Skip to main content
M
Beginner October 2021

Black tie optional w/ buffet dinner?

Meghan, on June 21, 2021 at 1:00 PM Posted in Wedding Reception 0 17
Saved
Reply

Hi everyone!

We are finally getting to do our menu tasting in 1 week! We are less than 4 months out from our wedding and would like to order our invitations this week. I just realized that we had decided to do a buffet dinner because we have 3 separate dining rooms and I thought it would be faster and food would stay warmer to do 3 separate buffet lines in each dining room. I also really have my heart set on a mac n cheese bar (everyone knows how much I love mac n cheese) which I don't think would be possible if we did a plated meal.

Is it ok if we do a buffet for a black tie optional wedding? I really don't care if people wear semi-formal attire, but my fiancé wanted to label it black tie optional so that his family would understand that it is a more formal event than his sister's rustic barn wedding 3 summers ago (his family showed up in khakis and sundresses). I don't even think they would know that a plated meal was an option so they wouldn't complain, but my dad's family is pretty formal and I think some of them might think a buffet is odd.

17 Comments

Latest activity by mrswinteriscoming, on June 21, 2021 at 7:05 PM
  • Sarah
    Master September 2019
    Sarah ·
    • Flag
    Personally if I received an invite that said black tie optional, I’d wear a long gown and high shoes so I’d be a little annoyed if I had to get up and go through a buffet line. Can he just spread the news via word of mouth that it’s more formal than his sister’s was.
    • Reply
  • AJ
    Super October 2022
    AJ ·
    • Flag

    Plated dinner is formal and perfect for black tie optional. Buffet is way too casual in my opinion and so is a mac n cheese bar. Can you have like some kind of mac n cheese dish for a "midnight snack"?

    You could do Cocktail or Semi-Formal

    • Reply
  • Ava
    VIP May 2022
    Ava ·
    • Flag
    I have to agree with the others, I don’t think a buffet meal would be appropriate for a black-tie optional event. Plus, designating it a black tie event is also going to leave you subjected to a whole slew of other high end expectations (Bar, music, entertainment, venue, decor, etc.) If you do not plan to host a true black tie event, I would just make sure it was known that formal attire is appropriate through word of mouth and your wedding website. You could also add a details card with this information to your invitation suite.
    • Reply
  • Stacey
    Super May 2021
    Stacey ·
    • Flag

    Is your venue formal? Many guests take their cue on what to wear on the level of formality of the venue. For a barn, sundresses seem perfectly reasonable to me, but I wouldn't say that for a hotel ballroom for example. For what it's worth, black tie optional really doesn't correspond with a buffet dinner. I'd be kind of annoyed if wore a tuxedo to an event and then had to stand in line for a buffet - those just don't match. What you ask your guests to wear needs to match the formality of the event you are hosting.

    • Reply
  • L
    Lady ·
    • Flag

    I would do cocktail or semi-formal if you absolutely must write something.

    • Reply
  • SLY
    Master January 2022
    SLY ·
    • Flag

    I don't think listing it as black-tie optional would be the best if you're having a buffet style dinner.

    You can always put Semi-Formal or Cocktail attire, which would work with a buffet. Have him spread the word to his family about the dress code, and I've even seen where couples put on their wedding website examples of what to wear according to the preferred attire.

    The problem with making it black tie optional, when it's not really a black tie wedding, is that you'll have guests expecting a certain type of grandeur when they arrive. Not just the food, but also the type of music that's played (pref. live band), decorations, etc. So if you're not having those type of things, then it's best to stay away from saying it's black tie. Especially if your only reason for wanting that dress code is so that some people don't show up in casual attire.

    • Reply
  • Janet
    Devoted October 2018
    Janet ·
    • Flag

    Black Tie isn't a dress code. It's a level of formality for an event. Buffet and semi-formal are not in that category.

    Cocktail/Semi-formal would work fine if you need to designate a dress code. Most adults know how to dress for a wedding given the time of day and location of the event. Yes, some do come a little more casual, but there isn't anything we can do about it.

    If your venue states that their are dress requirements, then that info should be included on a details card and your wedding website (If you have one).

    • Reply
  • Cool
    Super July 2020
    Cool ·
    • Flag
    As others have said, I would state the attire as Formal or Cocktail. I don’t understand “black tie optional”. Isn’t it always an option?! If the wedding is a formal Black Tie event, list it as such. Otherwise go for one of the other options.
    • Reply
  • M
    Beginner October 2021
    Meghan ·
    • Flag

    Thank you everyone for sharing similar viewpoints. I have convinced my fiancé to change to formal cocktail attire. Our venue is at an estate and we will have many elements of a black tie event however we will not be having a live band or a valet so we will be just be changing the dress code

    • Reply
  • M
    Beginner October 2021
    Meghan ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment

    We were thinking "Black tie optional" meant that guests were welcome to dress more formal if they wanted to, and we want it to be a little more formal than semi-formal, however when I read more and with all of the above comments, it seems that people will be offended if we say it is "black tie optional" and have a buffet so we will change it to Cocktail attire

    • Reply
  • M
    Beginner October 2021
    Meghan ·
    • Flag

    I guess I also should have added that a) I am the first person on my side of the family to have a non-Indian wedding in the past 25 years and b) we are re-scheduled and at a different venue than we were originally supposed to be at so we have re-planned and until now just didn't think about dress code going with the meal until we made our invitations

    • Reply
  • Hannah
    Master July 2019
    Hannah ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Black tie optional typically means that it is a black tie affair but the couple isn't requiring tuxedos and that men can wear dark colored suits instead. Women still typically wear floor length gowns. For what you're describing, cocktail attire is a better fit.
    • Reply
  • Kari
    Master May 2020
    Kari ·
    • Flag

    Agreed that buffet doesn't feel appropriate for a black tie event.

    "Black tie optional" is a big leap from khakis and sundresses, and it would be unfair to force all of your other guests to overdress just so your fiances family shows up in appropriate attire. I would stick to a formal, cocktail, or semi-formal dress code and specifically mention to the family what is expected from them in terms of dress.

    • Reply
  • Mcskipper
    Master July 2018
    Mcskipper ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Yeah in my world, “black tie optional” has always been used for events that were properly black tie where they just wanted to make it clear everyone wasn’t required to get a tux etc. I have one coming up next month and it is black tie but called black tie optional because it is a wedding that requires travel for most guests, so they thought it was a lot to ask to travel with a gown/tux. Still I’ll be in a nice floor length dress that I do not want to spill in! Smiley winking


    Just asking for cocktail / formal sounds fine and relieves you of the service expectation.
    • Reply
  • Michelle
    Rockstar December 2022
    Michelle ·
    • Flag

    Events are either formal or black tie. Black Tie Optional is not a real thing. Unless the venue requires a certain dress code, just spread your wish over the phone but you can’t dictate it.

    Buffet is generally a semi formal thing. But stations (a buffet where chefs prepare food on site) on the other hand are expected standard minimum at very formal weddings in the NYC area and guests are so full from those that the plated dinner following is not touched.

    • Reply
  • Hanna
    VIP June 2019
    Hanna ·
    • Flag

    Agree with the others that black tie optional and a buffet don't really work together. I'd list your attire on your wedding website as semi-formal, cocktail attire, or something along those lines. We had our attire listed as formal/cocktail and all of the men showed up in suits and the women in cocktail dresses or long dresses. I take it that seems to be what you're going for? We actually had all of the components of a true black tie wedding (live band, multi-course plated meal, open bar with top shelf liquor, valet parking, etc.) and originally we toyed with the idea of listing our attire as black tie optional, but in the end we didn't want people to feel pressured to rent tuxes and gowns because half of our guests had to travel to our wedding. But my point is that we said formal/cocktail attire and nobody showed up in sundresses or khakis. What I would do is to have your fiancee spread the word to his family members that you're concerned about explaining that your wedding is more formal than his sister's. I think they'll also take the cue from your venue. Rustic barn is very different from upscale estate!

    • Reply
  • mrswinteriscoming
    Rockstar December 2021
    mrswinteriscoming ·
    • Flag

    We are having a black tie wedding according to Australian standards which means we have a few elements which Americans may not consider within the definition of black tie (i.e. our ceremony and reception will take place at separate venues and there is no valet because no venues here offer it) but, to me, dinner service will frame the formality of the event.

    I would argue that a a buffet dinner can just pass at a formal wedding but definitely not black tie. Black tie brings an automatic assumption of white glove (plated) dinner service.

    • Reply

You voted for . Add a comment 👇

×
ReCaptcha Verification failed. Please try again.

Related articles

WeddingWire celebrates love ...and so does everyone on our site! Learn more

Groups

WeddingWire article topics