The Whole Shebang’s Guide to Hosting a Black-Tie Wedding

November 13, 2023

Choosing the attire for your wedding is an essential decision to make as you begin wedding planning. The attire not only determines what your guests will wear but also the overall feel of your wedding celebration.

So, what does hosting a black-tie wedding really entail?

It is more than just a wedding dress code! A black-tie wedding is a formal affair (the second most formal, only coming in second to a white tie wedding – usually reserved for royal weddings and state dinners).

In this blog, we are going to go over the elements to consider as you plan your black-tie event.


Black-tie weddings typically have receptions that begin at the earliest at 5 pm and average start times around 7 pm. Ceremony timing can vary depending on the type of ceremony (church vs. venue vs. outdoor) but can happen as early as 2 pm.

Venue and Overall Vibe:

For a black-tie wedding, you can expect a very classy and elegant affair. Black-tie weddings typically include a classic style of venue that is cohesive with the formality of the event. The venue will often have a coat check and will usually (but not always) be based indoors.

Photo by Michelle Lyerly


We spoke with April of April Flowers Studio to get her take on what to consider with floral design for a black-tie wedding.

April shared:

“For a black-tie wedding, a collaboration with your planner and floral designer will be key to help execute a cohesive design, as the decor details will most certainly provide an impactful backdrop for the event. Words that come to mind for a black-tie wedding are; Sophisticated, Refined & Elegant.  

A monochromatic color palette, which uses a single color in various tints, tones, shades or saturation, is one way to achieve a sophisticated and refined design.  Your florist will be able to look at swatches for your linens and other decor elements and suggest florals recipes that will help create an impactful look for a monochromatic design. 

See images below showing examples of a monochromatic palette in red.

Take this design technique a step further through the use of repetition and mass.  Placing multiple floral centerpieces down the length of a rectangular table would be an example.

Another example of this design technique (but scaled back), could be the use of a single variety of flower, such as a red rose and using these repetitively down the length of table.

These suggestions, paired with sophisticated place settings and decor elements will help set the tone for your black-tie wedding or event and the options are limitless.”

For women, the dress code of black-tie translates to formal floor-length gowns or dressy cocktail dresses.

For men, the dress code indicates the need for a black tuxedo, formal white shirt with shirt studs and cuff links, black bow tie, black cummerbund, and black patent shoes with dress socks.

In the summer, white dinner jackets can be worn in place of a black tuxedo jacket.

Photo by Bethany Barton Photography


We reached out to local stationer Morgan of Morgan Harris Design for her insights into how a black-tie formality can be shown through your stationery.

Morgan shared:

“When it comes to planning a black tie wedding, every detail matters. And what sets the tone for this grand affair right from the start? Your wedding stationery and invitations! In the world of weddings, stationery etiquette plays a huge role in conveying the formality and style of your celebration. If you’re planning a black tie wedding, it’s essential to ensure that your invitations match the ambiance you’ve envisioned. Here’s a brief guide on proper etiquette for black tie wedding invitations:

  1. Choose Timeless Elegance:

    • It is typical to opt for classic, timeless designs for your wedding stationery: simple yet sophisticated fonts, traditional script, and high-quality materials like thick cardstock or letterpress. Usually the color palette is subdued with blacks, whites, ivories, and metallic accents for that touch of luxury. However, couples are moving towards vibrant color palettes, no matter the formality, and I am all here for it!

  2. Formal Wording:

    • Use formal wording and etiquette on your invitations. Address your guests with titles and full names, and be sure to specify the dress code as “Black Tie” or “Black Tie Optional” clearly. Include an RSVP card with a pre-stamped envelope for a convenient response.

  3. Details Matter:

    • Pay attention to the finer details. Incorporate embossing, foil stamping, or custom monograms for added elegance. Consider using a calligrapher to address envelopes for a personalized touch.

  4. Information Clarity:

    • Ensure that all the necessary information is clearly presented on the invitation. Include the date, time, venue, directions, and any additional event details. For a black tie wedding, you might also want to mention any special requests, such as dietary preferences or gift preferences.

  5. Save-the-Dates:

    • Send out save-the-dates well in advance, especially for a black tie wedding. This allows your guests to plan accordingly and make necessary arrangements.

  6. RSVP Deadline:

    • Set a reasonable RSVP deadline, typically four to five weeks before the wedding. This gives you ample time to finalize catering and seating arrangements.

  7. Thank-You Cards:

    • After the wedding, send out handwritten thank-you cards to express your gratitude to your guests for attending and for their thoughtful gifts.”

Other Aspects to Consider:

  • Menu: Often a seated dinner will pair wonderfully with a black-tie affair. A cocktail-style dinner can also work well if you have a higher guest count. For your menu, consider a seasonal and local menu specifically curated for your event. Many black-tie events will also include an open bar with a selected signature drink or two for guests to enjoy.

  • Music: Many black-tie events will include a live band. Their set may include classic wedding songs such as Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” or take a more modern approach with songs like Beyonce’s “Love on Top” or Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” from their extensive discographies!

  • Transportation: Providing transportation for your guests can be an excellent choice for your black-tie wedding to ease guest stress of traveling to your venue. Consider a fun trolley option if it is available in your area, like the restored trolley offered by High Country Transportation, or add personalized water bottles and snacks for your guests to enjoy on their way to and from your wedding as a surprise luxury.

  • Extras: A black-tie wedding could include extra entertainment factors to delight your guests. This could include a photobooth that doubles as a favor, a live wedding artist painting on your day, or even a late-night snack and glowing elements to round out the party.

As you can see, there are many aspects to consider while planning a black-tie affair, but at the end of the day, you get to choose what works best for you and your group!

If you are planning your black-tie event and want expert insight into how to ensure every detail is considered and you have confidence going into your weekend, reach out to our team by contacting us here!

We would love to help bring your vision to life that creates memories that last a lifetime.

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