Wedding Etiquette Forum
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White Tie or Black Tie

I've always wanted a fancy wedding and I know that white tie and black tie are both formal. I understand that white tie is more formal, but it could also be more expensive for my guests and/or harder for my guests to find things to wear. I'm having my wedding in Michigan, at the ballroom at City Flats Hotel. I'm wearing a ball gown and if I do white tie, do my bridesmaids have to wear long dresses? I'm a very classic and traditional person. I'm not positive this goes in etiquette, so if it doesn't, sorry

Re: White Tie or Black Tie

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    Black Tie and White Tie are terms to be taken very seriously when organizing such events.  A black tie affair is: live orchastra, plated multi-course meals with full china service, top shelf bar, valet service, etc.  It's high end stuff, and involves a ton of $$$$$. 

    Take that, magnify tenfold to get White Tie.  An event of that nature demands formal gowns.  It is not a cocktail party, it is a formal affair.  Your BMs would look very strange and out of place in short dresses.

    Don't make me mobilize OffensiveKitten

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    Ok, so "white tie" is THE MOST formal event a person an host.  The following description is taken right off blacktieguide.com:  "A white tie ensemble consists of a black dress coat with tails, matching black trousers with a satin stripe, a white stiff-fronted shirt, a white waistcoat and white bow tie and black patent leather shoes. The coat is cut so that it should not be buttoned when worn. It is acceptable to wear medals, sashes and other decorations for those with royal, political or military honors. Women are expected to wear floor-length evening gowns."
    Most people do not do white tie events anymore (expcetions are, of course, royal/political balls and other SUPER fancy events).  I'm not sure what kind of crowd you hang around with, but this MAY get expensive for your guests as most people don't own a tux with tails or a ballgown/floor length evening dress.  And yes, for true white tie your bridesmaids have to be in floor length dresses.  I think that a "black tie" wedding would still give you the formal feeling that you crave while allowing for a little breathing room for your guests and wedding party.  Your wedding would still be very beautiful if it were black tie.  (you also run the risk of none of your guests knowing what "white tie" means, and not dressing properly for it anyway.  Again, I don't know your crowd, but it's a possibility!) 
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    If you don't know the difference between white and black tie I don't think you should be having that formal of an event.  Like the others have said as little to do with the clothing and everything to do with how you host.

    You need live band, a DJ for when the live band is on break, multi-course meal, full premium open bar, valet parking, etc for black tie or white tie events.     







    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
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    QueerFemmeQueerFemme member
    First Anniversary First Answer 5 Love Its First Comment
    edited March 2013
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_white-tie-or-black-tie?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:c8c41160-6500-45af-a9f2-0a390bfcea80Post:3b183788-e802-4c5f-941a-b51fda5a397b">White Tie or Black Tie</a>:
    [QUOTE]I've always wanted a fancy wedding and I know that white tie and black tie are both formal. I understand that white tie is more formal, but it could also be more expensive for my guests and/or harder for my guests to find things to wear. I'm having my wedding in Michigan, at the ballroom at City Flats Hotel. I'm wearing a ball gown and if I do white tie, do my bridesmaids have to wear long dresses? I'm a very classic and traditional person. I'm not positive this goes in etiquette, so if it doesn't, sorry
    Posted by ParisianChocolate[/QUOTE]

    Black or white tie are very high end events that easily cost $60-90K to put on.  An average person doesn't normally have that level of formal attire unless they attend state dinners or balls on a regular basis.  White tie would mean your BMs as well as your female guests in formal gowns and a tuxedo for the men. It means a high end bar with top shelf liquor.  Gourmet passed appetizers for cocktail hour and a gourmet plated meal.  Valet car service as well.

    If you have the finances for this type of affair, and your guests wouldn't be off put by having to drop a few hundred bucks on a new gown or tuxedo, then it's fine to do. But, know your guests.  If your friends and family are sundress or cocktail dress type folks, then a white/black tie affair may not be their speed.  

    I would love to go to a white tie affair some day.  But, honestly, I wouldn't do it for a wedding unless all of my friends were dignitaries or something.  There are plenty of ways to make an event formal and tradntional without it costing you and your guests a small fortune.


    ETA:  my 60-90K is a low estimate for maybe 100 people and will vary widely by geographic region.
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_white-tie-or-black-tie?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:c8c41160-6500-45af-a9f2-0a390bfcea80Post:31c1ebd0-a849-4705-80d2-c7ab31fcd9d8">Re: White Tie or Black Tie</a>:
    [QUOTE]If you don't know the difference between white and black tie I don't think you should be having that formal of an event.  Like the others have said as little to do with the clothing and everything to do with how you host. You need live band, a DJ for when the live band is on break, multi-course meal, full premium open bar, valet parking, etc for black tie or white tie events.     
    Posted by lyndausvi[/QUOTE]


    This. It doesn't sound like you are prepared to host such an event if you aren't sure what they entail.
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
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    White tie affairs are what the President hosts when the Queen of England or some other head of State is in attendance.  White tie is way out of the wedding league.

    White tie is for Affairs of State.  As Pele stated, black tie calls for an orchestra, plated meals, top shelf bar, etc.  Are you having those things at your wedding?  Do your guests run in a black tie crowd?  Do they own tuxes and ballgowns?  Will your desire to have a black tie wedding cause your guests to buy expensive formal wear that they normally do not wear?  We don't run in a black tie crowd and I would decline an invitation to a black tie wedding due to the cost of the required clothing.  Keep that in mind when you are making these kinds of decisions.

    Formal White Tie Dress Code

    “White Tie” is the most formal of all dress codes and it is usually associated with royal affairs and presidential meetings. White Tie affairs will make Black Tie Attire appear casual. In a nutshell, white tie consists of a black or midnight blue tailcoat jacket, a waistcoat, a wing-tip collar dress shirt, and a white bow tie. To learn more on each clothing item pleases read on below."

     

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    OP I think what you are thinking of is what some call black tie optional where men can wear suits or tuxedos and the women wear cocktail dresses or floor lenght gowns. This is not a black tie event even though people use the term black tie in describing it and is just a formal wedding. Even at this type of event I would have the bridal party in floor lenght dresses. 
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    You can have a perfectly fancy, lovely, traditional wedding without it having to be a 'black-tie' affair, OP. But if you and your guests have the money for it, go for it.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_white-tie-or-black-tie?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:c8c41160-6500-45af-a9f2-0a390bfcea80Post:fe45cb3e-c160-4b2f-b03c-ca6ba68c557e">Re: White Tie or Black Tie</a>:
    [QUOTE]OP I think what you are thinking of is what some call black tie optional where men can wear suits or tuxedos and the women wear cocktail dresses or floor lenght gowns. This is not a black tie event even though people use the term black tie in describing it and is just a formal wedding. Even at this type of event I would have the bridal party in floor lenght dresses. 
    Posted by PrincessBride2016[/QUOTE]

    There is no such thing as "black tie optional". Something is either black tie or it isn't. And if it's not, a tux (or "black tie attire" is always optional).
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_white-tie-or-black-tie?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:c8c41160-6500-45af-a9f2-0a390bfcea80Post:41117852-817b-41a6-841f-cd9bc6cfd703">Re:White Tie or Black Tie</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re:White Tie or Black Tie: The only "breathing room" for guests in attire between white tie and black tie is they type of tux and slightly less elaborate full length gowns. BMs and female guests would still need full length gowns, they just wouldn't have to be full out ball gowns.
    Posted by StageManager14[/QUOTE]

    Yes, but I was thinking it would probably be easier for guests to come across a floor-length dress and a more contemporary tux than it would be for them to get a ball gown and tails.  Now, of course, if her crowd isn't formal in the first place, either option would be difficult.  If they are, black tie would be the way to go. Of course, you could always go black tie optional.  That confuses EVERYONE!  (Hehe - I joke!)
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    hoffsehoffse member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Answer Name Dropper
    edited March 2013
    OP, don't do either.  Seriously.  If I get an invitation that says black tie, I expect a full band - either orchestral or jazz with a multi-piece brass section (these are $$$$ in case you don't know), a multi-course plated dinner that tastes delicious, top-shelf liquor, waiters with white gloves,  and I would absolutely expect it the bridesmaids to be in floor length gowns, and all the men should be in tuxes.

    White tie almost never occurs in the US except for state dinners.  You are having a wedding, not a state dinner.  If your invitation said white tie, I would expect somebody well-known to be providing entertainment (ie: you know how Beyonce sings for Obama? Maybe not Beyonce, but I would expect to have heard of them), a gourmet dinner that is at least 5-7 courses with paired wines being prepared by a chef, all the men in tails, and the women in incredibly formal gowns, perhaps with gloves.  I would expect pearls, diamonds, etc. to be in abundance among the guests' accessories.  I would expect incredibly expensive and formal centerpieces.

    Both options, in other words, are a complete and total waste of money for an event you are paying for yourself that lasts 1 evening.  Obama's (second) inaugural ball (which I find redundant, but that's another thing entirely) cost about $45 million for the party itself.  Obviously there were far more guests than you would have, but still.  That's white tie.  Black tie will likely run you upwards of $90K like PP mentioned.  Personally, I would rather take half of that and buy a house, take $10K and go on a kickass honeymoon, save another $10K, and then spend the remainder on a swanky, but non-black tie, affair.  But that's just me.

    EDIT: to provide additional examples of how ridiculous this would be.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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    Actually the Inaugural Balls aren't White Tie... they're black tie and actually wouldn't meet TK ettiquette standards (cash bar and all they served was chex mix and cheezits, not joking). Still fun though!
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    edited March 2013
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_white-tie-or-black-tie?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:c8c41160-6500-45af-a9f2-0a390bfcea80Post:a6621b13-6db7-4d3b-b5fc-e2a638fe7286">Re: White Tie or Black Tie</a>:
    [QUOTE]Actually the Inaugural Balls aren't White Tie... they're black tie and actually wouldn't meet TK ettiquette standards (cash bar and all they served was chex mix and cheezits, not joking). Still fun though!
    Posted by classyashley918[/QUOTE]


    ETA to have an actual question:<div>
    <div>Then why are all the pictures including white ties?  I don't think people would break out the outfits for cheezits.</div></div>
    Don't make me mobilize OffensiveKitten

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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_white-tie-or-black-tie?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:c8c41160-6500-45af-a9f2-0a390bfcea80Post:2469ab0a-1cd3-4942-bcfb-60ee57884f20">Re:White Tie or Black Tie</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re:White Tie or Black Tie: My bad, I meant State Dinner. I completely misspoke and I apologize. You are correct.
    Posted by StageManager14[/QUOTE]

    Haha, no worries, I didn't mean to "call you out" just that the balls aren't what people think. I definitely had the impression that the party would be much more than it was before we went. I can still say I got to go so I guess that's something, but yea, not all it's cracked up to be.
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    I think I am having what would be considered the level "Black Tie" (elaborate cocktail hour with musicians, 5 course seated meal, top shelf bar, valet, 10 piece band with brass section). Originally, I wanted to have a "Black Tie" wedding but, unfortunately, it would be an imposition for some guests and after reading this board I decided against it.  When people ask about attire I just say whatever they are most comfortable in, cocktail dress or gown.  It's totally your call and you know your guests best but I wouldn't want to burden them with purchasing a formal gown or renting a tux.  If this is their normal attire then by all means go for it :)!
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_white-tie-or-black-tie?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:c8c41160-6500-45af-a9f2-0a390bfcea80Post:483b264f-cfc9-48bc-94c5-6cfdb6bedfa5">Re: White Tie or Black Tie</a>:
    [QUOTE]I think I am having what would be considered the level "Black Tie" (elaborate cocktail hour with musicians, 5 course seated meal, top shelf bar, valet, 10 piece band with brass section). Originally, I wanted to have a "Black Tie" wedding but, unfortunately, it would be an imposition for some guests and after reading this board I decided against it.  When people ask about attire I just say whatever they are most comfortable in, cocktail dress or gown.  It's totally your call and you know your guests best but I wouldn't want to burden them with purchasing a formal gown or renting a tux.  If this is their normal attire then by all means go for it :)!
    Posted by NYCBride2013[/QUOTE]

    <div>Good for you for having black tie service without requiring the attire! That's awesome. (Can I come to your wedding? It sounds fun, lol)</div>
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_white-tie-or-black-tie?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:c8c41160-6500-45af-a9f2-0a390bfcea80Post:95e723ef-9a83-4b4c-81ba-5736a2ceea2d">Re: White Tie or Black Tie</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: White Tie or Black Tie : Good for you for having black tie service without requiring the attire! That's awesome. (Can I come to your wedding? It sounds fun, lol)
    Posted by artbyallie[/QUOTE]

    <div>I was thinking the same thing. I've seen at least a few posters want a "black tie" event just so the pictures look nice. Seriously, good for you.</div>
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_white-tie-or-black-tie?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:c8c41160-6500-45af-a9f2-0a390bfcea80Post:4d9011d5-b0c6-4788-ad96-c252eb13116d">Re: White Tie or Black Tie</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: White Tie or Black Tie : ETA to have an actual question: Then why are all the pictures including white ties?  I don't think people would break out the outfits for cheezits.
    Posted by Peledreamsofrain[/QUOTE]

    The pictures in this link are rather amusing. You can see people standing in atrocious drink tickets lines in really formal attire.

    <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/zekejmiller/obama-serves-cheez-itz-at-inaugural-ball" rel="nofollow">http://www.buzzfeed.com/zekejmiller/obama-serves-cheez-itz-at-inaugural-ball</a>
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    I've attended a bunch of black tie events over the years, and I attended my first white tie event last winter! Obviously, everything everyone has already said rings true. The only thing is that...well, TBTH, the white tie event didn't LOOK all that different from a black tie event. The service was basically the same. The real change was that women did not even pretend they could get away with short dresses. It was ballgowns or bust! This was probably difficult for some out-of-towners, but the ones in my group seemed fine. Also, it wasn't a wedding.

    I've also been to a wedding in Michigan. It was formal, but not black tie. The bride still wore a ginormous ballgown and her MOH wore a long dress, but her mom wore a short dress (as did most of the women), and the guys just wore suits (save for her husband, who wore a velvet smoking jacket). As someone who had to travel, I can assure you that I loved only having to pack a short dress!

    I'd avoid calling your wedding black or white tie in this case because it seems as though you view it as a dress code--which, yes, it is, to an extent. But it's more than that. If your circle isn't used to it, they'll be frustrated, too, and that's not fun. Of course, if you want (and are financially able) to go all-out and your guests are equally as enthused and financially able, go for black tie. That's more commonly understood. 
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    msuprincess04msuprincess04 member
    5 Love Its First Answer Name Dropper First Comment
    edited March 2013
    We had to recently turn down an invite to a white tie event. Between the costs of renting attire, a new gown, plane tickets, the 400/nt room, it was just too much. They are lovely events. But as everyone has said. Know your crowd. You can have an appropriately formal wedding without dictating attire.
    "There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness." -Friedrich Nietzsche, "On Reading and Writing"
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_white-tie-or-black-tie?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:c8c41160-6500-45af-a9f2-0a390bfcea80Post:95e723ef-9a83-4b4c-81ba-5736a2ceea2d">Re: White Tie or Black Tie</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: White Tie or Black Tie : Good for you for having black tie service without requiring the attire! That's awesome. (Can I come to your wedding? It sounds fun, lol)
    Posted by artbyallie[/QUOTE]

    Haha!  I hope it is fun!   Thanks Like I said, I just want guests to be comfortable and it was based on the advice I got here so thank you ladies!!
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_white-tie-or-black-tie?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:c8c41160-6500-45af-a9f2-0a390bfcea80Post:3b183788-e802-4c5f-941a-b51fda5a397b">White Tie or Black Tie</a>:
    [QUOTE]I've always wanted a fancy wedding and I know that white tie and black tie are both formal. I understand that white tie is more formal, but it could also be more expensive for my guests and/or harder for my guests to find things to wear. I'm having my wedding in Michigan, at the ballroom at City Flats Hotel. I'm wearing a ball gown and <strong>if I do white tie, do my bridesmaids have to wear long dresses?</strong> I'm a very classic and traditional person. I'm not positive this goes in etiquette, so if it doesn't, sorry
    Posted by ParisianChocolate[/QUOTE]

    <div>I feel like that right there shows that you do not in fact want a white tie or even black tie wedding.  If you're guests are expected to follow certain dress codes, why would your bridal party be exempt?  </div>
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    KatWAGKatWAG member
    First Anniversary First Answer First Comment 5 Love Its
    edited March 2013
    I had a black tie wedding. If you are going to ask your guests to get dressed up to the nines you better be prepare to host them to that way also.

    Everyone has covered the fact that you will need 5 star food, band, valet and a full top shelf bar. But you will also need to consider your paper. Invites (with calligraphy, inner envelopes, etc) STDs, menu cards, programs, place cards etc. And I would except the flowers to be rather impressive.
    BabyFruit Ticker
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    To use the classic line, if you have to ask,  you can't afford it. In this case, if you have to ask, you will not pull it off. Listen to all of the above. If you don't know if your girls can wear short dresses to a true black tie wedding, all you will end up doing is looking pretentious and sort of ignorant at your own wedding when it clearly does not meet the definition of black tie.

    Dreaming of our Hawaiian honeymoon! Wedding Countdown Ticker
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_white-tie-or-black-tie?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:c8c41160-6500-45af-a9f2-0a390bfcea80Post:0d04fb55-ba6b-4138-a5b2-456e9b5648bd">Re: White Tie or Black Tie</a>:
    [QUOTE]If you must have a formal wedding, make it black tie.  You will look silly if you try and do a white tie wedding in Michigan. Personally, I think semi-formal weddings with men wearing dark suits are just lovely, and the guests are more at ease.  You will have many send regrets if they have to rent a tux to go to your wedding.
    Posted by CMGr[/QUOTE]

    Just out of curiosity - why would a white tie wedding in Michigan look silly compared to anywhere else? I agree that semi-formal weddings are definitely the way to go because they're both beautiful and more appropriate for most guests, but is there something about Michigan compared to the rest of the states that I don't know?
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_white-tie-or-black-tie?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:c8c41160-6500-45af-a9f2-0a390bfcea80Post:f50305c1-2030-4f5a-8f6d-de5ddb9d0ae5">Re: White Tie or Black Tie</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: White Tie or Black Tie : White tie events are almost never held anywhere in the USA, except possibly New York City or Washington, DC - at least not since WW II.  Michigan is not much different from Iowa, where I was born, or Colorado, where I live now.  While there are occasionally black tie events, I have never heard of a white tie event in these parts.  (My grandfather had a tailcoat.  He was an orchestra conductor.)
    Posted by CMGr[/QUOTE]

    Oh, haha!  I thought from your post that you were just singling out Michigan so I was curious.  On a side note, my family is from Iowa, also!
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    HuckSCHuckSC member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Comment Name Dropper
    edited March 2013
    Well I'm going to through a kink in this and say there are many white tie events held in South Carolina.

    Debutante balls are almost always white tie. And the local men's club has their annual white tie ball to welcome that year's new members.

    It comes back to do you run in a crowd with black & white tie events? Have you ever been invited to one? Does anyone in your family know the first thing about hosting one? If you answered no to any of these questions, you probably shouldn't host one.

    ETA: When I think of black tie it is long gown. White tie: gloves, up to the elbow!
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