to the groom and try to talk some sense into him. In all the years we have known him, he has never had any facial hair at all. I don’t think this young man realizes he and his wife will be looking at his wedding pictures forever with this scruffy bum look. I think it’s a fad and a dumb one at that. What’s your opinion? What can we do? I wonder how he would like it if our granddaughter decided to have green and purple hair on her wedding day?

A. There is no etiquette rule dictating whether a groom or his groomsmen can or cannot have facial hair for the wedding day. The general rule for the bride and the groom for their wedding day is this: Look your absolute best and look like yourself. It is not the time for the groom, or the groomsmen to try growing some trendy mustache, goatee, chinstrap or the overall scruffy Ray Donovan look. On the other hand, if a groom has worn neatly trimmed facial hair for many years, it would not make sense for him to have to shave it off for the wedding because he would not look like himself. The same applies to the groomsmen.

While I agree with you and your husband that the Ray Donovan scruffy look is absolutely horrible, there are obviously some who would disagree with us. The groom for one. I also agree it is a fad and I, too, feel this groom will look at his wedding pictures in five, 10 or 20 years and ask himself, “What was I thinking?” However, this groom is an adult and adults make their own decisions.

Whether you or your husband choose to politely speak to the groom one-on-one and ask him to reconsider changing his handsome appearance by wearing a faddish scruffy beard on his wedding day, that is your decision. Is it proper for you to do so? You have an established rapport with this young man, and if the opportunity presents itself, a simple statement of: “We think a lot of you, (John) and we are happy to have you as a part of our family soon. We understand you are thinking of growing some type of facial hair (I would not use the words: scruffy-type beard.) for your wedding day. While we realize that might be a current fad, we do hope you will reconsider and think about how you will feel 10 years from now when you look at your wedding pictures.” Note: I don’t recommend you bring up the subject of green and purple hair on your granddaughter.

Hearing this type comment from older, wiser, grandparents may be just the “bring-him-back-to-his-senses” words he needs to hear. If he chooses to ignore your comments, then put the scruffy beard thoughts out of your mind and concentrate on enjoying a wonderful wedding day for your granddaughter.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to