As a long-time caterer, we’ve seen our fair share of black-tie events up close. Such formal events can be rare, but everyone loves the opportunity to get dressed to the nines and attend one. The planning for these luxurious events should start with a few specific areas of focus:
Establish the clothing code right from the start
Settle on your level of luxe. Black tie events typically mean tuxedos and black bowties for men and evening gowns for women (that reach below the knee or to the floor in length, while white-tie events are even more formal. Choosing and announcing the dress code for your event up-front is important when you’re being fancy. This will give guests plenty of time to shop for the perfect outfit.
Invite a month in advance
Send out invitations (with the dress code clearly detailed) at least one month in advance. Invitation style should match your event, so if luxury is what you have in mind, search for stunning script calligraphy and thick, shimmery card stock. Be sure to include an RSVP date that will give you plenty of time to follow-up with anyone you haven’t heard from and to give your caterer a final head count.
Food & Refreshments
In keeping with your luxurious theme, food and drink selections should be truly special. Steer clear of bottled beer or kegs, and think sparkling wine, champagne, mixed cocktails and signature drinks. Want to exceed expectations? Have butlers meet guests with champagne servings upon their arrival. Stay away from messy or difficult to eat foods, and select a mix of unique, upscale and deliciously-flavored options.
Everything about a black-tie event is glamorous, so your entertainment should be, too. Consider your audience and select from options like a band, soloist or even a string quartet. If you have a band performing, consider having them start with slower, classic numbers, and building up to more lively selections as the evening goes on. Live music adds incredible ambiance, but if it doesn’t suit your budget, a good option is to set up a predetermined playlist (think Sinatra and Etta James or some simple classic jazz).
Again, go luxurious and glamorous when planning black tie event decorations. Black tie décor should scream elegance and class, but part of this elegance is simplicity. As a caterer we often work closely with other vendors to ensure that our clients get the décor they are dreaming of. From the ambiance of glowing lights to chic, modern bundles of rosebuds, the proper vendors can help all of your decoration aspirations come true. Browse websites and catalogs to come up with a “wish list” of all of your favorite ideas.
Keep these five focus-areas in mind as you plan your next black-tie event, and, when you have a vision, be sure to look for a venue to match it. Most of all, don’t forget the fun. That’s what makes the memories.