The Story Behind Black Wedding Dresses


It didn’t all start with Vera’s black sachet on pearl-white wedding dresses. Those who are not familiar with Vera Wang, she is currently the most well-known wedding dress designer and the name behind celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and Chelsea Clinton’s gowns.

Black wedding dresses, in fact, were worn centuries ago in different cultures. In Europe for example, brides wore whatever color they pleased or basically the best dress they owned, no matter what color or shade it came in. It was Queen Victoria who originally sparked the trend for white wedding gowns when she wore it to her wedding ceremony in 1840.

White gowns then became exclusive to the elite who would apparently afford spending so much on an expensive gown that could easily be ruined! After WWII, the middle class caught up on the trend. Nonetheless, black wedding gowns were still worn by brides, and most often by those who had recently lost a loved one. Interestingly enough, in Spanish cultures, Roman Catholic brides wore black to symbolize their devotion to marriage till death.

It’s kinda romantic… Wouldn’t you say?

In the late 1800’s though, black took on a very negative connotation and was mainly associated with death and mourning. Later on, it became a huge taboo for the mother of the groom or bride to even wear black, as it denoted regret towards the marriage or choice of spouse!

However, the craziness had to come to an end since today black is considered the king of all colors, and by far the most elegant and sophisticated shade a woman can wear.

It was merely a matter of time before the modern bride toppled over the ‘all dressed in white cliché’ and let a rainbow of colors invade the bridal couture. And what better timing for Vera’s black ribbons & sachets to come knocking on the door?

And so in 2010, an exquisite collection of white wedding dresses, embellished with beautiful black sachets and bows at the waist, were introduced to the awaiting fashion world. And with that, a single black wedding gown made a phenomenal comeback.

I must confess, it didn’t capture my attention nor cause a buzz like the black sachets did. Although the introduction admittedly paved the way nicely for what’s to come.

This time around I was completely taken aback by the 2012 line of black wedding dresses! The layers and layers of black organza, soft tulle, provocative lace and an occasional combination of nude shades were just enough to blow me away to a far paradise of pitch black beauty.

I instantly fell in love with two dresses from that collection… They scream elegance in every way a black dress does!

So, are we going to see a black wave wash over the bridal shores anytime soon? In my humble opinion, no. Although they are a bold fashion statement, and some are absolute masterpieces, I think that we’ll need a few more centuries perhaps to see brides in black walking down aisles (at least in the Gulf area). Mainly because of the sorrow and mourning connotation the color carries, and also because by nature society is more inclined towards white shades and what they symbolize: purity, beauty and virginity.

On the bright side, I think this means we’ll be seeing more guests in breathtaking black gowns. So watch out fashionistas, a trend is about to black you out!

–  Reem Behbehani

Illustrations of Vera Wang 2012 wedding dresses by Suad Al Fraih


14 thoughts on “The Story Behind Black Wedding Dresses”

  1. I got married in black back in 1993, I had front page of my local newspaper, people still remembered it years after I got divorced :)

  2. We still have my Great Grandmother’s wedding dress (circa 1930’s) and it’s black because they couldn’t afford white.

  3. I just purchased my black wedding dress! Black is elegant, it’s my favorite color and because it’s MY wedding day, I can wear whatever I so choose!!!! #My Day, My black dress!!

    1. Since I was a little girl I’ve never liked traditions. I feel like because these are social norms, people have an obligation to do certain things, to me that’s like having my choice taken away because I HAVE to please society. I have nothing bad to say about people who do choose to wear white gowns or have the traditional wedding of course because it could mean something completely different to them. But I’ve never been like that.

      I found a very, beautiful black gown on sale that I want to wear as my wedding dress. It was marked down from 230 to only 30 dollars, so that’s also a bonus because I refuse to spend money on an expensive article of clothing.

      It has been pointed out to me that a lot of my family members who are Christian will see this as sacrilegious. It kind of makes me upset that they would get offended over just a color of a dress. Before I even read this article, black to me symbolized “till death do us part” and also the whole reason I’m even having a wedding is because my dad died and that’s something he really wanted me to have and he had always loved my “no-conformity” because it’s something he had always wished he had the courage to do. I just hope he knew that he was different as well in his own way and that he was always courageous. ♡♡♡

      My other wedding color is green, and that to me represents life as in nature. I don’t think I should change who I am for someone else’s comfort. I am weird and I am proud of that. :) Also my fiance has no problem with it, I could show up in jeans and he’d still marry me.

  4. I’m getting married in sept and I really want a black dress I dare to be different I love thinking out the box and reading these comments has really boost my decision

  5. I’m gonna get married in a black dress. I think its waaaay sexier than white and is gonna draw so much attention. Well its my day after all. I want everything different from a regular wedding.

  6. All of the comments ahead of me are so right! I was just telling one of my friends about me wanting to get married in a black gown and at first she seemed happy about it, however found herself trying to stir me in the more “traditional” white gown. Even told me to try off white if it made me feel better but it most definitely did not. I was stuck on my black gown. However, after talking so long with her i started to think what would everyone think foreal. Would i be considered tacky or what? So i got to asking a few people and one family member was saying that one somebody was in they ear saying it was bad luck and my fiance’s from Louisiana where everything is bad luck but he didn’t mention this when i brought it up and so my face expression was like woah. Then my brother was like “i say do it, but u will most definitely have “talk”” and then i was like but not all talk is bad talk so i was just torn up about all of the slight negativity and started to feel down and then i read this article. I will not change my mind, my thoughts, or my decision. Come August of 2018, I will be walking down the isle in a black gown. A Vera Wang gown at that!

  7. I am getting married in a black dress because it’s my wedding and I hate following trends of others. I am a true follower of Jesus the Christ and I will tell you now, he doesn’t care about the color of my dress. He knows my heart! I cannot stand the idea of being traditional!!!


  9. From the distant archives of my memory I recall a story about a woman in medieval times who did not want to marry the older man her father chose for her to alleviate his debts and while she couldn’t refuse to marry him, she rebelled by wearing a white wedding gown instead of the black that society of the time demanded. According to the story it was quite the scandal because women were supposed to be docile and obedient

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