Image by Justin Aaron Photography 

Black tie weddings are more than just the dress code – here’s everything you need to consider when planning your black-tie wedding.

Image by Tealily Photography 

There’s something that never, ever gets old about a well cut black tuxedo and a well tied black bow tie, punctuated by a brilliantly white shirt with dress buttons and cufflinks. Or a gown which gently grazes floor level as you dance the night away. Add into the mix that the reason for the black-tie celebration is a wedding – your wedding – and the possibilities for a glamourous, elegant (ok, we’ll say it – even slightly over the top) event are almost limitless.

Image by Tealily Photography 

We’ve created and overseen our fair share of black tie soirees over the years, and here’s our insider’s guide on what you need to never lose sight of, if you both want formal all the way.

Image by Tealily Photography 

Timing. And location, location, location.

Now there’s some very sensible reasons for why black tie is a little less common a dress code in Australia then say England or France: The weather. It’s hot here. It’s often humid. It’s just not tuxedo weather a lot of the time, in a lot of the places we call home. Which doesn’t mean that you can’t plan the black-tie wedding you’ve been dreaming of.

But perhaps steer away from a December date in Brisbane, or Sydney, or almost anywhere in Australia. Or opt for a chilled, air-conditioned environment for yourself and your bridal party, from the time you start getting ready, until the moment you arrive at the ceremony through to the reception. And that means providing that same chilled environment for your guests at the ceremony and reception too.

Image by Justin Aaron Photography 

If you want to combine the black-tie dream with an outdoor ceremony, opt to say “I do” in late Autumn or Winter. If that isn’t going to work for you, abandon the outdoor ceremony dream and choose a gorgeous venue that ensures neither of you, nor your bridal party, nor your guests, have a clue what the temperature or humidity is doing outside, as you exchange vows and then move to celebration mode.

No one, absolutely no one, wants to be standing in the afternoon sun, wearing a tux or an evening gown, when the temperature is nudging 25 degrees let alone 32 or more.

Image by Justin Aaron Photography 

Location, location, location (again, because it’s so important).

The scope for where to hold your black-tie event is extraordinary – from magnificent, historic mansions or university halls, to a modernist building with a new take on chandeliers open to a water view, to luxurious country properties with luxe timber barns or marquees on offer. Choose the venue which excites you, which transports you to a space you never want to leave come the day.

However, keep in mind what the venue comes with a… sorry to raise the B word… budget. Don’t fall head over heels for a venue, hate on the chairs and the shape of the tables, book it and THEN discover it will cost you an additional $3000 to replace all of those for the evening.

Image by Tealily Photography 

Some venues even expect you to cover the cost of moving and storing their furniture for the time your celebration is on, and then to bring it all back in and set it up once more. Trust us. It gets expensive.

Image by Justin Aaron Photography 

If you can’t shake the vision of crystal chandeliers from your mind’s eye, lean to the venues which come complete with them already in place. You can take it as a given, that the more you have to transform a space to turn it into something else, the more it is likely to cost you.

Image by Tealily Photography 

But the most wonderful thing? Weddings, black tie or otherwise, don’t have to be tick a box – some of the most beautiful black-tie celebrations we have been to have been held in barns, outdoors at home, in weather worn yachting clubs by the harbour and in rustic sheds transformed by the simple act of beautifully styled tables.

Image by Tealily Photography 

Mix it up like this, or choose a more traditional black-tie style venue, just make sure it fits you both like a glove.

Mailbox love

This is not the time for invitations to land by email or text message. The invitations you post set the tone for the style of wedding you are wishing to host. And that means starting out with stationery that at a glance, or a feel, sets a tone of understated black-tie luxury.

Image by Tealily Photography 

Everything from the stock selected, to the fonts used, will help set the tone. Letterpress is stunning, but so is a beautifully designed printed suite. This is not the time for the whimsical invites illustrated with deer antlers and quirky typefaces better suited to your favourite whiskey bar. Stating the dress code is Black Tie is vital.

Image by Justin Aaron Photography 

Some couples even go out of their way to stress the need to adhere to the dress code by noting it is Black Tie and Formal. An RSVP card which can be mailed back to you is another way to add a tone of formality to your stationery. And it’s all about the words too. Stick to a more formal tone for how the invitations are worded so guests again know at a glance they have been invited to a formal event.

Image by Tealily Photography 

Let the music play

Traditionally, black tie events call for the beauty of classical music played by a string trio or quartet or more.

But there’s no rule book saying your guests can’t enjoy the cocktail hour to the back beat of a classical Spanish guitarist or two. Or a jazz trio. Or an incredible crooner belting out 1950s song of the Frank Sinatra bent. More contemporary vibe your thing? Track down a DJ accompanied by a few players on sax and cello.

Once the dancing hours begin? Band, DJ, both. The choice is completely yours. Just ensure that they’re passionate professionals utterly dedicated to creating the vibe for a dance floor that heaves with happy bodies all night long.

Image by Justin Aaron Photography 

Style it up

Now whatever the venue, if you’ve asked your guests to dress up, then the venue should be dressed up too.

Image by Tealily Photography 

Just because you’ve opted for a slightly rustic space or a modern space without a hint of cut glass or chandeliers, doesn’t mean dressing down the venue.

What is black tie style?

Traditionally it’s all about cut crystal, chandeliers, the finest silver cutlery, letterpressed menus, crispest white damask linens. The whole Gatsby dream writ large.


It’s all about your take on high style. It can be modern. It can be sleek. It can be classical. It can be black and white. Or white and copper. Or white may not make an appearance at all. It can be all these things and more. You’d expect us to say this, but reach out to a stylist whose style you love and trust, who can hold your hand through the process, take your loves and dreams, and translate the whole beautiful thing into a cohesive look that transports you both, and your guests, to somewhere truly special, truly worth dressing up for.

Image by Tealily Photography 

And you know the best thing about being armed with a fantastic stylist? The good ones know it’s not just about endless budgets, but how to allocate what you’d like to spend on florals and styling in the very best and wow of ways.


Image by Tealily Photography 

Ms Zigzag says: If you dream of a classic black tie wedding (and who isn’t after Harry and Meghan’s Royal Wedding on the weekend) then this guide is perfect for you! Such fantastic tips from invitation inspiration all the way through to venue styling. Thank you Form Over Function

About the author Form Over Function: The Form Over Function team believe everyone has the right to enjoy a celebration – no matter how big or small – that is unique, personal, and carried out with a sense of fun, or a touch of style and grace. So whether you turn to us to design and manage your complete event, need to hire just a single spectacular vase, or wish to use our creative assistance for any of the many possibilities inbetween these two levels of service, you can be guaranteed the same degree of attention to detail, care and innovation we offer to all our clients.

Image: Free the Bird Photography / Venue: Gardens House 

Creative Director of Tommy Collins by Atlantic Group, Tommy McIntosh, has put together a list of his top 10 black tie event venues in Melbourne and the surrounding areas today. We figured an industry legend like Tommy is the go-to guy for the best in venues as he is on the frontline with his crew travelling around from one stunning wedding venue to the next serving up delicious food. 

Plus, Tommy swoons over black tie weddings as much as we do, saying “I love the juxtaposition of a black tie event in the country. Green backdrop settings with white jackets and patent leather shoes and white dresses just creates a magical setting.” So let’s dive into his list, shall we?

Images by Chris Grundy

Number 1 – The Secret Garden by Tommy Collins

Call me biased but our mobile secret garden set in the middle of the CBD is my favourite venue. In year one, our secret garden was set atop Federation Square with breathtaking city views- outdoor dining with the city as your backdrop on one side & the Yarra River on the other. In our second year our secret garden was set the in Docklands with amazing river views and an epic view of the city. Only popping up for six months at a time it keeps the garden fresh and your event very unique.

Images by Nikole Ramsay

Number 2 – Our Private Polo Pitch in Flinders

With 8m high hedges surrounding, a grass court tennis court and a 20m black lap pool and an English Tudor style house, this venue is magic. Our Polo Pitch with an intimate rose garden and fountain creates a magical setting for a ceremony, reception & next day recovery.

Images supplied by Tommy Collins by Atlantic Group

Number 3 – Baie Wines

Baie Wines is located in the Bellarine Peninsula. The grand entry of 20m tall trees line the 50m long drive way leading you up to a picturesque setting amongst the vines on one side and the Bellarine Coastline, which makes for an amazing sunset.

Image: Free the Bird Photography 

Number 4 – Gardens House in the Royal Botanic Gardens

The house was built in 1854 and has recently been given a modern face lift. This house creates an old world back drop. Think Marie Antoinette champagne tower, festoon lighting out front and reception on the grounds.

Number 5 – Mingela Estate

This is your quintessential Australian Outback wedding venue. With a sprawling one level farm house with space for a marquee out front over looking an amazing valley. It even comes with its own herd of kangaroos. The property also comes with a beautiful lake and stone bridge, perfect for a ceremony.

Image by Madeline Kate

Number 6 – Tonic House Rooftop

Set in the middle of the CBD with an outdoor rooftop setting for dining under the stars, then later in the evening finish the night with a jazz bar lounge complete with its own baby grand piano.

Images supplied by Tommy Collins by Atlantic Group

Number 7 – Canvas House

Brand new polished warehouse venue in South Melbourne. Polished concrete & freshly painted exposed beams. This is a polished warehouse wedding venue.

Images supplied by Tommy Collins by Atlantic Group

Number 8 – Pizzini Winery in King Valley

It is quite the hike being 3 hrs out of town but take over for the weekend. Both have huge gum tree’s is perfect for a ceremony, with out door Bocce pitch & old school Italian hospitality is infectious. Recovery by the river eating cheese & drinking French.

Number 10 – Kensington Collective

There is something so romantic about blue stone and red brick. The warehouse has soaring ceilings and distressed timber floors. Creating some opulence in a warehouse again really makes a statement.

Ms Zigzag says: So there you have it brides and grooms to be… Our trusted wedding guru Tommy has done all the research on the best black tie wedding venues for you! Now it’s up to you to go check them out for yourself and lock in the wedding date. Exciting!! 

About the author Tommy McIntosh, Creative Director of Tommy Collins by Atlantic Group: Tommy has become synonymous as ‘the face’ of Tommy Collins. Hailing from Brisbane, a much younger Tommy had a vision, and from behind the bar of many top establishments, quickly learnt that service should be much more than just a well balanced cocktail. With a well pressed suit, an inviting grin and an inherent passion for style, Tommy moved to Melbourne and immediately found himself at home in a thriving city of food and entertainment.

Today Tommy continues to enjoy playing host at events and is never afraid to get his hands dirty. His strength in building client relationships and his endless list of contacts have been integral to the success of the Tommy Collins Group. He is also spreading his expertise by taking the lead throughout the company’s various retail offerings.

Over the years we’ve seen mens’ fashion becoming more colourful, playful and a real expression of the man himself. At Wolf Kanat  there is an emphasis on a well fitting suit for a perfectly groomed groom and his groomsmen, and also touches that reflect his personality whether it be in a coloured jacket, shirts with colours or patterns or socks that would – well, literally blow your socks off with their brightly coloured and wild patterns. Carrying on the proud and hard working legacy of a business that started in the 1950’s can be a heavy responsibility, but the present Wolf Kanat family members have honoured their heritage with a flair for design, moving with the times, and a pride in their profession, all the while celebrating the great legacy of the man who started it all – Wolf Kanat. Here’s their story.

Can you please give us a brief history of Wolf Kanat?

Wolf’s family originated from Russia, and after many generations, his parents left there as a young family seeking a better life and traveled to Cyprus at the turn of the century. Wolf lived there into his teens. He was educated there and upon leaving school, spoke 6 languages. He traveled to Australia arriving in Melbourne in the 1920’s. Based on his time living in Cyprus, Wolf spent his days in Melbourne, walking in and around Lonsdale St and quickly found work there. After holding down a number of jobs Wolf commenced a tailoring vocation studying tailoring and design, and working in the industry located in Flinders Lane.

In 1951 after Wolf had started the Flair Menswear company, Wolf relocated from premises in the city of Melbourne to High St Preston to its own dedicated building. From there he built a new premises in Bell St Preston. His company continued to grow. In the 1960’s the company moved into the high tech space introducing new pattern grading systems. In the 70’s & 80’s the company invested heavily into state of the art equipment, comprising of automated sewing machines, computerised cutting machines and computerised design systems, which paved the way for the future. The company is led by four of Wolf’s grandsons, and now boasts a couple of fourth generation family members.

Image courtesy of Wolf Kanat

What has characterised the Wolf Kanat brand from its earliest days?

The Wolf Kanat brand’s hallmarks are based on its tailoring heritage. Design and quality are key pillars and the patterns have be honed over 9 decades.

What legacy did your grandfather leave future generations of your family? How are you carrying on your grandfather’s legacy?

Wolf’s legacy is having the family business culture modelled on his strongest values, being hard work, honesty and integrity. Wolf often said “the harder you work the luckier you get.”

Image courtesy of Wolf Kanat

Do your European roots and history bring a sense of timelessness to Wolf Kanat?
Although we strive against the mundane we do not intend to overpower the Wolf Kanat customer and man. Our focus is on broadening and expressing the personality of the person wearing our clothing. That is to say the clothing and style is an extension of his personality and reflects and complements the strengths and character he possesses.

What do the words ‘impeccable style’ mean to you?

Impeccable style for Wolf Kanat is a man that understands how to mix and match pattern, colour, day, night, formal and casual looks. The most important element is to master the basic components of your wardrobe first understanding what works for you and your daily life, skin colour, work and leisure. A man with impeccable style is then seamlessly able to connect all the components with ease. He is the guy you know that manages to never look over or under dressed and can break the rules and get away with it making it all appear as easy as 1, 2, 3. A lot of men need assistance; we see that as being an important part of our service to our customers.

Image by Marco Marroni Photographer

What, in your opinion, are the hallmarks of a well fitting suit?

A well fitting suit is the art of tailoring. This is not something that happens by chance. In our case we have perfected our pattern work over many decades of refinement making sure the final shape is both on trend and complimentary to the man being fitted. As men can be broadly grouped into slimmer or more solid types we have always ensured we offer a few different silhouettes to suit the individual. The ultimate goal of a well fitting suit is to provide shape and style without compromising comfort.
Then there are the final adjustments of length that can be attended to at the point of sale. The final result will be a suit that has clean shoulders, perfect back drape, nice shaped chest and a waisted silhouette and lastly sleeves showing just enough shirt cuff.

Image courtesy of Wolf Kanat

What constitutes the ‘black tie’ look?

Strictly speaking, Black tie is Black tie although there is room within this formality to show more variation in style and looks than there has been historically. As business dressing has become more casual there has been an increase in design offered for formal, special occasion and in particular wedding options for men.

Image by T-One Image

We see variations with the black tie look – e.g. satin lapels, fabric lapels, self-tie bowties, bowties on a neckband etc. Are there any ‘rules’ to adhere to if we really want to look formal?

Today the tuxedo can be Black, Navy, and Silver, Ivory / White or burgundy with either tone on tone silk lapels or contrast. Shirts can be white fly front or bib front with bow ties and pocket squares in matching patterns/ colors. Today there are less constraints in black tie looks which can make it a lot of fun to put the outfit together.

Image by Marco Marroni Photographer, Image by T-One Image

Is there any room for unique accessories with black tie?

The accessories can often provide the relief from formal dressing by adding quirky cufflinks, pocket squares and bow ties. A set of wolf’s head cufflinks can be a real talking point to finish off a Wolf Kanat black tie outfit.

What are the appropriate shoes, belts and socks to wear at a black tie occasion?

The best shoes to wear are either round or pointed toe derby patent leather shoes. The mirror finish really lifts the look. The belt should be tone on tone to the shoes or pants where as the socks can be playful and quirky. Wolf offers a unique range of socks of which a portion is designed specifically for formal and black tie, matching back to shoes, shirt and suit colorations. Our socks are often a talking point of our customer’s looks and quietly make a bold statement. Wolf’s accessory offer makes this process easy and if you are unsure, one of our team will assist in the selection process to ensure you have the right look for the right occasion.

Image by Tin Drum Photography

What is meant by ‘white tie’? When is it appropriate to use this dress code?

White tie is full evening dress and usually consists of tails for men. It is rare that this dress code is expected as its application and rules seldom apply to contemporary requirements. As celebrity and media based looks have increased in importance a strict dress policy has subsided allowing more personality to be on display. The main issue to note however is, if you want to break the rules you need to know the rules first.

What has online shopping bought to your brand?

Online shopping has been a blessing for those that want to do some research online before going to try clothes. For those either not keen on bricks and mortar or can’t get there then they have the convenience of shopping from home.

Image courtesy of Wolf Kanat

How can grooms ensure a perfect fit when ordering a suit or shirt online?

Most suits need an alteration at the point of sale so it’s better to have an expert attend to this in store if possible or alternatively clothes bought on line can be taken to a local tailor to be altered.

What role do your tailoring specialists offer the groom and groomsmen?

Our tailoring specialists offer the groom and groomsmen an important range of services outside of the normal range of offers including colour consultation with the bride, styling of look, product and services to the type of wedding, custom made services down to final fitting and grooming on the day. It is not uncommon for our team to receive an invite for the all-important day, which is how seriously we take our service.


Image by Sophie Baker Photography, Image by Fresh Photography

Are the groom and groomsmen still wearing matching outfits in 2018, or are you seeing more variety?

It is not uncommon for the groom and groomsman to wear matching looks often separated by satin lapel finish and bow versus long ties to separate the groom from the groomsmen. However an increasing range of customers are looking for a stronger variation in looks, which we cater for from a wide range of ready to wear and also custom made services. Our colour matching consultation with the bride and groom allows greater flexibility of final looks while ensuring nothing is left to chance.

How do you advise on the perfect colour combinations to suit the groom’s wedding theme?

This is a critical part of our service. If the bride can’t be present or the groom prefers she isn’t part of the consultation we offer a take away consultation pack, which includes swatches of cloth to ensure the overall wedding themes, and colours are considered and catered for in the final execution.

 Image by T-One Image

Formerly, we used to wear black shoes with a grey suit, and black shoes with a black suit. What colour and fabric trends are you seeing in 2018 for wedding attire?

The biggest change has been the emergence of Blue, which has then made way for Silver, Ivory and burgundy reds. The rules have completely changed and there is a wider range of self-expression and fashion-ability within the final solution. The location of the wedding bears a stronger influence also. Weddings are now taking place in the country, beach side, and lunchtime weekdays through to the traditional formal occasion.

What are your favorite fabrics for summer and winter – that help the groom look his best throughout the wedding day?

My favourite option is the emergence of ivory with a nod to classical Gatsby appeal but perfect for winter and summer weddings alike. It’s fresh, new and traditional all at the same time.

Image by Marco Marroni Photographer

Is Wolf Kanat stocked Australia wide and in overseas locations?

Wolf Kanat is stocked nationwide through Myer, independent menswear specialists and our flagship Mid-city store in Sydney. Although we have no offshore distribution currently we have a large number of customers that purchase our product when visiting Australia and often have online customer enquiries. Our digital presence allows us to reach globally while our focus currently remains on our Australian distribution.

Thank you Paul for sharing your story. Whether for a black tie wedding or a beachside event, the groom can now have fun with colour and accessories to make his look unique, and the best bit? They are stocked Australia wide! To find out more about Wolf Kanat visit the website.

Headshot courtesy of Wolf Kanat.