Post # 1
We’ve been invited to a wedding where "black tie" was specified on the reception card. Thing is, the wedding is at 3 and the reception starts at 5. To me, black tie means tuxes and long gowns, but it seems a little strange to be wearing something so formal so early in the day.
I don’t want to insult the bride by asking her if she really wants black tie because obviously if she didn’t, she wouldn’t have put it on the invitation. But I don’t want to be overdressed either, especially since many of the guests won’t care as much as I do about doing the right thing.
What to do/wear?
PS — does black tie only mean a long gown? Because I would much rather wear a more formal cocktail dress!
Post # 3
My thought is her reception is kind of during a gray area. A 5 pm reception sounds more eveningish to me, than afternoon. It will probably last 5-6 hours. That brings you well into the evening. Since there is time between ceremony and reception, could you have a slightly less formal outfit for the church?
I can understand questioning a little. After all, you don’t want your husband to be the only one dressed like a groomsman. You said that others wouldn’t be following this black tie dress code. So if that is true, I would think it would be OK to wear the typical suit, nice dress thing. Maybe she’s used to pretty casual wedding receptions. And put black tie on there in an atempt to get the guests to kick it up a little. If worse comes to worse, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask the bride. Say something like, "I’m not used to black tie reception, so I thought I’d double check with you. I’d hate to come dressed inappropriately."
Post # 4
Our wedding ceremony was at 2:30 in the afternoon (reception at 6) and we requested guests wear black tie. The majority of women did wear long gowns, although a few wore cocktail dresses and looked perfectly fine. Most men wore a black suit. A few went all out and wore tuxedos.
Post # 5
Black tie means a tuxedo for the men and an evening gown, or cocktail dress for the ladies.
I’ve read that "black tie optinal" is really a misnomer, as if it were optional, it means one of the accepted attire choices is a tuxedo, but everything else is acceptable as well.
I think most people look past the "literalness" of black tie optional, and know that either a tux or a dark suit is appropriate for women.
Since your friend did not specify the "optional" part I’d take her at her word that she wants her guests dressed up. If you have a problem with a full-length dress that early in the day (trust me, I would too) I’d look for a dressy cocktail dress.
Post # 6
either a tux or a dark suit is appropriate for *men*. Erm.
Or women. However you roll really. It is afterall, 2009.
Post # 7
Thanks for your responses, gals.
@Tanya: changing after the ceremony and before the wedding would be ideal, but since it’s a full mass, I don’t think there’s time to attend the ceremony, get back to the hotel, change, then get to the reception. I just think that others won’t be following this dress code because we’re the first generation to get married out of our college friends, and they’re just not of the "black tie" mindset. I sure hope she’s not used to pretty casual weddings, because the last wedding she went to was mine. =) Then again, you never know.
@snmcdowell, carrieitly: So based on what you’re saying, a dressy cocktail dress would be okay for me, but I’m getting mixed messages on what he should be wearing. Snmcdowell, by specifying black tie, did you assume that all men would be wearing tuxes? You just say that some went "all out" by wearing tuxes, so I’m just trying to figure out what you expected by specifically asking for black tie.
In the end, I think I’m going to have to ask her. I’ll play it like I want to confirm what black tie is like Tanya suggested. If she does want tuxes, I’m going to have to ask her where to rent one from anyway (since it’s Out of Town for us). Argh, not fun.
Post # 8
Ugg. I hope it works out for you. That is the problem with insisting on black tie. If they really want you to wear a tux, it becomes inconvenient and expensive. Most guys have a suit they can just wear. But having to get a tux… Good luck.
Post # 9
Shout out to Tanya for suggesting I ask. Apparently she means black tie in the strictest degree — tea to full length gown for me, tux for him. Since the only dress I own that meets that criteria is my wedding dress, which I don’t think is kosher to wear, I get to go dress shopping.
Post # 10
Wow! Good thing you asked her! I guess she will be spreading the word to everyone that she REALLY means black tie (with tuxes!)… I am sure there will be a few that don’t get tuxes or gowns, but at least you have a heads up as to what is expected and what most will be wearing!
Post # 11
that’s crazy! even in NYC people wear cocktail dresses to black tie weddings. oh well at least you get to go shopping!
Post # 12
Hi Rebecca, glad to help! I LOVE formal affairs and I wanted ours to be as formal as possible, just because I think it looks so great. In an ideal world, it would have been awesome if every man had worn a tux (I was dreaming of awesome old school photos with our stylish guys!), but I knew going in that some of our guests would not (due to budget or comfort). We actually got a bunch of guests who were angry that we asked for formal attire, so when a couple of guys did wear their tuxes I thought they looked great and it made me really happy. On the other hand, I was not upset or offended at all that most guys wore dark suits.
So – if your guy does wear a tux, I bet it will really please the hosts. But if he just wears a dark suit, he’ll probably blend in just fine and won’t necessarily offend anyone.
Post # 13
snmcdowell, I am right there with you! I would love for every single attendee to my wedding to wear a tux and a full gown. However, I’m aware that’s probably asking a lot and is not realistic, so I’d be fine with them wearing a nice cocktail dress or a dark suit.