What Does Black Tie Optional Mean: What To Wear and Outfit Ideas

May 23, 2023 | riley

Image by Grace Torres

So you’ve been invited to a wedding, and the invitation states that the dress code is black tie optional (or black tie encouraged). You’re left wondering what you should wear–you don’t want to look too formal, but you also don’t want to be too casual. This dress code has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years to encourage guests to dress up without feeling the pressure of a true black tie dress code. However, if you’ve never attended a wedding with this particular requested attire before, you may be left feeling confused.

Here at Junebug, we’re here to help couples planning their weddings and wedding guests alike. That’s why we’re here to break down what black tie optional means and even give you a few outfit ideas so you don’t have to spend all your time at the mall or online shopping.

What Does Black Tie Optional Mean?

Before we can give you outfit ideas, we have to break down what the dress code entails. In simple terms, the couple tying the knot would like to see all of their guests get dressed up. Although a gown or tux is not required, the newlyweds would appreciate it. The term is vague for a reason–the couple is giving you flexibility in your outfit choice. This is ideal for those who don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on wedding guest attire.

 To paint a picture, there’s a good chance that the wedding party will be wearing tuxedos and floor-length bridesmaid dresses, so guests should match the formality of the wedding. 

Image by Laura Diliberto

How to Decide How Formal You Should Be

If you’ve received a black tie optional invitation and you’re not sure what to wear, the first thing you can look at is the venue and the season of the wedding. If the wedding is in the summer and you’re concerned about being too hot, you may choose to go for a cocktail dress or a long gown with a slit for some breathability–though there are ways you can still dress this up, too. If it’s winter, lean into the warmer colors and long gowns. 

The same goes for the venue. Is it taking place in a garden? Don’t be afraid to rock a floral gown to match the outdoor setting. Is the affair going to be Italian-themed? Think about what you’d wear to a formal dinner on the Amalfi Coast.

Recommended Reading: Wedding Guest Dresses for Every Type of Wedding

How Should You Do Your Hair and Makeup?

Because you are going to be dressed up, your hair and makeup should match. Now’s the chance to experiment and take your regular routine up a notch. Not typically one to wear bold makeup? Go for it. Wear your hair up most of the time? Don a half-up-half-down hairstyle or loose waves. 

Black Tie Optional Outfit Ideas

Black Tie Optional Dresses

We know that picking out the perfect outfit for upcoming weddings is more overwhelming than one would think. Choosing the perfect outfit is just part of the fun of going to a wedding after all. If you’ve got a wedding coming up, we’re helping you find the outfit of your dream, no matter what season. Have a summer wedding coming up? We got you! Maybe fall. You’re covered there too. Same with winter and spring too. Happy shopping!

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Boho Meets Traditional In This Palacio de Fronteira Wedding

May 21, 2023 | justine

Micaela and David’s Palacio de Fronteira wedding beautifully celebrated their love. Set against a backdrop steeped in history, their big day flawlessly blended classic elegance with a bohemian twist. The atmosphere was set with an earthy color palette featuring organic elements and a delightful array of textures, creating a day that can only be described as magical. 

With its stunning gardens, intricate architecture, and decorative fountains, their picturesque venue provided the perfect setting for their special day. Surrounded by family and friends, they exchanged heartfelt vows in a lovely setting adorned with beautiful arrangements of pampas grass and florals. As the day progressed, the reception came alive with centerpieces of blooms and dried foliage, effortlessly enhancing the bohemian vibe and harmonizing with the intricate surroundings.

Every aspect of the wedding was carefully planned, creating an inviting atmosphere and a dreamy aesthetic that enchanted everyone. Fortunately, Claudia Robson was there to capture every moment, preserving the memories for a lifetime. As you scroll, prepare to be transported to this magical setting and gather inspiration for your own boho-inspired outdoor celebration.

The Couple:

Micaela and David

The Wedding:

Palacio de Fronteira, Lisbon, Portugal

Why A Palacio de Fronteira Wedding

I always had this boho wedding idea in my head. When I was 16, I used to imagine having a beach wedding. Since our families are Portuguese, we started looking for venues in Portugal. At first, we had booked a rustic spot in Sintra, but then the pandemic hit, and we had to change plans. That’s when my planner showed me Palacio de Fronteira, a historic and classic venue. I wasn’t sure about it because it didn’t fit my boho vision. But in the end, I decided to mix the two styles and go with it.

A Labor Of Love: Handcrafted Bouquets By Mom

To add a special touch to the ceremony, my mom made my bouquet and all my bridesmaid bouquets. She made it ten times better than I envisioned, and it was such a special touch that I would remember forever.

Recommended Reading: Use This Wedding Flower Checklist to Incorporate Flowers Throughout Your Day

Recommended Reading: Creative Ceremony Backdrop Ideas

Discovering Lucky Savings and Dream Dress Finds For An Affordable Price

I used an online template to figure out what to include in the budget. Once I had an idea, I started getting quotes to see how much everything would cost. You won’t believe how lucky we got with a few things that saved us a ton of money. First, the bar was included in our package, so we had unlimited drinks without worrying about the cost. And guess what? I found my dream dress for just $400! It was on sale at BHLDN, and I didn’t even bother trying it on before buying it. Can you believe that?

Recommended Reading: 13 Mismatched Bridesmaid Dress Color Palettes

Recommended Reading: The Best Etsy Bohemian Wedding Dresses

Their Palacio de Fronteira Wedding Reception And Seamless Celebration Exceeded All Expectations (And Lasted Until 2 AM)

The most unforgettable moment of the day was seeing the reception and how everything came together. It was mind-blowing! I know it sounds cliché, but don’t stress about the little things seriously. What I’m particularly proud of is how flawlessly the day unfolded. I honestly can’t recall a single awkward moment. If anything, the day went by in a flash. The music stopped playing at 2 AM, and everyone started chanting for it to return. It was such a fun and energetic atmosphere.

Shop Similar Fringe Placemat: 1. Natural Fringe Placemat 2. Raffia Fringe Placemat 3. Natural Fringe Boho Placemat

Shop Similar Gold Cutlery Set: 1. Matte Gold Utensil Set 2. LAZAHOME Gold Cutlery Set 3. VANVRO Tableware Set

The Wedding Team:

Photography – Claudia Robson
Event Planning – Lisbon Wedding Planner
Venue – Palacio de Fronteira
Videography – Joel Da Palma
Makeup Artist – Andreia
Hair Styling – Lilia Costa
Wedding Dress – Adelaide Willowby by Watters
Bridal Accessories – Cata Vassalo
Party Apparel – Asos Edition Ciara Sequin Dress
Groom’s Apparel – Decenio
Groom’s Shoes – Kurt Geiger
Getting Ready Attire – Meeka


Congratulations to Micaela and David on their enchanting Palacio de Fronteira Wedding. And a big thank you to Claudia Robson for capturing every exquisite moment, ensuring the memories last a lifetime.

Your venue sets the tone, but the florals and decor genuinely bring it to life. They can transform a space into an enchanting wonderland, reflecting your unique style and vision. Unleash your creativity by exploring various color palettes, textures, and themes that resonate with your style. Brimming with expert tips and inspiration, our decor and floral guides will help you navigate through this exciting world of wedding design.

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This Madeline Island Wedding Was Full Of DIY Touches From The Bride’s Family

May 20, 2023 | justine

Captivated by its stunning views and natural surroundings, McKenzie and Dominic couldn’t pass up tying the knot on Madeline Island. Though they had initially planned for a larger event, they soon realized that a more intimate celebration would allow them to truly showcase their personalities. With the help of their loved ones, they created a beautiful and meaningful Madeline Island wedding that perfectly captured their unique style with DIY touches.

Surrounded by the beauty of the outdoors, it was the perfect enchanting setting for their ceremony. The couple exchanged their vows in nature under a unique triangular arch made by the bride’s father adorned by overgrown blooms and foliage. The same magical forest vibe was carried through to the reception tablescape–featuring a moss runner, candles, gold accents, and vintage-inspired glassware.

This lakeside celebration was a true labor of love, with every detail handcrafted by the couple and their family. From the charming florals and decor to the exquisite rings and cake, every element spoke to their unique style and personality. Skyler & Vhan Photography captured the beauty of the day in stunning detail, making this dreamy affair a must-see!

The Couple:

Mckenzie and Dominic

The Wedding:

Madeline Island Airbnb, Wisconsin, United States

Why They Decided On A Madeline Island Wedding

We’ve taken multiple trips to Lake Superior as a couple and with family, collecting sea glass and enjoying the views. When we looked for options for a small and private venue, we found this rental on an island in the middle of the great lake. It was just as I had always imagined our ceremony space. It also had the perfect spot for an outdoor family dinner and private access to the lake for vows and jumping off the dock. As lovers of nature, particularly Lake Superior, it was only natural that we chose the breathtaking Madeline Island as the location for our special day, surrounded by the beauty of the outdoors.

Their Brother-In-Law Created A Ceremony Inspired By Their Love Story

Our brother-in-law Vhan officiated our ceremony. He wrote each piece to reflect our journey and individually mentioned the family members there and their impact on our lives. I made our wedding rings and decided to have a ring-warming ceremony where each family member passed them around to share a blessing or good vibes.

Family Involvement Made Their Day Even More Special

We were lucky to have my sister as our photographer, which added an extra layer of intimacy and love to the day. We had a hand in creating almost everything on our wedding day. Each detail was chosen with care, reflecting our unique personalities and style. For example, I crafted our wedding rings as a jeweler, while my dad handmade the arch and lanterns for our outdoor ceremony. My mom’s artistic talents shone in her styling, cake, and floral arrangements bringing natural beauty to the island setting. Ultimately, every aspect of our wedding day was crafted with love and care, reflecting our deep connection to each other and the natural world around us.

Why They Decided That A Smaller Intimate Celebration Was The Right One For Them

We initially planned for a larger celebration that could include all our extended family and friends. However, we soon realized this didn’t allow us to create a day reflecting our personalities and style. We took a step back and checked in with each other throughout the planning process to ensure we were on the right track. One thing that helped us was questioning traditions or expectations that weren’t bringing us joy. By doing so, we brainstormed ways to infuse our personalities and talents into the day. This helped us to create a celebration that was truly unique and reflective of our relationship.

Wedding Advice: Be Authentic And Genuine To Who You Are

We advise staying true to yourselves and your values when planning your wedding. Remember that this day is about celebrating your love and commitment to each other, and it should feel authentic and reflective of your relationship. By prioritizing your personalities and talents, you can create a celebration that is truly memorable and reflects your unique love story. The most important thing for us was dropping expectations of our wedding day and embracing what would make us the happiest.

Giving Handwritten Letters And Moss Agate Jewelry As Meaningful Wedding Favors

TEXTOur wedding was made up of just a handful of family members. Before the day started, we handed out handwritten letters to each person, sharing what having them there meant to us. McKenzie also included pieces of matching moss agate jewelry, so everyone had a token of our appreciation for helping create the most incredible day.

A Private Vow Exchange and Star-gazing Moment

After dinner, we went down to the private dock to share our vows. Even with a handful of guests, we wanted this part of the day to be between us. We got to experience the last sliver of the sun while we recited them. Another favorite moment was at the very end of the day. We went back out to the deck where we’d had dinner and laid on the ground to watch the stars taking in the last bit of our wedding day together.

The Wedding Team:

Photography – Skyler & Vhan Photography
Event Planning – Michelle Lellman
Ceremony Venue – Madeline Island Airbnb
Catering – Grampa Tony’s
Videography – Hoffland Films
Invitation Design + Bridal Accessories + Rings – Eclectic Sol
Wedding Dress – Willowby by Watters
Rentals – Lace & Brass Events

Congratulations to McKenzie and Dominic on their Madeline Island Wedding packed with unique DIY touches. And big thanks to Skyler & Vhan Photography for capturing the magic that comes from being surrounded by the natural beauty of the outdoors and enveloped by the love of friends and family.

Your venue may set the tone, but your special day should truly reflect your unique style. With endless possibilities for personalization, our guide is here to inspire you with ideas ranging from modern twists on tradition to hands-on DIY projects. Get ready to make your celebration truly unforgettable!

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