• Images
  • Text
  • Find a Couple + Registry
GO
Etiquette

Black Tie Optional?

So my mother thinks that my wedding should be black tie optional.  I'm not opposed to it, as I'm hosting a formal affair that would meet the criteria, but I'm afraid of rubbing my guests the wrong way.  With the exception of a select few, I can't think of many guests that would show up under dressed regardless of whether the invitation mentioned black tie or not.  I'm usually pretty good with wedding etiquette, but in this case I'm at a bit of a loss.  Am I over thinking this?  Any thoughts?
Wedding Countdown Ticker

Re: Black Tie Optional?

  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited September 2013
    I think that an event is either black tie or it isn't.  The whole black tie optional thing is dumb and is just a way to try and tell guests how to dress.

    So unless your event is truly black tie, meaning high end everything, with top, top shelf open bar, band, gloved food service, the works, then do not state anything about attire.

    And like you said, there are a few guests you already know of that despite whatever you write on your invite will show up dressed how they want anyways, black tie or not.

    PrettyGirlLostmelbelleup
  • In general, any formal evening affair presents the option to wear a tux/gown, so I tend to think the designation is unnecessary. I'm not terribly offended by it, and it does help a gentleman who may want to wear a tux, but doesn't want to upstage the groom, but that can also be accomplished by word of mouth- people interested will ask what they should wear, and you can always answer with "whatever you'd like, the moms are wearing long gowns and the dudes will be in tuxes."
    PrettyGirlLost[Deleted User]
  • NYCMercedesNYCMercedes BOS, NYC, DC. Forever a city girl member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    @maggie0829 is right. It is or it isn't. You either put black tie on your invitations, with the understanding that your event truly is black tie, or you leave it off completely. A few men may wear a dark suit instead, but expect to see all the ladies in long gowns.
    PrettyGirlLostmelbelleup[Deleted User]
  • I think that's exactly what's rubbing me the wrong way about the whole thing.  It is or it isn't...because black tie is always an option when you attend an evening wedding, so why write that it's optional?

    As for going full on black tie, we definitely meet the criteria (Saturday evening wedding, gloved service, top shelf open bar, full plated meal, etc...although FI wanted a DJ instead of a band so we're having instruments play along with the DJ as a compromise and I'm not sure what category that falls into!).  I'm just not sure I want to require all the men to wear a tux and all the women to wear long gowns.  I might just have to override mommy dearest in this case!  Thanks, ladies!
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    @Belle2188 - I think you should override your Mom on this one.  Guests comfort should come first and unless you know that your group of guests go to black tie events often and have the required wardrobe for such events, having a black tie wedding could be seen as kind of rude.  I know I would have to buy a gown for such an event and my H would have to rent a tux.  That is a lot of extra money to have to spend, plus a gift, just to attend your wedding.  KWIM?

    PrettyGirlLostKeptInStitchesmelbelleup
  • @Maggie0829 - I don't think that my friends would really be put out or bothered by it much (some have the attire, some don't), but I definitely tend to agree with you because I'm bothered by the possibility of their having to go out of their way.  If mom won't budge, I think I'm more likely to go with black tie optional (albeit a stupid concept) than full black tie, but I think my intent is to put the kibosh on the whole thing.  Truthfully the only people that would even dream of coming to my wedding dressed like they're homeless are my mother's extended family, who I'm only inviting as a courtesy to her anyway...we'll just sit them in the back!
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    PrettyGirlLostKeptInStitches
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    @Belle2188 - I think you should override your Mom on this one.  Guests comfort should come first and unless you know that your group of guests go to black tie events often and have the required wardrobe for such events, having a black tie wedding could be seen as kind of rude.  I know I would have to buy a gown for such an event and my H would have to rent a tux.  That is a lot of extra money to have to spend, plus a gift, just to attend your wedding.  KWIM?
    I'm with Maggie on this one.  If I had to buy a formal gown, which I'd probably never wear again, just to attend your wedding and FI had to also rent a tux, just to attend the wedding, we'd probably decline.

    That's just a bit pricey on top of a gift, and personally I'd feel awful showing up to your wedding w/o a gift.  I'm not opposed to getting all dolled up- I love it!  But I'm not really a full length gown kinda gal.  I have several perfectly acceptable and very dressy/fancy knee-length dresses in my closet though, but if the invitation said Black Tie on it I wouldn't feel comfortable wearing them.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • Just echoing pp's. The problem with black tie optional is that most people would likely show up in cocktail attire.

    Whereas for black tie optional, my DH would wear a black three-piece suit, and I'd wear a floor length gown. I'd bet we'd be incredibly overdressed...that's the awkward part.

  • Whether or not you, personally, would attend, having a real black tie event is in no way rude, not even a little bit, not even kind of.
    tammym1001
  • grumbledoregrumbledore member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    edited September 2013
    The only time to use the words "black tie" on a wedding invitation is when the wedding is an actual black tie affair.  

    The only other time you can tell your guests what to wear to your wedding is if the venue has a dress code.

    Black Tie Optional is just a sneaky way of telling your guests that you want them to dress up for your wedding.  Don't do it.  Most people dress up anyway, and those who don't never will.

    (ETA:  I read the rest of the thread.  I think you should definitely just tell her no.  The formality of the invitation will clue your guests in to what they should expect, and if you have a website you can put more details about the venue etc there and the people who will get it will get it.  Those who don't never will.)
    Belle2188 said:
    So my mother thinks that my wedding should be black tie optional.  I'm not opposed to it, as I'm hosting a formal affair that would meet the criteria, but I'm afraid of rubbing my guests the wrong way.  With the exception of a select few, I can't think of many guests that would show up under dressed regardless of whether the invitation mentioned black tie or not.  I'm usually pretty good with wedding etiquette, but in this case I'm at a bit of a loss.  Am I over thinking this?  Any thoughts?


    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    PrettyGirlLost
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Whether or not you, personally, would attend, having a real black tie event is in no way rude, not even a little bit, not even kind of.
    I was not saying that having a black tie event is rude, because it isn't, but if your guests list is made up of 90% of individuals who have never gone to a black tie event thus not having the proper attire, it could be seen as rude by your guests because that means they would have to purchase a special outfit just for your event.  You have to take your guests into consideration when planning your event.

    But most times when a couple has a truly black tie wedding then they are from an area and a social group that is used to and accustomed to those types of events. 

    PrettyGirlLost
  • "Black tie optional" is confusing. In the last several years, I've noticed that B&Gs use the term when they want people to dress up more than they normally would. It kind of leaves guests in a state of flux. Whenever I get an invitation with "Black tie optional" I don't wear a gown because only a handful of people will be actually wearing black tie. Never fails. When people write "Black tie" there's no question and I'll dress to black tie - so does everyone else.

    It's either black tie or it's not. If you want to indicate that, you can but I'd leave out the "optional".
    *********************************************************************************

    image
    simplykaylaPrettyGirlLost
  • Whether or not you, personally, would attend, having a real black tie event is in no way rude, not even a little bit, not even kind of.
    I was not saying that having a black tie event is rude, because it isn't, but if your guests list is made up of 90% of individuals who have never gone to a black tie event thus not having the proper attire, it could be seen as rude by your guests because that means they would have to purchase a special outfit just for your event.  You have to take your guests into consideration when planning your event.

    But most times when a couple has a truly black tie wedding then they are from an area and a social group that is used to and accustomed to those types of events. 
    Ditto Maggie.  It is a know your crowd thing.  We do NOT go to black tie galas, don't belong to any service organizations that hold galas and I don't own any gowns except the 17 year old wedding gown in the back of my closet and that doesn't fit anymore, anyway...

    It is certainly not rude to host a black tie event.  However, if you have a large number of people who don't own gowns and tuxes I think it would result in a higher number of declines.  We would decline just on the principal of the cost of the clothes!  My BIL and SIL DO attend black tie functions a few times a year and wouldn't bat an eyelash.  Know your crowd.
    PrettyGirlLost
  • Yeah, I'd skip the "black tie optional"
    *** Fairy Tales Do Come True *** Wedding Countdown Ticker
    PrettyGirlLost
  • I'd figure out exactly what you want--either a black tie event or not.  If it's a venue/event appropriate for black tie, and that's what you really want, then go for it!  Just clearly specify that it's black tie so someone doesn't show up in a sundress because they didn't know.

    If you're on the fence, go for cocktail attire.  Maybe add a line on your wedding website about attire that says "Cocktail attire."  Then people are aware that it's dressy but not black tie dressy.

    "Optional" is going to make for a mix of attires.  Just pick--one way or the other.
  • If your family & friends are in a social circle where having a tux for the men and formal gowns for the women is  a normal thing, go for it. With my family and friends, it would mean all the men going and buying & renting a tux and for the women buying dresses they won't ever wear again. For many it's way out of their budgets, so they would have not came to our wedding. I think it's a matter of how formal do you want things to get and what your friends/family are use to.
  • SAHoehle said:
    I'd figure out exactly what you want--either a black tie event or not.  If it's a venue/event appropriate for black tie, and that's what you really want, then go for it!  Just clearly specify that it's black tie so someone doesn't show up in a sundress because they didn't know.

    If you're on the fence, go for cocktail attire.  Maybe add a line on your wedding website about attire that says "Cocktail attire."  Then people are aware that it's dressy but not black tie dressy.

    "Optional" is going to make for a mix of attires.  Just pick--one way or the other.
    Nope.  It is rude rude rude to tell your guests what to wear unless you event is white or black tie, or your venue has an actual dress code.

    OP do not take this advice, it is not polite.

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    CheleLyn
  • SAHoehle said:
    I'd figure out exactly what you want--either a black tie event or not.  If it's a venue/event appropriate for black tie, and that's what you really want, then go for it!  Just clearly specify that it's black tie so someone doesn't show up in a sundress because they didn't know.

    If you're on the fence, go for cocktail attire.  Maybe add a line on your wedding website about attire that says "Cocktail attire."  Then people are aware that it's dressy but not black tie dressy.

    "Optional" is going to make for a mix of attires.  Just pick--one way or the other.
    "Cocktail attire" is not a thing. If it's not black tie or white tie, you leave any mention of attire off the invitation entirely. Please don't give incorrect advice on the etiquette board.
    image
  • OP, in your case, I feel you should do beautiful high-end invitations with no mention of attire and leave it at that. People will be able to tell you're having a formal event and likely wear a tux/gown if they already own one or just dress up as much as possible if they don't.
    image
    simplykaylaPrettyGirlLost
  • OP, in your case, I feel you should do beautiful high-end invitations with no mention of attire and leave it at that. People will be able to tell you're having a formal event and likely wear a tux/gown if they already own one or just dress up as much as possible if they don't.
    I think this may be the best possible solution, combined with word of mouth that it's a very formal affair (when people ask).

    No worries, ladies, cocktail attire was never going to appear anywhere on my invitations, website, etc.  My circle would never show up in anything less than cocktail attire anyway, so that's not an issue at all.

    Thanks for all the advice...time to duke it out with mother!
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    PrettyGirlLostsouthernbelle0915
  • CrazyCatLady3CrazyCatLady3 member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    edited September 2013
    itzMS said:

    Just echoing pp's. The problem with black tie optional is that most people would likely show up in cocktail attire.

    Whereas for black tie optional, my DH would wear a black three-piece suit, and I'd wear a floor length gown. I'd bet we'd be incredibly overdressed...that's the awkward part.

    But why would you feel awkward if the invitation invited you to wear black tie attire if you wanted?  If that truly makes you feel awkward, then why not just respond to any black tie "optional" invite you receive by going in cocktail attire?
    Maybe it's just me, but I am not so self-conscious as to feel awkward wearing a long evening gown next to someone in a cocktail dress.  Now, if everyone else was in jeans or cotton sundresses and I was in an evening gown, that would be a different story.

    This topic has come up several times and I am one of the few on here who don't think black tie "optional" is rude or offensive.  I enjoy being given an occasion to break out the evening gowns that sit at the back of my closet, but also know I don't have to if I don't feel like it.  Just wanted to give an alternative opinion.
    PrettyGirlLost
  • itzMS said:

    Just echoing pp's. The problem with black tie optional is that most people would likely show up in cocktail attire.

    Whereas for black tie optional, my DH would wear a black three-piece suit, and I'd wear a floor length gown. I'd bet we'd be incredibly overdressed...that's the awkward part.

    But why would you feel awkward if the invitation invited you to wear black tie attire if you wanted?  If that truly makes you feel awkward, then why not just respond to any black tie "optional" invite you receive by going in cocktail attire?
    Maybe it's just me, but I am not so self-conscious as to feel awkward wearing a long evening gown next to someone in a cocktail dress.  Now, if everyone else was in jeans or cotton sundresses and I was in an evening gown, that would be a different story.

    This topic has come up several times and I am one of the few on here who don't think black tie "optional" is rude or offensive.  I enjoy being given an occasion to break out the evening gowns that sit at the back of my closet, but also know I don't have to if I don't feel like it.  Just wanted to give an alternative opinion.

    I didn't say I personally would feel awkward...it would be awkward that DH & I were dressed more formally than a vast majority of the guests.

    It's happened before where DH & I are dressed more formally than the wedding party at a "black tie optional" event at a country club...people do side-eye others who show up "overdressed". Whether you'd like to admit it or not.

    PrettyGirlLostMaggie0829southernbelle0915
  • @CrazyCatLady3 @itzMS - I'm definitely not a person that would be offended or even uncomfortable seeing "Black Tie Optional" on an invitation, but I do worry that some people might.  Truth be told, I'm definitely someone that would feel uncomfortable being over-dressed, BUT not nearly as uncomfortable as being under-dressed!

    That being said, that wouldn't be an issue in this case.  Even with nothing on the invitations, all male guests would at least wear a suit, ladies would be in cocktail attire at the very least, and the bridal party and immediate family will be in tuxes and long gowns.  Although, that's just as good a reason NOT to write it on the invitations!
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    PrettyGirlLost
  • It is very modern and on point right now to include attire information somewhere--whether website or actually printed.

    The unfortunate reality is that the world is becoming way more casual about attire.  It clears up any confusion your guests may have about what they should wear, assuming they care, and helps you have your guests look the way you're hoping.

    Read:
  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    SAHoehle said:
    It is very modern and on point right now to include attire information somewhere--whether website or actually printed.

    The unfortunate reality is that the world is becoming way more casual about attire.  It clears up any confusion your guests may have about what they should wear, assuming they care, and helps you have your guests look the way you're hoping.

    Read:

    Bad advice.



    KeptInStitchesPrettyGirlLostsouthernbelle0915
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    @SAHoehle - by including guest attire anywhere is rid because you are basically questioning the intelligence of your guests. If your guests are unsure about the formality level they can either ask the couple or, like you, do a quick google search on what is appropriate attire.

    For those that will wear jeans to a wedding will wear jeans whether "cocktail attire" is written on the invite or website or not.

    As for being uncomfortable or it being awkward being over dressed I know that H and I would feel awkward if we showed up in black toe attire and no one else did. That is why black tie optional is confusing. Some guests will feel that they have to wear black tie, others will feel that cocktail is ok while others will not really be sure which you prefer, thus an event should either be black tie or not but not both.

    PrettyGirlLost
  • WinstonsGirlWinstonsGirl The Cold North member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    SAHoehle said:
    It is very modern and on point right now to include attire information somewhere--whether website or actually printed.

    The unfortunate reality is that the world is becoming way more casual about attire.  It clears up any confusion your guests may have about what they should wear, assuming they care, and helps you have your guests look the way you're hoping.

    Read:
    It may be the "new modern thing" but it's still rude.  I know very well how to dress myself for events and would be offended to be told how to dress.  Those who don't know won't figure it out either if it's on the invite.  They'll still wear what they want
    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    PrettyGirlLostKeptInStitches
  • we did Black Tie Invited and it was perfect for our crowd - almost everyong (including my pornographer cousin) donned a tux, and a few local yokels (i'm saying that lovingly as these are my closest pals) who never ever ever would instead wore nice suits and looked awesome. We planned it as a black tie affair, and "invited" let the few people who didn't have the $$ to easily rent tuxes feel just fine in their suits. But we knew that the vast majority of our friends and family love a reason to dress up. We could have just done "Black Tie" but I think honestly a few friends might not have come. So, BTI worked for us.
  • NYCBruinNYCBruin member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers First Anniversary
    edited September 2013
    Here's my thoughts on why I hate black tie optional:

    1. Events are either black tie or they are not. If I get an invitation that says "black tie optional" I assume that you either a) know what black tie means and don't want to shell out the money for it but still want your guests in that attire (IMHO that's rude) or b) have no idea what black tie means and are just trying to control what their guests wear (also rude).

    2. Tuxedoes are always appropriate at formal evening events. If guests are comfortable wearing gowns or tuxedoes they may always do so without being "invited" to do so or given the "option."

    3. So black tie optional means I would probably wear a gown and FI would wear a tux because It seems like the couple is really pushing it and maybe some other people would read it as just "black tie." As a wedding guest, I don't know who else the couple invited. All of the other guests may show up in a black tie attire. If that's the case and I don't, then I would be INCREDIBLY uncomfortable being the underdressed guest. If, however, we are the only people who show up in a gown and tux, I'm going to be annoyed at the extra money we spent unnecessarily.

    4. What your guests wear isn't going to impact your day. If you really care that much, then find a venue with a dress code or have a true black tie affair knowing that some guests may be priced out of attending.



    OP I would push back on this with your mother. I think reiterating some of the many excellent points raised here by PPs may help change her mind.


    Edited to fix an odd iPhone autocorrect.
    Don't worry guys, I have the Wedding Police AND the Whambulance on speed dial!
    PrettyGirlLost
This discussion has been closed.
Choose Another Board
Search Boards