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Black Tie vs. Casual Wedding - What is right for you?

One of the most impactful decisions that sets the entire tone for your wedding day is whether to have a formal black tie dress code or a more relaxed casual vibe. The formality of your wedding will influence the atmosphere, activities, menu, and more. I am here to share with you the benefits of both formal and casual weddings so you can decide which will suit you best as a couple.

Black tie wedding bridal party in England
Harry Michael Photography

Black Tie Wedding

There's an undeniable sense of luxury, sophistication and tradition with black tie weddings. This dress code suits grand venues like ballrooms, manor houses, and castle venues. Black tie sets the stage for refined music, gourmet menus, and classic wedding elements. Men will be wearing 3-piece suits, and ladies will be wearing long dresses with hats or fascinators. You can also suggest to your guests how formal you want to be with this dress code.

With more formal events you can expect activities and entertainment to be poised, elegant and graceful. Think champagne reception, string quartet, ballet dancers or mesmerising acrobats entertainment your guests can watch. For outdoor activities you might have croquet, a mixologist, or a live artist.

Bridal party having fun at countryside wedding in Hertfordshire England
McGivern Photography

Casual Celebration

If you want a more relaxed, informal and casual wedding, this can also be mentioned on your invitations. A more casual vibe would suit an outdoor venue, marquee space or vineyard-style venue. With your guests wearing more casual attire, you can be a bit more adventurous with your guests' entertainment. A photobooth, mini golf lawn games, an interactive roaming band and help yourself snack tables are more appropriate to fit with this vibe. A more casual event might also mean you invite more children and therefore have more children's entertainment available.

Announcing the Dress Code

Once you pick the formality level for your wedding, the next step is to inform your guests of your expectations via your wedding invitations. For black tie, note “Black Tie or Formal Attire Requested." You could mention the colour of the mens suits if you want all men to be wearing black suits, and you can suggest for the ladies “Hats Encouraged”.

If you choose a more casual wedding, you can say "Casual Dress Code" or “Summer Dresses”. You can provide style tips so guests understand the vibe like “Summer Suits” and “Floral Prints”. If you want your guests to wear a certain colour to complement your overall wedding theme for cohesive wedding photos, then also mention this in their invitation.

As your wedding planner, I'm here to help you decide whether black tie or casual best captures your wedding vision. Let's chat about venue options, themes, and attire so we can design a bespoke wedding that is personal and authentic.


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