When the 33-year-old creative director Lydia Pang got married in 2019, she wore a black ruffled silk organza dress by Roberts|Wood. “Everything about the wedding was about making sure we did it our way,” she said. “Black is my absolute favourite colour – I find it flattering and it makes me feel confident and calm. I felt like the absolute best version of my daily self.” Like many couples, they got engaged after being together for several years – so the symbolism of white just isn’t relevant nowadays.
Of course, the choice for modern brides isn’t just black or white – in between are colourful dresses, short dresses, jumpsuits, suits … but black brings maximum impact. “Black shakes up the traditional expectations of a wedding – it goes against the grain,” said Tobyn.
It was Queen Victoria who in 1840 popularised the white wedding dress when she married Prince Albert in a white, lace-covered gown. Before that, brides could choose any colour, not least so that it could be worn again and not show the dirt.
Since Victorian times, a dress that would most likely only be worn once has been regarded as a status symbol; nowadays, that’s not considered very sustainable.
Black wedding dresses aren’t exactly mainstream, but that’s part of their appeal. “If a bride wants an edgy look, yet still be super chic and glamorous, a black dress ticks all those boxes,” said Halfpenny, adding, “Most of us have that perfect black dress which is our go-to and makes us feel amazing.”
Vera Wang, who has offered a collection of black wedding dresses since 2011, has said that a bride in black is “sexy”.
Wearing a black gown is going to bring extra attention, though, and the etiquette expert Jo Bryant cautioned against buying into the trend for the sake of it. “Heads will turn and people will chat. If you are known for your unusual style, you can expect everyone to wonder what you’re going to be wearing before you come up the aisle. But if you’re not a fashionista, I think it would cause quite a lot of surprise and may be something you’ll regret.”
That said, a black dress can mitigate more immediate regrets, said Tobyn: “A white wedding dress will show up any spillages, grass stains or pollen from your bouquet. With a black dress, none of that happens.”