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Black Tie Optional Invitation… So What Now?!

So you just received a black tie optional invitation for a formal event. Maybe it’s your friends New Year’s Eve wedding, maybe you are attending a formal corporate event or a charity event. What does this mean?!

First off, don’t panic. Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo is going to guide you through traditional etiquette for a formal event and even share acceptable trends that we are seeing in the Philadelphia region.

What is a Black Tie Event

A black tie event is considered one of the most formal of events. Traditionally, a black tie event requires you to wear a tuxedo. Usually a dark jacket with satin on the lapel. The jacket does not have to be black. It can be a darker color like navy or dark grey. In summer months, you can also consider an ivory jacket with a back lapel. We often only recommend white jackets during summer months and in tropical regions but trends we have been seeing lately have relaxed the true traditional etiquette of colors. We will dive deeper into different color options and trends that we have been seeing a bit later.

Classic Black Tie look

Do you really have to wear an actual black tie? Not really but we’ll discuss the long tie and bow tie issues in more detail later in our blog.

Does Optional Really Mean Optional?

The invitation says black tie optional, so do I need to wear a tuxedo? Several years ago, we had a customer come into our store with the wedding invitation in hand. The invitation stated “Black Tie Optional”. His humorous comment to us was that “you will be a fool if you show up without a tuxedo on; you’ll be the only one”! While his comment made us chuckle, it is only partially true.

We do believe it’s always better to be smartly dressed. It is not common to stick out at an event in a bad way when you are dressed better than others. So wearing a nice fitted, classic tuxedo never makes you look bad! Some guests choose to forego the tuxedo and just wear one of their suits. Why do they do this? Reasons typically include that they want to save the expense of renting a tuxedo or they are not comfortable wearing something that formal.

Ike Behar Charcoal Peak Lapel Tuxedo

Black Tie Requested

Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo has over 70 different styles of tuxedos and suits available for rent. We have full formal attire for you that will not break the bank. If you are a guest of the wedding, you don’t need to go overboard. No need to rent a Michael Kor’s tuxedo. We’ll help you find the correct attire in the budget you need.

If the invitation indicates that it is a black tie event, then etiquette is that you wear a tuxedo. We recommend not straying from that request out of the respect for the individuals making the request and to stick with tradition.

Allure Men Black Velvet

Tuxedo Trends and Traditions

So let’s start with tradition. The most traditional look is a black or dark tuxedo jacket with a black satin bow tie, vest, matching tuxedo pants and patent leather shoes. Another long-time tradition is wearing a velvet tuxedo jacket. Although we don’t see many velvet tuxedo jackets at formal events, it is an option that will allow you to stay with tradition and stand out in a classy way. You do have the option of wearing a cummerbund instead of a vest however, trend-wise, we’ve seen far more vests than cummerbunds. We personally like vests because you can match your tuxedo jacket with the same exact fabric and color with the vest, giving it a clean and cohesive look. As an example, if you wear our Ike Behar Charcoal gray tuxedo, you can wear the matching charcoal gray vest.

Ike Behar Charcoal Gray Notch Lapel

We love tradition, however with so many different color tuxedos available for rent now, we have seen very varied looks and trends. Navy and cobalt blue have been very popular for over five years now. Varying shades of gray have also been very popular for events. We have very light gray tuxedos all the way to gray tuxedos that are so dark that they almost look black.

Ike Behar Navy Tuxedo

Accessories

While you can’t really go wrong with a black satin bow tie, we have a few ideas for you. If you are attending the event with someone, you can certainly wear a bow or long tie that matches the color of her dress. Further, you can accent the color with a pocket square that matches the bow tie color as well. This is a really nice way to tie the couple together and still look formal.

Of course, we prefer bow ties, however, we have seen people wear both bow ties and long ties to black tie events. While long ties are not overly traditional for such events, it has become acceptable to wear them. Some men are just not comfortable in bow ties and prefer long ties. In addition, there is one practical reason we have seen when guys do not want to wear a bow tie. If they have a longer beard, you cannot even see the bow tie because the beard covers it. In this particular case, guys will choose a long tie and pocket square.

Long black tie and a red pocket square look sharp

The Most Formal of Events – White Tie

If you are attending the most formal event, then a black waistcoat (often known as a tailcoat or tails) with a white pique bow tie, vest and shirt are in order. Patent leather shoes are a must for this tuxedo and matching black tuxedo pants. We usually finish off the look with white and gold studs and cufflinks and a white pocket square. If you want to stick to true tradition, white gloves would be appropriate but not necessary.

The most formal – White Tie

So when is it the most formal event? Usually the invitation will say “white tie” event or waistcoat or tailcoat requested. Common events that require this type of attire are debutante balls, very formal weddings or one of the better known events in the Philadelphia region is the annual Concert and Ball at the Academy of Music. Every year many sponsors and attendees of the Academy Ball come to Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo to rent a very formal tuxedo for the event. This is a fine Philadelphia tradition that has been going on for over 163 years and is a benefit to maintain and restore the Academy of Music located at 240 S Broad Street in Philadelphia.

Play It Safe

So if you are lucky enough to be invited to a black tie affair, your best bet is to stick with a black or navy tuxedo with satin black bow tie. However with so many variations available today, stop by Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo and we will suggest just the right tuxedo and accessories at the right price. Do you have a question about black tie affairs? Text our store telephone number and we will give you personal advice: 215-491-8500.

About the author: Franco Salerno is co-founder and co-owner of Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo, now in their eighth year in business. In that time, he built the tuxedo department into a force rivaling big box stores by providing expertise, caring service, and beautiful, quality formal wear. Personally invested in every transaction, Mr. Salerno provides customers with the utmost trust and confidence, assuring their wedding or formal event attire will be perfect. A native of Philadelphia, he currently resides in Warrington, Bucks County with his wife and store co-founder/co-owner Wendy, and their two daughters for whom the store was named, Daria and Deanna.

Should I Wear a Tuxedo or Suit for My Wedding?

Tan Tuxedo
Allure Men Sandstone Tuxedo With No Satin

Tuxedo or Suit for the Wedding?

Probably one of the top questions we receive from brides and grooms is whether the wedding party should wear a suit or tuxedo for the wedding. We can guarantee you that the bigger question from many of our customers is: “what’s the difference between a tuxedo and a suit”? So let’s start with that information first. Then we can quickly and simply answer your question about whether you should wear a tuxedo or suit for your wedding.

What is a Tuxedo?

Many, if not most tuxedos have satin on the lapel, pockets and buttons. Some, but not all, tuxedo pants have a satin stripe down the side of each pant leg as well. The stitching of the fabric may also be more detailed and fine. However, the largest difference between a tuxedo and a suit is usually the existence of satin on the tuxedo. The satin tends to give a more formal look with a bit of sheen. Satin is shiny and has a very distinct look.

Satin Tuxedo
Navy Tuxedo with Black Satin Lapel

However, over the years, some tuxedo and suit designers have gotten the message from certain brides and grooms: not everyone likes satin. In this particular case designers like Allure have created tuxedos that have no satin at all! The buttons are covered in the same fabric that the tuxedo is made of and there is a stitching along the lapel that creates an outline of where the satin would typically be incorporated into the tuxedo however there is absolutely no satin. This design is often referred to as a self fabric edging that creates a border on the lapel for a more formal look without the satin.

Allure Men Blue Tuxedo
Cobalt Blue Tuxedo with No Satin

So now that we told you that tuxedos have satin and suits do not, that is not always the case. Of the seventy or so tuxedos and suits that we offer, Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo has 4 different styles of tuxedos with no satin on them.

What’s a Suit?

Suits definitely have no satin to be found on the fabric and most of the suit buttons are plastic. At one time, we could argue that all tuxedos had more luxurious fabric than suits but that is no longer the case for all designers. Some of our designers like Michael Kors, Ike Behar and Allure make suits with fabric that is as luxurious and sometimes even more luxurious than some of our other tuxedo designers.

As mentioned in the prior paragraph, we now have very creative tuxedo designers that have created tuxedos with no satin on the jacket, pants or vest. They stitch a visible outline of where satin would normally be on the tuxedo lapel thus giving it the appearance of satin without the sheen. The buttons are often the same fabric and color of the tuxedo itself. Brides and grooms who do not like the shininess of the satin appreciate these designs because they want a tuxedo for their wedding without the satin.

Now that you know more about tuxedos and suits than most people, let’s talk about whether you need to choose a tuxedo or suit for your wedding.

Let’s discuss some things you need to consider that will help you to make a tuxedo or suit decision.

Where Are You Getting Married?

One of the initial questions we ask our brides and grooms is where are they getting married? Is it a barn wedding or a formal ballroom? Maybe it’s neither place. We often recommend the attire needs to match the setting and venue.

If you are having a very formal wedding with elaborate flowers in a stately location and fine china, we often recommend having the wedding party wear a more formal tuxedo.

However, as mentioned previously, some of the suit designers we carry make very handsome suits that look as formal as a tuxedo. That formality includes very fine and textured stitching, high fiber count wool blends and an overall fitted look.

How Formal is the Bride’s Wedding Dress?

Another question we ask during our suit and tuxedo consultation is how formal is the bride’s wedding dress? Fortunately, most of the time, the bride already said yes to her dress at Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo so we can look up in our system the type of dress she is wearing without disclosing the information to the groom. This allows us to immediately advise appropriate styles of suits and tuxedos to better pair the bride and groom on their wedding day.

The analogy we like to give when making this decision on whether to wear a tuxedo or suit for your wedding is this: if the bride is wearing a very formal bridal gown with a lot of ornate lace and a long train, you wouldn’t want to put the groom in jeans, would you?! Each should be dressed as formally or informally as the other. Your wedding photos will come out better and you will feel more comfortable throughout the day.

We can help you decide how formal the bride’s dress looks. We see and have a lot of wedding dresses so this will be very easy for us.

Start with What You Had in Mind.

If you had your heart set on wearing a suit then begin your in-person or video appointment with us looking at suits. If you find something, great! We’ll prepare those suits for your free groom try on so you can see what you look like well before your wedding.

If after looking at our suits, nothing interests you, then allow us to show you our 60 or so tuxedos we have available.

If you were leaning towards wearing a tuxedo for your wedding before consulting us, let’s start by looking at tuxedos first.

Bottom Line

In the end, wearing a tuxedo or suit for your wedding is entirely your choice. Our goal is to try to keep your wedding pictures timeless so that, say in 10 or 20 years, you don’t regret having worn something that is out of place.

Essentially, here are the things you need to consider when choosing between a tuxedo or suit for your wedding:

  1. How formal is your venue?
  2. How formal is the bride’s wedding dress?
  3. Do you like satin or not?
  4. Do you prefer a suit or tuxedo?

Tell us what you prefer, a tuxedo or suit.

Make your appointment with Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo and let us show you our tuxedos and suits. We arrange to have any out of town wedding guests measured anywhere in the country for free and can even ship them their tuxedos or suits. Have a question: you can even text us at 215-491-8500.

Should I Wear a Bow Tie Or Long Tie?

We are often asked whether a groom and the groomsmen should wear a bow tie or long tie on the wedding day.

This is a great question and Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo has a lot of experience and advice on answering it.

Floral Long Tie With Cornflower Tuxedo

So let’s get right to the answer and then we’ll dive deeper into various things you should consider when deciding which type of tie to choose for yourself and your wedding party.

The general answer that we give is do not do something you are not comfortable with. If you are not a bow tie kind of guy, then do not wear one. If you are not comfortable in a bow tie, either it’s look or feel, then you are probably not going to be comfortable wearing one. You will also not be happy with the look.

Allure Mens Box Check Bow Tie with Mulberry Tuxedo

However, things are not always that simple so let’s talk about some other things you may want to consider when deciding. We also have a process that we take customers through to help brides and grooms make their choice. You can read all about that process here.

Usually when we meet with brides and grooms during their tuxedo and suit consultation, we can pretty immediately tell if the couple prefers one type of tie over another. Sometimes, though, they aren’t sure which type of tie they want. We’ll go into how we help them determine which type to choose later in this blog if the couple is not sure.

Ivory Floral Long Tie

If we see that either the bride or groom is not keen on a bow tie, we highly encourage them to stick with the 500 or so different long ties that we offer.

On the other hand, bow ties are not commonly worn by most people and wearing one on your wedding day is a nice way of switching up your look and creating timeless and classy photos.

Classic Black Satin Bow Tie

Best of Both Worlds

In many cases, if a bride and groom are open to a bow tie, we often introduce the idea of the groom wearing the one, say bow tie, and the groomsmen wearing the other type, in this case a long tie. The first thing that this does is help further distinguish the groom from the rest of the wedding party beyond just having a different color tie. The bride and groom sometimes choose to do the reverse and have the groom wear a long tie and the groomsmen wear a bow tie. While this second option is not as popular as the groom wearing the bow tie, we do see it in approximately 5% of the wedding parties.

White Satin Long Tie

Tuxedos, Suits and Ties

Several years ago, it was rare that you would see a groom wearing a tuxedo with a long tie. Today that is completely acceptable. We have many wedding parties and prom goers wearing long ties with their tuxedos and suits. On a few occasions, we will have a groom wear a bow tie with his suit that he purchased or rented from us. So if you want to wear a long tie with your tuxedo that is perfectly acceptable. Again, we advise you doing what is most comfortable for you. Anyone who has worked with us knows that we will tell our customers if their attire choice or combination is not a good idea.

Free Groom Try On

The best way to determine if you prefer a bow or long tie is to try some of each on at your groom try on. We offer all of our grooms the ability to choose up to two different full tuxedos and/or suits with various accessory choices to try on. This is one of our most popular services because the bride and groom get to see what the groom and groomsmen will look like in all attire they choose in the groom’s exact size. During this try on, we will exchange several long and bow ties on the groom so that you can see what they will look like. We even encourage the bride to take pictures of the groom so that you can go home and see what everything looked like and make a decision from there. Read about our full groom try on HERE.

Blush Bow Tie on Cobalt Blue Tuxedo

Trends

What are we seeing for tie choices right now? Many grooms are currently choosing bow ties. Why? We think they like the look and it’s a bit different and more formal. Five to seven years ago we saw more long ties for wedding parties but for now, that seems to have changed.

What If I Don’t Know How to Tie a Long or Bow Tie

You are in luck if you do not know how to tie a long or a bow tie. All of ours (almost 500 different colors and styles) are pre-tied and clip ons. They are beautiful and look like someone actually tied the bow tie without you needing to know how to do it! We do sell some bow ties that you can tie yourself if that is what you are looking for. Our long ties come in two different styles: ones that are pre-tied that you do not need to tie and ones that you tie yourself. If you choose a long tie that must be tied, we can tie it for you and leave it in your garment bag so that all you have to do is slip it around your neck and tighten it. We do this all of the time and the guys are very grateful for this free added service.

Navy Textured Blow Tie on Sandstone Tuxedo

Bottom Line

So the true answer as to whether you should wear a bow or long tie comes down to 100% personal choice. Both will work and we are sure you’ll know pretty immediately what you prefer once you do your groom try on with Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo.

Comment on this blog and tell us what you prefer, a bow or long tie?

Take a look at the 70 or so suits and tuxedos that we offer for rent and sale. You’ll enjoy seeing all of the styles and coming up with your own look. Do you have out of town wedding guests? Not a problem for Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo. We arrange to have your guys measured for free anywhere in the country and can even ship them the tuxedo or suit. They can submit their measurements on our website and even make payment online. It’s as simple as that! You can even text our store telephone number for questions and help: 215-491-8500. Make your appointment with us online to talk to a formal wear specialist.


Notes From A Handsome Tuxedo Consultant

Nick Griffin is a Tuxedo Consultant here at Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo, who wrote a great blog for us on relationships from his perspective.  He also had no trouble coming up with a title for his blog.

Our store takes great pride in providing outstanding service in a fun (rather amusing) and professional way. We love to hear thoughts from our employees and Nick is a special one to us.  Enjoy, it’s a good read, and very insightful for a 20 year old.

And don’t forget, when you need a tuxedo, think of us (and handsome Nick, of course).

Hello! My name is Nick Griffin and I’ve been a tuxedo consultant at Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo for two and a half years now. I am twenty years old, so I have done a lot of growing up during my time in the store.

Being able to work in the exciting bridal sphere as a teenager has taught me a lot of different things about fashion, weddings, marriage, relationships, the working world, working with the public, and life in general. Working at a bridal store is really a privilege for someone my age.

A tuxedo consultant is a super interesting job for anyone, let alone someone my age.  While most twenty year olds are flipping burgers or working as a cashier, I get the opportunity to make a positive impact for couples on the most important day of their lives. From the hundreds of couples that I have worked with over the years, here is what I have learned about relationships.

Being around grooms when choosing what they will be wearing on their big day can be exhilarating. Men are more fashion-forward than ever, so the pride they take in the way they look makes my job that much more interesting.

Much like when a bride tries on the gown that is “the one” for her, when a groom tries on the tuxedo he will wear on his wedding day, you can see it on his face.

No one notices this faster than their fiancee, who calls out when he loves something right away. Once she spots the glimmer in his eye or the smirk on his face, oftentimes the bride will say, “You love this one, I can tell.”

This is a small, yet special moment that I have seen over and over again, and to me it says a lot about couples. It shows me that when two people know each other so well, they can immediately spot the emotions of each other and can almost read each other’s minds.

When a groom does his “Groom Try-on” (an amazing service we provide to our grooms) and pieces together the outfit that fits his style and personality the best, something clicks with the both of them. This connection that engaged couples have is really something special to see.

Not many people get the opportunity to see a real spark between couples in the way that I do, and the fact that I get to aid in their elation during these appointments fills me with bliss. Spending an hour with these couples as they communicate with one another has shown me a lot of happy moments, because when people love the way they look their confidence skyrockets.

Some new looks for 2018!

This boost that the groom gets from looking so fresh in turn makes the bride happy, and it is those kind of special moments that are so precious.

I never take viewing these moments for granted, because they have taught me so much, and it is so touching to even have a small part in that shared joy these couples experience.  I’ve even had the honor of being named in some of our online reviews (5-star, of course).  Come in and visit us and me!  Call or text 215-491-8500 or find us at www.DariannaBridal.com.  We can’t wait to help you out, too!

Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo is an award-winning bridal store in Warrington, Bucks County serving brides and grooms in Bucks, Montgomery, and Philadelphia.