Known as one of the most formal types of wedding attire, black-tie weddings are as elegant as they are opulent. If you’re looking to throw a black-tie affair, we suggest knowing just how to make your day stand out and impress. We’ve gathered ideas from some of the industry’s best to help translate the idea of black-tie through your menu selection, your day of décor, and every aspect of your walk down the aisle.
Elevate your reception decor.
Black-tie is synonymous with elegance, opulence, romance, and style. “As a photographer, I love the timeless appeal of a formal reception,” says KT Merry, Owner of KT Merry. “There’s nothing as iconic as the image of a glamorous couple in evening attire; it elevates every element of the celebration to ultra-chic,” Merry adds.
Curate a custom and stylized menu.
For this simple and elegant wedding (with an added contemporary and rustic flair) Alex Mackey, Sales Consultant at Blue Plate, emphasized the importance of customization for a black-tie bash. “Kristin is from Kansas City, and Andrew is from Australia,” Mackey says. For the menu, they pulled in flavor profiles from their hometowns, including a traditional coffee cocktail from Australia with coffee, vodka and Kahlua.
Don’t be afraid to alter your space completely.
“Total production and transformation,” says Andrea Eppolito, Owner of Andrea Eppolito Events, when emphasizing what’s required of a black-tie ceremony. “Go all out in creating the absolute perfect environment for you,” Eppoltio adds. Re-carpeting the ballroom, custom draping, and large build outs allow you to create an ultra-formal environment.
Elegantly tie-in your couple story.
“Our clients Rebecca and Josh met and fell in love over a series of formal balls while attending university in Oxford,” says Meredith Geffert, Co-owner of Gather Events. The pair wanted an intimate, formal style wedding in a beautiful, non-stuffy setting. “A marquee dripping with vines created an elegant backdrop for the classic royal blue, gold, rose-colored floral and décor, while the textured and lush English garden inspired flowers added romance and color to the classically laid table,” Geffert added.
Stick to a minimal color palette.
“A crisp black and white color palette creates the perfect contrast with a lush green outdoor setting,” says Angela Margolis, Co-Owner of Sterling Social. Mix your table types to include round dining tables with black velvet linens and rectangular feasting tables with fitted white linens. “Luxe tabletops can create a beautiful base for collections of black and gold vessels filled with feminine white florals,” Margolis adds. The overall aesthetic will be chic, modern elegance.
Consider amazing rooftop views.
If hosting outdoors, consider a rooftop with a backdrop with views that provide the perfect décor alternative. “The museum’s rooftop terrace provides an idyllic setting for outdoor ceremonies and black-tie receptions,” says Heather McCroskey, Director of Event Sales at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Opt for a venue with adjacent indoor space for dinner and dancing.
Lean towards a chic and classic bridal style.
“We chose a sleek, classic bun and glamorous but sophisticated neutral makeup which complemented her modern Kenneth Pool gown,” says Dani Wagener, Owner of Dani Wagener Beauty. When working with a black-tie event, consider glamour with the help of a classic chignon, neutral makeup and lots of lash.
Play off of the grandness of your venue.
“The centerpieces by Belle Fleur were comprised of six-foot-tall trumpet vases that held towering leafy Huck branches, which drew the eye up to the venue’s intricate ceilings,” says Jennifer Zabinski, Owner of Jennifer Zabinski Events. At the base of the arrangements were a mix of white and green bouquets, comprised of roses, ranunculus, mini calla lilies, freesia, and other beautiful blooms. “The metallic full-length linen added some glamour to the tablescape,” Zabinski adds when defining some of the details that helped bring the entire design together.
Encourage a formal wardrobe.
Having your guests dress in black-tie adds to the elevated look of your overall design. “This detail makes for a timeless collection of photographs!” emphasizes Ashley Sawtelle, Owner of Ashley Sawtelle. The difference in texture and textiles allowed this couple to express their personal style through formal tuxedos.
Consider upscale entertainment.
When it comes to black-tie entertainment, there are some important points to consider. “Remember, whoever is performing will have the most immediate influence over the mood of the room at that moment,” says Clay Johnson, Singer for The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra. “The planners and the designers may create the perfect atmosphere, but the voices and the sounds from the stage will either enhance or diminish from your original vision,” Johnson adds. For a black-tie event, not only do you want reliable and qualified musicians, but you want entertainment that will bring that “wow” factor into the equation.
Add sophistication and whimsy through details.
Black-tie weddings can suggest feelings of formality and procession. To avoid a stiff reception, incorporate food and drink details during the cocktail hour that suggest otherwise. “Even a simple yet playful cocktail adornment or garnish will encourage guests to be at ease and enjoy themselves,” suggests Denise Vu, Marketing Director of Occasions Caterers. “Naturally, the menu should match the event’s tone, but consider the presentation and guest interactions,” Vu adds, “remember that formal can also be fun.”
Remember the bigger picture of your day.
“I love the way a black-tie wedding photographs, not to mention, the affair just feels distinguished while you’re there,” says Laura Kleinhenz, owner of Docuvitae. “Months or years from the wedding, when you’re looking back at your photographs, black-tie events always have just that little something special that eludes description,” says Kleinhenz, emphasizing that trends come and go, but black-tie events never go out of style. The photographs look classy and timeless year after year.
Focus on romantic details.
When crafting your tablescape, consider a low-floral table in a compact style. “Small details make a difference,” says Melissa Davis, Owner of Melissa Davis Designs. Create sophistication and black-tie elegance with soft tones and romantic tabletop accents. “Flowers at eye level with elevated candles offer height and refinement to your table design,” Davis adds.
Choose a venue equipped for a black-tie celebration.
Whether you’re looking for beautiful wedding lawns, gorgeous grand ballrooms with stunning chandeliers, or event spaces ideal for all of your various black-tie and wedding festivities, it’s important to select a venue that can easily adapt to the formality of your celebration. “Find a location that’s a sought-after venue for sophisticated weddings,” says Laure Hitzig Clavette, Director of Catering at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort. “The couples’ vision is brought to life with flawless decor and entertainment, and customized menus created by the resort’s award-winning culinary team,” she adds.