As we get older, formal events seem to become more and more rare—we've already gone to prom, perhaps gotten married and attended our friends' weddings, and there's unfortunately not many events that warrant an extremely formal dress code.
Hosting a black tie event can be a lot of work, but the payoff is worth it—a lavish, luxe party with people dressed to the nines can be fun for a special occasion. And it doesn't have to be as difficult as you think. Here are some essential tips for planning a fancy event and ensuring it goes off without a hitch.
First, you have to decide how strict you want to be with the dress code. Black tie typically refers to clothing worn after 6 p.m. and is considered less formal than white tie, but more formal than business dress clothing. Men should wear a tuxedo and a black bowtie, while women should wear below-the-knee length (tea or floor length) gowns. But if you don't want to stress guests out if they're close to meeting the dress code, you can write "black tie optional" on the invitation.
The invitations should be sent out well in advance—at least a month. Guests may need time to find the appropriate dress and check their schedules. Make sure you stay consistent with the theme and use heavy cardstock and nice lettering when you make the invitations. Be sure to include an RSVP date and a way for guests to do so, as well as the ever-so-important dress code indication. Make sure you are as clear as possible that the dress code is there for a reason, otherwise some guests may bypass it and just wear any old thing.
Black tie events are generally relegated to special occasions like weddings, and the décor is usually accordingly glamorous.
- Deciding on event tablecloth rental will give you a lot of luxurious options that can save you money instead of purchasing table linens outright. Pick a fabric that spells elegance, like satin or lace.
- Decorating the event in a similar vein as a wedding is a good way to start—make sure the table settings are upscale, that the centerpieces are gorgeous, etc.
- Colors should match or at least complement each other, and there shouldn't be gaudy, less-formal decorations like balloons.
Remember, the idea behind planning a black-tie event is to keep things looking upscale and ritzy, like the arrival on a red carpet.
Instead of using your iPod or a typical DJ, consider hiring a band or even a string quartet. Not only is it a seriously nice change of pace, because most of us don't go to parties that have live music at them that often, if ever. It's an added expense, but if you want to budget a little, you can always pick up recordings of some big band songs or classical music. This sort of music will set the tone for the evening in a way that pop music, radio hits, or oldies can't hold a candle to.
Naturally, you'll want to set up a place where your guests can dance. You may also want to include things like a photo booth or have a photographer on hand to capture the moments.
This isn't the time or place for drinking cheap beer from a keg with everyone. Those parties are fun other times, but for your black tie event, you'll want something that feels a lot fancier.
- You don't have to buy expensive Champagne, but sparkling wine (or at least wine) or perhaps a signature cocktail will work better for putting people in a fancy, glamorous mood.
- You may want to consider hiring a bartender for the evening.
- If you're serving dinner, you may want to have someone serve it for you—hiring a caterer will take stress off you, and not having to coordinate making sure everyone is served at the same time means you can relax and enjoy the event you worked so hard to plan.
- If you'd rather serve appetizers instead of a full meal, you can set up some tables, each adorned with a party tablecloth, and let your guests serve themselves.
Arrangements for the End of the Night
Arranging to have, at the very least, information for cab companies available can ensure that your guests get home safe. After all, no one should be drinking Champagne in a floor-length gown all evening, only to get in a car and drive home. This is supposed to be luxurious—go all out and get a "driver" (take a taxi) to get home safely.
All in all, the most important thing to remember when throwing a glamorous black tie affair is that it should be fun. You shouldn't be stressing out about whether the drinks are right or whether your outfit is fancy enough—it's not a contest, and your guests will notice if you're stressed out! Take time to relax and really enjoy their company; you're not too likely to get them to dress up to come to a fancy event all that often.
Isabel Stone on August 04, 2017:
Ohh this is a great article! I absolutely love love love it! Some of these ideas are so simple but I'd completely missed them! I am definitely going to have steal one (or maybe even a few) of these ideas for my own ball! Well I call it a ball it’s more an exclusive event to celebrate my parents diamond wedding anniversary. My mum has always said how much she’d love to have a big soiree event sometime so I thought this would be the absolute perfect opportunity! The only problem is I have recently discovered that I am absolutely and 100% terrible at organising events. There’s just so so so much to think about and plan and organise! I really think I might just hire an exclusive events planner. I’m just not very good at this whole thing! Plus my brother is just no help at all (I mean I love him to pieces but when it comes to organising things he’s as useless as a chocolate teapot). Does anyone actually know of any party planners we could use at all? I just really need helping with the theming and the decorating! I read in a magazine about a company called Scarlet Events (this is their site: https://www.scarletevents.com/ ) Has anyone used them or been to a party where they’ve hosted? Obviously they look great but I really wanted to read some reviews first from people who’ve used them! So if anyone has been to any of their events I would love you forever if you could give me any reviews and opinions on them, or even more perfect would be some photos of their events so I can see what it looks like when it’s all done up by them! Thank you so much everyone, I really appreciate it xx