Black tie for destination wedding?

posted 6 months ago in Destination Weddings
Post # 2
4705 posts
Honey bee

Black tie isn’t just a dress code; it requires a certain level of event (e.g. engraved invitations, white glove service, passed hors d’oeuvres, multi-course plated dinner, 10-piece band, valet parking, extensive flowers, and so on). They are also exclusively evening weddings. Are you planning to host a destination wedding at that level?

Regardless, I wouldn’t make my guests suffer through the heat in black tie. 

Post # 4
858 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2022

View original reply
@shotbwee2: personally i would not do that if i were you … if you’re doing destination wedding i would try to make it as easy, comfortable, and affordable for guests and doing black tie does not accomplish that.

Post # 5
724 posts
Busy bee

If I was invited to a black tie destination wedding, I’d be super worried about how I was going to get the wrinkles out of the formal gown I’d be looking to wear. While that’s usually a no-brainer for the wedding party, it might be a huge burden on your guests. 

Post # 6
2318 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: March 2019

Agree with the PP to do your research on what black tie means in regards to you hosting the event, not just what the guests wear. If you are going somewhere tropical/warm, Black Tie would be a pain to wear/travel with. But if you are getting married in a really nice location and want to thow a really nice party, and have plenty of air conditioning, then go for it. 

Post # 7
4796 posts
Honey bee

I find it odd that weather is being cited as the major inconvenience in this case.  People all around the world hold black tie events in all kinds of weather.  But black tie isn’t just a dress code – it’s a level of formality for the event you are throwing (evening affair, valet service, butlered hors d’oeurves, formal multi-course dinner, multi-piece band and so on and so forth).

So if you are throwing a gala event that lives up to the expectation of black tie, then the corresponding dress code for that really shouldn’t come as surprise to your guests.  Additionally, you as the host should be hosting it in an appropriate setting where they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable in that clothing, i.e. an air conditioned or appropriate climate controlled ballroom rather than outside if outside would be too uncomfortable for that type of event and the clothing that is appropriate for it.

I would be far more concerned about the convenience of bringing tuxes and gowns to a destination wedding than I would be the outside temperature (although I guess temp may play a role if you’re throwing a more casual outdoor affair, but then tuxes and gowns wouldn’t be appropriate for that kind of event anyway).  And also the costs associated with being a guest at a black tie event above and beyond their travel costs, which quite frankly is already a big ask in most circumstances.

The questions I would be asking instead of dressing up when it’s 80 degrees:

Are my guests familiar with black tie events?  Do they routinely attend them?  Will my guests potentially feel overwhelmed or out of place with that level of formality? (I know we all would like to think that being able to experience black tie will make people feel special, but there’s also a good chance it might make them feel awkward or out of place, depending on the types of events are usual in their social circle).

Do they own tuxes and gowns already?  If so, does the addition of having to bring these items mean potentially checked bags, or needing ways to launder/steam/press once they get to the destination, or other inconveniences?

If they don’t own tuxes and gowns already, is having to rent and or purchase tuxes, gowns, and the appropriate shoes and accessories convenient and affordable for them?  Keeping in mind that this is on top of their travel and accommodation costs?!?  Is there a place to rent tuxes at the destination or will they need to pay additional fees if your destination wedding means they’ll be gone longer than the traditional rental window?


Personally, I think weather/temperature, is the least of your concerns when making this decision.

Post # 8
1941 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2020

When I think of destination wedding, I think of a cheap, beachy location with pina coladas and flip flops. 

Asking guests to transport black tie attire, presumably on a plane, is a big ask.

Post # 9
535 posts
Busy bee

View original reply
@shotbwee2:  As many bees on here have said, black tie is not about a dress code. It is the level of formality of the event. Meaning valet parking, passed champagne and Hors d’oeuvre, live band, full open bar with premium level liquors, etc. If you plan to host an actual black tie level formal event at this destination wedding, I would say it may be okay. If your event will not be to the nines, then your guests do not need to dress that way. 

Then if you do truly plan and pay for a black tie level evening affair, only you know your audience. Do the people in your circle have ball gowns and tuxedos? Or will they have to purchase them or rent them? A destination wedding is already incredibly expensive for your guests – I would be hesitant of making them pay hundreds for proper attire on top of their already purchased plane tickets, hotels and other travel costs. As another PP said, for those renting tuxedos, they’d have to pay for a longer rental fee or find a place to rent in your destination. As a guest, I would feel like it’s a whole lot of work. It’s already a lot of work for people to make it to a destination wedding dressed in cocktail attire, yet alone adding another level to their dress code. However, if you are actually planning a 100K+ black tie wedding, then they should be dressed appropriately. 

Post # 10
6354 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2016

View original reply
@shotbwee2:  So I had a destination wedding and a formal event was never something we even considered. Destination weddings are expensive for guests anyway, so add in all the costs associated with a black tie event and I just feel like that really really putting an additional strain on your guests. And then the hassle of figuring stuff out on an island they don’t know…do they have to have their outfits pressed/steamed? Hair and makeup done? Where would they be staying? If you’re planning on doing this all at a resort or something I would assume it’s 5-star to match the black tie atmostphere which means $$$ for your guests to shell out just to attend the wedding itself. 

Post # 11
8450 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

View original reply
@shotbwee2:  I agree that this is not so much a matter of the temperature (since a black tie event would obviously have appropriate climate control), but rather whether it’s going to be a pain in the ass to your guests. For examle, are they all extremely wealthy and used to flying off the various destinations all the time with “people” who handle transporting, steaming, etc their gowns and tuxes? Do they usually rent accommodations large enough to conveniently store formal outfits and get ready for a black tie affair? Or are they “normal” people who would have to pack everything themselves, trying to fit it all into a commercial airline’s baggage restrictions, lug it through the airports, and then have to use the hotel iron and ironing board to try to make the outfits presentable while not getting makeup, hair product, toothpaste, etc on them while navigating a standard hotel room? And is all of this going to be a fun way to spend their vacation budget and limited time off work, or is it going to be stressful for them?

imo, for regular middle-class people, a destination wedding is already a huge imposition. I would love a local black tie wedding, but my own kids are the only people that I would attend a black tie Destination Wedding for. And then, only if I had the money and vacation time to be able to. I would not go into debt or risk my job for a party, even my kids’. Choices have consequences.

Post # 12
237 posts
Helper bee

I attended a destination (for us) wedding in the Caribbean, and it was a black tie affair. As a guest, I did initially have a bit of apprehension (mainly due to the heat of 90+ degrees and transporting our outfits), but it worked out.

I packed my gown as best I could and hoped for the best, haha. Fortunately, the hotel had press/steaming services, so it was fine! Also, all the events were hosted in-doors so the heat wasn’t an issue. I wasn’t able to get my makeup or hair professionally done, though, and that was a minus considering the level of formality.

The actual wedding was very lovely overall, and I enjoyed it. I will say, though, out of the 250 people in attendance, about 50-60 (mainly out of town people) ignored the dress code and wore more casual attire. They definitely stuck out like a sore thumb, but I’m guessing they made that decision due to the high price of traveling to a destination wedding.

Post # 13
8009 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

What is it about a black tie wedding that appeals to you? Do you want to host a super-elegant, super-formal, super-expensive event or do you just like the idea of people in tuxedos and gowns? Do most of your friends and family members already own tuxedos and gowns? If not, how long can a man even rent a tuxedo to take on a destination wedding? Do you plan to host this at a luxury resort with sufficient services available to guests who have had to fly with their formal wear and may want to have their hair done, etc.? 

A destination wedding is already an imposition upon your guests, requiring them to spend a lot of money and, even more challenging for many younger people, use limited vacation time. Not everyone can afford or will choose your wedding as their only vacation of the year, even in a beautiful location. 

ETA: My wedding to my ex met all the criteria for a black-tie wedding and we still didn’t label it black-tie because we cared more about taking great care of our guests than we did labels or how our photos looked. 

Post # 14
1034 posts
Bumble bee

Destination weddings are already a pretty huge financial burden for your guests, so I wouldn’t add the cost and inconvenience of an expensive gown/tux on top of it (as well as professional hair and makeup for those of us that can’t do formal lol)


Post # 15
7917 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 1997

I’m sure you realize that a destination wedding will significantly reduce your guest list. It is likely that a black tie affair might reduce it further, especially if your families/friends are not accustomed to attending formal affairs. It takes a lot of planning to host a black tie event, especially from a distance, but if you are up to hosting properly and formal events are not unfamiliar to your guest list, I think it is more doable than it otherwise would be.

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