Google+ Southern Wedding Style: Black Tie Attire - Southern Weddings

Southern Weddings

One of my childhood friends is getting married this Saturday, and I cannot wait to actually have my husband with me as my date! Ladies, this is the first wedding he’s been able to attend since our own. Silly baseball season! I’m also excited to get all dolled up and dance my face off with some of my oldest girlfriends!

Now when we all received the invitation to the wedding a couple months back, there was a rush of texts, emails, and calls in regards to outfit planning amongst my friends. What really had us in a fit was the “black tie attire” calligraphy note in the corner of the (gorgeous!) classic black and ecru invitation. What, everyone was wondering, does one wear to a black tie wedding? As our group’s resident etiquette expert (here at SW we have Emily!) I knew what I wanted to wear! I’ve been to debutante balls in the South, so black tie affair is right up my alley. BDK even has several different tuxes – including tails, and of course bow ties – in his closet from his old cotillion circuit days.

Credits from left to right and top to bottom: First two images A Bryan Photo, Jen Huang via SMP, Christian Oth via Martha Stewart, Lisa Lefkowitz, Meg Smith, John Dolan via Martha Stewart, and Meg Smith

Like I said, I had an idea in mind of what I wanted to wear: a long ball gown (that’s right, I don’t do anything half way!). On my “scouting trip,” I tried on an amazing Adrianna Papell ball gown. (BDK said I looked like the villain at the engagement party in Bridesmaids in it – yes, please!!) Unfortunately, they didn’t have my size. Anywhere in America. Yes, a bit dramatic, but I needed this dress. Come on, you know that feeling! Long story not so short, it arrived at my house just yesterday (yes, the wedding is Saturday)! I’ll tweet pics for sure!

Anyways! Now that you know what a crazy person I can be, let’s talk about what YOU should wear if you get a black tie invitation in the mail. According to the fabulous Ms Emily Post, black tie calls for fellows in black tuxedos with formal (piqué or pleated front) white shirts, bow ties, and cummerbunds. We of course support this, since all Southern men should always wear bow ties! Gloves are not required, and in the summer white dinner jackets with black tuxedo paints are acceptable. Southern belles should don formal floor-length gowns, a very dressy cocktail dress, or your dressiest LBD. If you do choose to go the LBD route, be sure you fancy that sucker up with your best sparklers, and highest heels!

As y’all know, every dress code is open to interpretation, but let’s talk specifically about Southern black tie attire. Game day dresses are a huge decision in the South, so as you can imagine, black tie means dress up! When are you going to have the chance to zip up the ball gown, put on those ear baubles (thanks for the term, ABQ), and dance around with your honey? When it comes to black tie attire, I’m with Oscar Wilde“you can never be overdressed.”

Want some shopping inspiration? Take a gander at our black tie-worthy Shopping Guide:

A. David Meister Sequin Tank Gown ($578), B. JS Boutique Pleated Gown ($219), C. Adrianna Pappel Rosette Ball Gown ($238), D. BCBG Maxazria Printed Metallic Evening Gown ($313), E. Monique Lhuillier Pleated Gown ($238), F. JS Boutique Sequin Trim Gown ($188), G. Decode Striped Evening Gown ($229), H. David Meister One-Shoulder Brooch Gown ($560), I. Betsey & Adam Jersey Gown ($180), J. Mignon One-Shoulder Gown ($415), K. Adrianna Pappel Tiered Gown ($199), L. Anna Elyse Convertible Dress ($220), M. Elisa J. One-Shoulder Cocktail Dress ($168), and N. Miss Sixty Pleated Gown ($148).

Which dress would you choose for a black tie event? Do you have a go-to black tie dress? Have you ever had the chance to attend a black tie wedding? Are you HAVING a black tie wedding? Let us know!

Have a question on what to wear to an event? Leave a comment below, and we’ll help ya out!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Bridget reply

    Hi! Great post…I actually have a question for your resident etiquette expert, we are having a summer wedding and I would prefer everyone to wear black tie but some will not have a tux and we do not want them to have the additional expense if they do not want to…so we wanted to put “black tie optional” on the invitation. Can we do that? I cannot find it on Emily Post. Love fancy dressy weddings!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Bridget! Happy to help :) Emily Post says that you should not mention attire on a formal invitation. However, she does say that you can mention it on a reception invitation or card, so I think it’s also okay to mention “Black tie optional” or “Black tie preferred” there. If you’re not sending out a separate reception card and want to stick with tradition, maybe you could omit attire entirely from the invite and just mention it in a special section on your wedding website. That would give you more room to explain the nuances of the tux situation, anyway. Good luck!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Thank Emily! That’s why you’re OUR etiquette expert!! : ) So excited for you Bridget! I’m sure your wedding will gorgeous!

  2. avatar Sierra reply

    Love this post, Marissa! Perfect for formal dress shopping. My favorites are A, C, D, H and L!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Thanks Sierra! AND thank YOU for making this awesome board for me! Otherwise our readers might have to look at some wonky mess of dresses in a pile! : )

  3. avatar Tiffany Lee reply

    We are having a black tie affair, but in a rustic setting, and I can’t wait! Something about dressing up makes it even more special.

  4. avatar Tiffany Lee reply

    I also just sent my Mom dress F. Hurray for sleeves! Great find!

  5. avatar Ryan Alexander Events,Inc. reply

    What a great article! We constantly get asked by our brides how to tackle this question! Love the dress pictures too!

  6. avatar Emily reply

    I actually wore M in teal to a black tie wedding in November. It was perfect, and several of my “big city” fashionista friends complimented my ability to do an appropriate short black-tie dress.

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