Some wedding ceremonies and receptions expect a certain degree of formality from their guests. Although it was once considered tacky to tell one’s guests how to dress, occasions that expect formal wear are now the exception to the rule. A black tie wedding is usually specified as such on the invitation, so you will know if you are going to one. If you don’t ordinarily attend black tie events, this kind of instruction may appear slightly intimidating, but in fact meeting the requirements of a black tie event is quite simple.
In general, black tie formal wear is reserved for occasions after 6 pm. However, these days this is not a steadfast rule, and if the invitation calls for black tie wear, then you should dress accordingly, even in the afternoon. Similarly, even though black tie wear is traditionally reserved for adults, these days we often see young ring-bearers wearing tuxedos. More than ever, the interpretation of black tie formality depends upon the event and those involved in it. The best you can do is to abide by standard etiquette unless the occasion calls for something different.
For men, black tie wear consists of a suit a white dress shirt, a black bow-tie a waistcoat or cummerbund, and black dress shoes. Women’s dress for black tie occasions is traditionally an ankle- or mid-calf-length sleeveless dress, as well as a wrap or stole, gloves, and evening shoes. Nowadays, however, cocktail (knee) length dresses are considered appropriate in most places.
If you’re planning on hosting a black-tie wedding, remember to make your guests comfortable by clearly specifying that you expect black-tie wear on the invitation. There are generally three ways of indicating this: “Black Tie Required;” “Black Tie Preferred;” and “Black Tie Optional.” On a traditional invitation, this information will appear on the bottom right corner of the invitation. If you are using Real Invites’ unique digital invitations, you can inform your guests in a more creative manner if you prefer.