So you’ve been dreaming of hosting the ultimate formal celebration and have decided your vow renewal is the perfect time to do so. Are you sure that’s what you really want? A black-tie celebration comes with an equally impressive price tag and a set of rules. And no, we don’t mean for tuxes and designer formal gowns. This includes everything from the venue to entertainment, alcohol, and staffing. Making mistakes is all too easy when planning a black-tie vow renewal. Here are nine of the biggest mistakes couples make to help you avoid them while planning your vow renewal.
1. Having one in the first place
A black-tie affair at a five-star hotel may be perfect for that charity fundraiser you help organize, but is it really right for your vow renewal? First of all, ask yourselves if you have a large enough list of guests that would attend to support booking this type of venue. You also need to decide if you’re comfortable having a celebration that is lacking in your personality, yet overflowing in etiquette expectations. Finally, ask yourselves is you have a budget that is more than large enough to fully pull off this type of celebration. If you can’t say yes to all of these questions, then a style compromise may be in order. You can create a fancy event that also more personal at a lower budget for fewer people in a hip industrial or performing arts space.
2. Failing to consider guests’ financial situations
Think about whether or not most of the guests you are inviting already own a tuxedo or formal gown. Next, consider if it would be a struggle for them to rent or buy one. If either dressing as requested would be an issue for your guests, you should reconsider the level of formality you are wanting. Guests often decline for attire reasons alone. What fun would a black-tie event be with no guests?
3. Creating dress code uncertainty
It either is or isn’t black tie, the use of “optional” or “preferred” just creates unnecessary confusion and potential disappointment for all concerned. If you want your guests to wear a specific level of attire formality, then say so. It will be less stressful for them and you. If you’re happy with formal attire, then use that term versus black-tie.
4. Choosing a venue that’s not normally upscale
If your venue of choice isn’t a place that people normally go in formal attire, stop. If it’s hot, sandy, dirty, grassy, humid, or typically casual, it isn’t conducive to being dressed up. People dressed in bow ties, jackets, dressy shoes, and refined hairstyles just don’t work well at places like the beach. Plus, makeup tends to melt in the humidity, and smudges are all too common when teary eyes meet the wind. A bunch of unhappily disheveled guests isn’t going make for a wonderful vow renewal. If you have your heart set on a black-tie vow renewal, make sure the venue is suitably air-conditioned or heated.
5. Going with too tall centerpieces
When it comes to centerpieces, bigger isn’t always better. While you may be in love with a tall centerpiece design, keep in mind that they create a visual separator between guests at each table. Plus, they can be incredibly obstructive and create a distraction during special moments. Tall centerpieces can put an end to the conversation at guest tables as the block people from talking to one another from across the table. Limit your use of tall centerpieces to the decor around the edges of your space and go with lush, low centerpieces on tables.
6. Booking niche entertainment
Classical music is the first thing some couples think of when considering entertainment for their black-tie vow renewal. A classical string quartet can be lovely for the ceremony and even the cocktail hour. However, you’ll want to make sure the rest of your entertainment is well suited for your guest’s diverse tastes. Don’t just base your music decisions off of what guests are asked to wear. It is supposed to be a fun celebration after all!
7. Cutting costs by limiting service
When guests dress up, they expect to experience first-class service. While this type of service should be expected for any vow renewal, it’s particularly important for a black-tie event. You need to make your guests feel like dressing for the occasion was worth it, and that means top-notch service. This means having extra bartenders, servers, and other staff working your event. You might also need to have coat checkers, valets, and restroom staff. If you need to cut back on costs, this is not the place to do it.
8. Half-assing any part of it
If you’re going to have a black-tie vow renewal, then everything needs to be up to that standard. This means everything from food and drinks to transportation. You’ll need a premium bar, a sit-down dinner with an upscale menu, top-notch entertainment, valet, and over the top cake or desserts. Your wedding DJ cousin isn’t going to cut it. Neither is DIYing basically anything. To reiterate, don’t go black tie unless you really have the budget for it and are prepared to deliver the full black-tie experience to your guests.