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Black Wedding Dresses: Style Inspiration & Busting Myths
Who said you need to wear white on your wedding day?! We think black wedding dresses are classy, elegant, and the perfect choice for outdoor elopements – black dresses simply pop against some landscapes in a way white dresses do not. If you’re considering wearing black on your wedding day, we support you! If you’re still on the fence about a black dress, keep reading – below, we explain our top reasons to wear a black on your wedding day, how to choose the perfect dress, the history behind some wedding superstitions, and even provide links to our favorite places to buy dresses!
Reasons to Wear a Black Wedding Dress
- More style options
Traditional, formal wedding dresses simply don’t come in many style options – that’s a fact. On the other hand, a black dress can range from all levels of casual to formal, meaning you have a lot more options and brands available. Whether you love or hate traditional wedding dress styles, you’ll be able to find a black dress to fit your vision – lace, sequin, chiffon, silk, beaded, a-line, mermaid, ball gown… you name it, you can find it in black!
Non-traditional weddings deserve non-traditional attire – we photograph elopements, which means the couples we work with are already choosing a day that is unique, and we believe they deserve the same level of customization with every other wedding choice they make. You can craft a wedding day that 100% fits your personal preferences – from the location, to the timeline, to the number of guests in attendance. You deserve more than a short list of attire options that look like what everyone else is wearing.
- More affordable options
The “wedding” markup is real! As soon as something gets labeled a wedding accessory, it’s going to be more expensive than its non-wedding counterpart. While some of these higher prices are absolutely justified (more care & detail going into the creation of the dress, etc.), there are plenty of reasons why it simply doesn’t make sense to spend thousands on something you can spend hundreds on.
If you’re marrying on a budget and find yourself wishing wedding dresses were cheaper, we’d recommend you take a look at some dresses that aren’t labeled “wedding” dresses – whether they are black, blue, red, or any other color. Because black dresses are available for all occasions, options exist for every budget.
- Won’t get as visibly dirty (if you’re into that sort of thing)
If you follow us on Instagram, you probably noticed we have a soft spot in our hearts for dirty wedding dresses – we think a tattered hem at the end of the day signifies adventure! That said, you don’t need to trash your dress to have an incredible time. Plus, since a black dress can be worn on multiple occasions there are plenty of reasons to keep it looking presentable. Water, dirt, sand, clay, and plantlife all stand out when attached to the hem of a white dress – this is not as obviously when you’re wearing black.
- You can wear it again
Not that you can’t wear a white wedding dress again (corpse bride Halloween costume, anyone?) – there are simply more everyday repurposed options for a black dress. You could even wear it to the next wedding you attend as a guest! A black dress is an incredibly versatile garment – if you’re going to be spending money on a clothing item you like enough to wear on your wedding day, you deserve to get to wear it again. Parties, date nights, Broadway shows – getting to wear your wedding dress again will always remind you of the absolutely epic experience of getting married to your love.
Even if you don’t plan to wear your wedding dress again, a black dress is easy to thrift or resell. You can also purchase a secondhand dress for yourself and be the one giving a pre-loved dress new life.
How to Choose the Perfect Black Wedding Dress
First, consider your style
The perfect wedding dress for you is 100% your decision! Whatever color, cut, style and material makes you feel beautiful – choose that. This might be the time to lean into styles you’re comfortable with, or maybe choose something you’ve always wanted to wear but didn’t have the occasion to before. This isn’t the time to wonder what other people think of your clothing choices – this is the time to choose your dream dress.
If you were asking our opinion, we’re big fans of timeless styles – flattering silhouettes, classic materials, and nothing too “trendy.” As much as we all might be in love with a current trend, just think back to how much you loved something in the early 2000s and whether you’d want that to be your wedding attire! If you’re certain you’re going to love it 10, 20, or 30 years from now – get it.
Second, consider the location
Where you get married matters when choosing the right attire – weather, temperature, and landscape will all affect how comfortable you feel in what you wear. Though, we’ve also witnessed couples in the highest of high heels hike as confidently as if they were in boots, so your comfort level is based on your experience more so than our opinions. There are a few ways to “hack” it too – like wearing fleece-lined leggings under a thin skirt to make a summer dress suitable for a winter wedding. Or, you could find a beautiful coat to wear over a sleeveless dress. You could also wear landscape-appropriate attire if you’re hiking to your elopement location, and change when you reach the ceremony spot.
If a certain dress style is important to you on your wedding day, you could also choose a location or date based on knowing what you want to wear. If you absolutely hate the idea of covering up your dress, maybe a winter wonderland wedding isn’t ideal. Or, if your heart is set on a long-sleeve dress made from a thicker material, you probably don’t want to plan a summer wedding in the desert.
Third, look for movement
Our favorite wedding dresses move! We love flowy skirts that catch on the wind, and comfortable silhouettes that let our couples move freely through the landscape. If you’re going to be outdoors, or even hiking around a bit on your wedding day, make sure your dress moves with you easily. You don’t want to find yourself frustratingly restricted, or literally busting out at the wrong moment. When trying on your dress, practice doing things other than standing tall looking in the mirror – pretend to tie your shoes, sit down, reach tall, etc.
Also, consider all activities you’re going to do in your dress. If you’re going to have a first dance, or if you’re going to throw on a backpack full of picnic attire to walk down to the beach, think about how your dress will handle these things. Materials that crease easily, fray, or pill might not hold up as well to all-day activities. Consider any abrasion that might occur naturally while you celebrate and choose fabrics that can handle it.
Busting Myths about Black Wedding Dresses
Is it bad luck? Does it mean anything to wear a black wedding dress?
Short Answer: No!
Long Answer: Not if you don’t believe it to be so. Whether or not a black wedding dress has meaning (good, or bad) has everything to do with what you believe, and nothing to do with luck. Some will say wearing a black dress on your wedding day is a bad omen, but then others will call it classy. The simple truth is there are plenty of positive reasons to wear a black dress on your wedding day, but if it doesn’t feel right to ditch the traditional white – wear whatever makes your feel your best!
Why is a white wedding dress considered traditional anyway?
Well, as with anything that’s become a style trend – famous people started it. When Queen Victoria got married in 1840, her choice of a white dress sparked a trend that has continued in the western world through today. Before the mid 19th century it was actually considered wildly impractical to wear white, and the idea of purchasing an article of clothing to wear only once was wasteful. Purchasing a dress singly intended for a wedding was a sign of affluence that simply wasn’t accessible to the average person getting married. Now, fast fashion has made single-use attire more socially acceptable (though we love the practicality of a wedding dress that can be worn again – recycling is sexy)!
Not to sound prudish, but… I’ve been told white on your wedding day is a symbol of purity, and I don’t want to feel judged. Does this matter?
If you’re worried about making a negative statement to your family or friends by wearing a non-white wedding dress, there’s really no way to get past that without explaining your choice, or deciding to not care what they think. There’s not really any historic or genuine precedent for this belief that white dress = purity. Rather, it’s more of an “old wives tale” that has been passed around so many times, a few people believe it’s a cultural tradition. The truth is that you can wear whatever color you want on your wedding day, and there is no personal history that makes a wedding have lesser or greater value between two people who love each other.
Our Favorite Black Wedding Dresses
For all the reasons listed above, shopping for a black wedding dress can be both overwhelming and easier at the same time – you have SO many brands and websites to choose from, with dresses at all price points. The affordability of obtaining a black dress for your wedding or elopement can make choosing easier, but with that comes more options than you probably know what to do with. Below, we’ve linked some of our favorite dress shops, all of which offer affordable dress options. We also linked to more than a dozen dresses (all listed under $1000), which can hopefully get you started on your search to find “the one!” If you do end up ordering any of these dresses, or using this guide to find your perfect dress – leave us a comment below. If you could include a photo or a link too, we’d LOVE to see which dress you chose!
- Sweet Caroline Styles – These dresses are handmade and come in small-batch offerings. If you love them, keep an eye out for sample sale items in your size. Sweet Caroline Styles also sell gorgeous hand-dyed chiffon skirts in many colors, which would be an incredible way to craft a unique two-piece wedding dress. The full-price dresses begin at $900, the skirts at $650, and tops at $350.
- Reformation – The goal of Reformation is sustainable, affordable fashion. They sell everything from casual wear to semi-formal dresses, and you can find black dresses in all shapes and sizes. They often have incredible sales running, which makes their already affordable dresses that much more accessible. The more formal black dresses from Reformation range from $200 to $300, with regular sales putting past season products up to 50% off.
- After Six by The Dessy Group –This company specialized in bridesmaid attire and offers dozens of styles of dresses in all colors and sizes. The Dessy Group has multiple collections, but “After Six” is probably our favorite! So many of the dresses have flowy skirts, a flattering fit, and are perfect for adventurous outdoor weddings. These collections offer many options in versatile, flattering cuts with minor differences so you’re sure to find something that suits your vision. Prices range from under $100 to $400, with most styles sitting around the $250 price point.
- Lulus – Probably some of the most affordable black dresses on this list, Lulus offers dresses from $29 to $295, with dozens available under $100. Choose from elegant slip dresses to detailed lace beauties – the quality of these pieces always exceeds our expectations.
Black Wedding Dresses Under $1000
- BHLDN Off-the-shoulder fitted dress ($198)
- BHLN Metallic ankle-length dress ($295)
- Nordstrom V-Neck chiffon a-line gown ($89)
- Nordstrom Lace Jumpsuit ($950)
- Nordstrom Sequin long-sleeve dress ($598)
- Nordstrom Sequin strapless ballgown ($498)
- Nordstrom Low-neck a-line gown ($298)
- After Six Maxi dress with pockets ($150)
- After Six Flutter sleeve faux wrap dress ($236)
- Reformation Sheer long-sleeve dress ($218)
- Sweet Caroline Emmy Dress ($900)
- Lulus High-neck maxi dress ($98)
- Lulus High-neck mermaid dress ($85)
- Leanne Marshall Puff sleeve midi dress ($520)
- Davids Bridal Full skirt spaghetti strap dress ($150)
- ASOS One shoulder fitted dress ($98)
- After Six Split-sleeve backless maxi dress ($257)