We’re switching things up in Southern Style! While I’m still talking fashion, today I’m answering a question that we often receive from brides. I’m actually quite familiar with today’s question, as I asked it myself when planning my own wedding! And it is: “Can my wedding be black tie?” The simple answer? Yes! For the longer version, here are a few things to keep in mind when considering a black tie wedding…
When we were planning our wedding, my husband Brandon was very laid-back, as usual. However, he had one request: to wear a tuxedo with tails. Needless to say, we had not intended to have a celebration quite that formal, so we compromised: he wore tails, but not white gloves or a top hat! :) With his fashion choice confirmed, a few other wedding day details were settled for us, like our ceremony and reception start times. Traditional etiquette recommends no black tie before 6pm; however, modern etiquette has allowed that if the reception begins after 6, black tie is acceptable.
Image credit: Alex + Andrew and Lyndsie + John
Brandon’s attire also helped shape our bridesmaid dress selection. Since the groomsmen were wearing tuxes with tails, my gals needed to wear long gowns with a bit more formality than originally planned. I opted for black silk floor-length gowns that were dressed up even more with classic pearl necklaces (my bridesmaid gifts!). While black tie does limit the groomsmen color palette, it doesn’t have to narrow your bridesmaid choices. Black tie bridesmaid attire is a fun place to bring in color and even a bit of sparkle, like Lynze did with her girls. Do note that your gals gowns should be floor-length regardless of color.
Image credit: Lyndsie + John, Jordan + David, and Alex + Andrew.
A few other details to marinate on if you’re considering a black tie celebration:
– The venue. While chic tents are natural fits for black tie events, it might not be real easy to wear a floor-length gown down a dirt path. If your guests will be dressing in black tie (and likely heels, too), make sure you’ve thought through the ways they’ll navigate your ceremony and reception spots.
– The decor. While simple is often better, guests won’t feel overdressed if your tables are dressed up, too!
– The menu. I might be speaking for myself, but I can’t imagine how scared I’d be to eat juicy BBQ while wearing a beaded gown. We’re all for a mix of high- and low-brow details, but your guests will probably expect the food to reflect the effort they’ve put in to look their best for you, so make sure it’s delicious and feels a bit fancy!
– Your gown. A groom standing beside you in a tuxedo is the perfect opportunity to choose that extra ruffly or sparkly gown you’ve been eyeing. But if a more casual gown is more your style, consider adding some extra elegance through your accessories.
– Your couple style. While Brandon and I tend to be homebodies, we knew we wanted to get all dolled up for our wedding day and give our guests an reason to get a little extra fancy, so black tie was the right fit for us. But it’s definitely not the right fit for everyone, so be sure to think of your personal style.
And last but certainly not least, your guests! According to Emily Post, black tie calls for gents in black tuxedos with formal (piqué or pleated front) white shirts, bow ties, and cummerbunds. Gloves are not required, and in the summer white dinner jackets with black tuxedo paints are acceptable. Belles should don formal floor-length gowns, a very dressy cocktail dress, or their dressiest little black dress. Of course, if you do go with a cocktail dress, be sure to dress it up with your sparkliest jewels and highest heels! Ms. Post also 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. Your wedding website is also a great place to include dress code.
Will you/did you have a black tie wedding? I’d love to hear from you!
We’re having a black tie optional wedding to make it a little easier on guests. My dress is pretty grand, my fiance has a midnight blue tux, and our venue is a histroic space in Charleston, so black tie felt like the natural way to go!
Ellie! That sounds like an absolute dream! I am sure guests will be tickled pink to get all gussied up! Love the midnight blue tux option as well. xx, MAK
Marissa, I always love all your posts, but this one is just SO up my alley! I agree with everything you said here related to black tie – from timing, to the white dinner jacket exception, to ladies in cocktail length dresses taking it up a notch with accessories and heels, and most of all, to NOT including attire info on the formal printed invite! My wedding is this Saturday and the ceremony starts at 5:30pm, meaning a 6pm cocktail hour and 7pm reception. We have always wanted black tie and went for it based on modern etiquette rules! We considered pushing ceremony to 6pm, but since it is outside, our photographer really recommended we keep it at 5:30pm for lighting reasons. Glad you agree that what we did is A-OK :) Thanks for a great post!!
Emily, you just made my day! Thank you so much for your kind words. I was married in December, so we too were chasing light. Our ceremony was at 5pm and the reception started at 6pm, so we just slid right in with etiquette. I’m sure your wedding will be magical and congratulations for the upcoming weekend!! xx, MAK