Photo: Alison Conklin Photography
Oh you fancy, huh? Well, if you have it your way, your wedding will be at least. And no, we're not just talking about the nice tuxes, and ties and designer ball gowns, brides. Unfortunately, a black tie bash doesn't come cheap. It does, however, come with its own set of rules, like 'em or not. From what type of booze is in bad taste to where you shouldn't host your reception, here are nine mistakes you totes don't want to make if you have your heart set on a black tie big day.
1. Having one in the first place
A black tie affair at a five star hotel may be your parents' idea of the perfect wedding (hey, they're paying, right?), but be warned that when a function completely loses the personality of the couple actually getting hitched, it tends to rub off on everyone else, AKA your guests, points out Greg Jenkins, founder of Bravo Productions. Um, womp womp! Instead, why not compromise? You can still have a fancy-schmancy event in a hip industrial space complete with a family style sit-down dinner and a DJ-run dance floor, all of which are right on trend these days and will likely please the parents too.
2. Choosing a venue you'd never (normally) dress to impress for
Like the beach, duh! Having a black tie wedding in an environment that isn't conducive to being dressed up is a big no-no, according to Florida-based wedding planner Aviva Samuels of Kiss The Planner. "Bow ties, jackets and dressy shoes just don't work well on the sand, while hair can easily become disheveled by beach winds," she explains. 'Makeup may also melt in the humidity and smudges are common too when a gust of wind meets teary eyes." For the beach loving bride who simply has her heart set on black tie, a venue overlooking the water with an air-conditioned or breezy indoor reception as opposed to tables right in the sand could be a good compromise, offers event planner Kristine Cholakian Cooke, owner of Simply Charming Socials.
3. Thinking outdoors in the dead of summer is a great idea
Want to get your wedding off on the right foot? Well, if you're asking people to break out their Jimmy Choos and Louboutins, either don't go outdoors (if on grass) or at the very least provide heel protectors and shade, urges celebrity event designer Brett Galley of Hollywood POP Gallery. "Men will also be in tuxedos, so be thoughtful." In other words, what she's really trying to say is don't make them suffer and sweat their booties off in the hot sun.
4. Being inconsiderate of your guests' financial situations
Think about who you're inviting. If the guests coming most likely don't own a tuxedo or it would be a struggle for them to rent a tuxedo, perhaps you should reconsider, advises celebrity caterer Andrea Correale, Founder and President of Elegant Affairs in New York City. "Otherwise people may decline for this reason solely."
5. Being wishy-washy about the dress code
If you're going to do black tie, don't do "optional" or "preferred" just tell your guests it's black tie to avoid any and all confusion, recommend wedding planners Jennifer Arreguin and Natasha Burton, co-founders of Swoon California. "This keeps people from having to guess what to wear (always less stressful) and you'll be happy seeing everyone you love dressed to the nines!"
6. Booking a niche band
When some couples plan black tie weddings, they may often think of classical musicians for entertainment, whereas other go the opposite route and hire a 'hipper' band in order to make a rebellious statement, notes Jenkins. "The results are the same though, as the music is only tailored for one audience demographic. Instead, the entertainment should take into consideration the audience's diverse tastes and not just base the decision for a band off what guests are required to wear."
7. Going too big with the centerpieces
Turns out, bigger isn't always better even when it comes to a black tie wedding, and more specifically, the centerpieces. They don't have to be over the top, in terms of height that is, says Michael Cerbelli, CEO & President of Cerbelli Creative. "Big centerpieces not only separate guests at each table, but they can also become a distraction and obstructive during special moments and formalities," he warns. "They block you from talking to people across the table and seeing anything happening across the room."
8. Slacking on the service
First-class service should be demanded for any wedding and reception but particularly when it's black-tie, stresses Jenkins. "After all, to be treated as 'passengers flying in economy' on a bad airline misses the mark." You've got to give your guests a reason why they went through the trouble of dressing for the occasion and that means service that goes above and beyond.
9. Half-assing it
If you're going black tie, you've got to go black tie on everything, food, drinks (a premium bar of course) and transportation included, says Chancey Charm Boston wedding planner Jyl Deering. Obviously, a sit-down dinner with a classy menu is a must. As for transportation, definitely offer valet! "I once worked a black tie wedding where the shuttle service was school buses," tells Deering. "It didn't set the mood right for the guests, and they looked a little funny coming off the buses in gowns. It was also their first impression of the wedding." No bueño!