How to Pack for a Black Tie Wedding

by The Belle Voyage

how to pack for a black tie wedding

A few months ago, a big, fat envelope arrived in my mailbox.  Square, custom postage, and incredibly thick.  It could  only mean one thing: A WEDDING INVITATION.

I knew that one of Mr. Belle Voyage’s college friends was getting married this fall, so the invitation wasn’t entirely unexpected.  But one piece was:

The dress code was Black Tie.

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to see this in the fine print.  If there’s one thing I love, it’s getting all dressed up for a special occasion.  AND I’ve never been to a black tie wedding before.  AND this particular wedding is in Manhattan.

So I just might be the most excited wedding guest EVER.

Somehow, the last few months flew by, and now I’m getting ready to head to New York again this week for said wedding.

Since this isn’t the kind of wedding where you can just throw a sundress into your suitcase and call it a day, I’ve been giving a bit more thought into how exactly I’ll pack for a black tie wedding.

Rent a dress

As soon as I saw that the wedding was Black Tie, I knew immediately that I’d be renting a gown from Rent the Runway – it was more a matter of WHICH dress to choose from the myriad of options.

I’ve talked before about how using Rent the Runway is a great way to simplify packing for certain occasions, and this is no exception!  In this case, I’m not having my rental ship to our hotel, because I want to try it on at home beforehand.

For a black tie wedding, the value of Rent the Runway really is in having a just-in-time wardrobe.  I have no desire to buy my own formal gown simply because I’d have so few occasions to wear it.  And by the time another occasion came around, I’m sure I’d want something else!

So for this wedding, I rented this dress by Nicole Miller.  It should be at my house by Tuesday and I can’t wait to see it in person!

Pack a warm layer

Sometimes I’m so focused on what I’m planning to wear to a wedding that I forget how inevitable it is that I’ll end up freezing cold at some point in the evening.

By now, I know that a warm layer for the evening is just about as critical as the dress I’m planning to wear, so I’ve wisened up, and I make sure I always have something with me.

A black tie wedding is no exception, since weddings this formal typically start after 6pm.  So there won’t be a sun-drenched ceremony to sweat through, and it’ll likely be chilly most of the evening.

I’m still struggling with what coat / warm layer to pair with my dress, though.  And I need to figure it out fast, since I’m leaving in 72 hours.  Any ideas?

Hair styling tools

I’m not generally one for packing a multitude of hair tools.  The only hair appliance that comes with me on a regular basis is my GHD flat iron, because it can solve nearly any hair problem, and it’s small and compact.  (P.S. did you know there is now a rose gold version of this flat iron?  YES.)

For this trip, though, I’m making a hair tool exception.  Here’s the deal.

I’m planning to get a blowout at Drybar on the day of the wedding, and I’m aiming for a vintage-Hollywood wavy look.  The only trouble with requesting waves at a place like the Drybar (or in general) is that sometimes you and your stylist, despite photos and good intentions, can have a very different vision of the end game.  And you walk out with prom curls or bedhead.

So I’m packing my very favorite curling wand as a backup plan, because I know if things go sideways in the hair department, I will have a backup plan.

Pack the Right Undergarments

Since I’m usually on packing autopilot, it’s easy for me to forget to pack certain things like strapless bras, or whatever other undergarment might be required for my dress of choice.

For this particular wedding, I’m lucky that the dress I chose to rent can be worn with a regular bra, so I don’t have to worry about a strapless bra for this trip.  But you better believe I will be bringing some Spanx with me to go under such a form-fitting dress!

Bring a Camera

I have instant gratifications issues when it comes to photos.  I need to see them, like, immediately after they’re taken.

So one of the things I treasured most from my own wedding is the fact that so many people sent me the photos that they’d taken on the day – RIGHT AWAY.  I knew I’d have to wait a few weeks for the “official” photographer pics, so I was incredibly grateful to have a few snapshots from the big day to tide me over until then.

Ever since then, I’ve always tried to remember to bring my camera to a wedding, so that I can do the same thing for other friends.

I can’t wait to share photos from the wedding with you!  Follow me on Instagram for updates!



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